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Should you bring your baby on a business trip?

December 11, 2013

* Written in May 2012.

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Many companies are making it easier than ever to integrate career and family by offering options to parents who want (or need) to bring young children along on business travel.  When I recently realized I was facing back-to-back trips for work, I decided to explore my options.

And, following a six-day business trip with my infant daughter, here are some tips for other moms who might be considering giving this a try:

1) Explore a variety of childcare options:   With a little exploring on our company intranet, I learned that the backup childcare program I’d used near my office when the kids’ schools were closed also granted access to a nationwide network of providers.  That meant that for most of my trip, I didn’t have to worry about finding a reliable place for her to stay, and her care was covered by an affordable copay.    There was one day I knew I would be working too late to get back and pick her up before the center closed, so I reached out to an old friend who lived in the city I was traveling to.  She offered to do a nanny share for the day, which worked out great for everyone: our kids got to play together, her nanny got an unexpected bonus, and I knew my daughter was in good hands.

2) Arrange for a car seat in advance: With my clothes, my work gear and the baby’s things, bringing along my own car seat was just too much of a hassle.   I simply let the corporate travel agent know I’d be traveling with an infant, and she not only made the call to the airline to add her to my flight, she arranged for a car seat in the rental car I’d be picking up and reminded me to make sure the car service I was using to get to and from the airport had a car seat as well.  The only downside is that the rental car company does charge a daily fee, and depending on the length of your trip, it can add up.

3) Catch up on work while the baby catches some zz’s: One of the advantages of bringing along a baby is that their early bedtime means you’re more likely to be back in the hotel early and have plenty of time to catch up on emails after they turn in.  I found my evening hours to be incredibly productive during this trip, and I was able to stay up to speed with projects back at the office and even get in extra time to prep for meetings, too.

4) Make room in the minibar: My usual routine includes preparing the kids’ lunches, including my daughter’s bottles, the evening before.  On this trip I stocked up on fruit at breakfast and baby food at the nearby pharmacy and stored those along with the next day’s bottles in the minibar fridge.  I just put all the nonperishable beverages on top of the dresser and returned them to their rightful place on the shelves before I checked out.

5) Don’t forget to request a crib: As nice as it may be to cuddle up with your kiddo, you need your beauty rest, especially when you’re on the road.  Most hotels will provide a crib and bedding at no additional cost.  Mine even threw in a cute little box of travel-sized baby supplies including shampoo, powder, lotion and diaper cream.

While I did get a few funny looks in the airport — wearing a suit and heels and pulling a roller board behind me with a baby strapped into a carrier on front — all in all, I’d say the experiment was a success.   If you’ve got work travel coming up and can’t bear the thought of leaving your little one behind, consider bringing the baby along. It won’t work for every trip, or everyone, but with a little planning it just might work for you.

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