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Mixing job travel and family can work

Part of my working life involves travel. My children used to call my business trips “adventures,” even when I only was going to Pennsylvania.

As I write this column, I am in a car in China on the way to Nanjing. Today it really feels like I am on an adventure.

I’m in a place very different from home. I have found that keeping my family close when I’m travelling is a saving grace.

Travel pains

As many of us know, traveling often is not glamorous. Getting nearly undressed for security checks — sweater, belt, watch, shoes — in front of people still seems strange. I had a pat down the other day and, even though I consider myself a tolerant person, it was disturbing.

Delays and cancellations can happen at any time. When the ride is particularly bumpy, my mind immediately goes to the worst that could happen. So I try not to let my imagination go too far!

Have career, will travel

At some point in my career, it occurred to me to bring my children with me on the occasional business trip by using my frequent flyer miles. Well, I didn’t take them to China, but yes to Pennsylvania. It was fun to have room service, and to wait for flights in the airport not alone, but with one of my daughters.

I have relatives and friends in many places, so child care was available while I worked.

When they were in college, my children went on their own adventures by studying abroad. I had the chance to see them in London and Geneva during my work travels.

Travel gains

On my trip in China where time is reversed — my day there is your night here, and vice versa — I have enjoyed staying in touch by texting my college-age kids. When it is noon here, they are still up working away at midnight. One daughter sent me a text at midnight sharing her triumph of finishing her eight-page Spanish paper.

Travel is also an opportunity for a working parent to get that precious time alone to catch up on email, exercise in the hotel gym and get room service!

Ah, but coming home is great. It’s a blessing to be sleeping in your own bed again with your partner by your side, even if the kids cry and the dog barks. You don’t take being home for granted, at least until the next adventure.

Whether I’m on the road or in the office, blending work and family has advantages:

* You would be surprised at how my kids, yes even as teenagers, gain a new respect for me when we have traveled together and they see me in the real world.

*When my fellow workers see me with my children, they get to see a different side of me — the mom. As they say, how can you not like apple pie and motherhood?

* I know it brings a smile to my day when I see people, and meet their spouse and kids in our company cafeteria for lunch.

Think of ways you can blend work and family. If I can do it, you can do it!

Karen Murphy is a working mother with a husband and four daughters. You can contact her with your thoughts and ideas at

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