Remaining connected while away from home is important, but many travelers aren’t up to speed with the ways working parents can make business trips more bearable and easier on themselves, their partner and kids. A lot of business travelers go on their trips in the hope that their families will miss them and that is enough cement to keep everything together, but it isn’t really. These tips and ways working parents can make business trips more bearable should help you feel less removed from your loved ones.
1. Stay in Touch
Of all the ways working parents can make business trips more bearable, the easiest and most vital is to stay in touch. These days with smart phones, Skype and instant messaging, it is a whole lot easier to do so than it was in previous years. Make a Skype call a regular event that is scheduled in at the same time for kids every day – just before or just after dinner, when the homework is done and things are not so hectic. Teens have a more acute concept of time than little kids do, so make sure you send them plenty of messages to know you are thinking about them.
2. Thoughtful Souvenirs
Make time to shop to buy something special and meaningful for the folks back home. Something personal is better than a bog-standard souvenir. Maybe you could start a collection of a certain item and grow it with items from all around the world. Kids will look forward to another part of their collection and parents can take photographs of the items that are purchased so it has a unique story as well.
3. Take a Shuttle
Nothing is harder for parents and families than a tearful goodbye at the airport each time. Taking a shuttle to the airport gives the parent that is travelling some time to sort their head out, changes gears into work mode and is one of the ways to make a business trip more bearable for families. A goodbye at the airport is long and hard; just give everyone a quick goodbye in the morning while they are eating breakfast – just as you would if you were going to the office for the day; it's much less stressful for everyone involved.
4. Keep a Routine
Stick to a routine – make sure that your kids and the parent left behind at home carry on with their day to day routine and structure. Kids feel more secure when there are fewer disruptions, and knowing things are carrying on as normal at home will make a business trip more bearable for parents if the routine stays the same. When you check in with the family on your phone or Skype call, be sure to ask about how the day to day things are going – don’t just assume all is normal.
5. Take Something from Home
Take an item that will remind you of home – an egg cup with a face painted on it, an action figure, a plastic frog, whatever amuses your kids – and take photographs of your memento doing things with you while you are away: eating breakfast; buying a bus ticket; waiting for the airplane to board. Your kids will love the little story you send them with the memento from home every day.
6. Plan Ahead
Make sure that everything that your family needs while you are away has been put into place, purchased or arranged. Your kids will start to feel anxious if Mum isn’t there to do certain things for them, so reassure them that things like a birthday present for a child’s party has been purchased in advance and their sports clothes have arrived on time for their big game so that they don’t have to worry that somebody else might not know how to do it just like their mom did. It will also make it easier to cope with being away from the family if you aren’t stressing about these things.
7. Keep Your Eye on the Ball
It goes without saying that being super-organized is one of the most important things in helping to make business trips more bearable for working parents. You will stress yourself and your family out if you leave important documents and travel items at home on a regular basis and have to hassle in trying to get them while you are away. Make copies – preferably certified – of everything you need, like your passport and travel insurance, and keep them with you in your travel bag at all times. In the event that you have forgotten something, you won’t find yourself stranded without them.
8. The Right Accommodation
Traveling abroad or traveling for business means that you are sometimes going to land up in accommodation that is less desirable or in a really dodgy area that is frequented by one nighters. If you arrive at your accommodation and don’t feel safe or feel that it is not right for you, don’t hesitate to change hotels or accommodation immediately. You have a responsibility to your family to get home in one piece and not have any safety issues while you are at work. And, you certainly don't want to be worrying about them worrying about you.
9. Streamline the Process
One of the most important ways to make business trips bearable for working parents is to use the streamlining travel options available for you. If you are a frequent flyer you are going to have perks, like being able to check your bags in right through to your destination or be able to bypass long security lines or get pre-approval for frequent fliers at border controls so you don’t have to spend ages standing in queues while your family is waiting to meet you.
The good thing about the ways a working parent can make it easier to cope with business trips is that they aren’t difficult. Mostly it comes down to planning and thinking. How do you cope with being away from your family?