5 Tips for Moms Who Travel for Work

A woman sits at the airport with her luggage and phone.From personal experience, frequently traveling for work means more parenting stress. It’s hard to be a traveling mom. It’s not only the stress of being gone that’s hard, but it’s also whether the plane will be on time, FOMO at home, packing, logistics, and even guilt for being away.

I travel a lot for work, and I’ve curated this list of tips that have helped me travel with a little less anxiety.

1. Splurge for VIP

I don’t know how often being both a CLEAR member and TSA PreCheck member has saved me time or saved me from missing a flight. And while each has its own benefits, the impact of having both has been exponential.

CLEAR is an expedited way to get through the security line. You only need your boarding pass. You do not need to pull out an ID because its system relies on scanning your eyes or fingerprint. And you get to cut to the front of the line, like a Disney fast pass.

TSA PreCheck is also an expedited way to get through security, but it works differently. It basically allows you to keep your shoes, belts, and light jackets on when you go through the metal detector. It also allows you to keep your laptops and 3-1-1 liquids in your luggage.

You may want to check to see if your company will pay for these services. In my humble opinion, it’s worth the splurge regardless, especially if you travel at least monthly like I do.

2. Create a Template Packing List

I am a huge fan of creating “systems” in my life. In other words, if there is something you have to do often, come up with a standard process then “rinse and repeat.” Try not to waste energy rethinking about it again, unless it is to improve the process.

Packing definitely falls into this category. One option is to buy a packing app for your phone. This is what I did more than six years ago when I began traveling often for work. The app is unfortunately no longer supported, but I now use Notes on my iPhone. Create a list and use it as a template to reuse.

The list should include clothing, toiletries, work stuff, and if needed, pumping stuff.

>> RELATED READ :: 10 Tips for Pumping While Traveling for Work << 

3. Curate a Clothing Capsule

This tip may stem from the fact that the work locations I visit have a uniform: company shirt, khakis or slacks, and flats or the occasional safety shoe. This makes creating a clothing capsule to use every time super easy.

For a two- to three-night trip, I pack the following:

  • Two work shirts
  • One black pant (my go-to: a dressy sweatpant that feels like but does not look like sweatpants)
  • One pair of khakis (love my Wit & Wisdom skinny pants)
  • One grey blazer (my fave is the Hannah Modal Scuba blazer)
  • One black or gray cardigan (love my coatigan!)
  • One pair of flats (I travel in Rothy’s ’cause they don’t set off the metal detector and are sustainable and washable)
  • One workout outfit (sports bra, t-shirt, leggings, and sneakers)
  • One pair of pajamas and slippers for the hotel room
  • Undergarments for each day
  • One comfy “airplane” outfit (Tip: I use one outfit for both flights. Sometimes I’ll use a workout outfit [pre-workout] on my departure flight and then reuse a work outfit for my return flight.)

Again, the trick here is to “rinse and repeat” once you’ve identified a capsule. In fact, when I get home from a work trip, I unpack and wash items immediately, then repack them into my carry-on for the next trip. That way, I’m pretty much already packed for next time. I only need to revise or refresh based on weather.

A beige carry-on suitcase against wall.

4. Assemble a “Go” Bag

Besides having my carry-on almost ready to go, I also have a separate toiletry bag that contains my travel toiletries and makeup.

For toiletries, I bought a travel kit to fill with my favorite products. Instead of packing and unpacking makeup and constantly checking a list and transferring, I invested in separate travel makeup. This could be trial sizes of your favorites from Sephora or Ulta.

I actually love to pack light, so I created my own stack from SubtlBeauty. I’m a minimalist when it comes to makeup at work, so this works well for me. Trestique is another popular brand.

5. Make It Memorable

This is my favorite tip of all. Consider how to reframe your trips to something positive and memorable for your kids instead of dread and chaos for your family. We talk about why I have to travel for work, what I do when I’m away (missing them!), and how they get to have special time with their dad.

Some choose to bring home gifts, but for the minimalist in me, I use this tactic sparingly. If I do bring home something, I try and keep it small.

>> RELATED READ :: Encouragement for New Working Moms <<

In lieu of gifts, I scribble messages for my kids on sticky notes and stick them in spaces like the staircase, bedroom or closet doors, and their bathroom mirrors. Sometimes I sneak little cards into their backpacks or shoes.

When I travel, they often get to skip after-school activities like Tae Kwon Do and get extra screen time and Chick-fil-A or pizza nights. Granted, my kids are young and perhaps easy to please — check back with me when they are pre-teens!

Frequent traveling for work isn’t easy, but there are ways to make it easier. Hopefully these tips help!

What tips do you have? Share below! 

Mey Ly Ortiz
The proud daughter of immigrants, Mey grew up behind the counter of a convenience store in Kaufman, Texas. After studying communications at Texas A&M (whoop!), she got her law degree from Southern Methodist University and stuck around North Texas after meeting her husband, Jason — a Navy veteran and Ironman — in a running store. While she herself has completed six marathons, 21 half-marathons, and a handful of triathlons, it was before she earned her favorite title of all, which is mom. When she is not chasing her kids, she's chasing her best self on the Peloton, devouring a book on Audible, or myth-busting "work-life balance" on her personal blog:TheMeybe.com.