Today my husband and I both travel for work, often attending conferences and events together as we co-own a design agency that specializes in branding, custom WordPress website design, and online platform building. We also travel without the kids for pleasure — to just have fun.
I’ll admit, our life today is pretty fantastic.
It is everything we dreamed of when we were 20 and 21 and newly married. We took the kids on a lot of vacations in 2015, including Cabo San Lucas, Maui, Joshua Tree, Legoland, Lake Tahoe, and a Beach House in Oceanside. Now, as much as we love vacationing and traveling with our kids, we also did some traveling without the kids, including:
- The Two Grateful Dead 50th Anniversary concerts in Santa Clara
- All three Fare Thee Well Grateful Dead concerts at Soldier Field in Chicago
- Two Dead & Company shows in San Francisco
- Two Dead & Company shows in Los Angeles
- Seven different work conferences and WordCamps
So. Much. Fun.
But things weren’t always this awesome. Until just the past few years, we rarely traveled together without the kids, as only one of us could travel at a time. In fact, when Bourn Creative was just getting off the ground, I didn’t travel at all.
Easing Into Traveling For Work And Traveling Without Kids
Quitting my full-time job to freelance was a huge leap of faith. I knew freelancing was common for people in my industry, but I didn’t personally know anyone who had quit their job to freelance full time. The designers I knew freelanced on the side while working a traditional job.
Plus, I was newly pregnant with my second child.
The first couple of years I freelanced were a blur. I honestly don’t remember a lot of the details. I was trying to figure out how to own a business, get all of my client work done, and be a great mom to my toddler and new baby. I wasn’t sleeping much either. Carter was a terrible sleeper.
Needless to say, attending work conferences and events never even crossed my mind. Neither did traveling without the kids just for fun. We had a big mortgage to pay, and back then, if I wasn’t working, I wasn’t getting paid. So we only took a couple of short trips and they were always with our babies.
In 2007, two years after going out on my own, I joined a local networking group and eventually went to my first three-day business conference in Los Angeles. The whole trip cost $5,000 and I was super nervous. I had never invested in a business conference before. I had never been away from my kids for that long before. And that was a lot of money!
I LOVED IT! I loved the energy, the excitement, and the passion. I loved the drive and intensity in the room and the business owners and entrepreneurs I met. I was inspired and motivated. I had new ideas, I learned new things, and I landed a few new clients, which more than paid for the event.
What a huge difference this event was from the local networking events I was attending. At the local events, I’d meet maybe two or three potential clients at an event of 30-40 people, but at a large business conference, I met ten times that amount because there were 500-1,000 people in the room.
That spurred my regular investment in and travel to business conferences.
That same year, Brian and I also took our first mini vacation without the kids.
Maloof Sports & Entertainment, a client at the time, invited us to visit The Palms Hotel in Las Vegas. We ate gloriously, saw a show, took in the sights, and just enjoyed being together without our kids crawling all over us.
Traveling Without The Kids One Parent At A Time
For the next several years, I went to a lot of conferences and events.
At the time, Brian was working at the fire department, and only worked about 10 days a month, so luckily it meant we almost never had to stress about childcare when I traveled. If an event ever overlapped his shift, he’d try to trade shifts with another firefighter. If that didn’t work, the kids would stay with my parents.
Brian had always handled my business financials, but as my business grew I needed help, so Brian stepped up to take over project management, new project estimating and sales, and the day to day operations. Soon after that, he began learning website development and started planning his exit from his full-time job.
As he took on a more visible role in the company, he began to travel to conferences as well. This meant that we both were attending business events — just not the same events. We traveled separately. He’d stay home with the kids when I went to a conference, and I stayed home with the kids when he went to a conference.
Traveling separately for business worked great for us for a few years — and we even managed to get in a couple weekend trips alone here and there. But we knew it would be much more fun to travel together. Brian would tell me how much I’d love going to his events and I’d tell him about my events, and we’d dream of the day when we could go to the same event at the same time.
Traveling Together To Business Events Without Kids
Our world charged dramatically when Brian’s mom retired.
Suddenly we didn’t just have one person who could watch our kids, we had two! Plus, by this time, our kids were older and much easier. No diapers. No naps. And our kids are pretty self-sufficient.
We now had so much more flexibility to attend business events together! My parents and Brian’s parents began watching the kids, alternating between their houses. Getting our guest room done also allowed them to stay at our house during the school week if they wanted.
At first, we didn’t really do any traveling without the kids except for business events. We already asked our families to babysit so much for work, that we felt guilty asking them for more babysitting so we could go play. But what we did do, is add an extra day at the beginning or end of our trips to spend some quality time together.
We also were limited on the length of travel because the fire department schedule has no flexibility. Almost all of our trips had to fit within a “4-Day” — the four days off between 48 hour shifts. Brian even used his fire department vacation days to go on business trips to help build our business.
When Brian left the fire department, we finally had freedom.
Our schedules were no longer dictated by a third-party (except school), and we could travel as much as we wanted, for as long as we wanted or needed. This meant we could go to more events, we could stay longer, and we could add on a few days of vacation.
Adding In Travel For Pleasure Without Kids
As time went by, naturally our kids got older as well, and now they are completely independent.
They do their own laundry, make their own food, clean up after themselves, and take care of their homework on their own. They’re easy, they have good manners, and they’re fun to play with — and luckily our family feels the same way about them, which has allowed us to add vacations without the kids to our travel schedule!
Now we almost always travel together for business and for pleasure. This past year we went to seven business conferences and events, and went to Santa Clara, Chicago, San Francisco, and Los Angeles for nine different concerts — all without the kids — and it was awesome!
The kids still alternate between my parents’ house and Brian’s parents’ house for trips — or if it is during the school year, and the kids have after school activities, they come stay at our house. This past winter, Natalie and Carter also stayed at my sister’s house for a few days during our LA trip. Heck, my parents now complain if we pick up the kids too early from their house!
Living so close to our families and having so much help with our children is why — even though we talk about it all the time — we haven’t yet moved to Southern California and probably never will. There is no way we could enjoy the life that we do or build our business as we have, without the help we receive from our family.
Every part of our life, especially raising our children, is so much easier and more enjoyable with a strong, loving support system in place.
What About You?
Do you have a strong support system in place? Do you have family or friends to help with your kids? Do you invest in business events and business travel? Do you take vacations without your kids?
I’d love to hear from you!