The Single Parent’s Guide to Mixing Business, Travel and Kids
I have a love/hate relationship with business travel. When I landed my first professional job, I was excited knowing that my job meant traveling, and I’ve gotten to see many places that I would never have seen unless my company sent me there. However, I’ve come to realize that business travel is often a grueling, lonely business. Add in children and it can be a gut-wrenching, logistical nightmare to try to leave town while making sure your children are well cared for. Here are some of the strategies I’ve used over the years to mix business travel and kids as a single parent.
Consider the possibilities
It was a great relief to me when I decided that if I had to travel for business, my children would travel with me. Once I decided on that premise, the rest was logistics, which actually seemed easier than trying to arrange for childcare at home if I was leaving town. For a single mother, trying to leave town without your children can be particularly problematic, with multiple babysitters, playdates and favors.
I was able to travel with my kids successfully while they were young. Once they started school, it hasn’t always been possible, but we make it work whenever we can. I firmly believe that traveling is an amazing education in itself, and I have been fortunate to interact with teachers who believe the same.
Bring your extended family
I have tried several strategies for managing childcare while traveling for business. When the kids were young, I primarily relied on family who were happy to travel with me, watching my kids while I was off in business meetings, then getting time on their own in my off hours. My sister has been to Los Angeles and Nashville with us; my mother has been to Seattle and San Antonio; and my cousin has accompanied us to Cape Cod and Norfolk. My children got to see family they don’t get to see often, and I could work more effectively knowing my children were close by and having a great time. This is an ideal situation when children are under five.
Find a local babysitter
Sometimes the cost of bringing someone along has been prohibitive, or the stay is short enough that it didn’t seem worth someone’s time. And sometimes, I just wanted my kids all to myself.
In 2010, we were anxious to go to the newly opened Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando. As luck would have it, I had a one-day business meeting scheduled in Orlando. A quick search showed a plethora of babysitting services and I was able to find an agency who supplied us with an amazing grandmotherly woman who showed up to our hotel with a suitcase of activities for the kids. I was prepared to cancel on the spot if I wasn’t comfortable, but she put me at ease right away. My kids had a great day with her, and we were able to enjoy our day at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter the next day. Find a highly rated babysitting agency or get recommendations from friends in the area.
Live like a local
Business travel in the summer offers many more opportunities to keep the kids happily occupied while mom is off working. Summer camps are widely available and offer kids a chance to live like a local for a brief time. My kids have attended summer camps at the University of Nevada in Reno one summer, and at the Pacific Science Center in Seattle another. I recommend looking for camps associated with well known organizations for peace of mind, and try to book early. Summer camps are often less expensive than hiring a babysitter and offer amazing experiences.
Consider bringing the kids along on your next business trip. It is possible to mix business, travel and kids and have a great time doing so!
- Get more tips on how to combine business and vacation travel.
- Read other articles from single parents.
Andrea is a single mom in Arlington, Virginia with a 15-year-old son and a 13-year-old daughter. Her children took their first trips when they were just four…