Travelling for work : bittersweet experience for the career mum

In November, I am going to be travelling a lot for work. Pretty much every week for a few days and to different (fortunately in Europe) locations.

Before I started my career, I thought business travels, especially by plane, would be so cool. I could expense dinners and taxis, sleep in a semi-quality hotel… And above all, I could tell my friends and family that I was going on a business trips ! How glamorous it would sound and how jealous they would be… 

Of course,  I quickly realized business trips are not really glamorous… Quite the opposite actually.

Business trips are exhausting. Yes, you are away but emails and regular office life doesnt stop. So usually, it’s back-to-back meetings during the day and emails during the (rare) breaks. And then it’s dinner at night. Sometimes it is a nice relaxed dinner with overseas colleagues. Sometimes it is a formal business dinner with a corporate partner. In either case, it’s a late night. Maybe with a few drinks that you really don’t want to have but downed to be a good guest.

Business trips keep you away from your home, your bed and your family. Hotels are often very average and public transportation is often quicker than a taxi in peak hour…

Being away on business means you’ll need to catch up on whatever housework and office work you didn’t do when you come back. Same price as going away on holiday except it’s definitely not a holiday.

In short, I am not a fan of travelling for work. Before I became a mum, I was aggressively promoting the use of video-conference as a cheaper, effective alternative to business travels.

BUT as a mum of 2 and a wife of 1, I am now seeing them under a different light :

  • I get to spend a couple of nights, in a hotel,  ON MY OWN !!! No waking up in the middle of the night, no toddler in the shower with me. It doesn’t matter if the hotel is crap, it’s bliss to me.
  • I have realized that a lot of people do NOT like business dinners… So I now make it clear to whoever is hosting me that I am perfectly happy to not do it, or keep it short. So I usually get a few hours all to myself, to go for a run, take a long bath, go shopping or just chill. It also gives me more time for emails so not so much of a backlog when I come back, win-win !
  • My appreciation for face-to-face meetings has grown. There really is no substitute, in particular at the very beginning of a relationship. And my curiosity for workplaces has grown too. I love seeing how floors are organised and get a lot of info just from the set-up and the vibe.
  • I also understand that I am lucky to be able to travel and that a lot of my colleagues would love to experience it.
  • I am fortunate to often be able to plan an early finish on the Friday following a trip so I can spend some extra time with Apple and Peanut.

So I am quite happy that I will get to go away on my own for a few days. And that is the key : a FEW days, not more. Whilst the idea of a midweek stay in Rome makes me jump in joy, a business trip that would force me to be away from my girls for more than 3 or 4 nights would make me really sad.

It’s only when you become a parent that you understand why working parents prefer to take a 6 am train rather than going up the night before 🙂 We like our time on our own, but we miss our little ones too much to be away for one more night.

I will keep you updated throughout November as to my travels and will share tips and stories along the way ! Please don’t hesitate to comment if you have any advice on how to make the most of it.

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