The Traveling Parent


RALEIGH, NC - NOVEMBER 29: A scenic view of aircraft flying overhead photographed on November 29, 2010 in Raleigh, North Carolina. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

I travel for work a few times a year. Sometimes it’s for two days; sometimes a whole week.  Pre-baby, I packed my things the night before a flight and made sure milk and eggs were in the fridge, as my husband is quite self-sufficient. Now with a child in tow, I’ve had to reexamine how to travel and take care of my family. Like other activities I’ve written about, (i.e. “me time” and baseball games), planning is essential. With two work trips under my belt this year, here are a few of my family survival tips:

  • Work a flexible schedule on the travel days

If you are the parent that is flying solo while your spouse is out of town, try to work a flexible schedule on those days. The unexpected always happens when one is alone, like the time, I had to pick up my daughter mid-day from daycare because she had a high fever. A flexible schedule gives a parent room for the unexpected and a little peace of mind.

  • Meal plan

I can’t get away from this tip, because it has saved my family time day in and day out, particularly when my husband or I have to travel for work. Whoever is home alone knows what to cook that week. It takes the guess-work out of a hectic day and saves time. I also stock up on pasta, steam-in bag vegetables, and frozen treats like mini pancakes, Japanese dumplings, and chicken fingers for easy, quick meals. If all else fails, we have our two favorite delivery restaurants on speed-dial.

  • Wardrobe plan

When I pack for myself for travel, I plan my wardrobe for the trip and pack accordingly. I know what I will wear each day of the trip, without over packing. Likewise, I do the same for my daughter. I plan her outfits (from hair clips to socks) for daycare for the week and line them up on her dresser. It saves time in the morning when my husband or I am dealing with our sleepy child. The best time to wardrobe plan is after laundry. We also restock her daycare backpack and stroller. Car snacks are packed the night before too.

  • Ask for help

My longest trip to date was one I took last month. I was gone five days, and two of those days were the weekend, where my husband and Ilse would be by themselves all day. A work week can be exhausting for two parents, let alone one. Kudos to all the single parents who make it work! My last tip is to ask for help. Parents need breaks too. As long as you ask in advance, grandparents, relatives, and friends are always willing to help.

Traveling for work and taking care of your family does not have be a stressful experience. It can be enjoyable for everyone with a little planning and a little help. I am sure my list of tips will grow and evolve, as my daughter grows. What are your survival tips for work travel? Share them with us.

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Jeanne is a married, full-time working mom with an MBA in Marketing from Golden Gate University and BA in Communications from San Francisco State University. She is an Associate Director of Sales for Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants and loves that her career enables her to promote the city she loves. Jeanne and her husband Daniel live in San Francisco with their two daughters, Ilse and Alice. When Jeanne is not working, writing, or volunteering at Ilse's school, she enjoys traveling, spending time with family, and cooking from her collection of cookbooks (70 and growing) while sipping Hudson Bay Bourbon. Follow her adventures on Instagram.


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