It's no secret that business travel can be difficult at times, especially if you travel often and have to leave young children behind. It can be even more of a challenge if you are the sole breadwinner. Managing expenses and dealing with the pressures of constantly having to travel can be enough to burn out many people.
Fortunately there are ways to make business travel work when you have children -- even if that sometimes means bringing them along with you. I often bring my young son with me on my travels and am able to stay productive. While its not always easy, with a little preparation and research, it can be done.
Here are a few ways on how to manage a business trip with your child or children.
1. Talk to your employer so you can plan their care.
Many people forgo this information when talking to the boss. However, it is important to let them know as you don't want to violate any policies. Furthermore, they may have ideas, know of, or be able to share personal experiences regarding business travel with kids.
If they don't, they may be able to refer you. And in the unlikely event that something tragic happens, it's important that your workplace understands what is going on. Just don't expect them to pay for your children to travel with you.
Depending on your relationship with your colleagues/potential clients, you may even reach out to them for suggestions of places the kids might enjoy.
2. Check transportation and hotel policies.
If you are going to be flying with your kids, be sure that you'll be able to sit together. Additionally, if you are flying business class, be sure that your child will be allowed to sit with you (each airline has their own policies, especially regarding young children). You don't want to book your travel only to find that you aren't seated together or your child isn't allowed in the class you are flying due to oxygen masks not being suitable.
The same goes for hotels though this isn't as extreme. Check to see what policies they have and if they offer any services for children to partake in. They may have a partnership with a childcare center, offer tours, or even suggest places for children to go while you work.
Public transportation is usually straightforward as are rental vehicles. If you plan on using these, do a quick search on any extra fees or precautions that you need to be aware of.
3. Consider an airport lounge.
While bringing kids into an airport lounge may not earn you many friends, I've found that some lounges are great for when my son needed to be fed. We could often find a quiet space with helpful staff when my son was only a few months old.
Granted, this can be costly and there may be age-specific requirements for lounges. Additionally, there may be better spots in the airport for children to play. I mention this tip solely as an option when truly needed.
4. Give yourself time.
One of the best things you can when you book your trip is to allot yourself plenty of extra time to get to where you need to go. If you have a conference or need to be in the office, I highly recommend arriving a day early. You can get situated much easier and you won't be as stressed when traveling.
If you plan properly, you may even be able to extend your business travels into a mini-vacation. I like to recommend traveling on Saturdays, if you can. This way you get a weekend in the city and maybe some down time with the kids.
5. Eat in.
To save money and allow yourself time to rest, order in or buy groceries. This way, you don't have to worry about getting the kids to a restaurant nor do you have to worry about costly bills. You can set them up with something to do while they eat while you can go ver the business.
6. Don't overthink it or attempt to do too much.
Yes, there's no denying that traveling with kids, whether for business or recreation, can get stressful quickly. It's important to focus on what you can do rather than think about what you can't. As hard as it may be, avoid overworking and taking on too much while you are traveling.
Try to view the trip from a positive perspective. The children get the opportunity to see how you work while you also get to spend time with them. You may even bond and buidl connections with other business travelers who have traveled with kids. No matter what age your kids are, finding some family-friendly spots and planning activities can make the experience better for everyone involved.