Business Travel With (and Without) a Baby

Since my daughter, Clara was born in January, I’ve traveled a number of times for business. Each time, I was fortunate enough to have my mom or husband tag along so that Clara could come too. She was 10 weeks old for her first airplane ride. It was an exhausting, but extremely rewarding feeling to bring her along so that I could present at a conference in Florida. We even tacked on a short vacation at the end of the trip, where we got to take her swimming and on beach walks in her rockin’ Bob stroller (which, amazingly might be the only stroller that does great on sand). Speaking of strollers, do you need a new stroller for your baby? Take a look at this useful stroller buying guide to make your search a little easier. There are so many strollers out there it can be difficult to decide which one to buy so doing as much research as you can is vital. One other thing I will say is that you have to get a few new pieces of kit if you want to travel with your baby, but there are sites like Shoppok where you can get all kinds of baby bits and bobs second hand, so it doesn’t have to be too expensive. At four and five months old, she tagged along for business meetings and conference in Cleveland, Ohio, Nashville, TN and Johnson City, TN–all five hour drives from our home.

Today is the first time I’m traveling without her. It’s the farthest I’ve ever been away from her. It’s the first night I will be apart from her since her conception nearly 17 months ago. Needless to say, it’s been an emotional travel day for me.

It’s difficult to leave an 8 month old behind knowing that you can’t explain why or how long you’ll be gone. My saddest thought is that she will wake up from a nap or look around as she plays and wonder where I went. Where’s mommy? Why did she leave me? Where did she go? Why does providing a secure environment for me mean that mommy has to go bye-bye?

As I walked through the airport, everything baby-related caught my attention. I teared up when I saw diapers for sale at the airport bookstore. I sighed when I saw the family restroom. I can think of many times during my life as a new mom when I thought, “Jeez, if only I could have a break for a day or two.” Yet those thoughts seem far away at this point in Clara’s little life. Back during the dark days–you know, the days when we were waking up every 2-3 hours or the days before she was so interactive and smiley–I definitely wished for a break like this. But now that we’re past that (or at least we’re blissfully unaware that days like that could creep back at any time), our time with Clara is heaven. She’s hilarious and explorative and extremely interactive with us. She smiles in ways that melt my heart every so many minutes, and she’s climbing, crawling, chatting, and generally being delightful. To add to my struggle, she’s also going through a stranger anxiety slash if-mom-is-near-me-I-want-no-one-else phase. It’s tough leaving for business when your baby seems to need you so much.

So how do we do it? How do we decide which business trips are baby-friendly and which aren’t? How do we weigh the expense, hassle, unknown outcome, and security-inducing joy of bringing baby along versus the potential focus and rest that comes by letting baby stay home? I fully understand that some people have to take their baby with them on business trips and that’s why I find it really important to have somewhere to stay that also caters for children. I’ve heard that some people turn to the Corporate Housing Associates to help them find the right for place for parent and baby (or just parent) on business trips.

My instinct so far has been to give Clara new experiences by bringing her along whenever possible, despite the extra cost and complication of packing and shipping a baby around–or waking up with a baby despite having full days of business ahead. Seeing that my current feelings of sadness and worry are heavier than any hassle that might have resulted by bringing her along, I’m wondering if I will regret my decision this time.

The only thing that is inspiring me is the hope that this trip will give me clarity and direction for my work, and that I will learn a whole lot. I’m actually staying in my first air b-n-b, and it’s a home in Palo Alto reserved only for entrepreneurs–what could be cooler?! The anticipation of such new and different experiences will calm me down. For now. Until I get the first phone call with my baby crying in the background. Then I’ll wish she had her own company and was in the innovation commune with me. 🙂

What about you? Suggestions? Advice? Concerns about bringing or leaving baby?

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