Business travel can be hard on a relationship when you’re frequently gone for days or weeks a time. But have you ever considered bringing your spouse along on one of your trips? It could be a nice break from the loneliness of solo travel — however, there are some things you should think about first.
Check With Your Boss Before You Bring Your Spouse on a Business Trip
Secretly taking your spouse along with you without mentioning it to the folks paying for your trip is a terrible idea. With that being said, the very first thing you should take into account is the approval of your boss.
You should have a pretty good idea as to whether your boss will allow your spouse to travel with you or not. They obviously won’t pay for your spouse’s travel expenses and any extra accommodations (if they do, you’ve found a pretty fantastic company), but asking your boss if they can tag along isn’t a preposterous request for someone who has built up some credibility and trust.
Explain to your boss that you simply want some company and that your spouse won’t be a distraction. If anything, their presence will allow you to feel more relaxed and at home.
6 Tips for Making it Work
If you get the go-ahead, you don’t want to squander the opportunity by abusing your situation. The following tips should help you make the most of this chance to let your spouse tag along.
1. Set Expectations
It’s absolutely imperative that you set expectations for your spouse before you leave. Otherwise, they may feel left out and neglected, which can hinder your ability to be productive.
“It’s a work trip for one of you and your time will reflect that,” experienced business traveler Jesse Ghiorzi says. “You can do your best to spend time with your partner, but prepare yourselves to be apart and view the time together as a bonus.”
In other words, make sure your spouse knows that business trips do in fact involve work. You aren’t just traveling to grab lunch with a client and then enjoy two or three days of sightseeing. You’re most likely there to do two or three days of work and then grab an occasional meal with your spouse. As long as they know this ahead of time, everything should be fine.
2. Plan for Fun on the Bookends
One popular technique savvy business travelers use is booking leisure time on the front or back end of a trip. They either go a couple of days early or stay a couple of days late — using vacation time to compensate for these days. In fact, one study says 72 percent of travelers have extended a business trip with a leisure component.
You’ll obviously have to coordinate this with your company, but most won’t object to letting you schedule an earlier or later flight (so long as the price is comparable).
3. Give Your Spouse Something to Do
While we’ve discussed the importance of setting expectations, that doesn’t mean you should just leave your spouse in the hotel room all week waiting for you to finish work. It’s a good idea to give them something to do. This will help them have a good time and see the city while you’re taking care of your responsibilities.
Since your spouse is probably limited by a lack of transportation — especially if there’s no rental car, or the car is in your name — you can help them find things to do within the vicinity of the hotel. If you’re in a big city, a local walking tour of the city is one great option. (Hint: You can generally find free tours in most major cities.) Other good ideas include taking a jog through a local park, visiting museums, and checking out coffee shops.
4. Be Careful With Expenses
You can obviously spend as much of your own money as you want on a business trip, but be very careful when it comes to bringing your spouse along. Your company will pay for most of your obligatory expenses — food, transportation, etc. — but they probably aren’t going to cover your spouse’s spending.
In order to avoid slipping up, make sure you both pay for your own things throughout the week. Even if you both go enjoy a nice dinner, pay for your meal and let your spouse pay for their meal. It’s much easier this way and you won’t run the risk of mixing things up.
5. Don’t Push Yourself Too Hard
When you travel by yourself, you probably have a pretty normal routine. You get up early, grab breakfast in the hotel lobby, go to whatever meetings or work-related responsibilities you have, enjoy a relaxing dinner, and head back to the hotel room for some sleep. But when you have a spouse along, you often feel the pressure to do something after you get off work. And while there’s nothing wrong with taking in the sights and enjoying your time together, don’t push yourself too hard. Rest is important and you have to prioritize work over everything else.
6. Don’t Go Together All the Time
For most couples, going on business trips together isn’t something that should happen all the time. It’s best when you do it occasionally as a way of breaking up the monotony of travel. Do it too much and you risk getting overly comfortable and forgetting the major focus of the trip.
Finding Work-Life Balance
One of the keys to a healthy career is finding some work-life balance. While this often requires compromise, there are some unique situations in which you can blend things and have surprisingly positive results — business travel included.
By bringing your spouse along with you on a business trip, you get the opportunity to enjoy special experiences together. It won’t work for every couple, but it’s definitely worth a try.
Couple Traveling Photo via Shutterstock