When kids come, too, on business trips

January 09, 1994|By Lynn O'Rourke Hayes | Lynn O'Rourke Hayes,Arizona Republic

As parents in this country struggle to balance their work and family lives, more business travelers are taking their children on the road.

Last year alone, 16 percent of all business trips included children, according to the Travel Data Center, a non-profit organization that tracks travel trends. That percentage is expected to grow as the travel industry responds to the trend, providing more products and services to peripatetic families.

Traveling abroad with a child can be an enriching experience for all parties. The extended travel time provides a great opportunity for catching up on each other's lives. Plus, your son or daughter will have the opportunity to observe you in a professional setting.

If you are considering a child as an international travel companion, here are some tips:

* Familiarize your child with the destination. Depending on the age, choose guidebooks or stories that will provide a sense of the geography, language and culture. For younger children, the Madeleine books will work for Paris, and the Paddington Bear series will warm a child up for London, notes Dorothy Jordan, publisher of the newsletter Family Travel Times.

* When booking your air fare, be sure to mention the age of your travel partner. Ask about children's or student fares, meals and seating arrangements.

* Be sure your documents are in order. Check with your travel agent or the State Department for specifics on your destination.

* Ask colleagues or business acquaintances at your destination for recommendations on hotel selection, restaurants, child care and activities that might be of interest to you and your child. Large hotels in major markets and resorts are often prepared with English-speaking baby sitters.

* Depending on the age of your young companion and the nature of your appointments, consider taking your child along to your meetings. Children can be great icebreakers.

* Make sure your child has packed carefully. Be attentive to weather differences. Bring books, puzzles or music along for the plane. If there is a favorite stuffed animal or blanket, don't leave it behind.

* Illness away from home can be particularly frightening for a child. Take the proper precautions before leaving home. While away, drink bottled water and steer your child away from risky foods. Avoid lettuce, fruit and ice.

* If time allows, plan a few outings that will be of particular interest to your child. Arrange a visit to the home of a friend or colleague, so your child can get a glimpse of the country's family life.

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