I've recently began considering consulting as a possible career path and had some questions regarding the lifestyle of associates.
Whether its at MBB, 2nd tier or boutique firms, do associates travel frequently? What about work hours in general? I hear that 10-12 hours a day is pretty typical, but does consulting at the level of associate involve a lot of weekend work (in other words, are weekends relatively free? For my purposes I would say that beyond 3-4 hours of work, the weekend is no longer "relatively free")? I have hobbies that I enjoy pretty regularly, and I also enjoy working out on a regular basis. I think I could handle the long work week if I knew I'd have most weekends free to rejuvenate and pursue some of my interests, building a schedule around that. Or is it that if I wanted to work for most consulting firms, I'd have to forfeit that?
At the moment, I'm very interested in BCG and Bain, but please give any advice/insight that you can, regardless of firm.