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Combining Business and Family Travel
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Combining Business and Family Travel

Roman Forum

Photo by Alfredo De Simone

"My baby emerged from behind a barrier of heavily armed policemen and security forces, in the arms of the babysitter," recalls Deborah Berlinck, a journalist for a major Brazilian newspaper. "There was snow everywhere. I quickly crossed the security checkpoints to join them, walked into the nearest restaurant, took off my coat and suit jacket, sat down at a table, unhooked my bra, lifted my shirt, draped a blanket over my daughter and fed her."

An excerpt from a spy novel? Hardly. On assignment in Davos, Switzerland for the high-security World Economic Forum, Deborah was walking every working parent's tightrope: balancing her commitment to her job and family. Traveling for work, even if only occasionally, makes that task harder.

According to the Travel Industry Association of America 62 percent of U.S. business travelers said they add a leisure component to at least one business trip each year. And two-thirds of them bring a family member or friend.

Combining business and family travel isn't easy. But it is feasible and thanks to a more flexible workplace it is a lot less difficult that it used to be. The following tips will help reduce the stress and increase the fun of lugging littlies on a business trip.

  • Bring your baby sitter or husband/wife along. If this is not possible, make childcare arrangements before you depart. Many hotels offer babysitting services and conference and meeting planners are increasingly offering an alternative program for the family.
  • Prepare your family for sudden changes. Meetings can run late. If you explain this to your children and your husband/wife in advance, they will know what to expect. Encourage them to make plans on their own and be flexible.
  • Check health facilities before you leave. Be prepared if your child falls ill moments before you are expected to make an important presentation. Prepare a list of local doctors and emergency numbers. Pack a first aid kit.
  • Pack your carry-on for delays. Airlines punctuality is, if anything, abysmal. Pack travel games and books as well as few of the favorite, small toys. Pack snacks and if your traveling near a meal time something to tide the kids over in the case of a delay.
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