How to make a business trip a working mom’s vacation

Business travel isn’t a big part of my job, but as a high tech marketing person I’ve always had occasional trips for things like tradeshows, roadshows, and customer visits. Now that I’m a remote worker, I have to travel more frequently across the country to corporate headquarters.  And unfortunately, corporate headquarters is not in a charming city like Boston where I can stay in a 4 star hotel, walk to the office, dine at interesting restaurants, and sightsee.

No, my increasingly frequent business trips are to a suburban town where I stay in a business hotel (yawn), get takeout from mediocre restaurants (the concept of ethnic dining isn’t really understood here), and watch several hours of bad tv before crashing some time after midnight.  At least, that’s the way things used to be.

About a year ago, I was feeling so overwhelmed and overworked that I said to my sister, only half joking, “I’m looking forward to going (on an upcoming trip) because it will be a vacation.” And I really felt that way.  My job was demanding, I was leading a volunteer project for our elementary school that took much more time than I had to give, I was drowning in laundry, my (then) five year old twins left a trail of clothes/toys/movies/books through the house that I couldn’t keep up with, finding time to grocery shop was a challenge…and I could go on.  I was exhausted and frustrated. I felt that I was doing everything for everybody else and nothing for me. I was burned out.

Don’t get me wrong, I miss my children terribly after about two hours away from them. But I decided then that if I were going to be away from my family for a week, even though the week entailed long days of meetings, I would treat myself with care.

These are some of the changes I’ve made:

I never get restaurant take-out food any more.  I discovered a Whole Foods just two exits away, and now I make a couple of visits there during the week to get dinner from the salad bar, fresh fruit, and my favorite yogurt for breakfast.

I try to work out in the fitness room every day, even if I get back to my hotel late and my workout is at 8pm. I’ve even gotten over my shyness at walking on the treadmill next to a runner, because it feels so good when I’m done!

I don’t turn on the tv in the morning.  The sensationalistic reports on the local and national morning news is a really depressing way to start the day.  Instead, I load up YouTube on my laptop and to do a few minutes of yoga.  This is one of my favorite videos (but everything on her channel is great):

I bring some special items to pamper myself. One of the things I never have time to do at home is give myself a pedicure.

I try to schedule in time outside of work to get together with non-work friends.  On this trip I had dinner one night at a cozy bistro about 40 miles away with an old friend.  The drive up was gorgeous, the food was great, and it was a treat to reconnect with a friend I see only once a year.  I also had breakfast out with a new friend; we met on Twitter and work at the same company, and are still getting to know each other.

I’ve found that my new routine keeps me energized during the week and completely recharges me before I return home. In fact, I almost regret that I’ll be heading home tomorrow.  (Just almost; the truth is I do miss my family terribly and the 6-1/2 hour flight home will seem interminable.) I never got a chance to watch any Netflix movies-on-demand or read magazines or catch up on personal email.  Next trip I may do those things first!

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2 Responses to How to make a business trip a working mom’s vacation

  1. Jane Brennan says:

    My bit of “luxury” when traveling was to stop at the Body Shop at the airport and buy a “new” facial mask or body scrub and treat myself to a mini facial treatment over a cup of tea and some reading before turning in at night while I travel. No dishwasher to load, no last minute check to write, no locking doors, sorting mail, or folding laundry on the way to bed, just the sweet smell of lavender! Good for you on your new routine, love it.

  2. Pingback: How to survive a working conference | A Suburban Life

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