Packing the Family Along on a Business Trip
Wednesday, July 20, 2011
When is it OK to pack the spouse and kids for your next business trip?
For many frequent business travelers, mixing work and play can afford much-needed family time. But only if:
- They want to go and will have something to do once they get there.
- You’ll have some time to spend with them.
- It doesn’t take away from the business goals of the trip.
- The people you’ll be meeting won’t feel awkward or burdened.
Business Travel as a Family Affair
Amy Weirick, who travels about 10 times a year for her Columbus, Ohio-based public relations firm, invites her husband along half the time and her two sons two or three times a year. “It’s great to give the kids travel experiences beyond the family vacation,” she said. “They get a real sense of what I do for a living, which they may not have understood otherwise.”
The upside of traveling with the family is spending quality time together in a new and interesting environment. The downside can be limited flexibility to adapt to changes in your business schedule and feeling mentally exhausted from being “on” all the time.
It is important to maintain boundaries between business and family time and find out in advance the company policy for bringing family members along. Most companies know that spouses sometimes tag along to desirable locations. Usually between frequent flier miles and shared sleeping quarters, the cost for a spouse to accompany a traveler is small. Staying in a Country Inns & Suites hotel, with extras like free breakfasts, family-friendly swimming pools and locations convenient to top tourist attractions, makes it easy and affordable to enjoy quality time together.
Taking the family demands some advanced planning. Definitely wear comfortable clothes when traveling with children—you may have diaper mishaps and spills. You might even pack a change of clothes in your carry on if you’re going to a meeting directly after family time.
Do some research ahead of time in case you need to purchase attraction tickets in advance. A minor league baseball game; a visit to the local science or history museum, zoo or aquarium; and tours of historic sites are a few family-friendly options.
When a client or association gives the green light to bring the family, there can be another more subtle benefit. Depending on the situation, mingling with colleagues, clients and their families can convey a shared sense of family values, exchanging the gloss of corporate speak for a more authentic experience.
Traveling with the spouse and kids is something most clients can identify with, notes Weirick. “It’s good for clients and other professionals to see how important family is to me,” she said. “It helps them understand what really matters, which isn’t just the bottom line.”