How to avoid the travel guilt trip

By Catarina Andrade 04 August 2015

International development work inherently comes along with plenty of travel. How are global development professionals with children handling the “guilt” of leaving their dependents behind? Photo by: WalkingGeek / CC BY

I love traveling. Between work-related travel and personal adventure travel, I’ve been to over 30 countries and counting.

Travel makes me feel alive. Maybe it’s because I’m a second generation “third culture kid” who doesn’t fit into a specific cultural identity box. Maybe it’s because I’m a global citizen and my family and friends are spread across six continents. Or maybe it’s because of the sense of freedom and wonder I feel while gazing out of airplane windows, or the compassion I feel when I’m reminded that we’re all the same.

There are only two times in my life when I haven’t wanted to travel. One is when I was overseeing pediatric HIV programs in four countries that required 75 percent travel. The travel was a little too much, and I woke up in the mornings not knowing which country I was in. The other time was when I returned to work post-maternity leave and the thought of getting on an airplane and leaving my son behind made me sick to my stomach. Travel set off my maternal instinct’s gag reflex and the guilt-o-meter started sounding its alarm.

As a working wife and mother with a zealous travel bug, I often get asked how I deal with the guilt factor. Sometimes it’s hard enough to get away for a workday at the office, but adding in travel certainly complicates things emotionally and logistically. If the travel isn’t work related and mandatory, like the recent trip I took to attend a friend’s wedding just because I wanted to, the guilt can be more brutal.

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About the author

Catarina Andrade@SaysCatarina

Catarina is a transformational leadership & wellness coach that helps changemakers who feel overwhelmed when it comes to balancing their purpose-driven work with their personal health and happiness. She supports them to create more time and energy to get it all done with less stress and burnout, so they can feel inspired, do good sustainably, and increase their impact.

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