So, I decided to take my four year old with me on a business trip. I have companion status on Southwest, so I thought why not? She’ll fly for free; it will be a fun way for us to spend some time together. I’m a travel savvy businesswoman; I meditate; and I am a good mom. I can handle this! Umm…yeahhhh…I’ll bet there’s one or two of you out there who already know how this is going to go…
The trip started with missing the bus. Yep. I literally could not get her out of the house. Not a great start.
Then, all of the excitement of getting on an airplane, traveling somewhere new, meeting lots of people—totally lost on her when we finally ran the bus down ten miles from our house. We hopped on, and she cried and whined the entire way to the airport. Not what I had planned. I had four business calls planned back to back while we were making the commute. Yes, they could hear her through my headset.
And then it was lost on me when I had to lug a car seat, two bags, two backpacks, two winter coats, and a grumpy, stressed out child through the airport by myself with absolutely no help. I’m usually a one-bag kind of gal, straight through Clear Security, boarding passes already printed, and beeline for my gate. But instead, I was literally sweating my way through a panic attack and the entire airport with her screaming the whole way “Mommma, I want uppie.” Hmmmmm. Not sure how that was going to happen with all our gear in tow. There would definitely be no cruising through the airport and security like I’m used to when traveling alone.
As I arrived at the gate, telling myself every step of the way to just let it go and breathe, I learned my flight was delayed. Thank GOD! That actually bought me a little more time when she told me she had to pee. Except that when we got back to the gate, I was informed that I can’t board with the A priority seating group like I normally do because I have her with me. Sure, she can fly free, but she’s not an A priority, so I can either board without her (yeah, right!) or I have to wait while all the As board and get on the plane with B seating. Shouldn’t having a child get me on the plane before everybody else?
So we wait for the Bs. And after all that?
I realize I’m on the wrong flight anyway! This plane is going to Phoenix, not PHL!
Now I’m hauling my four year old through the airport to the correct gate. We arrive, and they’re already boarding. Thank GOD again! This time I didn’t have to worry about getting on with the As. They had already boarded.
It was about twenty minutes later, as the plane was speeding down the runway for take off, that I realized I had totally lost sight of the point of taking her along. She pointed out the window, shouting in excitement to look at the clouds we were flying past. She had totally forgotten the drama and anxiety of the last three hours. In all the rush and stress of how much more effort it takes to get a four year old through an airport than just myself, I had forgotten that I wanted her with me. The point was not lost on me—don’t get so wrapped up in the minute-by-minute stressors that you miss the big picture. This was her first business trip with me—our first solo trip together really—and all of her stress was really all of my stress, just wrapped up in her little body.
As she settled into her seat, gleefully informing the flight attendants passing out beverages that she was a businesswoman traveling with her Momma, it all came into crystal clear perspective: I work for myself because I want the ability to spend time with my family. Sometimes you have to get creative to get what you want but don’t let that stop you from trying. I wouldn’t trade the time I spent with her on that flight for anything.
Three Quick Tips for Business Travel with Kids
1. DOUBLE YOUR TIME BUDGET
Everything is going to take longer with a kid in tow. There is no gliding through the airport to make your flight. Be early for everything and expect to get no help.
2. PLAN SMART—CLOTHES, SNACKS, ENTERTAINMENT
I didn’t plan well for this experience. I was thinking “pack light” and hoped for the best. I ended up having to buy a few shirts after an unfortunate juice box experience. When I travel alone, I might wear a shirt twice to save packing space, so I was figuring we could get away with my daughter wearing her favorite dress twice. Didn’t happen. Same with entertainment options. Kids get bored fast, so you need to be prepared. Thankfully, I had my iPad with me and we downloaded a ton of games. And you’ll want to have snacks in every pocket. Grouchy kids are hard to handle, but grouchy AND hungry kids are impossible. Never travel without snacks.
3. EXPLAIN EXACTLY WHAT IS GOING TO HAPPEN AHEAD OF TIME
This was a business trip, not a vacation. I took some time to explain to my daughter that we were going to have fun AND I was going to do some work. I had a speaking gig, so she was going to have to sit quietly and entertain herself for a good two-hour stretch each day while I did my thing. She behaved perfectly because she knew exactly what was expected. Make sure your kid knows exactly what’s going to happen each day so they are prepared.
Have you ever taken your kids with you on a business trip? What did you learn on that adventure? I’ve just given you a few tips on business travel with kids, please comment!
Hayley Hobson is an author, speaker, business coach, yogi, Pilates instructor, and holistic nutritional expert based in Boulder, CO. Her unique and intelligent style promotes strengthening while softening—empowering her clients to heal not only their physical bodies but their hearts and minds as well. To learn more about her nutritional courses, events, and custom programs, visit hayleyhobson.com or follow her on Facebook or Twitter.
*Image courtesy of akihitok1973.