Business Travelers' Staying in Touch Tips - My Family Travels

What do high-profile parents do when business travel calls and the children stay at home? Keep in touch, of course. Executives in the travel industry and a variety of other business travelers have conjured up ways to keep in touch with their kids and share their travel experiences.

Here are some of the helpful tips proved by the executive team at Starwood Hotels & Resorts regarding coping with business travel:

  • I travel with a cardboard cut-out of “Flat Stanley” (a character from a children’s book) in my briefcase. Then, I’ll have a picture taken of Flat Stanley and me with the pilot of the plane, and at places I travel. For “show and tell” at school, my wife put the photos that I sent home into a scrapbook for my first-grader.
    Hoyt Harper, Senior Vice President
    Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc.
  •  My kids stay in touch by sending faxes. In fact, before our global conference, my four-year-old son sent one that said, “Daddy, I love you. Have a good speech.”
    Randy Kwasniewski, Executive Vice President
    Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc.
  • When my daughters call my voice mail, I save their messages on a separate recorder. I travel with my pocket photographs, and a “talking photo frame” that lets the girls record a message on a chip for me to hear on the road. They also fax me goofy pictures, like the ones we are using in the Sheraton brand advertising campaign.
    Scott Williams, Chief Creative Officer
    Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc.
  • Right now, I contract them by e-mail and phone, but I’m hoping to stay in touch with a web camera, so I can send them a 10-second videotape message when I’m traveling.
    Scott Barrett, Vice President of Strategic Alliance Marketing
    Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc.
  • My nine-year-old daughter always drops a little something in my suitcase like a picture of the cat. My last trip, she drew me a song.
    John Beier, Area Managing Director
    Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc.
  • When my son was young, I used to leave little notes in his lunch bag and under his pillow and put a map on the refrigerator — geography! It’s important to plan your life. I can remember fighting my way onto a plane to get home in time for my son’s baseball game, and getting there in time to see him hit a home run to win a championship game.
    Sue Brush, Vice President
    Westin Hotels & Resorts
  • With a two-year-old, I stay in touch with delirious phone calls. I’ve just started to bring things home for her, though, like a Hawaiian print dress from our global conference in Honolulu.
    John Peyton, Vice President
    Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc.
  • We communicate daily. My son knows what time I check my e-mail every night and we use AOL instant messenger. And, yes, even at 18, he expects me to bring him something when I come back, and I always do, even if it’s just a little trinket from the hotel.
    Thomas Economos, corporate director, sales technology
    Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc.
  • My daughter collected dolls when she was younger, and I’d bring one back from each trip.
    Dan Gibson, Senior Vice President, Investor Relations
    Sheraton Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc.
  • We always show our three-year-old son where we’re going on the map, telling him. “Here’s where we are, here’s where we live and here’s where we’re going.”
    Kelly Welch, Director of Advertising
    Four Points Hotels by Sheraton
  • I always e-mail and sometimes send something goofy. I’ll also send digital pictures showing them where I am.
    Jay Schwartz, Strategic Sources
    Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc.

What Business Travelers Do for the Kids

  • We videotape bedtime stories for the kids so we can read to them even when we’re on a business trip. I call them every night, send them faxes and bring lots of presents.
    Nancy Reaven, President
    Strategic Health Resources
  • I call home every night and read my son’s favorite bedtime story whenever I travel.
    David Bigness
    Showtime Networks, NYC
  • I give them my itinerary and they look on the map, so they can see exactly where I am. One of our friends arranges for a pre-determined conference call to go over homework, and with the “homework web site” that our school district has, a business traveler can log on, access the homework nightly and help the kids, even while on the road.
    Bill Applebaum, actor
  • We always phone home twice a day and bring home something. Right now, we’re collecting bears from wherever we go.
    Sharon Pomerantz, Public Relations
    Virgin Atlantic Airways
  • …bring theme objects from travels like a kimono from Japan.
    Stuart Strelzer, Technical Manager
  • I bring my sons pins from every state and buy them local crafts that represent the area where I’m traveling. They have a collection of things from all over the world. I call twice a day to wish them a great day in the morning, and see how the day went in the evening, and I describe where I am, telling them things like, “I’m in the middle of Nebraska and there’s nothing where I’m standing except for farms and cows.”
    Jeff Teitelbaum, International Technical Support Specialist
  • I travel with my son’s photo on my laptop.
    Senior executive, Estee Lauder
  • I call my daughter every night, even though it presents a timing problem if I’m on the West Coast. I also will e-mail her, but she only checks her e-mail once a week so I use the cell phone.
    Patrick Huyghe, author
  • Before I travel, I buy a small, child friendly travel book filled with pictures and facts about where I am going. My 7 ½-year-old son reads and finishes the book while I am away, and when I get back we talk about all the places I visited, and he learns about different sites and cities at the same time.
    Michael Martin
    Showtime Networks, NYC
  • I phone the kids and use e-mail, a major difference now.
    Mike Fish, Sports Reporter
    Atlanta Journal Constitution
  • I use some of the online chat programs like ICQ or AOL instant message to contact the kids live, and use e-mail, if I don’t see them online.
    Mark Curtis, videographer
  • My mobile phone is my lifeline to the kids. Since it works in all 50 states, they can call me as if I was at home.
    Divorced father and frequent business traveler
  • I wrap a variety of small presents and leave them for my spouse to give to them at pre-determined times.
  • I always travel with a picture of my daughter and keep it on the night table next to the bed.
    Carolyn Schoemer, Real Estate Broker
    Coldwell Banker
  • When I was in Japan for the Olympics, I called them from the opening ceremonies, and, since we use digital cameras, I sent them photos via e-mail. And, I bring them t-shirts.
    Monte Lorell, Managing Editor – Sports
    USA Today

Thanks to Sheraton Hotels for sharing the wisdom of their traveling executives and road warrior guests.

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