09 MAY 2019: A life in travel is certainly nice work if you can get it, I always say, but the rigour of being a road warrior isn’t without its drawbacks and sacrifices. Foremost among them, of course, is family. There is, for example, many a marriage (or relationship) in the business that has failed to stand up to the hardship of the constant absences, whether or not what might be happening on the road stays there.

(On the other hand, some wags contend that such absences are the fundamental foundation of not driving each other crazy, or to be more charitable, ensuring that the heart merely grows fonder).

When it comes to the kids, however, there is little upside. Missed school concerts and soccer games are tough, but not as bad as birthdays or stat holidays (one top travel conference in the US, for example, often takes place over Victoria Day), meaning missed family outings or long weekends at the cottage.

Until last year, I managed to make every Halloween with my kids (who are now too old for the ritual, anyways), but bad weather nearly stranded me on a cruise ship for my son’s christening. After much stress, I ended up making the event (as evidenced by my writing this column since my wife would surely have killed me if I had missed it).

Of course, with more sensible travel management such milestone events don’t have to be a migraine-makers, but even non-risk travel was fraught with emotion. Watching your kids wailing on the porch as the airport limo pulls away, for example, is utter heartbreak.

Time also takes on a new traumatic twist. A five-minute flight delay might mean the difference between the baby/toddler not seeing you for six days instead of five because they conk out at 7 o’clock and 7:05 might as well be another day. They may not know, but you do.

Certainly, as the kids get older, mom or dad’s travel is eventually understood to be part of the rhythm of life and a pleasant source of gifts (and perhaps an occasional trip somewhere if they’re lucky), but that doesn’t diminish the parent’s awareness of the circumstance, namely that time and childhood days are fleeting.

When my son turned 10, I was inspired to do a rough calculation that showed that I had missed about a year of his young life, comprised of one three-day conference or week-long fam trip at a time. How in the name of Nantucket did this happen? I wondered.

To be sure, technology has eased this particular burden of travel. My ability to easily call and later Facetime my kids is a far cry from the days of having to wait for an hour or two in the post office in Paris to get a long-distance phone line over which I could assure my parents, who hadn’t heard from me for weeks, that I was in fact still alive.

Yet, with such experience forever informing my utter amazement at being able to Facetime from a cave hotel in the furthest reaches of Turkey, imagine the disappointment of being blown off: “Dad, we’re watching TV, why are you calling?”

Still, technology will never presumably be perfect, as evidenced by a demand I recall my daughter making when she was about four. As background, Meghan’s favourite cartoon featured a pair of fairies who could travel wherever they wanted, disappearing in a “poof” of smoke. I had called home the night before my trip back and was told in no uncertain terms, “Daddy, I want you to come home.” I explained that I was returning, but not until the next day. “I want you to come home. Right now!” she implored. As much as I wanted to, it just wasn’t possible, I insisted. But just one more sleep!

In the end, my excuses were to no avail.

“Daddy!!” she commanded imperiously, “Just say poof!”

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Michael Baginski

Editor at Large, Mike Baginski is well known and well respected within the industry across Canada, the US, in the Caribbean, Mexico and numerous other destinations outside North America.

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