I rarely travel for work. I attend one, maybe two conferences a year in my field of employee health and wellness. My husband travels frequently for work but also only goes to a couple conferences each year. When either my husband or I plan work trips that will extend a few days, we always bring our family along. Here’s why and also how we make it work.
- I like my family. Of course I love my family, but even more so, for the most part, I really do like my family too. So I like to spend time with them especially outside of our normal routine and day to day happenings. It’s fun for us to wake up in a hotel and explore. My 22 month old has 2-4 hours in the morning when she is full of vim and vigor and leads us on adventures. We have made some inspiring, fun and quirky memories on road trips.
- It’s healthy for us to get away from routine. This doesn’t mean I allow (encourage or force) my daughter to stay up until midnight or eat Snickers for breakfast. I do, however, relax my neurotic tendencies just a bit. We have ice cream more than once. Naps are a little shorter. We eat out for most meals. Because we are on work trips (parts of which are funded by our companies) my husband and I do have responsibilities to work, however, our hours are not 9-5 except when we’re in sessions or networking events. Somehow renewed energy from being away from the mundane and spending precious days with our daughter keeps us up and functioning late at night.
- In 22 months my daughter has been to Washington, D.C. New York City, Sacramento and San Francisco, Orlando, Bonita Springs and the Adirondacks (numerous times). Not all of these excursions included work but those that did were every bit as memorable and exciting for her as the others. She has been to museums of play and the ocean. She’s ridden on trolleys and trains, planes and boats. She even spent one day at Disney World’s Animal Kingdom. While she might not remember these trips, the experiences are nevertheless memorable. And maybe she can tell her high school friends, ‘Yah, my parents were cool. They took me places when I was a baby’.
Here’s how we make it work:
- I am the Organization Queen. The suitcase is packed meticulously – to include conference business casual and beachy comfort clothing. The diaper bag is filled with extras of necessities but not overpacked so it doesn’t fit in the overhead compartment. While I don’t dictate every moment with an itinerary, I do have a general guide for us to follow. And then we let adventure fill in the gaps.
- A supportive, flexible, and tolerant (amazing) partner. While I am in sessions or running from presentation to presentation, my husband is walking, swimming, diaper changing, snuggling and feeding our daughter. He’s amazing. He can always find something to do, someplace to go. And when it’s my turn to tag along on his trips I do the same. It’s actually a bonding experience for each of us with our daughter. A little mommy and me time does the soul good. It also makes the time we’re all together for dinner or a special day trip all the more special.
- A family appropriate location. The Wellness Council of America conference this year was in Orlando. Next year it will be held in Omaha. See where I’m going with this? I am sure Omaha is a beautiful city, however, the appeal of Disney character run-ins and trips to Disney Springs is much greater to my daughter. Really, as long as you do a little research and find a museum or even a park to explore, the trip is worth the time and effort to bring the family along.