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3 Tips for Navigating Work Travel as a Mom

Work travel doesn't have to be a hassle, even if you're a parent

By Annette Mazevski for Fairygodboss

Most of us don’t find commuting fun — and having a long commute as a working mom can be especially tough. What if, though, your travel is even more intense — and rather than heading to your office, you’re en route to someone else’s… across the country?

A portion of my job requires travel. Before my daughter was born, I had no qualms about hopping on a plane, sometimes to a new place (Pocatello, Idaho, anyone?) and exploring if any free time presented itself. Life has changed the way I spend time away from home, including how long and how much I can pack into a short period of time. Most trips I try to max out at two nights, though there are a couple of events annually, such as trade shows, where it’s closer to a four-night stay.

More: How to Create a Space That Makes Work-Life Balance Easy

Here are a few ways to help make being away a little easier on you, your significant other and your little ones.

What’s for dinner? If you cook, make your family a favorite meal that can be easily reheated. It will be easier on your significant other since they won’t have to think about what’s for dinner when they get home, and you know there won’t be any fussiness related to a meal (hopefully) that they don’t like. Bonus points if there’s enough for leftovers.

Where’s Mommy? Video chat when you can. This can be tricky, especially if you’re in different time zones and the end of your day occurs after your child’s bedtime. An alternative is to make a video message that you can send to your significant other or whomever is watching your child so your child can see the message at bedtime.

Another idea is to send a postcard with some information on the town or city where you’re working. For example, the foothills in Pocatello are absolutely gorgeous, and you can drive 80 mph on the highway. Not bad, Pocatello. Not. Bad.

Breastfeeding basics: You know automatically that breastfeeding entails a bunch of extra equipment, if not an extra bag. This can be tough when you’re on a short trip and you’re trying to keep to a carry-on. Choosing a versatile bag that can fit your breast pump, related parts and your laptop and other necessary work needs is one viable option.

If you need a place to pump, check out the Mamava app — it will let you know where there are pump-friendly places, including ones with their own pods that provide privacy and a little bit of quiet. Being in airports often, this app has saved me a number of times when I needed to pump before or after a flight.

For breast milk, I highly recommend a company called Milk Stork, where you can ship back your breast milk in a cooler overnight. Although TSA now allows breast milk to go through security, I found that the way each airport handles milk is not consistent. For example, one airport only tested one bag of milk whereas another airport insisted on testing all (17!) bags. Did I mention you might want to give yourself some extra time at security? One more thing: check with your company to see if they will reimburse this cost. Thankfully, mine does.

More: Busy Moms Know There's No Such Thing as Balance

Practical advice aside, give yourself some time to unwind and relax (if possible) when you’re at your hotel. How often do you get the opportunity to go to bed early — or even better, sleep in until 7?

Originally published on FairyGodBoss.

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