Work Travel. Your Permission Slip For Self-Care

Serious fun away on business? Why it’s great for you and your family!

Business trips are disruptive to fragile systems at home. Childcare logistics are upended and FaceTime stands in for kisses. It’s the professional requirement most Moms dread.

Shift Your Mindset
Moms tend to double-down on obligation. Although we drown in the to-do list at home, we keep up the stay-busy-with-other-people’s-priorities obsession on the road. Often well beyond the scope of a productive workday.

There’s a better way. Consider solo travel a rare opportunity for self-care. Once the pre-trip anxiety mellows into acceptance, ideally before you leave, get serious about enjoying this found-time.

Found time? On a work trip?

Not always. Last month, I returned from a successful, but intense meetings-ran-breakfast-through-bedtime kind of trip. At 3 am. On a Sunday. That happens occasionally…and no, that’s not the kind of trip I’m talking about.

Pre-kids, I disliked most business travel.  Long days, restless sleep and restaurant roulette…a recipe for fatigue. Looking back, it’s NOTHING compared to the blurry daily drill of Mom life. Whether it’s the race to tuck little people in or for Moms to older kids, juggling college tours and extra-curricular schedules.

Planning Your ‘Found Time’

Regardless of the lifestage, when kids are asleep and the chaos ends, there’s a frantic return to the keyboard. We try to extract maximum productivity from our tired minds before bed.

While away, most of the chores can’t follow you. Business trips are looking a bit more like a respite aren’t they?

At home, discretionary time is short and unpredictable. We’re always in demand. During work trip off-time, however, I’ve done everything from the mundane (pay stacks of bills, order groceries and design Evites in my hotel) to the sublime (roller skating, theater going and dancing.)

Look To Your Happy Place

When over 200 Moms were asked what self-care activities they desired most to reduce mental load stress, the overwhelming majority are enjoyed alone (68%.)

The wish list, however, includes everything from taking Zumba to knitting and as you’d expect, many Moms just want time to think. Uninterrupted.

“Attend a challenging fitness class that requires me to focus only on that activity.”

“Get a proper break…and go have some ‘me’ time…massage (or) pedicure.”

“…an hour of uninterrupted time to outline goals for the week and put together a to do list.”

“Sit still and do nothing for 20 minutes!”

“Burn my to do list!”

Plan Accordingly

Although work travel time varies, it’s typically divided into the following categories:

Waiting to leave (i.e. airport, train station)
This is at a minimum 1 hour but can be several hours depending on the weather and your itinerary.

Time in transit (i.e., on the airplane/train)
This is generally 1 hour plus, as above the ‘plus’ can turn out to be significant.

Time at the destination
For overnight travel, you’re likely gaining at least 1 – 2 hours of time alone before and after work (2 – 4 hours total) per day.

When was the last time you had up to 4 hours of unclaimed time at home? Right. A LONG time ago. Whether it’s queuing favorite podcasts or putting a journal in your carry-on, plan ahead to embrace every minute versus squandering it on email or indecision.

Pro-Level Self-Care
Claim time for fun, in a way that is meaningful to you:

  • pampering (think massage)
  • movement (spin class or running)
  • learning (live class or reading)
  • passion project (writing or sketching)
  • renewal (sleeping or meditation).

Here are favorites from surveyed Moms, to reach the top of the hierarchy, organized by how much time you have available (and possible to accomplish on a business trip).

30 minutes to yourself 1 – 2 hours to yourself 2+ hours to yourself
Self-interest (i.e., fun, learning, growth & development) Read a book or listen to podcasts/Audible

Write: a letter, thank you card or journal entry

Indulge: ice cream, wine and/or fruity cocktail

Attend an online or real class

Enjoy a delicious meal (alone)

Coffee/lunch/dinner with a friend/colleague

Lay/sit outside in the sun


Girls night out/dinner with friends

See a movie

Go to the theater


Self-care (i.e., sleep, exercise) Sleep (nap)


Dance (in your room)


Yoga (in your room)


Dance (a class or a club)

Zumba class

Yoga (in room/at a class)




Sleep (7+ hours)


City/ neighborhood tour



One Mom described what most of us feel, she wants to, “…get some alone time that doesn’t feel stolen.”  Totally doable on a business trip! Imagine returning to your family feeling good about the break, instead of guilty? Refreshed versus run down and creatively charged versus depleted. Yes. You. Can!

What’s the most fun thing you’ve done on a business trip?  Leave a comment, let’s generate more ideas to bring self-care into the mix!

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