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How Business Travel Affects a Family

There is another side to this story.

The effects of business travel on a family

Business travel can have both positive, negative, and “other” affects on your personal relationships. I for one have a family to think about when I travel. If they can’t come with me, I am missing time with my wife and kids, leaving my wife to take care of everything and everybody while I am away.

My kids are young and miss me, and I miss their events and the fun and stories they have for me when I would otherwise be spending time with them. I like to get on the floor and wrestle around with my kids and read them books in bed at night. 1 or 2 days away on business is OK but calling in on a phone to say goodnight day in and day out can really put you out of touch with them. Young kids don’t really get much out of phone calls or video on Skype.

On the flip side, there are opportunities for your family to partake in your travels, esspecially when one has accumulated frequent flier miles, car rental, and hotel points. This has the potential to change the whole dynamics of business travel from work to a memorable family trip. Not all work travel is family friendly however, and could be frowned upon if it looks like you are more interested in chauffeuring around your family around than doing your job while there. It can be a difficult balancing act depending on who you work for and if you are expected to be working 24/7 while on the road.

Traveling to cities where you have siblings or friends is also a plus. I have caught up with friends and family on several occasions where I otherwise would have gone without seeing them for years on end.

A single person can benefit greatly from the opportunities business travel can offer them for getting out and meeting new people, making connections, and possibly finding that they want to move on from “home” and make a new one someplace else. I have even known coworkers who use travel as an opportunity to stake out new places to live and work. It’s also easy to interview with companies while on the road rather than trying to take time off and pay for trips yourself just to interview.

For some people, the opportunity to travel gives them the perfect opportunity to meet a special person, build new personal relationships, make business connections, and possibly even to find the right place to live. It all depends on where you are in life and what you want from business travel.

Rory D is Vagabond Journey Travel’s business travel correspondent. He has been traveling around the USA regularly for the past five years on business trips as a clinical trials researcher. To ask a question, fill out the form on Ask a Business Travel question.

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  • Bob L March 15, 2011, 9:00 pm

    A lot of it depends on the kind of business travel. Most of my business travel consists of flying out at O-Dark-Thirty or on my own time on Sunday evening, working while on the plane, then working 10 to 12 hour days. Getting a quick bite then prepping for the next day’s work, only to fly home late at night the last day, and having to go to work the day after (or ruining the start of your weekend if flying home on Friday.

    I have had to travel from Connecticut to Detroit for a meeting, only to fly back home the same day.

    If you have flexibility in your job it can be nice, but it sure can suck if not.

    Bob L

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    • Wade | Vagabond Journey.com March 15, 2011, 11:32 pm

      Oh man, that sounds awful haha. I have often wondered how much all of those business men in the airports actually enjoy traveling for work. I have been studying them for years. I watch them walking real fast, talking on the phone every two minutes, and tinkering at everything in sight. Their minds are flying at full speed, they are focused. They seem to be loving it — if only, perhaps, for the feeling of self importance that THEY are the FACE of the body (or idea perhaps) that they deem to be of value. These guys intrigue me. I know the feeling of having a mission when traveling, and, even when it sucks, there is something about it that just feels good. There is just something stimulating about most work that tickles the mind, there is also something inherently stimulating about travel, and when combined there seems to be an explosion of sorts of stimulation. Business travelers seem to be in their own world, nothing around them seems to phase them.

      What do you think? Do you like these business trips?

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  • Bob L March 16, 2011, 9:26 am

    Some people seem to get really energized by this kind of work and travel. I absolutely hate it. As I said, if you have the flexibility to arrange your schedule to fit your interests, that works well.

    On most of my trips, I go to a place, and never get to see ANY of it. Maybe I can go to a good restaurant or something, but I see none of the city, none of the sites. It is night by the time I can actually get out and I can’t stay out late because I have to be fresh the next day so as far as enjoying a place is concerned, I could have just driven to the local airport hotel and stayed there.

    There are times when I have had training or conferences someplace for an extended period of time. These can be made into something good. I spent a month in Huntington Beach, CA. The classes were not demanding, there was a set schedule with no after hours work. I had brought my bike, riding into Baja, CA first, then took trips every weekend all around. Another time I was in San Diego for a couple of weeks. I flew out a week early and rented a bike to ride around, then after the class I did the same. When there is this kind of flexibility, one can bmake lemonade, but these are rare examples.

    Bob L

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    • Wade | Vagabond Journey.com March 16, 2011, 10:49 am

      Thanks Bob,

      Have often wondered how much business travelers actually get to see where they go.

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  • baron March 21, 2011, 11:35 am

    I’ve been very fortunate business travel wise.

    I have been sent on many business trips. In no particular order, and for different employers:

    30 days in Oslo, Norway (best biz trip EVER!)
    8 days in Dresden, Germany (second best biz trip)
    22 days in rural Alberta, Canada (good times, but basically just like the U.S.)
    3 months in the Santa Clara, CA. (and 3-4 shorter trips)
    3 weeks in New Mexico
    8 days in Wisconson
    week in Fishkill, NY (one day trip to NYC)
    2 weeks southern California
    3 weeks Boise, ID
    week in Los Anglese for training
    and other shorter trips in the states

    I am engineer, not a business person, so there wasn’t a lot to do after the work day as far as preparing for the next day. That gave me evenings and weekends to play tourist. In fact, the time spent flying was typically like a happy hour with my workmates – we would expense the drinks as meals even!

    I don’t know why people would travel for work any other way?

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