In Part 1 of this series, we looked at the benefits of viewing business travel as a necessary investment in your family rather than a necessary evil. Now, let’s discuss a method to ease it’s negative impact on our families.
Apart from strategic choices that limit business travel all together, one of the ways we have implemented this idea, is by thinking more holistically about our lives and integrating business travel and personal travel as much as possible. We have made a choice to fly me or our whole family on my husband’s business trips on as many occasions as possible. This is purposeful, intentional and has required a lot of work and financial investment on our part. Is it expensive? Yes. Is it complicated to contend with the school calendar? Yes. Is it hard to leave the kids with a babysitter or family member or friend? Yes. Is it a logistical nightmare sometimes? Yes. Does it mean air travel with kids? Yes. Is it still worth it? YES. YES. YES.
Although your circumstances may be different from ours regarding the plausibility of traveling on business trips, the principles still apply and can be incorporated in your own life using a variety of means. Maybe it’s simply being more intentional with FaceTime, or creating some specific family rituals during business trips. Whatever it is, make an effort to think more holistically about your life.
Here are 5 benefits of integrating business travel and family:
1. Time together is a priority.
In the middle of 2007, before my husband and I had kids, we had 16 out of 22 weeks where one or both of us were traveling. The majority of that was business, but some was for family functions as well. Not one of those was specifically for just the two of us. Read “potential marriage problem” into all of those trips. We realized if we were going to have a strong marriage, we needed to prioritize time together and choose to be together more often. So, we booked a few additional airline tickets to travel together. We took an offensive approach to a situation that would have more than likely ended in a defensive response after those 22 weeks on the road. I think we skipped getting each other presents for birthday, anniversary, and Christmas that year. (Oh wait, we do that anyways. This is definitely an area we need to improve on. *Hint, hint Honey.*)
2. Better understanding of their job.
When travel is a part of the job, there is a lot that takes place during the day that is simply hard to explain or remember at the end of the day. (I guess most days it’s hard to remember.) When I can be physically present with Daniel, I am able to understand what all is involved in his work in the field and also gain some inside knowledge to what his days are like on the road. This has allowed me to have more grace and understanding during the times I am not with him, and has also helped me figure out how I can support him best. One of the key insights I have learned, is the importance of his clothing to his success. This has helped me understand why he shops for clothing based upon his trips and how imperative it is to have his favorite items picked up from the dry cleaner before he packs.
3. Shared experiences create lasting memories.
Have you ever tried to explain an epic experience to someone who was not there? It seems that no matter how hard we try, we are just not able to convey the depth or beauty or meaning of an experience to someone who was not there. One of the reasons I want to be WITH Daniel on his trips, is to be present for some of those experiences. Some of his business trips have included locations and activities that we would not normally visit on our own. If I had not been there, I know I would have been jealous of his opportunity and been an outsider to such an incredible experience for him. One of my favorite business trip moments, was when one of my husband’s clients took us fishing on the Columbia River outside of Portland, Oregon. I was able to watch my husband reel in a 300 lb sturgeon and take photos of his boyish grin and capture his giddy laugh with the Columbia River Gorge as the backdrop. I know I would not have been able to fully grasp that moment if he was explaining it to me later. It is one of our top memories and moments in our marriage.
4. Prioritizes marriage before kids.
Maybe it is just me, but it feels like motherhood can drain all of my attention and thoughts. If I am not careful, I can spend all of myself on the kids, and have nothing left for my husband. If I am not careful, I can believe the story that I cannot prioritize a trip with my husband because it MIGHT make it difficult for my kids, or my family, or babysitter. I choose to believe that showing up on my husband’s business trips communicates to him, his coworkers, my kids, and my family/friends, that he is the priority relationship in my life. When we are strong together, it is better for everyone involved. It also allows me to focus solely on him and supporting him in what he does to serve our family. Those times are a gift to me and to our marriage. I reap benefits from it for months afterwards.
5. Communicates to the kids the importance of work.
When we travel as a family on a business trip, it provides insight for the kids to view their Daddy’s time away from them at work as important and necessary to provide for us. When they get to go on a fun trip, and we as their parents link it to Daddy’s hard work, it can develop gratefulness in our kids and appreciation for Daddy who works so hard to provide for us. It also produces an opportunity outside of the normal rhythms of our family to discuss how work is affecting each of us. I do not want my kids to resent their Daddy for working, and I do not want my husband to work so hard that he resents providing for us. By commingling family and business trips, it is opening up the door for communicating on a whole new level about family and work integration.
Your insight and perspective matter and this is definitely something to explore. Try to integrate some family into business travel and experience the benefits yourself. It’s just one more way to live a remarkable life in the midst of ordinary circumstances.
Join The Conversation: Do you travel with your spouse on business trips? How can you implement some of these ideas and rebuff the negative ramifications of business travel? You can leave a comment by clicking here.