Let’s call a business trip what it actually is when you’re a working mum: a holiday. It’s a break from the relentless juggle, where you can focus on one thing at a time – and sometimes that thing can be you. Heaven!
Sure, the logistics of organising the trip, and the family, may give you a thumping migraine before you go, but I promise you, it will be worth it. And if Timmy has to miss Little Kickers for a week, or Rosie eats nothing but Nutella pudding for three days straight, meh – they’ll live. And this is about you.
I travel reasonably regularly for work, and I have to admit, I LOVE it. I know not everybody gets to travel, and some travel but hate being away from their family (weirdos), so I appreciate it for the gift it is.
Sure, the logistics may be tough – and you may even come home to a house that looks like a boarding house for troublesome teenage boys, but it’s still worth it, if you ask me. You stay in a clutter-free hotel, people bring you things, you get little muffins in packets, and generally only one person speaks to you at once. Who wouldn’t want that?
Now, it’s true that business trips generally involve some sort of business activity, but unlike when you’re at home, after that business is over, your time is your own. You feel me?
You have spare time. Remember spare time? Me neither, but it exists, and it’s not in your home town.
A bit of forward planning is crucial if you don’t want to squander this beautiful opportunity, so here are a few business travel tips for you to make the most of your business trip.
1. Lie to your family
I don’t condone lying on a regular basis, but this is a special occasion. Tell your family you are flying an hour or two before you actually take off. This means you get to the airport in plenty of time, and have a chance to buy some glossy mags, grab a coffee (you can actually get decent coffee at the airport now if you know where to look), and even do a spot of shopping.
I always lie to my husband about what time my flight is. He has cottoned on to this and now allows an extra hour, so I’ve had to drag my lie out to create a two-hour buffer. This has only backfired once when my flight was delayed by two hours and I spent four hours at the airport. But it was still totally worth it.
Then on the flight you can get proactive and prep for all those meetings you’re going to. Or kick back while watching Arrested Development. You know, whatevs.
2. Eat well
Eat well so you feel great. Travelling often means eating some dreadful airport food, following by dreadful conference food, which will leave you feeling backed up and gross.
By all means, indulge in some genuine treats, but don’t suffer the substandard stuff just because there’s nothing else.
Take some great handbag snacks like nuts, dried chickpeas, good quality muesli or protein bars, bags of homemade popcorn or an apple or banana. If you need to buy food on the run try and stick to things that have good protein.
Chicken or ham wraps are better than toasties because you get the salad, rye bread sandwiches are great. Smoothies are good, especially if you get ones that have protein powder and some greens in them.
A salad with meat is awesome, even better if it has some healthy carbs in it like quinoa or brown rice.
3. Chill out
Order room service, and have a stranger wait on you while you’re in your pyjamas.
Eat said room service while watching in-house movies from your queen sized bed, which you get all to yourself. Double points if it’s king-sized, or if you can watch TV from the very deep spa bath.
And I know we said eat well but.. ya know… quadruple points if you fang a burger, fries and a beer in the bath while watching the adult channel. Just because you can.
Sleep in the nude, knowing you won’t need to get up for anything during the night. (But keep your jammies handy in case of fire alarm. There is way too much social media around now to take crazy risks like that.)
5. Keep in touch
Sort Skype, Periscope, phone, text, smoke signals, or whatever means of communication you use with your family.
Plan times you will check in with them to hear about their latest toileting achievements so you don’t spend all your spare time playing phone tag, and that they don’t call smack bang in the middle of happy hour in the ladies’ lounge.
Let them know how they can reach you if you must, but know that there is a 99.9 per cent chance that everything will be fine and they won’t even miss you.
When you do call home, pretend you miss everyone and you wish they were there with you. Then, when you hang up, laugh maniacally at the fact you only have to wipe your own backside for the next few days.
(Just make sure you really have hung up. Being busted laughing at your partner/care giver’s misfortune is considered poor form and may jeopardise future trips.)
6. Live a little
Hire a ridiculous car, and drive everywhere with the top down and the music blaring.
Make the music something that would embarrass your children, like Little River Band or Kylie before she got cool.
7. Keep active
Work out while you’re away – go for a walk or run in a new city.
Explore the parks or the river or the streets, then stop for a coffee afterwards, and come back and have a long hot shower all by yourself without anyone asking you if their booger is a strange colour or if you could help with their times tables.
8. Take a moment for you
Spend some time outside of your hotel room taking a look around the city you are in. Visit the markets, walk around the gardens, eat the local produce.
Breathe it in, hear the sounds, people watch.
Be still in this strange and wonderful place. There is beauty everywhere if you look for it.
There are also usually some great bars, if you ask around.
Go shopping for something entirely unnecessary for yourself. It will always remind you of that time you were footloose and fancy free for a minute.
And everyone knows charges made on your credit card while you are out of town don’t actually count. It’s totally a thing. Check your Visa fine print.*
10. Maximise the business opportunity
Hand out your business card, meet and greet, press the flesh, walk the talk, pick the low hanging fruit, kick some goals.
You are there to work, so make sure you don’t look a gift llama in the face. Write a list of everything you want to achieve while you are away and tick that list off while you are there.
Opportunities to escape your family without hurting their feelings or telling them you can’t stand the sight of them are few and far between, so if you get the chance to take a business trip, please take it.
You can act like it’s an incredible imposition and that you wish you could stay home and cook spaghetti freaking bolognese for the ten thousandth time. But then you can recharge your batteries, enjoy some serenity and think about your damn self for a change. We won’t tell a soul. Promise!
*Yeah, that’s not really a thing. Sorry. Champagne Cartel bears no responsibility for purchases made while on business trips.