Make Business Travel Work For Your Family

An Investment In Your Family's Success (Part 1 of 2)

About ten years ago, my husband began traveling several weekends out of the year for work. As a young couple without kids, business travel was an exciting opportunity for him.  The idea of seeing more of the world while providing for our family and gaining valuable experience along the way was definitely intriguing. Thankfully, he has worked for an incredible company that cares greatly for the well-being of its team members.  The trips he takes for business, are mostly fun, energizing, and vital for his effectiveness and the success of the company.  This does not mean that it is never grueling. 5:00 AM flights before a two hour time zone change, anyone? It can be exhausting, no matter how beautiful the place. It is still work, after all.

If business travel is apart of the job, we need to view it as a necessary investment in our family’s success rather than a necessary evil. The benefits of business travel usually have mostly to do with the success of the traveling spouse’s job, which then helps the family as a whole.  If not, why take the trip in the first place? It is far too easy to accept the benefits of employment, without appreciating the adversity it took to achieve those benefits. If we have chosen as a family to accept the job, we have chosen to accept it, in its entirety.  If that includes business travel, we need to incorporate it into our family life as a whole, as it doesn’t just affect the person that is traveling. It affects every member of the family and multiple days of family time.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I am not excusing workaholic tendencies or a lack of boundaries around personal time.  I am saying that we have a choice about the job. If we don’t like it or it requires too much time away from our family, we need to figure something else out.  Maybe it is simply having a conversation to discuss potential changes or placing some better boundaries around work and family. Whatever it is, we need to choose a proactive approach to our circumstances.

As a spouse that is usually the one staying at home, I have lived and experienced a variety of effects that business travel has on our family.  As much as I know the importance and reasons for his travel, and as much as it provides opportunities for me to have a different rhythm at home (less cooking!) and more time spent on other relationships, business travel can be rather unsettling and full of challenges. It can be flat out HARD. All too often, it is easy to feel ‘left at home’ and sit stand around mulling about being overlooked and jealous of what our spouse ‘gets’ to do and see, and how we are stuck at home picking up all the slack. Or, it is easy to feel guilty for ‘always’ being gone and not at home where we ‘should’ be. 

Either way, we are faced with a tension that can threaten the very core of our families.  We must be intentional about our strategies to combat the adverse impact of business travel in our homes. Unless we take active steps to rebuff the negative ramifications at home, the success of the business trip can be quickly negated. This starts with communication about expectations, but can also include a variety of methods to relieve some of the additional strain that traveling can cause.  In order to live a high-impact life, our family must function as a team and work together.  It can start with us. We can make the choice to view employment and business travel positively and seek to figure out how best to support our family.

In Part 2 of this series, I will go into detail about one of our specific strategies to ease the negative impact of business travel on our family.

Join The Conversation: Do you or your spouse travel for work? Do you struggle to support your spouse’s business travel? Do you see yourself as part of the family ‘team’? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

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2 thoughts on “Make Business Travel Work For Your Family

  1. Great post Emily! This is a particularly pertinent series since Michael’s new job has him traveling often and the nature of his job/clients is that he is often in pretty cool places while I’m “stuck at home.” We actually just came off a series of trips and have more in the next couple weeks. Throw in there a family function that had him out of town for a weekend and a potential guy’s trip, and I find myself questioning, “when is it my turn to get to do something fun?” Most of the time, I find I’m just jealous that he can sleep and be on his own time a little more thane’s at home.

    I do find it’s hard to not feel resentful sometimes. I KNOW how hard he’s working. But I also own my business, work full-time and then manage a super sweet, super active 3 year old and our household on top of that. Because of all this, it seems nearly impossible for me to be able to travel with him.

    But we’ve also realized that we have to find a way to continue to share parenting responsibilities, even though he might be hundreds of miles away–and not feeling alone is key to combatting the “single parent” mentality. There are those nights when I feel like anything I say just sends my 3 year old into a bigger tantrum. So that is when we call or FaceTime Daddy and he steps in. It has worked surprisingly well. And even on the upside…Cole loves getting to chat with Daddy and see where he is and what work he is doing. So figuring out how to continue to parent as a team, along with some set standards about taking/facetime while he’s traveling, has really been helpful in making the traveling feel feasible and not quite so overwhelming.

    • Thanks for your feedback, Erika. I am right there with you on all accounts. You bring up a great point about finding ways to continue to share parenting responsibilities. I find that if I feel supported in that (especially at bedtime through FaceTime), it really helps me to fight back any feelings of resentment and helps us feel more connected as a family. So thankful for that technology! We also have to be really careful about what we say “yes” to during heavy travel seasons. We are constantly having to say “no” to a lot of good, fun, and important things when business travel is at its peak.

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