If you are a parent of a small child and have a spouse who travels for work, you probably have been known to curse those business trips on occasion! Especially those times where you are doing meals, bedtimes, and errands all by yourself while your significant other stays in the lap of luxury on an expense account.
I’m not going to sugar-coat it — it is hard to have a spouse that travels. But it doesn’t have to be all bad.
My husband travels a fair amount for work (not continuously, but he’ll have two or three heavy travel periods a year, coinciding with trials). There was one month last year where he was in Los Angeles for nearly a month, leaving me back in the Bay Area with a full time job and a two year old. But we made the best of it. And I’ve been known to take a business trip or two as well (including a full week in Korea once when my daughter was 2 1/2), so my husband shares the load.
In the spirit of looking at the glass as half-full, here are some of the benefits of having a traveling spouse:
1) Miles & points — and Elite Status
When my husband travels for business often (and when I do as well), we are really able to pad our frequent flyer and hotel points accounts. I’d estimate that his business travel alone has resulted in our accumulation of something north of 50,000 Marriott points, 20,000 SPG points, 40-50,000 in Southwest points, and 4 free nights at Omni Hotels. Not bad! During the year I traveled to Korea for work, the long trip ended up being enough to earn me United Silver elite status, which we were able to parlay into free bags and some free economy plus seating in the following year, saving our family a little money and making our travel experience more pleasant.
2) The chance to tag along
On a few occasions, I have accompanied my husband on a business trip with our daughter, and he has also done the same on my trips once or twice. A few years ago, my husband had to be in Los Angeles for a Friday morning court appearance. Since I’m off of work on Fridays, my daughter and I flew down and met him at Disneyland after court was done. Since his flight was covered for business reasons, we were able to go on a family trip for only 2/3 of the (airline) cost.
3) The chance for side trips
Even if the stay-at-home spouse can’t come along, there are other benefits to the whole family when one spouse travels. We’ve found that the traveling spouse occasionally might be able to take side trips to visit family they might not otherwise see, saving the need for a future purely-personal trip. For example, I’ve been able to visit my grandmother in North Carolina during a dead weekend on a business trip, and my husband has similarly been able to see his extended family in Connecticut while working out of his firm’s New York office. Those are people we’d want to see semi-regularly anyway, and by combining a visit on a business trip, we’ve saved ourselves the time and money from having to book a leisure trip to visit again so soon.
4) Control over the remote back home
Although being a single parent is hard, it is sometimes nice to enjoy those quiet hours around the house after the kids are in bed with no one else around. When my husband travels, I always get to catch up on my favorite shows that my husband won’t watch with me (pretty much every Real Housewives series).
Do you have a spouse who travels for work (or are you a traveling spouse yourself)? How have you coped and made the best of it?