My current role involves customer interaction and therefore traveling. Currently, I travel about 10% of the time; some months its more and other months I don’t travel at all. A part of me would like to travel a little bit more because of the value it brings to my job, but I also recognize that traveling isn’t just hard on me, it has an impact on my family.
So here are my “rules” that I use when I know I will be traveling for work and how I prepare.
1. Be Positive. When I first had to travel, I was both excited and dreading it. Quickly, the dread took over and the excitement left. Even though I am always a little sad to leave Diapers and FirefighterDad, I recognize that its temporary and I approach it positively. It’s amazing how just our attitude about something can influence our experience.
2. Me Time. I approach all my travels as an opportunity for some “me time”. As a natural introvert I relish this. A bed to myself, yes please! Wine, I don’t mind if I do! Peace and quiet, sign me up! No bath time and bedtime routine for Diapers, no cooking dinner, no dishes, no feeding the dogs…really the list can go on. I need quiet alone time to feel rejuvenated and traveling is great opportunity to fill up my introvert cup!
3. Routine. I enjoy routine. Hell, who am I kidding, I THRIVE off of routine. When I travel, I make it a point to stick to my routine. During the week I wake up anywhere between 4:30-5:30 am depending upon my scheduled run and FirefighterDad’s work schedule. When I travel, I do the same. I stick to my exercise regimen and my routines. It keeps me feeling balanced, and when I return from traveling, home life goes much more smoothly. Also, running is my outlet – my days just don’t quite feel right without it.
4. Peace of Mind. When I travel I know that Diapers is having fun – and a lot of it. He goes to his nanny 5 days a week, so its routine for him (point #3) and I know he’s safe, well cared for, and loved. With my travels overnight and FirefighterDad working overnight, this arrangement works beautifully! Diapers sleeps at Nanny’s house on these nights and he sleeps well. I call Diapers every evening while I’m traveling and I hear of his adventures to parks, feeding birds, feeding fish, playing trains, and overall having a blast. Also, with toddlers, “out of sight out of mind” is SO true. I let Diapers know I’ll be taking a plane to work, and let him know how many “Nigh-Nights” he’ll have at Nanny’s, and he’s good. I don’t dwell, I’m positive (point #1) and everyone is happy.
5. Know Your Limits. 2 nights, 3 days. That’s it. Those are my travel limits. Any more than 2 nights and my mind is not focused on work. Most of my travel falls into this limit – however on occasion I have been gone as much as 4 nights and 5 days. It happens, but for the most part I can keep my travel to within my limit. This also helps out on the home front. Anymore nights then this (cost aside) it really impacts FirefighterDad’s routine and Diapers, so I keep this in mind.
6. Prepare the Home. Speaking of the home front, when I know I’ll travel, I put it on our family dry erase monthly calendar. This helps me plan for it, coordinate my flight times with FirefighterDad’s work schedule, and lets me communicate it to Nanny in advance so she can check her schedule. I typically give FirefighterDad general ideas for dinner, and I line up all of the child care drop-offs and pick-ups and communicate this to FFD and Nanny. Everyone is on the same page, and we’re good to go!
7. Good Food. It’s no lie that while traveling we take customers out and eat some good food and drink some good wine. And it’s ALL expensed! Eating out is my one big vice – I love it. It’s easy, there are ton of options, and there are no dishes afterwards. As a family we don’t eat out often for a number of reasons the main one’s being we try to eat a whole foods diet (no processed foods), it’s costly, and we have a 3 year old who has an attention span of exactly 2.7 seconds. Needless to say, we eat dinner at home a lot, so I look forward to this one small thing when I travel.
8. Career. Traveling is bittersweet, but once I drop off Diapers to Nanny, and I’m on my way to the airport, the hard part is over. I’ve always wanted a career and traveling allows me to grow, learn more, and be able to contribute more to the team – all things I value and leave me feeling fulfilled. Its also a time for me to be just Pantsuits instead of PantsuitsMom, and have intellectual adult conversations about my field of expertise – this is exciting and invigorating for me.
Do you travel for work?
What are somethings you do to prepare for a trip away from your family?