Career Advice

Can I Refuse To Travel For Work?

Even with the increasing popularity of using Zoom and Skype to communicate, face-to-face meetings are still vital for boosting business relationships. Many companies rely on business travel to network with prospects, expand their business, and maintain good customer connections.

Many jobs are known to include travel. Marketing executives, service representatives, project engineers, and medical representatives are just a few of the positions that require travel. Regardless, you may be asking yourself, “Can I refuse to travel for work?”

Can Your Employer Force You to Travel for Work?

Whether or not your employer can force you to travel depends on the situation. Your boss has no moral right to make you go on a corporate trip against your will, but if your job description includes travel, you’re expected to go when asked.

Your company will mention any travel clauses in your appointment letter. As a sales or service representative, you’ll be required to travel. Some of these positions will even require you to travel to faraway destinations.

By refusing to travel in these situations, you could lose your job. If travel wasn’t mentioned as a significant aspect of your role in your employment agreement, you cannot be forced to go.

One exception involves your employer’s Duty of Care. They need to ensure your safety. If they are asking you to travel to an area that is at risk for a natural disaster, such as a hurricane or a pandemic, they cannot force you to visit that area.

When Travel Becomes Too Much

Before you refuse to go on a business trip, ask yourself if what they are asking of you is within the expected amount of travel for your position. Is your employer really being out of line, or are you just personally feeling like you’ve had enough? If it is simply a personal feeling, you may be stuck.

The exception would be if you were told when you accepted the position that you would be traveling four times a year, but you are now heading out on your eighth trip this year. At this point, you would have the right to go to your employer and explain that the travel is getting to be too much. Refer back to the initial agreement and ask your employer to honor the original amount of travel that your job description covers.

This could be a result of how your position has evolved over time. If that’s the case, you and your employer could then have a discussion about your concerns and try to come to a compromise that you’re both happy with.

You might also be able to get out of traveling so much if you can present them with a good business reason for not going. This works best if your travel involves going to other locations to train employees. Point out to your supervisor that you could do this training just as effectively with a videoconference, and discuss how they’ll save money on flights and hotel expenses.

Excuses Not to Travel for Work

If you are still feeling obligated to travel, there are a few legitimate excuses you can use to avoid going. Make sure that these excuses are real. Lying to your employer in order to avoid the next corporate trip puts your job and character at risk.

Your Family

Using your family as an excuse is an excellent way to be excused from travel. For example, you may have a small child at home that needs care. Explain to your employer that your spouse works too, and as parents, you rely on each other for childcare.

This also holds true for an elderly parent who needs care. In most cases, you’ll be excused from travel, but it’s not guaranteed.

Health Conditions

If you have health conditions that interfere with your ability to travel, your employer may excuse you. Be prepared to show documentation from your health care provider outlining your condition. In most cases, you’ll be excused from travel in order to keep yourself and others safe.

Financial Issues

Many households need more money than one job can provide. If you have other obligations, such as freelance work or a part-time job, that are required for you to make ends meet, you can discuss this with your employer. Be sure that this additional work doesn’t conflict with any terms related to your position.

Community Obligations

Employers look highly upon those who volunteer for community projects when they are interviewing you for the job, but there may be times when these activities conflict with your travel dates. While it’s not a sure reason to be excused, you can at least discuss it with your boss. Explain how you are involved in a charitable event during the time of the corporate trip.


You may be in a position where you normally enjoy traveling for work, but there are certain dates that are significant to your religion that will conflict with a scheduled trip. In addition to holidays throughout the year, many religions have a sacred day for prayer or worship. When a conflict arises, explain your feelings to your employer.

Your Capacity

In today’s hectic and fast-paced world, it is easy to become overwhelmed. The conflict with a business trip could be an internal problem. You have more work than you feel you can successfully accomplish already, and now they’re asking you to go on a business trip.

Schedule a time with your employer when you can both sit down and discuss your work load. Point out that you have so much going on that you cannot possibly accomplish it all while still doing your best work.

How Do You Say No to Travel for Work?

Can I refuse to travel for work? Yes and no. Before you get angry and go to your employer with a long list of complaints, review your job agreement.

If your employer is asking you to travel and it is well within the limits of your job description, there may not be much you can do about it. On the other hand, if you have a legitimate reason for refusing to go, discuss it with your boss. Be polite and willing to compromise, and you’ll get the best results.

About Author

Founder of With over 20 years of experience in HR and various roles in corporate world, Jenny shares tips and advice to help professionals advance in their careers. Her blog is a go-to resource for anyone looking to improve their skills, land their dream job, or make a career change.

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