4 tips for taking your family on a business trip

Ian returns from reporting in London during the Summer Olympic Games — and he learned a few helpful tips about travelling with family.

By Ian Mendes
4 tips for taking your family on a business trip Above: On a boat tour with Lily in London. Below: Ian interviews Canadian soccer bronze medallist, Christine Sinclair.

On the surface, taking your family along on a work trip seems like the ideal situation.

It’s a little mini-vacation for your wife and kids, who are usually stuck at home while you’re gallivanting around North America. (And yes, it is possible to gallivant in Buffalo and Pittsburgh).

The best part about this type of trip is that the office will foot the bill for the hotel and your plane ticket — which saves the family some much-needed cash.

As a dad who spends more than 125 days a year on the road, I can’t tell you how many times I wished my kids were with me when I travel. Every time I’m in Manhattan, I go to the big Toys 'R Us in Times Square and think how much my two daughters would enjoy stepping into that place.  

I have been fortunate enough to bring my family on several work trips over the years. They’ve tagged along to Florida when I covered Blue Jays spring training. They came to Vancouver when I was on assignment for the World Junior Hockey Championships. We drove to Boston last spring when the Bruins were marching to the Stanley Cup Final. And we just got home from a month-long overseas trip to London for the Olympics.

4 tips for taking your family on a business trip  

But I’ve learned there are several pitfalls to travelling in this situation and I’ve outlined some key points to remember if you’re thinking about taking the family on your next work trip:

Make sure your hotel has a pool
Your office has probably selected your hotel based on a number of factors, such as proximity to the work location, Wi-Fi access and overall cost. But the one thing they likely overlooked was whether or not the hotel has a pool. For a kid, going to a hotel without a pool is like going to McDonald’s to eat a Filet-O-Fish — it’s virtually pointless.

Say goodbye to your per diem money
One of the nice perks of travelling for work is per diem money, which ensures you can eat a nice steak dinner without paying out of your own wallet. But when your family joins the trip, that money gets divided four ways and suddenly, you’ve traded that steak for an Arby’s combo. And if you have to submit receipts for food, you’ll need to be creative to figure out ways to include your families’ meal on your bill. Good luck trying to sneak two Shirley Temples past the watchdogs in HR.

Be prepared to go to sleep at 8:30 p.m.
Unless your company has sprung for you to have a suite hotel, chances are you will be sleeping in the same room as your kids. And that means lights-out at 8:30 p.m. Every parent who’s stayed in a hotel room knows that feeling of shutting off all the lights and pretending to close their eyes so that the kids fall asleep. And once the kids are down, you essentially have to be a cat burglar in your own room. You can’t watch television because it’s too loud and turning on the lights to read could wake the kids up as well. So just suck it up and go to sleep.

Be prepared for criticism from fellow co-workers
You probably already know this, but it’s a proven fact that 92 percent of men in the workplace are insensitive morons. And that means when you’re travelling with family on a work trip, your male co-workers will give you a hard time. They’ll make the cracked whip sound effect (whop-eesh!) and generally make you feel awful that you can’t ogle waitresses with them because you’re busy going to sleep at 8:30 p.m. As a way to get back at them, make sure you get their room number when you check into the hotel. That way, you can “accidentally” phone their room when your child wakes up crying at 3:30 a.m.

Have you travelled on business with your family? What other tips would you recommend?

This article was originally published on Aug 23, 2012

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