There is no silver bullet response to that question. This is determined by a myriad of factors such as size of the consulting firm; industry niche targeted, and staff seniority. The good news is that there are management consulting jobs that do not involve extensive travel. The bad news though is that a good number do. One must remember the nature of management consulting: it is the provision of management advice to a broad range of clients. With this in mind, it is often the case that for you to provide advice. There are issues that would require one to be on the ground in order for feedback to be practical.
Note however, that travel is not all bad and there are people in consultant careers that will actually prefer that frequent travel form part of the role. Travel comes with opportunity to deal with different clients across various demographics. Where air travel is involved, you cannot ignore the benefit of frequent flyer miles. In certain instances, the consulting firm will foot the cost of travel for a spouse especially, where the project entails extended stay away from home.
On average, travel is attractive for management consultants that are on the early phase of their career. The fun, adventure and exposure to diverse cultures, personalities and companies can be exciting. Nevertheless, too much of anything, however good, can prove detrimental. With time, as the initial thrill starts to die off and the extended time away from home starts to kick in, travel fatigue is inevitable. In fact, family is one key aspect that will determine the amount of travel a consultant would want to do.
Another seemingly minor issue but one that could take its toll in the long term is hotel food. Hotel food is best enjoyed when eaten sparingly and rarely. Subjection to hotel food for months will put off even the most ardent fans of restaurant food. It is in the light of these concerns that consulting firms have come up with various ways to enhance a healthy balance between work and life. One of these is remote working (or telecommuting) such that, the consultant can liaise with the client and provide input without necessarily being physically present at the client location. Some firms will even go out of their way to make sure that important family days such as anniversary, birthdays and graduation have days set aside and are not missed.
Overall, travel will most probably play a key role in determining whether one takes up a consulting job or not. However, it is important that one steers away from travel stereotypes around consulting careers and try and do a check on the specific consulting firm they are interested in. That way, the choice will be informed by factual information and that is always a decision anybody will be willing to live with.