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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.