August 31, 2009
Bringing your significant other to a business conference
I was in San Diego last week, speaking at a conference for independent professionals. My significant other had some vacation time he needed to use, and flights to Southern California were fairly inexpensive, so he decided to join me on the four-day trip.
As my beau and I quickly discovered, there are a number of pros and cons to piggybacking on a partner's business trip and trying to squeeze in a couple of shared vacation days (or in our case, afternoons). First, the plusses:
Familiar face in an unfamiliar city. Traveling for business -- and spending all your downtime solo or with industry counterparts you just met -- can get old after a day or two. Breaking away from the conference throng for an afternoon at the pool or an evening walk on the beach with my significant other was a welcome respite.
Tax-deductible getaway for me, cheaper trip for my guest. Happily, my flight and hotel stay were comped by the conference. Any other business-related expenses from the trip were tax write-offs for me, including transportation to and from airports and meals between conference sessions. As for my boyfriend, the free lodging greatly reduced his own tab for the trip.
Now for the minuses:
Difficult to fully immerse myself in the conference. Usually this would be a plus for me, as I tend to hit conference overload after half a day. But this happened to be a particularly innovative conference with an especially ebullient group of attendees, and at times I found it hard to tear myself away, despite the allure of frolicking among the palm trees and margarita menus with my guest.
Nowhere near the same as a real vacation together. My beau and I are in agreement here. For one thing, I brought my work stress and alarm clock with me. For another, he spent more than half the trip entertaining himself while I was busy with my conference duties. In his words, "The slow, coffee-drinking, newspaper-reading morning got old around 10 a.m."
Still, my beau and I agree that a workation is better than no time off together at all, and that if the price and schedule were right, we'd take a similar trip in a heartbeat -- especially if it were the only way we could afford to get out of town.
Readers, how about you? What's your take on traveling with guests when you attend industry conferences, trade shows, and other events? Better than no vacation at all? Or not worth the effort?
Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl, a career guide based on her 59 jobs over 40 years in 22 cities.
Kristen Fife is a senior recruiter, career mentor, blogger and resume consultant based in the Seattle area.
Lisa Quast is a certified career coach, mentor, business consultant, former corporate executive and author based in the Seattle area.
Randy Woods writes about job-search tools, networking techniques and other tips to help you land your dream job.
Matt Youngquist is the president of Career Horizons, a career counseling firm.
Natalie Singer is a Seattle writer, editor and small-business owner.
Michelle Goodman is the author of "My So-Called Freelance Life" and "The Anti 9-to-5 Guide."
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