Research shows that 40-50% of business travelers are women. Many times each year, women dash out their front doors, luggage wheels spinning behind them, waving goodbye to their loved ones as they head out on another business trip.
I am part of this statistic. Last year I traveled 48 weeks of the year. During these 48 weeks, my husband managed the home front. My kids are grown now, but for the majority of their lives I have been a traveling businesswoman. I’ve learned a lot over the years on what works well and what doesn’t when it comes to keeping the connection strong while I’m away. For my fellow travelers, moms and wives, friends and daughters, I share my pearls of wisdom:
• Communicate daily and dependably. Let your family know when you expect to call and do so. Get comfortable in your hotel room so you have private and quiet time to talk with your family. A hurried call from a loud restaurant ends up frustrating everyone.
• Talk with each of your children when you call. This helps keep their stress level down when they know that you’ll be talking with them. When your kids know that you will be calling at a specific time, the number of frantic phone calls during the business day subsides. Kids rely on your word, so call when promised. This also reduces the panic attacks experienced when you see your home phone number on the caller-id of your cell phone while you are in a meeting and unable to answer.
• Use www.skype.com to make a daily video call back home. Skype is a free Internet service for calling friends and family.
• Create a family Web site or online community where you, your family, and friends can post updates, photos, and videos. This is a fun way to stay connected and especially fun for your kids.
• Allow dad to be the CEO of the family while you are away. He may not manage the family the same way you do when you’re home, but he is now in charge. It only confuses your kids when they hear one thing from dad and another from you.
• Talk with your spouse and take time to go over the events of the day at home. Listen to what he’s saying. For me, it’s too easy to be typing away on the Internet and listening with half an ear. Your spouse deserves both ears!
• Keep in touch with friends and other family with a quick email when you have a few minutes, or a handwritten note you scribed while in flight. A few words of Hello help you stay connected, and help them not feel that you are too busy for them.
• Be realistic about what will happen at home while you’re gone. The house may not be cleaned the same, the chores not all done. Everyone’s routines get a bit out of whack when a parent is away. Treat yourself and hire a maid to come in on the day you are returning home. You’ll be ecstatic to come home to a squeaky-clean home, and your family will be happy that you can start focusing on them immediately.
• When you get home from your trip, be appreciative. The two most important gifts you can bring home from a business trip are your gratitude and your willingness to jump right back into the fray. Put your work aside and focus on your family.
• Resist the guilt gifts that so often end up in your suitcase. When Beanie Babies were the rage, I would scour every airport gift store to find the critters that my kids didn’t already have. It helped relieve my guilt of being away, but their thrill of a new stuffed animal lasted them only a moment before these got tossed in the pile with a hundred others. Not only did the cost add up with each week’s purchases, but I sent them a message that my travel was ‘special’ when I really wanted them to feel like all was just part of my normal job.
• Enjoy part of your time away to have special time with yourself. Go out for a nice meal and a glass of wine, reflect and write in your journal, take a long peaceful bath. It’s easy to feel guilty at taking time for a bit of pleasure when you feel so sad about leaving your family at home, but it’s your time to recharge. And remember to give your partner the same opportunity to recharge once you return home.
• Spend some time in gratitude and meditation. It is so easy to stress about delayed flights, awful shampoos, and all the other challenges that travel can bring. Instead be very grateful for the opportunity to travel to a new city, dine in new restaurants, and meet interesting people… it’s an opportunity that most people in this world do not have.
About the Expert:
Carol Margolis is a well-traveled businesswoman and speaker who has collected countless pearls of travel wisdom over many years. She shares these pearls of wisdom by offering free tools, resources and strategies to women who travel at http://www.SmartWomenTravelers.com. Learn to ease the challenges of frequent travel and discover the joy that travel can bring!