Balancing Business Travel and Family Life

While employees who travel a lot on business miss their family, their family misses them, too. Here’s how to ease the separation and keep a marriage strong.

It’s tough to be a frequent business traveler and live out of a suitcase, not get enough sleep and miss important events at home. But frequent business travel also places a burden on the people who are left behind as they try to handle everyday life without their significant other.

Information from the Families and Work Institute indicates that frequent business travelers feel guilty and lonely as the separation takes its toll on family relationships and makes the traveling mom or dad feel less successful as a parent than those who are at home with the family.

For frequent business travelers who work hard at their job while trying to keep their marriage and family together, here are some tips to help lessen the strain and strengthen the relationships.

Keep the Love Connection Strong

No matter how business travelers do it – phone, email, snail mail, IMing or all of these – keeping in touch is paramount to keeping a strong connection with those who are left behind to continue to face the everyday ups and downs of life. Want to make it special? Here are three ideas.

  • Send a romantic email or for longer business trips use snail mail to send a love note or unexpected gift like flowers.
  • Non-traveling spouses can slip a conspicuously hidden note into the luggage while the business traveler can leave it hidden somewhere at home.
  • Regularly end the day with a “good night” call.

Share the Wealth of Travel Adventures

It’s important that frequent business travelers not focus all their time and energy on their job. They have to take care of themselves by getting plenty of exercise and rest, and eating properly. It’s equally important to spend personal time away from work to maintain a healthy balance. Here are three ideas to let the family be part of this personal time.

  • Business travelers might want to record their thoughts in a journal or in photographs to share when they return home.
  • Capture special moments away from work in digital photos and email them to loved ones regularly so they feel included.
  • Bring home small gifts — especially if someone has a collection – from all the different locations visited.

Include the Family in the Next Business Trip

Realizing the impact that frequent business travel can have on family, employers are becoming more open to the idea of combining business and family trips. While the business traveler works, the non-traveling spouse can entertain the kids. Here are three tips to keep in mind.

  • Find out about babysitting services at the hotel (or have the oldest child babysit) in order to have some quality time together.
  • Plan at least one family day without business (tack it on the front or the end of the business trip).
  • Be sure to clearly separate work and family time to avoid hurt feelings.

No matter what amount of time business travelers spend away from home, when they return it is important to spend quality time with the family. That means leaving the office at a reasonable hour and not working on weekends.Business travel doesn’t have to be tough on the traveler or the family if there is patience and understanding as well as a big dollop of love between the spouses. It’s a matter of putting in the effort to balance business travel and family life.

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