Soon, I’ll head out for my second work trip of the year. While I enjoy these solo trips to new cities, a part of me is always a little worried that I didn’t prepare my family enough for my absence. In my first article on work travel, “The Traveling Parent,” I gave tips on how I prepared my family for an upcoming trip. Now, I want to focus on how I, as the traveling parent, alleviate my anxiety about being away from my family, whether it’s a one day trip or a five day trip like I’m about to take.
1. Make sure your spouse has your travel itinerary
Sure, my husband can call me on my mobile phone at any time, but it gives me peace of mind to know that he knows how I am traveling and where I am staying. My work also has a copy of my itinerary, so they know when to expect me in the office. Additionally, I call or text when I land and arrive at my hotel.
2. Plan for the week
Do all the steps I mentioned in my previous article: plan meals, plan wardrobe, and ask for help. When my husband and daughter are prepared for the week I’m away, I feel a little less stressed about not being present. Taking an additional step, I take a little time off when I return from a trip, either leaving work early or taking the day off, to catch up on what I missed while I was away and return us to our normal, non-travel routine. When a parent is traveling for work, there is no such thing as over-planning. Every little bit helps.
3. Check in with your family while you’re away
As a child growing up in a military family, I fondly remember the times my father would call when he was away on a trip. He talked to my sisters and me, then spent a good hour catching up with my mother. Likewise, I do the same with my family. Fortunately, with today’s speedy technology, we can video-chat. Being away doesn’t change the fact that I want to know how my husband’s day went or how my daughter behaved in daycare. In fact, I value that conversation even more when I’m travelling. I try to call at least once a day, sometimes more if I have some extra time. If my daughter, Ilse, is feeling chatty, it’s especially nice to talk to her, too.
- Enjoy the time away
For a few days, I will have a bed to myself, not wear chocolate or berries stains on my clothes, and get to watch a few hours of HGTV or the Travel Channel before If all asleep. I’m sure Ilse will enjoy me not following her around with our Dust Buster vacuum. While this time away is necessary for my job, it also provides us with a break from each other and gives my husband and daughter special “daddy and daughter” time.
When Sunday comes, I’ll shed a few tears before I depart for the airport. I always do, even before becoming a mother, when it was just the two of us. I’ll give my husband, Daniel, and Ilse big hugs and kisses, but I’ll take comfort in knowing I’ll be gone for just a few days and that I’m just as prepared for my departure as they are.