Making work travel work for you

by Liz Marchant

For those just starting out in their careers, travelling for work can seem glamourous and exciting, providing a diversion from the everyday routine. For mothers however, travelling for work can be very emotionally taxing. Even though they’re likely essential for your role, providing invaluable opportunities to network and progress your career, these work trips may make you feel like you’re abandoning your loved ones.

Regardless whether your trips are long-haul or short-haul, if you’re away for a day or two or weeks at a time, and no matter how many times you’ve done it before, many mothers feel some kind of guilt.

The guilt could be simply because you are leaving your child(ren) behind, or because you may be missing important events (like first steps or awards at school). However, with today’s accessibility to advanced technology, you can at least be there for them virtually during these times.

Given that you may not have much choice about whether you travel for work, it’s important to give yourself a break and leave the guilt at home. This will spare you emotionally and can help you realise the positives that can come from work travel, such as:

Catching up

Whether you’re catching up on work, sleep, or with friends, travelling can be the perfect time to do it.

The flight itself gives you a blocked-out period of time to solely focus on the task at hand and help you get into the zone, to read, watch a movie, or recline your seat and get some shut-eye.

The extra time in your hotel room after work is also the perfect opportunity to get some extra work done in peace and quiet or read that book that you have been wanting to read. You can even take advantage of the hotel facilities to work out or have a massage. (See my review on Laura Vanderkam’s book I know how she does it which reveals that how we spend our time reflects our values.) Most importantly, you can decide how you spend this time rather than having it taken up with the usual nightly routines or chores.

Use this time to gather yourself mentally and refresh your outlook.

Building resilience in your child(ren)

Work trips can also be great teaching opportunities for your kids. Having a change in routine and letting them workshop their own strategies to solve their problems means you’re teaching them a very important life skill that will help them gain independence.

Looking at things from a different perspective

A change in scenery can do wonders when it comes to how you perceive tasks. That hard-to-write presentation that may be eating away at both your time and patience can seem much easier when you’re working from a different environment and have experienced a different kind of day than you normally do.

If you’re travelling to different countries or eating at different restaurants as part of your trips, you can take the opportunity to try new things and have new experiences. Going to a museum or art gallery after work, or grabbing a wine with a colleague after work can help ease the loneliness and give you a great experience, making the time away from your family more bearable.

Earning points towards family trips

When you are a regular work traveller, you can build up frequent flyer points to use on a family holiday. As a frequent flyer member, you may also get better deals for holiday destinations. And, if you travel frequently enough, your frequent flyer status may increase, giving you additional benefits at the airport, including access to the lounge, priority boarding, and upgrades.

When you can focus on the benefits, you can view work travel in a more positive light. Make an effort to make work travel work for you, and your family could benefit just as much as you do, albeit in different ways.

Read our interview with Renaye Peters to see how she successfully manages work travel while still enjoying a fulfilling and happy family life.