404 family travel

Families and Business Trips Can Mix, Sometimes

A few weeks ago I went to a blogging conference. My whole family joined me. I sat in sessions, they explored Rotterdam. It was a switch from the typical working trip we take. It’s always been my husband who goes, and we follow. We go with him when he’s visiting a city I want to see myself, or when he’s heading back to the US and we tack on a trip to see our extended families, or when we just really want to go with him. We’ve done it many times, and we will do it again. It’s not always easy, but it’s definitely not hard. If you are going to bring the family on one parent’s business trips, here are some tips to help you along the way.

We recently joined my husband on a business trip to Erfurt, Germany. There were lots of things to do to keep us busy.

We recently joined my husband on a business trip to Erfurt, Germany. There were lots of things to do to keep us busy.

  1. Know when to go and when to stay home. Most of the time, it’s easy for us to go with him. The other times it’s just not possible. He may be traveling with other coworkers in a rental car and there’s no space for all of us. Or his schedule is too hectic and it makes planning the logistics for three more people not worth it. Sometimes there are things that have to be done at home, so I need to stay here. We don’t go, or expect to go, on every business trip. Just the ones that work with all of our schedules. If it’s a trip that is more low stress for him, we go. Otherwise, we stay home.
  2. Know what to expect. Each business trip is different, each company is different. For us, I know that when my husband goes on a business trip he is expected to go out to dinner at least once or twice in a week. We don’t join him during these meals, but we eat together when we can. If there are social or networking events in the evening, the working spouse may not be available to help with bed time. If this is a problem for the trailing spouse, it’s better to just stay home.
  3. Know how to contact each other. It’s usually easy when we’re traveling within Germany. However, in another country using cell phones without the right plan can get expensive. I like to have a local phone number for his office that I can contact in an emergency.
  4. Know how you want to spend your days. Don’t go on a business trip and spend the whole time at the hotel. I suppose there might be exceptions to this idea, a business meeting at an all-inclusive resort with a kid’s club for one. (Oh, how I wish my husband’s business trips were in the Caribbean…) But, more often than not, the point of joining the working spouse on the business trip to is so that you can get out there and take the kids to see some new sites.
  5. Ask the hotel for early check-ins and late check-outs. Most business trips don’t start and end in alignment with hotel check-in/out policies. It’s hard, especially when you have younger kids, to check out at noon and spend the rest of the time waiting for the work day to end. Most hotels are understanding and give you a few more hours than regular guests. Even if you don’t spend those extra hours in the room, it’s nice to know you can.
  6. Be honest with money. Again, this is something different with different companies (and countries). In Europe many hotels charge higher rates for double occupancy than single. Don’t let the company pay for the trailing spouse. Ask the hotel to split the bill. One bill for the single stay, one for the remainder. Pay the difference out of your own pocket. Many people are tempted to let the company pay the entire bill, but it’s just not honest and not worth the possibility of losing a job.

The last tip I have is about packing for a business trip when the family comes along. And that tip is at Suitcases and Sippycups as part of their “What’s in my suitcase” series. Go ahead and take a look, and bookmark the site so you can see future installments of the series. But, before you go, let me know if you have other tips for families traveling together on business trips.Accessoires sexytranslate english to finnishcar cover 5 layeracheter les vicromasseurs onlineApple iPod nano 7 16Gb Purple

Raising Responsible Travelers

Intelligent Travel’s Leslie Trew Magrew recently interviewed author Elizabeth Becker. Becker’s Overbooked: The Exploding Business of Travel and Tourism examines our impact as travelers. In the interview, she sites France as a model of sustainable tourism, embracing the culture that people go to France to see. Cambodia exemplifies the worst case scenario, exploiting the sites and people to make more money. Governments and tourist offices are burdened with finding ways to balance the influx of tourists with the local resources. However, it is not just their burden. Responsible travel is our burden. As parents, sharing our love of travel with our families, what can we do to make sure that the places we visit now will still be an authentic experience for our children’s children?


Sacre Coeur, Paris.

Responsible Travel: Proper Preparation

Using a Staycation to Better Understand a Vacation

One way Becker suggests approaching the issue of responsible tourism was taking a staycation.

My advice is to first be a tourist where you live. Explore the museums, the farms, the churches, the night life, the historic monuments–and then read up on local politics and history. If you’re interested in volunteering overseas, first volunteer at home. Then when you’re planning your next trip abroad, use that experience as a template and study up on the destination you’re about to visit.

I admit, other than a lower carbon footprint, I didn’t quite understand how this would help. Then I read a little more about responsible travel in Cambodia and the idea of visiting orphanages was brought up. In bold letters the site asked

THINK TWICE BEFORE VISITING AN ORPHANAGE …Would you go to visit an orphanage in your home country? Would somewhere that puts the best interests of the children first allow random visits from strangers?

This helped me put it in perspective. The way we would approach travel where we live, that’s how we should approach travel somewhere else. How do locals like to be treated? What types of things are off the tourist radar, but worth the visit? How do we connect to the community?

With children, seeing what their own community offers helps them make a connection outside of their community. An added benefit to staycations? Learning more about our family’s travel style.


Becker mentions the Baedeker Travel Guides from the late 1800s and early 1900s. These “were written in consultation with historians and archaeologists who presumed the tourists wanted to immerse themselves in a country.” As opposed to many of today’s guides, the Baedeker Guides focused more on the history, culture, politics and even language of a country and only a small space for hotels and restaurants.

Keep this in mind when preparing for a trip. Make sure the amount of time searching for the perfect hotel is matched with taking the time to gain a greater understanding of the country itself. Include children in this preparation. Whip up relevant meals, read stories set in the location, look up phrases and photos online, and do a search on youtube for videos. This knowledge gives everyone, kids included, a better appreciation for the country and compassion for its people.

Responsible Travel: The Local Impact

It’s important to understand just how travel impacts the local community. Becker’s Cambodia example shows that their shortsightedness is actually destroying the very reason people started traveling there in the first place, “In Angkor, a thicket of new hotels has outpaced infrastructure and is draining the water table so badly the temples are sinking.”  And that’s just the beginning. The greed exhibited there has made Cambodia popular for sex tourism and even profiting from tours to the killing fields.

This is an extreme, but unfortunately, small example of the effects of tourism. An influx of tourists will have both a positive and negative impact to the local community, in every community. Responsible travelers, educating future travelers, must find an appropriate way to travel  with minimal negative impact.

The Ethical Traveler suggests to

Be aware of where your money is going, and patronize locally owned inns, restaurants, and shops. Try to keep your cash within the local economy, so the people you are visiting can benefit directly from your visit.

Fortunately, according to a list by Conde Nast’s Wendy Perrin of what kids say they really want, this should coincide nicely. They want a place that is completely different from home, preferring the experience of a local market where they can the varieties of food then going on a picnic at a park later, and purchasing souvenirs directly from the maker.

This topic is far larger than these simple points I mention above. Acknowledging our impact is the first step. By educating ourselves we can find the balance to make more right choices for our families and the places we visit.

This is definitely a subject I will return to again. In the meantime, I would love to hear your thoughts on responsible tourism and any challenges you might face as a traveling family.

If you are interested in other articles about this topic, please visit the following sites:

International Center for Responsible Tourism

The Sustainable Tourism Gateway

I-to-I Volunteering

This post is part of Friday Daydreaming at R We There Yet Mom?sexe vibrognail

Five Tips for Using the German Rail with Babies and Toddlers


rail updateFor the first two years of my son’s life, we relied solely on public transport to get from one place to another. We learned a lot using the German rail system both locally and nationally. Here are 5 cost-savings and/or sanity-savings tips for conquering the trains in Germany.

german rail with kids

Here we are using the Kinderabteil room for the first time. It was nice to be able to keep W safely buckled in his stroller while on the train.

1. Kids under 6 travel free. So do their strollers. The German Rail website sells a pass for 4-11 year olds, but if the child is under 6, they are free when traveling with an adult.

2. Some trains allow reservations. On those trains, try to book a “Kinderabteil”. This is a kid room. Instead of the typical 6-seat configuration, there are 4 regular seats and two-fold down seats. Strollers go where the seats fold down. On some trains and in first class the Kinderabteil is even larger than the regular 6-seat configuration areas, giving kids some space to move around without bothering others. If the Kinderabteil is not available for reservation, then it is first-come, first-served.

german rail with kids

On this train we noticed (see where the arrow is pointing) that the seats lift up to make space for things like strollers. Be on the lookout for that sign if you need the space. It’s usually at the end of the car.

3. Many tips for flying with kids are applicable for riding the train with kids. There are three things to consider about train travel that differs from plane travel: train seats don’t have seat belts, there are no liquid restrictions, and the train often stops. For children who are easily distracted, try to schedule train trips to avoid their nap times. I know anytime I thought my son was going to fall asleep, the upcoming stop was announced. If that didn’t wake him up the group of people exiting and entering the train sure did.

german rail with kids

This time we weren’t able to secure a Kinderabteil. Even though kids under 6 travel free, they can still get a seat reservation. We put our suitcase in the area in front of him for added protection.

4.  Kids love to snack. Unlike airports, train stations sell food and drinks for prices similar to what they are at regular stores. No need to shop at the grocery store to save prices before going to the train station! Snacks are also available on a lot of trains. They are sold by an employee walking the aisle and/or at the restaurant car. These snacks are a little pricier, but still reasonable.

5. In almost all cities in Germany shops are closed on Sundays and holidays . Main train stations (Hauptbahnhof) and airports are the exception. If diapers are running low on a Sunday, head to the Hauptbahnhof to replenish stock.

This post is part of Travel Tip Tuesday. Click the link to read more great tips.

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