There’s a lot of “how to” guides and simple tips out there for working women yet I thought it was time to write a “how not to” guide.
In this, my first and maybe only, “how not to” guide I tackle the issue of working away from home. You see since I’ve started working full time again I’ve found myself traveling a lot. So far, I’ve been pretty great at it, but this time (and I say this time because I am writing this from a Brisbane hotel room) I have not navigated it successfully. Here’s what I’ve learned.
How not to conduct a business trip.
1) Make your children cry.
Up until this trip my kids have been pretty cool with me heading off, but this time my middle child was devastated. She sobbed in my arms for about an hour. Her arms tightly wound around me, big fat tears streamed off her nose and chin. Twiggy slept on the couch so she could snuggle in with me before my early morning departure. I’m hoping this was a one-off, because man it was hard walking out the door that morning.
2) Have a foggy delay.
Because thick fog blanketed the city of Brisbane, the plane circled for over an hour until it lifted and we could land. While I took the opportunity to watch a movie, the man next to me thought it would be best to down scotch…at 8.30am.
3) Get lost in a new city.
Until this job I had never used a GPS or been the driver of a hire care, Twiggy’s always done that. It’s getting simpler each time, but because I am always in an unfamiliar city I get nervous navigating unknown destinations. I spend a lot of time shouting at the GPS woman and doing u-turns.
4) Get stuck in a car park.
When your credit cards get rejected and the hundred dollar note you have also gets rejected, you do spend a moment wondering how you’ll survive living in a car park for four days. Luckily, the “Parking Gods” looked down on me and finally accepted one of my credit cards after multiple attempts.
5) Pay way too much for parking.
Who knew that Brisbane was so crap for parking? Paying $25 bucks for less than half hour, wow.
6) Fight with technology.
The first part of my trip was peppered with internet problems and no phone range. This makes doing media a little tricky. Nothing I couldn’t overcome in the end.
7) Eat the wrong things.
Half a block of camembert in a roll is ok for dinner, right?
8) Trash your hotel room.
The first thing I did when I got to my second hotel room was open the door to get some fresh air into the tired space. When I went to pull the curtain back the entire thing ripped off the wall. Whoops.
9) Miss your kid’s bake sale.
After I went to my girls’ school and talked my eldest girl’s class about what I do, they decided to raise money for Nepal. Last week they ate rice for lunch and donated their lunch money and yesterday they had a bake sale (and lemonade stand and gave neck massages and did crazy hairstyles). Twiggy baked choc chip cookies and went along to help. I so wanted to be there, but was given an up-to-date pictorial run down. They did so well, I am a very proud mum.
10) Cry in the car.
When you’re staying in a hotel with work colleagues it can be tricky to be incognito which is why I chose to cry in the car, in the dark hotel car park. The two old dudes that pulled in next to me thought I was a little loony. I did too.
11) Cry at a restaurant.
Dining alone when you’d rather be dining with company is not that fun. Dining alone with tears in your eyes is even worse. And a little weirdo. Let’s say I ate fast and got out of there.
12) Cry while writing a press release.
As my roommate had an overnight shift I wanted to give her space to get a sleep before she headed to work, so I took my laptop and set up my virtual office at an outdoor table at the hotel. It was a little chilly, but I liked the quiet. When I stupidly clicked on a photo of my kids, I found myself once again getting teary. Silly me. Whatever you do when you’re missing people – DO NOT look at photos of them.
13) Attempt clothes shopping to fill the void.
And another warning, do not and I repeat, do not do a spot of clothes shopping to try and make you feel better. It will not. And seriously what is this new trend of shirts with splits down the back so your arse is on display. No-one needs my arse on display!
14) Write a blog post about it.
If my boss is reading this, it’s all cool . I am fine. I am a pro at separating work and my personal life. I’m just a big wuss.
Anyway, today is a new day. The sun is shining. It’s warm. I feel a whole lot better and I have one more sleep until I head home. My kids are having a great time with their dad and am aware that I have presents for them on my return. My eldest girl and her class raised over $800 for Oxfam Australia at her school bake sale and she, as the organiser, grew stronger. I am so very proud of her and her entire class. Champs, all of them.
And that brings to me why I am here. There are people in this world who have nothing. I have everything. A couple of days away from my family, working for an organisation that helps mothers who do everything they can to put food into their kids’ mouths and a roof of some sort over their head is important. In some small way I am contributing to that. So, I say to myself toughen up princess.
Sometimes you just have a crappy run. I am going to nail the next two days so when I walk in the door tomorrow night I can feel like it was all worth it and I did my best.
Do you travel for work? Got any tips?
I used to travel a lot for work. It started when our daughter was about 7, I guess. She used to pack her spare mini Winnie in case I got lonely. I’m sure it was always harder for me than it was for them- they coped well and got on with things. My worst trip was also Brisbane. I got stuck up there for 4 weeks after the 2011 floods- we lost a site & I had to move us into a temporary one. That was tough- & was made worse because it was school holidays. So was Hong Kong one Easter… You remind yourself why you do it, you cry when the plane (finally) touches back down, and you enjoy the welcome homes.
Oh I have so been there on so many of those things. I think it gets harder as kids get older too. When they are really little (I did my first work trip when boys were almost 2.5 years old and 8 months old) and even if they noticed, they couldn’t really express it. At that stage, I was just excited to have some unbroken sleep!
I am reading this. And I just want to give you a big hug. Also, how much for the curtain?
You do know you are my most favourite boss! No charge for the curtain it was attached with plastic thumbtacks, they didn’t seem to fussed.
Oh dear, the first trip is always going to be the hardest. Things will settle down, the girls will get into a groove and do will you. They will look back to remember those fun little stints with their dad and look up to a mum that was/is a role model.
I am originally from Brisbane. The parking and the driving is terrible. It’s not just you 😉
I can 100% relate to screaming at the GPS lady. We had all sorts of arguments when I travelled through the USA a few years back. Unfortunately I don’t travel for work but I enjoyed reading this article and knowing the stuggles others go thru. You’re doing amazing work!
I don’t travel for work but I have been known to regularly yell at the GPS lady. She always wants me to do hook turns and I simply do not DO hook turns. I just drive until I can turn right properly! She doesn’t like that very much and we get very shouty with each other in the process.
Oh, B. You deserve a hug, a glass of wine and one of those amazing looking chocolate chip cookies. Miss you. x
It’s a bit of an emotional roller coaster – on one hand it’s exciting to be doing something different to the usual grind, but on the other you miss home like never before and you’re kinda knackered from the effort it took to leave everyone for a couple of days (although judging from those cookies Twiggy is all over the home front)! Distance makes the heart grow stronger (or was it fonder) anyways I am sure if this is an every other week gig you’re going to be fine. First world problems 🙂 I got to go overseas recently (okay it was NZ.. but there was a sea the plane could’ve dropped into) and part of me couldn’t believe my luck to be going somewhere new and meet clients I’d only ever Skyped before and the other part fretted that I probably should’ve updated my will (cos travelling is somehow more dangerous than regular every day life!)