Ladies, what are your thoughts about business travel when you’ve got kids? On the personal safety side of things, are you more wary of “dangerous” cities or countries? For example, we got one reader email that said she didn’t want her husband to go to Denver because a bomb from North Korea could hit there.
Are some types of business trips (like plane flights of 20+ hours) that you just will not consider now (or wish your partner wouldn’t consider)? More on the side of managing business travel as a parent, what systems or traditions do you have in place to keep continuity with children whether you’re traveling or home? (For example, a bedtime story by FaceTime?)
We’ve talked about business travel as a mom before, many moons ago, as well as pumping when you’re traveling for work and we’ve shared lots of business travel tips over the years at Corporette…
Psst: here are Corporette readers’ business travel must-haves:
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Picture of Bangkok via Stencil.
Oh great topic! I’d love to know how anyone has handled business travel after returning from maternity leave. I may be asked to go on a 7-10 day trip when my LO is barely 5 months old, and while I know I *could* do it – and probably *should* from a professional standpoint – I’m dreading leaving for that long when the baby is so little.
Oh man, that’s hard. 7-10 days is long. Can you bring the baby and a nanny or grandparent to be a caregiver? Our nanny was willing to do stuff like this if we paid for her travel expenses and paid her overtime if she spent more than 40+ hours taking care of the baby. I had a business trip when my daughter was 8 months and I shamelessly brought my daughter along, and paid for my mom to fly to the conference location and watch her. I got some side-eye for it from a couple of guys at work, but I didn’t really care. YMMV of course if you’re in a travel-heavy role and regular travel is expected, but this was out of the norm for me and there was no way I was leaving a baby that young, but I really wanted to attend this conference. Bringing my mom was a win-win (actually win-win-win because both my daughter and mom loved the quality grandma time).
Yes, I like this idea. I did the same with my mom and baby in a similar circumstance. I once overheard a mom in line at the airport saying that she brings her baby on business trips with her and uses her Bright Horizons backup benefit to hire a childcare provider for the baby while she is working during the day. Pretty clever, although I’m not sure I would be able to manage this — when I’m traveling, I’m often working 12+ hours and in meetings (plus i enjoy the kid-free night of sleep while I’m gone).
I used Bright Horizons drop-in care frequently when my oldest was little and it worked well. My husband traveled full time and I was bfing so when I traveled she came with me.
Oh that’s so smart. I’ll never travel with my kids but that wouldn’t have occurred to me.
Anon for this says
I am doing this literally as we speak! It wouldn’t have worked when my kid was 18 months – 3 years, because she was not down with strangers. But she’s five now and totally ok to hang out with a friendly stranger for 8 hours, especially if I let her break the usual rules – unlimited screen time, etc.
It only works with certain kinds of trips, but it’s super fun when it does work.
Denver?? I think I’m paranoid about safety but that’s next level. I have to admit I’m a bit nervous about our upcoming trip to Turks and Caicos (which is pleasure travel, not business) because of the recent murder of an American tourist there though.
I know, I try not to judge but … really. You’re statistically less safe in your car five miles from your house than sitting in a board room in Denver.
South Korea bomb is really not a concern. North Korea maybe…
Kat G says
Doh you’re right — need more sleep. Sigh.
Yea, I had to assume that was a typo. Regardless, I think it’s a bit over the top to be wary of a trip to Denver.
Well you never know…I think Trump could provoke pretty much anyone into attacking us.
I rarely travel for work and am already dreading this spontaneous last minute work trip to Florida next week. Intellectually I know she’ll be fine with my husband, and she was fine for 2 nights with my parents when we had a wedding to go to (and she’s 14 months), but I am loathe to leave her and am trying to finagle flights so I’m only out 2 nights instead of 3. If I traveled more regularly, it would probably be no big deal. She’s getting over a cold (as am I). I am worried about zika (planning TTC in a few months) and dreading having to pull out the pump to pump and dump (she’s been off bottles and been drinking cow’s milk for a few months, but we do still nurse 1-3 times a day and I would like to keep my supply up). Just ugh. At least it’s business casual.
On the other hand – I bought a new Ann Taylor suit to fit my current post-partum mom bod and it’s washable. And I washed it after work this week when I thought I was getting on a plane today, and it dried over night, will only need light pressing and otherwise looks great. I am 100% on board this machine washable suiting trend. I’m actually looking at buying a second suit just because it is so. much. easier. to just wash rather than have to dry clean.
I have interviews for residency in a month or so, will be gone for 2-5 days a time throughout December/January. My LO will be 5-6 months. Torn on what to do.
1. Bring grandma and baby along. Would be great, except that I would find it super distracting.
2. Go by myself and bring pumped milk back. I would miss baby and would be PIA for me and grandma with pumping/bottles, and grandma would get tired.
3. Do a combination of the two (only bring grandma for less important interviews, not for top sites)
I think if you really want to be on your game, don’t bring the baby. That said, I don’t know anything about how long these interviews last. Is it like all day, or is it just a few hours, and then you could hang out with baby and grandma the rest of the time?
They are generally 9-2, so nothing too crazy. And yes, that’s what I worry about — that if I bring grandma and baby, I won’t be on my game. But if it was just regular work travel, I would have no problem bringing them.
I’ve never brought baby on a work trip. I think it would be hard. Plus, are there dinners associated with the interviews, or will you want to network while you are in town?
However, I do have a physician friend who had her mom and baby come when she went to conferences.
I have a trip next week and found Fedex now offers milk shipping at a better rate than milk stork. Just an FYI for any traveling pumpers. This is my first trip away and LO is 4.5 months. I am gone 3 nights and 4 full days. Leaving Tuesday and not back until near bed time next Friday. DH is primary caregiver as his work is very flexible, but I have so much guilt and anxiety leaving her for first time.
I saw one comment on using Back up care from Bright Horizons when on travel. Does anyone have experience with this service? I tried it yesterday for the first time, just preparing for winter, and requested in-home care for “mildly ill child”. They said I would receive a call back – never heard from them. Is it common that they don’t find anyone available? Do they usually call to let you know so you can make other plans?
I started traveling for work when my daughter was around 18 months old. I learned the hard way never, ever to bring my family along. At a conference, it is hard to sit listening to panels all day when you know your spouse and kid are out having fun without you, and it’s awkward to bring your family along to dinners and networking events. For real work trips, you are going to be in big trouble when you are trying to get ready in the morning and your spouse decides to hog the bathroom. It is much less stressful and distracting just to leave the family at home.
International travel is optional for me. I have informed the powers that be that I will not consider any trip longer than 5 days or outside of the U.S. and Canada until my child is in college. Even if you’re not in a combat zone or an area controlled by drug gangs or warlords, there are plenty of other hazards in the countries where we do business, many of them traffic-related. It’s just not worth the risk while I have a kid at home.
Not guilty! says
Take what I have to say with a grain of salt (as opinions are just that – opinions!) but have to say I’m surprised I’m standing alone here so far! As a mom of two who travels regularly (e.g. if not weekly, biweekly), kids are resilient guys, I promise! And honestly the younger they are the EASIER it was for us (thinking back to the poster with the 5 month old). Leaving a 5 month old behind who basically just needs milk, sleep, diaper changed, love & some stimulation vs. toddlers / little kids (where we are now) who actually understand the coming / going and are MUCH more high maintenance – it’s night and day. Regardless, I’m not saying don’t think twice about leaving your kids. Just saying, have some faith in your partner and “village” (if you have one – we have a village of 1 outside our home, haha) and most of all your children. Yes, I’m not going to lie and say there are never tears or tantrums or missed moments, etc. But I guess my perspective is, it can help build independence and self-reliance over time (no doubt that this cohort of women will grow amazing roots for their children, but they also desperately need wings, too!) my kids are left with their father who loves them and takes great care of them, I can rely on great childcare which I pay out of the nose for during the day and when my husband can’t manage on his own, and not only is my career fulfilling which makes me happy and present when I’m home, my sons are continually coached that mom works hard for the family and it means she can’t always be here, a lesson that matters to me. I’m admittedly not a coddle-r/helicopter parent and probably fall a bit on the “tougher” side of the parenting spectrum, BUT, I do promise that most kids are also tough and with enough love and support and assurance can handle PLENTY. Also, if you live in fear, Trump and his base win (so, there’s that.)
On the flip side, for me, it was hardest leaving an older infant/ young toddler. It’s true that at 3 months they are too little to really have any understanding of what’s happening, but my kid had serious separation anxiety as early as about 5-6 months and by 8 months would have been absolutely catatonic if I’d gone on a weeklong trip and she hadn’t been able to nurse at bedtime. I don’t think formula is bad at all, and pumping and dumping is definitely doable to maintain supply, but breastfeeding provided an easy excuse for bringing my family along and I was happy to take it. By about 2, she had enough language and emotional ability to understand that I was going and coming back, and had weaned so bedtime cuddles from dad were a fine replacement for me. So for me 6-24 months was the hardest time to be away.
Also not sure what Trump and his base have anything to do with not wanting to be away from an infant! That’s a very confusing comment.
+1 – I think the best thing you can do is if travel is part of your job, you do it. And do it as soon as you feel comfortable yourself. Your kids will be fine. I hemmed and hawed and called in grandma with my first, taking nearly 9 months before I went back to even an overnight trip. With my second, I traveled at 5 months for a nearly a week (monday to thursday night) and no one was available to help, so dad was totally on his own with 2 and you know what, it was fine. Probably more fine that second time because I didn’t coddle my husband or give him the impression that he was incapable. And my kids are fine, too!
Mrs. Jones says
A night or three in a hotel by myself is amazing even if it’s work-related. I miss my kid, sure, but I don’t even know what to do with all of that time to myself.
I agree! I was sick recently and had to travel across the country for a work conference. Even with the travel it was probably more restful than being at home. But don’t get me started on the negotiations and arrangements that have to be in place for me to be gone a few days…
Business travel has always been part of my role (prior to kids) but when I was nursing it was much harder logistically. Fortunately most of my travel is day trips or one night away – and I will do the “get up at 4 get home by midnight” trips before I stay overnight to limit the number of days I’m gone. What makes my world tricky is that my husband also travels for work, so we have weeks where I’ll be gone for the first half of the week and he’ll be gone for the second (but always one parent in town in case the LO needs to get picked up from school).
Because I’ve always travelled this is part of our routine – check in before and after school, maybe do reading homework over the phone, etc. it’s really important now that LO is 5 it’s really really important we prepare her for what’s coming the week ahead – she can adapt but she has to prepare.
I travel for work kind of a lot. Conferences away 4-5 times a year and longer trips (2-3 week) about 3 times a year. I’m an academic and have to do on-site supervision of research studies in international locations. I took about a year off of travel after each kid, but I couldn’t have my job if I cut back any further. Before kids, I travelled 3+ months of the year.
What we do: daily Skype calls, plus I record a bedtime story for my kids to listen to each night while I’m away. These days it’s usually a chapter or two of a book – as a bonus, this means that I now have 5 audiobooks that I’ve made for my kids, which they listen to at home sometimes too. I usually can’t actually call at bedtime because of the time zone differences.
My older kid is early elementary, and I now occasionally bring her with me on conference trips. I usually do this in cities where I have friends who can recommend a babysitter; I leave her in the hotel with the sitter for the actual conferencing, then we hang out the rest of the time.
The longer trips are hard, but worth it to maintain my career. The shorter trips are awesome.
Unless it is a day trip or a one-night away trip, I bring my two kids and my husband. He has a flexible work schedule and can make up for it on Saturdays. I feel so much better when I know that they are out having fun, exploring the city while I work and then we reunite at the hotel so the little one can nurse and we can all be together at night as a family. Sometimes we extend the trip by one day or arrive early so that I can join in in the fun. As a result they’ve had a chance to go to some pretty awesome places (Santa Monica, Las Vegas, NY, Washington, DC) and stay at expensive hotels that we probably wouldn’t stay at on a vacation.
I don’t travel often for business, but I’m not opposed to it. In a previous role, I traveled internationally a couple times a year for minimum 6 days. First trip post-kids was to Russia for 10 days when my first was about 9 months old, and that’s both the longest and most distant business trip I’ve taken since having kids. In my current role, I travel every few months but domestic, and usually only 1-3 nights. International travel is very infrequent. I went to Southeast Asia last year with my sister for almost 2 weeks, and left my poor husband alone with 3 kids under 5. He survived!
My husband travels for work much more frequently than I do, mostly to Europe, and trips are usually max of one week. I’m leery of the security situation in Europe these days, but it’s not something I actively worry about. DH elected not to go on a proposed work trip to Australia next month (for which I am very grateful) more because of how busy Nov will be with my own business travel and Thanksgiving than because either of us is actually opposed to 2 weeks on the other side off the world. The only kind of travel either of us veto is something expressly dangerous, like a trip to a combat zone or failed state like Iraq or Afghanistan. My husband and I were both in the military pre-kids, and one of the reasons we decided to separate was that we felt the ops tempo and deployments of our career field were incompatible with how we wanted to raise a family (all the respect in the world to service members who choose otherwise, of course).
We try to do Facetime at least once a day when traveling. The kids like to see the airport, hotel room, view from the hotel window, etc. We also have the Marco Polo app, and take quick videos as we’re out and about in a different city, or for the home parent to show the traveling parent what the kids are up to.
I travel frequently, before kids and after. I do much less international in my current role, but that could always change. I usually enjoy it, and it’s important to my career to be able to meet with customers, vendors and colleagues around the world.
This is one of those things where I ask myself, “Would a man feel like he had to defend travelling as a dad?” No. But would he still miss his kids terribly and sometimes hate travelling? I sure hope so. I hope it becomes more accepted for moms to travel, and so that no one has to have their boss ask “But who is going to watch the baby while you’re away?” ever again (true story).
Travelling while nursing was really tough, and I much prefer travelling now that I have a toddler who is weaned. But it’s all doable.
I Facet1me husband & little twice a day, depending on time zone. When I’m in Europe, I step out at lunch so I can chat with them during their breakfast. Then I call before bed, when they’re just getting home from work/daycare. In the US I call before work if I can (sometimes I have to leave too early) and then always before bed time. I often step out into the hall if I’m still in meetings at bedtime, but if I’m at a social event like a bar or booze cruise or something, I usually just say a quick goodnight and I don’t worry too much if my colleagues see me doing it.
Not guilty! says
The trump comment was in reference to the orig. post about living in fear enough to not go somewhere b/c you think a nuclear bomb will reach that city (e.g. Denver from the example posted). Stream of consciousness reply that wasn’t very clear ;)
aelle in aerospace says
I haven’t been back on business trips since my daughter was born. In our daily routine one parent does the daycare dropoff and the other one the pickup, and I don’t really know how my husband would do both, not without dropping the ball at work at least. Those who travel, can you break down for me how the childcare works? Do you use 2 means of childcare in the same day? Did you specifically choose a nanny with long hours for this reason?
In House Lobbyist says
I travel a fair amount for work and have since my first was 3 months old. It is just part of life for them now. I take about 15-20 trips a year – conferences, states I’m responsible for, and home office trips. My husband stays home so that helps but he will get sitters for a break if I’m gone more than a few days. We try to talk at night or at breakfast but I leave it to my husband to call because I don’t want to mess up what they are doing and let him decide when it’s best for their schedule to talk. Kids are tough and have never cried since we don’t make a big deal about it.
My advice is to not start with gifts or treats for all your trips. My kids get swag sometimes and maybe the soap or ink pens from the hotels. But I only bring prizes if it is a vacation. Travel is much easier now that I don’t haul around a pump!
I went to Hawaii last year and my husband went with me. I didn’t like us both being a day away from the kids but that is the only trip I didn’t want to go on and wished I had an excuse to not go.