What’s Your Breaking Point of Too Much Time Away from Home?

When business calls for a multi-week trip, what’s that point where you draw the line on the number of consecutive days on the road?

I am working with an international project team and am scheduling a multi-week period for the team will be together, and we’ll be repeating this a few more times over several months. For some of the team, being away from home and in another country all three weeks is fine; others say that two weeks away from their family is their max; and some want to get home at the end of one week. Sure, a lot depends on family situations and what’s going on in a person’s life at the time, but I’m curious as to what constitutes that line in the sand for you? That line where you start to grumble if gone from home too long at one time (or the line where your family starts to voice their not-so-happy opinion!).

Yes, it’s a balance between the cost of airfare to justify an international trip and the time away from home that a person feels is tolerable. For me, I like to head home after a couple of weeks, sleep in my own bed for a few nights, and then I’m ready to head out again. Though since I’ve been an almost-every-week traveler for so many years, a bit of the extreme traveler I’d say, I’m curious as to your feelings on what you’d be comfortable with? Whether your multi-week trips are domestic or international – your input is appreciated and may help other travelers know that they’re not alone in their breaking points.

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  1. I am relatively new to the every week travel business, been doing it for about a year. For me, 3 weeks is my max. I start to feel the pain after about 2 weeks away from home, but am able to stretch it out for the 3rd week. It’s not the being away from home that gets me; it’s the weekends of emptiness that normally turn into working weekends.

  2. I can 100% relate… sometimes I am on the road for 3 weeks hopping around from bed to bed, hotel to hotel… it’s exhausting. Though the pay is definitely worth it, I’ve set standards for myself. The maximum I’ll be away from my own bed is 2 weeks. If it’s longer, I’ll treat myself to a flight home just for the weekend.

  3. When I was traveling internationally, the cost of airfare did not factor into the equation about whether to fly home on the weekend (or every other weekend). Assuming it’s coach travel (big assumption), a roundtrip ticket to Europe would be equivalent to 3 nights in a hotel room (Friday, Saturday and Sunday, assuming you take the red-eye on Sunday) plus meals and other expenses over the weekend.

    I found that two weeks struck a good balance between not tiring yourself out with a red-eye every weekend and not going crazy from being away from home…although if the project goes on for more than a few months, the time spent at home should increase as the months go on.

  4. I commuted east coast to west coast for a year and a half with 2 weeks there, 1 week home. Taking the red-eye home for the weekend doesn’t do much other than tire you out. But having a full week at home makes it almost seem like you have a life.

  5. I have an international team and try to arrange 2-4 meetings every year. The balance we found is that 2 weeks are ok as long as it only ruins their weekend in the middle. A 2 week trip could mean anywhere from 1 to 3 weekends dependent how you structure it. With the 2 weeks I get around 8-9 working week days and at they also do not mind as much to (partially) work on the weekend in between.
    Also depends how you treat your team, I try to make sure all the food is free and good, go out for interesting dinner places and have a couple drinks at the bar.
    We are also more flexible and I will move meetings around if the team members ask for it.

  6. I haven’t traveled for work as much as some, but the longest trip I have taken was 3 weeks and it was really tough. I would say I prefer 1 week trips and I am okay with 2 week trips, any longer and it feels like I am away more than I am home and that doesn’t feel good or right.

  7. I totally can relate. 3 weeks is too close to being away from home for a month, especially when you add in travel time at the beginning and end. 1/12th of the year — poof!

  8. Yes, I concur with the balance you found. Our team is ok with working late hours and maybe a day on the weekend as well. We’ve changed up cities/countries when it makes financial sense but we’re often in the same city, which can get a bit old after many trips. And yes, gotta find ways to make it fun.

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