can I refuse overnight business travel?

A reader writes:

Our company is switching software for our management systems. We have two locations in our area, and the company is telling us that we are to close our offices and all of our staff are required to travel three hours away with two overnight stays to be trained on the new system.

This seems unreasonable to me. We all have families and personal obligations. We will be training with coworkers from this other city who get to go home each night. We do not work in an industry that typically requires business travel so none of us agreed to travel when we accepted our jobs. I realize to many it may not seem like a big deal but to parents with small children and people with pets, this seems unfair. It does not seem reasonable that we have our lives hijacked for three days and two nights. Can it really be more cost-effective to pay for travel, meals, and hotels for five people? Five people who are angry and disgruntled about having this hardship placed on their lives in order to keep their jobs? It really does not seem fair.

I answer this question — and four others — over at Inc. today, where I’m revisiting letters that have been buried in the archives here from years ago (and sometimes updating/expanding my answers to them). You can read it here.

Other questions I’m answering there today include:

  • I think my manager is trying to push me out of my job
  • Can I stay in my boyfriend’s hotel room during his team-building trip?
  • My former employer won’t let me back to pick up my belongings
  • Can I ask a resigning employee to leave more quickly?

{ 299 comments… read them below }

  1. Justme, The OG*

    I’ve had to decline overnight business travel because I’m a single parent and the one person who I trust to take care of my kid for any length of time was out of town. So it’s doable, but not just that people have families and want to be with them.

    1. Karin Dalziel*

      This is exactly what I was wondering. My mom was a single mom to 3 kids for a time with no family nearby. Even IF you have a friend you trust enough, it’s a giant ask to be responsible for even one kid that’s not your own overnight. What, exactly, is one to do? It’s not like you can just kennel them like you can pets.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        I was thinking about this, and that it falls under one-off asks. If this will truly be the one trip, you ask the parents of your kids’ friends for help. Bearing in mind that people happy to step in and help for a one-off thing you couldn’t help mostly don’t want to hear about how that was so great you’re now thinking of leaving the kids while you get some R&R, or of taking that promotion that would require travel.

        Or you push back on the trip with the boss. (Could some people go, and train the ones who stay home?) One oddity with this letter is it’s not clear if OP–or anyone on the team–has a real problem here, or it’s just that hypothetically someone could and so no job can ever ask you to go somewhere.

        1. StaceyIzMe*

          It would be a financial challenge, but in the absence of acceptable family or professional help at home, I’d probably take the children with me and bring a nanny (or ask the hotel with assistance finding sitters). I wouldn’t be too inclined to trust someone overnight for several kids without a long prior acquaintance and prior success in an overnight sit.

          1. Justme, The OG*

            My cats are fine for a few days when left alone. I have someone stop by to make sure their gravity feeder hasn’t gotten stuck and stuff but they’re totally fine.

            1. Antilles*

              Yeah, cats are typically somewhat self-sustaining. If you leave out some extra bowls of water and food, maybe spend the $5 on a disposable litter box for them to use, and probably have someone swing by every couple days to refill things, they can often be perfectly fine by themselves unless there’s a specific medical issue that requires daily attention.

              1. TheFacelessOldWomanWhoSecretlyLivesinYour House*

                That is tricky–cats do require attention just like dogs. I would want someone to pop by once a day at least. Because if kitty gets trapped somewhere, a few days can kill him or her.

                1. Amy*

                  Agreed. No excuse really: rover off season rates for a daily drop in (in my high cost of living city): $16. Depending on flight times, you could get away with skipping the first or last day. I consider it simply part of being a cat mom.

                2. Clisby Williams*

                  No kidding. I’d never leave my cats at home unless I had somebody lined up to check in a couple of times a day. There are plenty of kennel places that take cats.

                  Pets should not be the problem. Kids can be.

                3. ofotherworlds*

                  It’s true that my cats do seem to miss me when I’m gone for too long. But they also interact with each other, so they’re not exactly alone if I’m out overnight. I would have a sitter come in or board them if I was going to be gone for longer than one night though.

            2. RadManCF*

              This can be breed-dependant; my cat seems to be at least part bombay, which is a relative of the siamese. Like the siamese, the bombay is less independent than most cats, and when my cat is left alone for longer than a few hours, he gets pretty sad. He’s always happy to see my wife and I when we return though; he treats us to a chorus of sad meows and head rubbing.

              1. RUKiddingMe*

                I have five cats (yeah…I know) and not one of them would be happy with us both gone even one full 24 hour period.

                I went to the store this morning…about an hour, and two of them let me know, vocally how it was so not ok for both of their humans to be gone that long.

                One of them kept following me around the house to continue to voice his displeasure/lay down the law.

                1. Claire Hale*

                  They’re cats. They’ll live if you leave them alone for 24 hours, no matter how much they may meow.

                  As a manager, I cannot overstate how angry I would be if an employee who was asked to do a once-in blue moon, two-night business trip told me she couldn’t go because she had to take care of cats. A new baby or special needs kid, yes. Cats, no.

                2. Cat Lover*

                  My cats are part of my family and I will NOT go on any overnight trips unless I know someone can look in on them 3 times a day. Capice? It is absolutely inappropriate of you not to give the same consideration to pet owners that you would to parents of children. You are a horrible, inconsideration manager.

                3. Jenny Next*

                  Claire Hale: Angry? Really? That’s a bit of over-reaction. That sounds like a manager who feels entitled to her employee’s entire life, not just the time spent at work.

                  People are entitled to have private lives. They are entitled to have children, pets, aging parents, hobbies, disabilities and anxieties, friends, things they do for fun.

                  Imposing unwanted work travel on them robs them of both their non-work time and money that they may have to spend to arrange caregiving. Often the travel itself takes place outside of normal work & commute hours, without compensatory time.

                  It’s really none of your business why an employee would be reluctant to do it. A good manager would understand that for many people this is a huge imposition, and would bend over backward to avoid having to ask. Including (gasp) arranging separate training for people locally. Or volunteering to pay for their caregiving costs, or better yet, arranging for caregivers.

                  Incidentally, there are such things as special-needs pets, and you can’t just leave them alone for 24 hours.

                4. Claire Hale*

                  Jenny Next: perhaps you missed the part of my post where I said I would make (within reason) accommodations for parents of young children. And as others have observed here, a rare two-night business trip is not unreasonable in a white-collar office setting, even if it’s “unwanted.” We ask employees to do plenty of “unwanted” things that they might prefer to forego for pets, dependents, hobbies, etc. We try to work around most of these, but that is not the same as an ironclad guarantee that you will never, ever be asked to travel.

                  Cat Lover: delighted you feel that way. I don’t. If you are going to have cats and are unwilling to leave them unsupervised for a short time, you should be prepared to kennel them — at your own expense — if you need to go out of town. It is unreasonable of you to ask the company to bear the cost of this when cats are perfectly capable of taking care of themselves for a short period. Otherwise you are imposing the costs of your cats on other employees.

                5. Jenny Next*

                  Claire, I did read it, and I see that you’re now qualifying the child-care accommodation with the words “within reason”. Who gets to decide what is within reason? Presumably you think you do.

                  And my point is that this is an attitude of ownership toward your employees. The fact that this is rampant in our society doesn’t make it in any way right. It’s discouraging to see the posts here that say “Suck it up”, and “Having to give up your free time and be out of pocket for expenses is just part of working”.

                  Do I think work-related travel an unreasonable thing to ask? No. Probably a lot of people would enjoy the travel, or enjoy the change of pace, especially if they are given time on the company clock to prepare for, and recover from, travel.

                  But it is an unreasonable thing to require. If an employee says they can’t do it, then that should be the end of the conversation, and the reason is irrelevant (and emotional response to their reason is inappropriate). Presumably you don’t refuse to grant vacations based on the employees’ plans, or sick days based on their physical complaint. This is the same principle.

                6. Mara*

                  Claire Hale: What if your employee has anxiety and can’t fly or travel long distances? Would you still be angry then? I’d like to encourage you, as a manager, to rethink the idea that you get to be the arbiter of what is a “good enough” reason to say no to travel, even if it is on a once-in-a-blue-moon basis. Just because someone doesn’t have kids who are small or who have special needs doesn’t mean they don’t deserve your empathy and compassion, whether you agree with their reason or not.

              2. SheLooksFamiliar*

                We always had Siamese cats when I was a kid, the classic apple heads. Meezers are beautiful cats but, boy, do they demand time with their people. If you cross them, they can gripe at you for hours. At least, ours did. They followed us from room to room, singing the song of their people and doing figure 8s around our legs.

                As an adult I’m horribly allergic to all cats and I really miss having them..never met a cat I didn’t like.

              3. Jadelyn*

                My mom has two cats – a Bombay, and a part-Siamese mix. When she goes out of town, I go by at least once a day, usually twice – morning and evening – and I try to make a point of spending some time sitting on her couch or playing with them. They really do need the attention. (The Siamese is a cranky old man who doesn’t like ANYONE but Mom – but by about day 3, he’ll grudgingly come sit next to me on the couch for awhile, having reached the point where his craving for human contact outweighs his disgruntlement that I’m not the right human.)

                My cat isn’t as openly needy as my mom’s cats are, but when she needs cat-sat I always ask my mom to spend a little time with her if she can – it’s not *necessary* the same way it is with dogs, but cats generally do still miss the company of their people and will do better with some facetime from someone even if it’s not their usual people.

              4. NotAnotherManager!*

                We have a half-Siamese, and he is a social butterfly. We’ve just arranged for a friend, neighbor, or pet sitter to come by at least once, usually twice per day to not only feed him and ensure he’s not gotten himself into trouble, but also to give him some attention. He is a drama-llama (waits until you walk in and then falls dramatically on the floor like he’s starving to death), and he usually manages to get one of my friends stuck petting his belly for 20-30 minutes.

                The other two keep each other company/entertained, and they hide from whatever intruder is leaving them fresh food and water.

              5. Jo*

                I also have a little Siamese and WOW that cat needs to be around people. She loves EVERYONE – humans, dogs, other cats, you name it. She only gets a little anxious around kids – the erratic movements scare her.

                That said, she doesn’t really get depressed when left alone for a bit. She loves people but is super independent at the same time and also seems to enjoy time to herself. So leaving her alone for a weekend, no problem. If I’m going to be more than 48 hours though, I’ll have someone stop in to check on her and clean her box. If I’m gonna be more than a week, she stays with a friend, or the friend stays at my place :) Everyone loves watching her, and I often throw in booze and/or baked goodies or cash.

              6. Jana*

                My cats get super sad when I’m out of town. One will lay next to me and wrap her tail around my arm in what feels like a “you’re not going anywhere this time!” gesture that she never does otherwise. The other will sit just out of reach of me and turn her back to me, but also sneak angry side glances at me to make sure I’m paying attention to her being mad. It lasts for a couple days depending on how long I’ve been gone. I have a “cat person” friend who is glad to come over and spend an hour or two playing video games with my cats and talking to them while they eat, otherwise they’ll refuse and just leave their food. It blows my mind that people think you can just leave cats alone for a few days with some extra food bowls!

                1. Pandop*

                  Well that’s because some cats you can. My Mum’s cat is happy to be left for a night or two (never longer) with food and water out. Always has been. My cat I have left overnight for one night (on more than one occassion) and again she has been fine. Longer holidays, Mum’s cat goes to the cattery, whereas a friend comes and cat sits for me (mostly because I have better wifi/tv than she does, and the bus route to work is as easy as from where she lives).

                  In fact, Mum’s cat has been in the cattery for an extended period while she was in hospital, and she was fine.

          2. SusanIvanova*

            The cat who needed booties to keep her from taking chunks out of the vet assistant turned into the staff favorite when she was just there to be boarded. Cats are so unpredictable.

            1. EH*

              One of our cats is super-affectionate until the vet/vet tech tries to hold her still. Then it takes three techs, me, and a tight towel wrap to hold her still long enough for one blood draw. (And she escaped the towel burrito at the end, we didn’t let her out.) But she sat in the vet’s lap later in the same appointment. Cats are odd creatures.

              1. NotAnotherManager!*

                My loves-everyone cat is a psychotic nightmare at the vet. The cat who’d nip you just to remind you he still had teeth just glowered at everyone and was far easier to deal with.

                One of our cats (I am not making this up) angry-poops every single time we have to put him in the carrier. After, of course, hissing, swinging every clawed limb he has at everyone, and generally being an asshole about the whole thing. At the vet? Calm, mostly cooperative, and, last time, purring.

                I will never understand any of them.

              2. Rebecca in Dallas*

                My cats are *so* good for the vet/vet techs. They’ll sit perfectly still and take a pill from the vet tech but at home, I get mauled. Cats are so weird!

        1. Rainy*

          You can definitely board cats, small pets, birds, and reptiles.

          Cats generally can be boarded at catteries, small pets and birds and reptiles more typically at your small pet, bird, or reptile vet, as most boarding facilities are equipped for dogs and cats, maybe ferrets/guinea pigs/hamsters if they have the space to have a small pet room (and then except for ferrets you typically bring the whole cage setup rather than just bringing the animal to be put in the facility’s enclosures.

          1. Blerpborp*

            We had to start kenneling our cat for anything other than a one night trip because she takes medication twice a day. She’s pretty social and doesn’t mind the kennel and the employees there love her (it’s also her vet office.)

            1. Rainy*

              Yeah–meds are a good reason to do full-service boarding (whether at the vet or another full-service place). When you find the right petsitter obviously they are a godsend, but if you aren’t 110% sure your petsitter is the right one, better safe than sorry.

            2. Yay commenting on AAM!*

              Yup, my sister’s cat is on a special diet where she has to be fed four times a day, three of them wet food with added water to turn it into a disgusting smoothie. My sister, me, and my husband can’t all go out of town at once, because someone needs to look after her cat’s special diet.

          1. RabbitRabbit*

            I’ve done the same for ferrets, and now our rabbits. I’ve known three different boarding facilities (one in an animal shelter, two in private homes) that are rabbit-only for boarding.

          2. Slartibartfast*

            We had pocket pets (gerbils, mice, hamsters etc), birds, cats, rabbits and even a fish board with us once. If your vet can’t watch it, they know who can.

        2. Hobbert*

          Nah, you can board cats too. I board mine at this awesome cat hotel that has cameras so I can watch him and a little cat condo and feeds him his special gluten free food. It’s ridiculous but he doesn’t hate it and that’s all you can really hope for in a cat.

        3. Hamstring Disturbance*

          I board my cat several times a year, including when I’ve had business travel while my husband was deployed. She’s fine.

        4. CatMintCat*

          I board my cats regularly. If I’m only going for a weekend I’ll leave them with lots of water and a self-feeder and clean litter, but more than that, off to the kennel they go . They hate it, and make sure I know that they hate it (my big tough male cat spends the entire time hiding under his blanket, glaring ferociously at anybody who lifts the blanket to check if he’s still alive), but they are well looked after there.

        5. TassieTiger*

          That’s…really not true. I’ve booked my mice and rats to be taken care of while on holiday.

      2. Person from the Resume*

        An option to the giant ask is to pay someone to do it. Or for a trusted family member to fly to you or pay for the kids to fly to the family member.

        I’m not saying it’s easy, but if the rare travel is necessary for you to keep your job then it could be worth it.

        1. Angeldrac*

          As a parent, I don’t think those options are workable.
          Paying someone, like from and agency, you mean? Someone who’s new to the family? That’s something you work up to, over a period of time, not something you suddenly do for 3 whole days and 2 nights. That would be unthinkable to most parents.
          And the expense of flying and accommodating the children or relative would likely be prohibitive and unlikely to be shouldered by the employer.

          1. Julia*

            It’s how I get a nanny job for a semester, though. The mother was a flight attendant suddenly transferred to international flights, the father worked somewhere else anyway, and the grandparents couldn’t watch the kids (around 10 and 7), and I knew them vaguely, so I ended up staying with them for two nights a week almost weekly for a semester, and loved doing it too, because their apartment was much nicer than my tiny student room with a only futon and a tiny desk.

            1. Guacamole Bob*

              7 and 10 is a very different boat than 1 and 4, though. I’m a parent to younger kids and I agree with Angeldrac that it would be unthinkable, though I can see that the required degree of familiarity with a sitter is dropping dramatically as they head toward elementary school age.

            2. Gresssa*

              7 and 10 year Olds can basically take care of themselves, or the 10 year old can take care of their sibling. They just need to be given food (and they can learn how to make simple meals) and some emotional support for a few days.

              1. JSPA*

                The legality of that varies by state (in the US).

                “Illinois law requires children to be 14 years old before being left alone; in Maryland, the minimum age is 8, while in Oregon, children must be 10 before being left home alone.”

                link in sub-comment, so this will post.

                1. Guacamole Bob*

                  I assume Gressa’s point is that the level of confidence or experience you need in a sitter for older children is a lot lower than you’d need for young ones, since the older kids can do most of the necessary stuff for themselves.

                2. Gresssa*

                  Guacamole Bob, that’s what I mean. But also, how ridiculous is it that in some states you can’t leave a child alone before they’re 14? That makes zero sense. I would say from age 7 and up kids can certainly be alone for a few hours (I know I was) and after 10 they can certainly handle being alone overnight.

                  And if there’s no government subsidized childcare in the states with ridiculous laws like this, this just creates a huge burden for working parents, with no required paid leave as well…

                3. NYWeasel*

                  CT’s laws are infuriatingly vague. The mandatory supervision laws end at age 8, but after there’s this period where it’s up to your judgment *unless* there’s a problem, in which case they reserve the right to charge you with negligence. I’d like to think they intend that gap to be able to prosecute parents who leave their kids alone for multiple days, but it’s far too easy for them to also punish average parents after unfortunate situations for misjudging their kids’ abilities.

            1. Angeldrac*

              Someone you know doesn’t instantly become available, willing or appropriate to care for 3 young kids just because you throw money at them.

              1. JamieS*

                Then find another solution if that one isn’t feasible in your specific circumstance. This isn’t rocket science and no suggestion is going to work for 100% of people 100% of the time. That doesn’t mean a suggestion isn’t feasible to many and at this point we’re getting into sandwich territory.

                There are plenty of times at least one person in a lot of people’s life would be able to watch their kids overnight on a one-off basis and the clear point of PFTR’s post was that compensation can be a way to help lubricate the ask. Particularly if you feel it’s a large/imposing favor.

                1. MassMatt*

                  +1 for “sandwich territory”.

                  As Alison said, occasional travel for business is normal. People all over the country from all walks of life do this. Yes, even single parents. It is doable, the proof is that millions of people are DOING IT!

                  The OP is acting as though traveling to a city 3 hours away for 2 nights is an unbelievable hardship, it isn’t. OP pushing back on this will seem weird at best.

          2. JSPA*

            Our parents did it, every winter, once or twice, for skiing. 5 days to a week at a time. I think they usually tried to have the sitter sit for us at least once evening, in advance, in case there were questions. Starting when we were 1-1/2 and 3-1/2 (maybe earlier?) ending when we were 5-1/2 and 7-1/2 (and thus old enough to come along and learn to ski).

            The only promise was that if we really hated a sitter, they’d find someone else for the next time. It was sometimes stressful, sometimes kind of fun (mudpies! and walking in the mud, intentionally!) and generally OK. This was the early 70’s, and people were just generally not wound as tight about managing kids’ experiences. We also rode our big wheels around the neighborhood. I’m sure bad things happened to some of us. But a lot of good things also happened to all of us.

        2. Kristine*

          I live very far from all my family members. A round-trip ticket to bring them out to me would be an entire month’s pay. I’d rather cash in brownie points with my boss and ask to skip the training than pay an entire month’s salary to have a family member fly out to watch my kids.

        3. Mountainly*

          I’ve flown grandma into cover when I had to go out of the country for work for a week. It’s doable for those who have those resources (both family and $). Not for those who don’t.

      3. Indigo a la mode*

        I definitely had trusted babysitters watch my brother and me for a couple of days when my parents had to travel and we lived far away from relatives, and I did the same for a family I babysat for at least twice. Ultimately, staying overnight isn’t that different from babysitting any other time of day as long as they can drive and you know them to be responsible.

        1. Amy*

          It really depends on the age of the child. Overnights with a school age child vs a toddler or infant are not comparable at all.

          1. JamieS*

            It may be true there’s a difference but I’d argue that even so watching a baby isn’t such an insurmountable undertaking that the average trusted adult wouldn’t be able to do so for a few nights. That is assuming an average generally healthy baby, obviously a baby with special needs is different.

            1. Rana*

              My child wouldn’t take a bottle at that age and had severe separation anxiety – like, she’d scream if I left the room. For an emergency – like a parent needing surgery – sure, the child will survive. But I would not have put my child through a night of hunger and emotional trauma for training.

      4. Not A Manager*

        Late to this, but I had very good luck getting overnight sitting from trusted teachers at my kids’ schools. Not their current teachers, of course, but past teachers or ones that taught other classes. You have to pay attention to who you’re asking, so as not to offend or overstep, but it’s not like teachers are just raking in the cash. Young single teachers or middle-aged empty nesters were frequently very happy to stay over and be paid for it.

    2. Alienor*

      I’m also a single parent and have declined for the same reasons in the past. I think there’s a lack of understanding because higher-ups will look around and go “well, so and so is a single parent and travels.” Yes, but so and so is divorced and their kids can go stay with the other parent; my kid’s other parent is dead, we have no local family, and there is literally no one but me to take care of her. Luckily it never came to a “travel or be fired” situation, because I don’t know what I would have done if it had.

      1. Justme, The OG*

        Same, although other parent is not dead but permanently removed from our lives. My supervisor at the time was very understanding, thankfully. I do not know what I would have done had she not been.

      2. hbc*

        Everyone understands it’s a hardship, but most of the people I know who say they can’t swing the trip also can’t afford to lose their job.

        I’ve spent time outside of school or daycare with maybe five parents of my kids’ classmates. Not close. But if I got an email or note from pretty much any of them asking if we could host an emergency 2 night sleepover, I would do it. Not actually that hard, my kid gets a friend over, and now I’ve got someone I don’t have to feel guilty asking for a tactical play date later.

        1. Normally a Lurker*

          I think this is what I was thinking too.

          My dad traveled for work A LOT and was rarely home. And I DEF remember some emergency school night sleep overs when my mom suddenly had a work thing came up. Maybe 4 of them the whole time? Not a bunch. My brother stayed with his friends, I stayed with mine. I missed dance that week. It wasn’t the end of the world.

          Also, I thought it was the coolest thing. Bc school night sleep over.

          1. Guacamole Bob*

            Age matters hugely here. Elementary or middle schoolers? Yeah, sure, I’ll have a school night sleepover now and then to help a friend out, or ask someone to take my kids for a night. Two year olds? No way.

      3. JSPA*

        Some hotels coordinate in-hotel-room day care, so a parent can bring the kids along. Breakfast with kids, potentially lunch with kids, dinner and bedtime with the kids. It’s not ideal–they can be fussy, you can be frazzled–but asking boss to cover that may work better than, “nope, not going.”

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          Now see THAT is where I draw the line because of personal bad experience. That’s how I had a ruin with a pedophile who took advantage of transient population.
          I’d MUCH rather call on a favor from a school friend’s or hire someone from daycare to stay at our house for 2 nights. (Ours would coordinate that with their extra/backup staff.)

        2. NotAnotherManager!*

          Yeah, I would never let a hotel find someone to watch my kids. First, cooping kids up in a hotel room all day would be a nightmare. Second, they’d miss school. Third, I would be shocked if hotels did background checks or any sort of vetting that should be done for childcare providers.

          I would much rather ask a friend, kids’s friend’s parent, teacher at school or daycare, or a family member. Hell, I’d rather have the reliable, vetted sitter that comes recommended by any of the above before I leave my kids in a hotel room with someone I don’t know nor does anyone that I know.

    3. SemiRetired*

      Just want to make a plug for single parents out there to have some backup plan to take care of their kids in an emergency. Not a business trip, but I ended up in the hospital once and my child ended up spending the night at her day care providers home, then my sister flew out the next day to stay at my place. If day care provider hadn’t stepped up my kid would have been taken to foster care. It’s a good idea to have a plan in advance even if it’s a paid sitter you don’t use a lot but at least your kid has met them before.
      Otherwise for the LW, I suggest not staying over night and doing the 6 hour round trip as a commute for those 2 days. If you split driving with a coworker it’s not that bad, get a morning and evening sitter and be home at night.

      1. Alison gives the best advice.*

        That would have been my suggestion as well. Do the drive to avoid the overnight.

    4. Seriously?*

      How can parents or caregivers not have a plan in place for the emergency situation kids/dependents need to be taken care of? Same for pets too. All the people saying “it’s not possible”: what if you were in a car accident and hospitalized? Your kids would just be picked up by child family services? Your pets would just die at home? I find it incredibly irresponsible to not have a plan in place for something like this and call yourself a “care giver” of any kind.

      I realize business travel isn’t usually an “emergency”. If the trip is mandatory and you can’t afford to lose your job over it I’d certainly consider it important enough to figure out.

  2. Nanc*

    This is the 21st century. At the very least you can have a trainer at each site–which should be cheaper than hotels, meals, and travel costs for an entire office–sheesh!

    1. Katelyn*

      If the cost of the training is $10,000 per training and it’s best done in person, the business can do 10K for one training with everyone at the same site, or 20K for the training at two sites. 10K is probably more than the cost of travel, meals and hotel for 5 ppl…

      *and I’m lowballing the 10K cost, I just signed off on a similar training that was three days at 16K, external consultants can be very expensive!

      1. myswtghst*

        Yes, this. I am a trainer and have also coordinated vendors coming on site for training, and bringing in an outside vendor to do on-site training often costs a lot more than people expect. Not to mention,your cost per person typically goes down as you add more people to the training – so training all the employees at once may be significantly cheaper than running two smaller sessions at two locations.

    2. Sleepytime Tea*

      I worked on a training team and I can tell you it can be significantly more expensive to train people at multiple locations than it can be to pay to have people all travel to the same location, especially when you have the vendor doing the training. One thing that happens a lot is that you will have a contract with a vendor for the software, implementation, and training, and that includes ONE training. Additional training is super expensive and you have to pay their rates to travel to another site for that extra training. You are usually paying them a premium, not just their actual costs for the travel and such, so it’s more expensive. It really has nothing to do with what century we’re in.

    3. AnaEatsEverything*

      Or virtual training. My company is also going through a major software change that will impact every aspect of our business… and it is being handled entirely through conference calls and virtual training.

      I would also be annoyed about having to travel for three days, and I guess I’m a little surprised that being irritated about it would be considered “out of sync with workplace norms”. I would at least hope that there would be enough notice to get appropriate child and pet care in place in advance… and by “enough notice”, I mean at least a month. Childcare is expensive.

      1. Antilles*

        Virtual training isn’t always as effective though.
        If you’re training someone on a new software, there’s a lot of benefit to having someone physically there. A good trainer can look at everyone’s faces and quickly tell whether the message is sinking in or not. A trainer can walk around the room and provide specific help to people who are getting stuck. It’s often a lot easier to talk through problems when you can have someone physically sitting next to you and pointing out things as you go. The vendor may or may not be set up in a way to make it feasible to do virtual training in the first place due to the need for specialty equipment. And as a general thing, most people seem to mentally zone out waaaaaay quicker with Skype/etc than they would if the other person was physically present.
        It might be worth looking into for the company, but it’s entirely possible that they’d conclude that virtual training is not the way to go.

        1. Amy*

          The quality of online learning can vary a lot. I’ve just finished an online python programming class that was delivered almost flawlessly, a huge improvement on my experience as an undergrad ten years ago. Skype-based office hours were really effective but it was one on one with screen sharing that made it work. In a group setting you’d want to take turns solving problems for one person at a time, showin how to debug it in a way that others could use to ideally solve their own problems. But that would call for two trainers: one in the room and one on Skype.

      2. myswtghst*

        I think it’s reasonable to be less-than-thrilled, and it would be reasonable to push back if there wasn’t enough notice to make accommodations for your non-work responsibilities. My read was that the issue was being “angry and disgruntled”, which (to me) is miles away from “irritated” and would likely be harder to mask when communicating with management about the training.

        1. MissDisplaced*

          It did read as quite hostile to me as well. “We have our lives hijacked,” and “unfair,” and “hardship,” plus “five people who are angry and disgruntled” make it seem like it’s about much more than just training on a new system for a few days.
          And how could 5 different people all be so impacted/upset by a few days travel?

          1. Lorna D*

            Well, I have an invisible illness, a blood cancer that can cause stroke/heart attack/pulmonary embolism. Being on a flight wildly exacerbates this risk for me. I’d rather not bring up the fact that I have cancer to my employer, because I can get by day to day without it impacting me too much (at least that they’d see), but this would force me too. And what if they still determined I needed to go? Do I now need to take a train? What if the train takes more than a day to get there? There’s a lot more to consider than I think people are realizing. I do think that expecting travel for training is something that could come up and I see that it could be necessary, but there is a lot more to consider than whether it’s just inconvenient for people.

            1. NotAnotherManager!*

              All you would need to say is that you have a health condition that precludes flying and can provide a doctor’s note verifying it, if needed. Then, you should offer alternatives for how you could get to the training and figure out what you can work out that works for them without endangering your life. You do not need to provide specific health details, and your employer should already know that it does not impact your day-to-day performance.

              There are tons of reasons that it’s difficult for people to travel for business, but most people manage to find a way to make it work. Particularly if the employer is providing ample notice and is only expecting travel in this very limited circumstances, I don’t think they’re being unreasonable.

    4. NerdyKris*

      One could say that since it’s the 21st century, training might require very specialized knowledge or equipment, and isn’t as simple as a classroom and a lesson plan.

    5. DanniellaBee*

      That is not a certainty by any means. Depending on the trainer and particular field this could be an event that costs the company thousands of dollars to conduct once at a single location. When I have been involved with setting up training in the past it was $5,000 for 2 days with the expert we needed.

    6. Random observation*

      I think it is up to the employer, not OP, to determined whether it is more cost-effective to ask employees to travel or to hold the same training on two sites.

      1. Database Developer Dude*

        Except the employer doesn’t always go with the cost effective way. I’ve worked places where they’ll piss money like water, and refuse to do something that will SAVE money if it’s for the benefit of the rank and file.

  3. anon today and tomorrow*

    Two nights once a year is really not that big of a deal unless you have absolutely no one to cover personal obligations at home. Or, as Alison says, unless you have extenuating circumstances.

    I could understand the inconvenience if they sprung this on you and told you it was going to start occurring biweekly or monthly, but I think you’ll come off as out of touch if you get worked up over two nights and don’t have a reason beyond having kids or pets. I wouldn’t really consider it a “hardship” so much as a temporary inconvenience.

    Also, I’d be cautious of framing it as unfair to only people with kids, families, or pets. I’ve been in offices where the “I have a family/pets!” means people without families, kids, or pets are expected to stay later or travel instead on the assumption that they have more free time just because they don’t have anyone waiting for them at home. That’s also not fair. You can’t start using differences in lifestyles outside work to decide who gets to do what.

    1. GhostWriter*

      Thanks for pointing out that different lifestyles/factors outside of work shouldn’t decide who has to do what.

      I haven’t dealt with that issue at work, but in grad school I was working part time (32 hours a week) and one person in a group project kept volunteering me and herself to do extra work because we “only worked part-time.” I worked part time because I was also doing an internship–I didn’t have more free time to do extra work. Drove me crazy that someone was making assumptions based on one thing and deciding it meant I should do more.

      1. MassMatt*

        No one has the right to volunteer someone else. I knew someone who did this constantly, saying things like “Oh, Steve doesn’t mind..” etc. It was obnoxious and I told her so.

        1. GhostWriter*

          I was confused/shocked when my volunteer-er did it, so I didn’t speak up immediately, but told her later over e-mail to stop. (I was overly polite about how she “probably didn’t realize” what she was doing, but she had a meltdown and drama followed.) Found out later everyone else thought she was being weird and weren’t sure what to do. Would definitely speak up in front of the group next time.

          1. Korean*

            ??? I’d really love to know what she had a meltdown about, unless it was a cover for being embarrassed for always making decisions for you.

            1. female peter gibbons*

              I always work near where I live and I worked a particular job where other people kept volunteering me to stay late because “She lives down the street”. Hey you *&%#ers why don’t you all go work where you live or live where you work like I do. STFU and mind your own business about where I live.

            2. MCMonkeyBean*

              I had a roommate briefly and I came home one day to find the heat turned on for the first time and it was set to like 82. I assumed she had turned it up and then left not realizing how hot that would make it so I texted her and was like “hey, I’m not sure if you meant to put the heat up this high but I think that’s probably too much for indoors so I’m going to set it to [whatever more reasonable temperature.]” Later when she got home she had a meltdown about how no one had ever not liked her before and she didn’t know what to do. I was like wtf??? Like, first of all I liked her just fine but also there’s no way it’s true that NO ONE has ever not liked her before because we all annoy someone and that’s something you really have to learn how to accept!

    2. Lucille2*

      Couldn’t agree more. I’ve grown so tired of employees trying to claim they should be owed more flexibility because of lifestyle choices. Dumping more work or travel on single, childless employees is really unfair to those employees. This starts in on a slippery slope of introducing biases based on employees’ lifestyles rather than focusing on their merit. This isn’t so different than paying an employee who is sole earner for a family more than the equivalent level employee who does not financially support anyone else.

      1. Leslie knope*

        This doesn’t really make sense in this context since everyone has to go to the training, so the situation isn’t someone getting more work dumped on them because of OP. I feel like we should avoid falling into this trap every time the topic is working parents.

        1. anon today and tomorrow*

          I made the point in my initial comment that Lucille responded to because the letter writer made a point of saying it was unfair to parents and pet owners. I do think that’s a mindset to be aware of because there’s an implication in that statement that anyone who has someone waiting for them at home are the only ones who would be inconvenienced by overnight travel, which really isn’t the case.

        2. CmdrShepard4ever*

          While someone else is not getting more work dumped on them, the implication from OP1 seems to be that people with kids and/or pets should be able to avoid going on trip to train. Even in cool locations, business travel is still business travel. There would probably be child/petless people would would prefer to not go on the trip as well. I strongly believe in work-life balance and people’s lives outside of work being accommodated but that should apply to everyone.

          If travel proves to be a hardship for some they should be accommodated if the business trip allows it. But sometimes it may not be possible.

          1. voyager1*

            I have been on two teams where someone wouldn’t work beyond their quitting time.

            1st team, single Mom who couldn’t because of her child. But she would take short lunches and was always a team player.

            2nd team, single guy no kids, hipster type. He did have a dog, no spouse. When I suggested that we rotate employees to cover folks who worked weekends, he pretty said he wasn’t going to do it to our manager. I pretty much got the “he does good work” argument when it came to accountability with him until I went to the grand boss THREE YEARS LATER. Now we have duty roster for covering shifts when something happens. But still that doesn’t address the late nites many of us work that he doesn’t.

            Oh and I am the guy with a family. So yeah I resent the folks who hide behind their families when it comes to overtime. I am not the only one either.

            1. Scrooge*

              If people don’t want to do overtime, that means it’s underpaid.

              Reward staying late, weekend cover, etc and it will be done

              1. Colette*

                I don’t want to do overtime, even if I’m paid for it. (I will do it when it’s necessary, but the extra money does not make it more attractive to me.)

              2. Sam Sepiol*

                I’d love to have overtime. But single parent and I can’t without being unfair to my child. Don’t oversimplify.

              3. Time Is Valuable*

                Well, I don’t think there’s a whole lot that can be done above the 1.5x normal pay to make OT more palatable. I know at one point, there was mandatory 5 hours weekly OT at my job, and at one point I negotiated the “perk” of not having to do OT (and shortly thereafter, it became non-mandatory for everyone). I haven’t done any OT since. It’s still offered sometimes, and I’ve even sometimes been specifically asked if I would because I am really good at the job, and I tell my boss every time that I won’t do it unless it’s the only way that I can keep my job at all. And I don’t need any reason more than “I prefer not to”. My time is just more precious to me than a few extra dollars in my check.

      2. lobsterp0t*

        OK, but in the UK for instance, it can be a form of maternity-based discrimination (direct or indirect) depending on what it is.

        I would have to look and see if there is caselaw in the other direction, but in many countries other than the USA maternity is a protected characteristic which means that if it would cause undue hardship on that basis you have to work to accommodate it.

        As a child free person who is also a manager, I definitely understand both sides and this is why I set clear deadlines for e.g. Christmas leave to ensure that there is a fair rotation that, where possible and where it’s otherwise possible to balance, everyone gets to take some of the time off sometimes, etc., but no one gets to take it all of the time. For something like this I’m inclined to agree with other commenters that for a one-off versus a regular occurrence, the judgement of both employee and employer would be based on different criteria.

    3. ThankYouRoman*

      Also it chaffs my behind when hypothetical excuses are thrown out. I have pets. I can still travel with notice, I’m fine with a pet sitter. Yes, some cannot do that, yes some times you don’t have options but don’t lump me into a group and use my lifestyle as a sweeping generalisation.

      If someone is upset. Address it. But don’t assume I’m mad or put out. Just like don’t assume I’ll just take whatever is flung at me!

      1. anon today and tomorrow*

        Yes! I totally understand very last minute travel being undoable for parents or pet owners (as well as a lot of other non-parent/pet owner employees), but if you have a good notice period for overnight travel, I feel like this is a common aspect of work and having planned life decisions like kids or pets. Most normal companies tend to give a good notice period when someone has to travel.

        I feel like I see a lot of complaints about child care or pet care when it comes to work travel…..but honestly, it kind of boggles my mind that someone plans to have kids or pets and doesn’t think they’ll ever need occasional care at any point in their lives. I know it can be an expensive hassle, but it’s not really that unusual or such a surprise to think about, is it?

        1. A New Level of Anon*

          I kind of assume that people who make a big fuss about this either:
          (a) have very little social capital for some reason, so they don’t have anyone they know personally who can ask to kid- or pet-sit, or
          (b) there’s some sort of money issue going on that makes it particularly challenging for them to afford care, or
          (c) special needs kids and/or pets, or
          (d) control issues.

          I mean, the kinds of jobs where overnight travel is unavoidable are usually the sorts of jobs that pay at least a living wage, and often more than that. I assume that my job pays me as much as they do in part because they expect me to use some of that money to figure out how to organize my life so that it doesn’t interfere too much with my ability to get my job done.

          1. ThankYouRoman*

            I think it boils down to fear a lot of the time and inability to look at creativity/explore the options in the world around us. That’s why my mom is still worried about me being far far away and if I’m sick (with the flu or something basic as well as what if I get Ebola), then what happens?! My response is “I drove myself to the hospital with a gallbladder attacking me once. I’ve got a phone for 911. Yes, maybe if you don’t hear from me in our usual time frame, request a well check!” others will just build a wall around themselves and never leave the compound.

            1. A New Level of Anon*

              Sometimes (e) isn’t so much about narcissism as it is about what ThankYouRoman’s talking about, where you have someone who’s just so afraid, avoidant, or unable to think of alternatives that the whole concept of being responsible for compromise is a total blind spot for them.

          2. Guacamole Bob*

            I feel like this is a little harsh. I have two young kids, and I’m happy to do occasional business trips because I have a spouse whose job can handle that. But if that weren’t the case – if I were a single parent or my spouse did shift work or something – it’s a matter of asking family to travel from at least a couple hours away to stay with the kids. Overnights are fine now that the kids are preschoolers, but when they were babies and toddlers it was a pretty big thing to ask of family, much less friends – the twins were up at all hours of the night and just took a huge amount of energy to wrangle (one set of grandparents was up for it, the other wasn’t except for short stints). Generally I’d like to save the overnight babysitting favors for precious time away with my spouse anyway, not a corporate training.

            I’d watch my friends’ kids overnight in a heartbeat for a family emergency or something, but overnight babysitting is not a casual favor. For a random work trip it would be a pretty huge imposition, and one that would be seen as pretty unusual among my friends. Once the kids are old enough that sleepovers are a fun thing, that will likely change.

            And to get a paid sitter overnight for multiple days is hundreds of dollars. Lots of people don’t have room in the budget for that.

            Any of these options are disruptive to the kids at the very least, and have the potential to be really upsetting if it’s a stranger watching them or they have to go stay at a friend’s house they don’t know well or if it’s more than a day or so. Little kids have a bad sense of time and miss their parents when they’re out of routine – I’ve known 1- and 2-year olds to cry for hours after drop off at a new daycare in the first days, even if they have loving teachers present and ultimately settle in fine. Lots of kids have minor medical stuff or allergies or whatever that makes it more stressful to leave them in the care of others, too.

            Like I said, this kind of trip likely wouldn’t be a big deal to me – my spouse could almost certainly handle it, and if she had a conflicting work trip we’d ask a grandparent and it would be fine. But I can totally understand why someone would have trouble making it work depending on their personal circumstances, and why it could cause resentment if the trip is mandatory but doesn’t even feel that important or is at short notice.

            1. Ann Perkins*


              It’s also more common for high earners to have moved away from their hometowns and thus not live near grandparents who can help. We’re a dual income family and we can throw money at house cleaning, dog walking, etc when we need to but overnight child care is just a whole different can of worms.

            2. Lynn Whitehat*

              YES. When the kids were small, we literally did not have anyone who would watch them overnight, for love or money. And I know because we tried both approaches. Some people just don’t have it. Not necessarily because they have “very little social capital”, but because it would take an enormous amount of social capital to get someone to do it for a small child. Like, you’re on your city’s Planning and Zoning Commission, and your babysitting candidate DESPERATELY wants a variance, level of social capital.

          3. Slartibartfast*

            e) emotional trauma and family can’t be trusted with the kids
            f) married to a shift worker who would have to take time off work for spouse to travel
            g) chronic health issues that are heavily aggravated by sleep disturbances

            These are my reasons, and thankfully my manager always allowed me to choose conferences that didn’t require overnight travel for my continuing education. If it meant keeping my job, I would probably suck it up even though it WOULD be a hardship-once. The second time, I would be putting in notice.

          4. Fluff*

            h). Took job based on lifestyle / kids / medical condition / choices / phobias / whatever that did not have travel. Made job decision based on job and individual circumstances. Now job expectations and travel expectations have changed, but the individual’s circumstances have not.

            h1). Maybe hostility because people who chose the job based on #h are now anxious that the job is changing in a way that they cannot adapt anytime as fast as current job wants / ever / as soon as job Now those employees might be quietly afraid they have to change jobs. (i.e. due to # a,b,c, h) and are looking at the scary option – loss of that job. Stressors cause people to make up the most dire story.

            I don’t have a village. Now I am in a better spot and can handle travel much easier. A few years ago, this would have been me for many reasons.

        2. JustaCPA*

          “I feel like I see a lot of complaints about child care or pet care when it comes to work travel…..but honestly, it kind of boggles my mind that someone plans to have kids or pets and doesn’t think they’ll ever need occasional care at any point in their lives. I know it can be an expensive hassle, but it’s not really that unusual or such a surprise to think about, is it?”

          I’m a parent.

          And what really drives me bonkers are those people who apparently cant trust their kids with anyone else. I understand if your kid is special needs/medically fragile but for a regular kid to simply say, sorry I cant do anything away from home because I dont trust anyone with my kid?

          Stepping off my soapbox now….

          1. Kay*

            There’s a difference between not trusting your kid with anyone else and not wanting to leave your young child with a stranger overnight. If my husband were travelling and my mom couldn’t come stay with my 3 yr old (we have no local family and no local friends I could ask this of) I would either bring my kid with me and get childcare there or decline the trip ( I’m at the point in my career where I’m able to manage my own travel). And I recognize that both of those things are a privilege.

            1. TootsNYC*

              “with a stranger”

              I want to address this. Do you know what a stranger is? Someone you don’t know yet.

              How does someone get to be “not a stranger”? You get to know them.

              It’s an extra burden that single parents bear, the need to seek out people who might be able to help you with this sort of thing.

              But it can be done.

              1. A New Level of Anon*

                And some single parents really struggle with the idea of another adult being involved in their domestic life at all, to the point that they won’t seek out help. People in that situation may be fresh off the heels of bad experiences with co-parenting or are just unaccustomed to having to manage adulting with another adult. This describes one of my parents to a tee.

              2. no need to be rude*

                I don’t understand the need for being condescending. Of course everyone knows what strangers are and how to get to know people.

                If you don’t have a large social circle of people equipped to care for child(ren) overnight for multiple days (i.e. if your social circle is comprised of other people who have jobs?) it’d be difficult to find overnight childcare — whether you know them or not.

                1. Anon for This*

                  I think the point is that nobody is suggesting parents find Random NPC1, shove their kid at them and say, “I have a business trip!” The idea the parent doesn’t know a single other soul that can do them a solid is a little weird, unless they are incredibly new to the area and haven’t formed a network yet. But that doesn’t seem to be the case here.

                2. DaffyDuck*

                  We moved multiple times when my children were young, most often staying 3 years in one state. It was incredibly hard to develop long-term relationships as an adult when I knew absolutely nobody in the new state. Most people/families were already “socially full” with parents and relatives on top of their regular jobs so it was hard to find someone who even had the time to MAKE a new friend. Making new friends who you would know well enough to leave a child with, even when attending church/volunteer functions and reaching out took a couple of years. It got slightly easier when my kids reached school age, but I still hate moving with a passion.

                3. alienor*

                  And even with people you know, it doesn’t mean your child feels comfortable enough with them to be there for multiple days. Some kids are super adaptable and happy to stay anywhere from an early age, but a lot of kids aren’t up to it until they’re 10 or older, even with relatives.

              3. Kay*

                I really don’t need to be condescended to or lectured at here. The suggestion made in the post to use backup care WOULD be a stranger because that’s how backup care works.
                I have plenty of friends we can call on for a few hours of help. Asking someone to care for a *3 year old* overnight is a major imposition and not something I would ask if any of our local friends absent an emergency, which this is not. If you have local friends you are willing to ask this of, more power to you, but don’t assume that everyone does.

                1. Kay*

                  And by the way, I travel 15-20% with a young child so I am absolutely not saying it’s not possible or reasonable in some cases. But I also recognize that there are people (parents and others) who can’t make it work for good reason and there needs to be more recognition of that fact.
                  I’ve brought my mom and baby with me on trips, I’ve had my mom fly out to watch my kid because both my husband and I needed to travel, but I’ve also declined trips because my husband was travelling and I didn’t have any family who could help at that time. You can do your best but there are times when you just can’t make it work.

          2. Guacamole Bob*

            I’m a parent of twin 4-year olds. For me, it’s not a matter of whether I trust my kids with anyone else. It’s more a matter of what sort of imposition it is on family and friends to ask for child care help and how much it disrupts our lives.

            When the kids were infants it was a huge imposition on family to ask them to do more than babysit for a couple of hours – taking care of two babies is totally exhausting, and two toddlers isn’t much better. We didn’t trust anyone as a paid sitter without significant prior child care experience, which is expensive. Now that they’re much more self-sufficient, we have the high schooler next door babysit for a few hours at a time, and family will happily watch them overnight for a long weekend, we’re getting to the age of drop-off playdates, etc.

            It used to be that having us both gone would throw off their routines a lot, though that’s getting better, too. There are lots of people I’d trust to keep the kids alive, fed, and reasonably uninjured for as long as I need to be gone. There are fewer I trust to maintain their routines, make them feel safe and happy during my absence, etc. If it’s not an emergency, I’m going to be a little picker about when and with whom I leave the kids.

            It’s not necessarily that people can’t be away from their kids, ever. It’s that sometimes a random work trip is pretty far down the priority list of how you want to use the resources available to you – the cost/benefit doesn’t feel like it works out in favor of the trip.

          3. PVR*

            I think this is a pretty unfair response. It’s easy to say this when you have family (that you have healthy relationships with) and/or lots of friends and are well connected enough to have reliable childcare. We moved to new city when I was 6 months pregnant. Our closest family was 5 hours away. It took years to make friends, let alone anyone I trusted enough to watch my child. We have now been here 8 years and while my child has friends he could stay the night with, and I have friends who can watch him for a few hours at a time if need be, we still don’t have a regular babysitter because we don’t know parents of teenagers. And sometimes people who don’t trust others to watch their children have very valid reasons to feel that way—traumas that happened to them when they were young, or for all you know, something that happened while someone was watching their child.

          4. Elaine*

            My own experience is that as a very young child I was left with a trusted relative while my parents traveled for a quasi-emergency family situation. During that visit, I was injured due to carelessness on the part of the relative and left with permanent damage. You had better believe I would not consider leaving a very young child of my own with anyone, especially for the OP’s work situation. If I couldn’t work out a different solution with my boss, I would terminate the employment. I’m glad that you haven’t concerns for your own situation. Lots of people, like you, have situations where child care wouldn’t be a problem and there would be no real reason to worry about your child’s safety. But some of us have very different situations/experiences.

            1. Holly*

              I’m sorry that happened to you, Elaine.

              I just want to point out that many families have been using babysitters or nannies that are vetted (unlike a relative) and get to know that person and know that that person is trained etc., so that isn’t the only option.

          5. Bunny Girl*

            I know for me personally, I don’t trust other people coming into my home. It’s not that I don’t think a professional wouldn’t take good care of my pets, but unfortunately, people are really known to steal out of clients homes. Luckily, our vet will take our pets, although I have to say it is expensive.

            I think a lot of the irritation is if someone takes a job partially because they’ve been told there is no travel, and then travel is expected, it can kind of be irritating. I know I took my job and was told no travel would happen, and if I was asked to travel, I would not be happy about it and would probably push back, for several reasons.

            1. anon today and tomorrow*

              But would you push back that much if they asked you to travel for two nights after you’ve worked somewhere for years with no travel?

              The sense I get from the OP is that this is the first time work has asked her to travel and look like it may be the only time. I get the annoyance if you took a job with no travel and suddenly you have to travel a lot, but I don’t really understand the annoyance if you’ve worked somewhere for years and then suddenly have to do a short overnight trip, or if they’re asking you to travel only for this one trip and then never again. It seems like a high level of outrage and pushback for a one-time occurrence.

              1. Bunny Girl*

                I might. It’s really hard for me to travel because I have significant back issues. Two nights in a hotel bed could leave me in agony for weeks and could set me back financially if I needed to go to get it taken care of by a professional.

                1. anon today and tomorrow*

                  Okay, but that’s a reasonable reason not to travel for work.

                  If there’s not a medical concern/serious kid issues/etc., I don’t see why someone would feel so attacked for being asked to travel once in the many years they’ve been with a company.

              2. PVR*

                Travel has become so routine for so many professional jobs but I can think of lots of jobs I have had throughout the years that travel was simply not a part of and the requirement would have caught me completely off guard, or my MIL’s job, where she has been for years. She has never had to travel for this job and has no experience with traveling for work so if it came up, even as a one time thing, it would be a very big deal. She is at point in her life where it would be fine, but when her kids were all young, I can see how the reaction would be different. When you do travel for business regularly or semi regularly, it’s hard to see what the big deal is. But there are still occupations out there where this would be so rare, I can understand how it throw someone for a loop.

                1. anon today and tomorrow*

                  Throw someone for a loop, yes, but the letter writer is pretty hostile about it, which I find an extreme overreaction to one-time travel.

          6. Archaeopteryx*

            I agree, part of being a parent, I’d always assumed, is knowing your backup child care and having backups to your backup. It definitely sounds annoying to have to take a trip like this but pretty normal. I understand about special needs kids, but if someone is saying that because they live far from family, they have no overnight babysitting options, I’d think, “Okay, so figuring out some kind of plan should be priority one until you do!”

            1. Guacamole Bob*

              This strikes me as similar to advice that everyone should have an emergency fund. I mean, yes, of course, everyone should have backup child care. But there are lots of reasons that people don’t, and it’s not always an easy thing to fix. Especially once you you’ve run into a situation where it’s a problem.

              1. Avasarala*

                Yes, but I think what is being argued is that one-time, short-term work travel, which is par for the course in the majority of jobs, shouldn’t cause some oh-god-what-do-I-do panic scramble for most people* with families and pets. Part of choosing to be a responsible carer for children/pets is having backup care plans for common scenarios. Having to stay overnight for a work training session is a pretty common scenario. So barring an “I can’t have sandwiches” scenario, like caring for special needs/feeling strongly about who can be with the child/pet can’t be easily moved/etc., being able to handle this level of work travel with advance warning is a fair expectation.

                1. Just Employed Here*

                  You and several other commenters seem stuck on the “occasional overnight travel is common in most jobs” idea. I’m not sure that’s even statistically true, except for white collar jobs above a certain salary level.

                  Even if it were the case, the OP is apparently not in a job where occasional travel is the norm … and hence they have no reason to be prepared for occasional travel. A true emergency, such as hospitalisation, is different from a work trip.

              2. Mongrel*

                It may also be the case that the emergency plan costs too much, either money or social capital, that it’s unfeasible to use for 2 day training course.

                Personally I dislike the concept that you’re not being reimbursed for your downtime – it’s not like an expensed meal and a fun evening stuck at hotel room is a way I’d wish to spend any of my personal time

        3. Ann Perkins*

          “Occasional care at any point in their lives” isn’t really the same as, say, asking a solo parent to travel when they have a baby. I’ve declined business travel when my husband was deployed and I had a young breastfeeding baby. I’m fortunate to have enough capital to do that but occasional traveling is also written into my job description and I’ve happily traveled at other times. If someone doesn’t typically travel and they don’t have family nearby who can help, overnight travel can be very tricky.

          1. Anon for This*

            But not impossible, and that’s what’s key here. The OP is making it sound like it’s impossible without trying to work it out rather than making a good faith effort and asking for accommodations based on that.

      2. Lia*

        Agreed. I am a single parent with pets, and I am able to travel because I am willing to plan and schedule things. I’ve traveled at least twice a year, and often much more than that, since my oldest was born and I have no trouble doing that. Please do not assume that as a single parent that I cannot stay past 5 p.m., or that I am unable to fly to London next week, and don’t presume my coworker with no pets or dependents can stay until 11 p.m. to get the software install working.

    4. myswtghst*

      As the mother of a 4 month old and owner of a terrible bulldog, I am so with you on your last paragraph. Many people have commitments in their life that would be disrupted by unexpected business travel without reasonable notice, and it does no one any favors to frame having kids/pets as the only reason this would “seem unfair”. I don’t want my boss to pass me over for assignments because they make assumptions about my life as a parent, and I want to make sure other personal circumstances would be given equal weight.

  4. NerdyKris*

    I once was let go from a temp job with a city by having the temp agency call me at 6pm on a Friday telling me not to come in that Monday. The employer called the temp agency during my commute home. I sent a very polite email thanking them for the opportunity and inquiring if my sister, who worked nearby, could pick up my stuff. I listed every item that was there, just to politely rub in how shitty it was to not even tell me as I was walking out the door.

    They never did get the city employee parking pass back.

    1. ThankYouRoman*

      I feel this happens to temps so often :(

      At least the one time I was cut suddenly the guy had the decency to do it to my face. I got the call from the agency while getting into my car. With the additional news a temp to hire position who passed me up for someone with more education under their belt now wanted me. I stayed there for a decade. Thankfully it was a year of reasonable enough temp jobs so I have a good memory of most of that grind!

    2. Narise*

      Our company would contact the temp agency as well. The employee is their employee not ours and we are not firing them so much as no longer using the temp agency for that particular job. The communication should come the agency who employed them.

      1. NotAnotherManager!*

        Same – our contract is with the agency, and I am almost positive that the contracts require that we notify them rather than the employee. Usually, our temp assignments are for a set period of time/project, so the fact that they’re winding down and ending is known. When I have terminated temp assignments early because people we were not working out, their agency calls them directly to let them know not to return.

    3. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

      Ugh, this happened to me once. I never did all of my items back, though they did pack up a bunch of things and send them to the temp agency office for me to pick up. They did include a desk lamp which was an upgrade from the one I had, though, which was a win I guess.

    4. Pomona Sprout*

      Ugh, this reminds me of the time I was let go from a temp job without being notified at all. Fortunately, somebody said something that tipped me off (I can’t remember the details) and I called the agency before I left that day to find out what was going on. Turned out there was a miscommunication between the agency and the manager at the job site as to who was going to tell me my services were no longer needed. (Translation: the agency staff member who was overseeing the placement didn’t know how to do her damned job.)

      This happened on a Friday, so if I hadn’t picked up on the hint(s), I would have gone all weekend thinking I still had a job and driven over an hour on Monday morning to get there abd fibd out I didn’t work there any more.

      Bitter? Who, me?

  5. CmdrShepard4ever*

    In response to question 3, I understand for team building event there might be things to do in the evening and the point is to bond with coworkers. Would it be different if a spouse/partner wanted to come along and just use the hotel as a place to sleep and kept themselves entertained alone the whole time? For example exploring particular city, eating alone.

    My partner sometimes travels for conferences where there are evening networking receptions or other events “after-hours.” I would enjoy going, doing things on my own and be perfectly fine not expecting to see my partner for the whole duration of the conference. Would it still look out of place?

    1. Emily K*

      I’ve worked for employers where that would be fine, but I think your husband would be best positioned to know whether it would look off to his company. A small company staying in a small 2-story Days Inn where all the staff rooms are next door to each other and folks are walking to and from rooms together a lot vs a big company staying in a huge 12-story Marriott or Hyatt conference hotel where everyone is kind of doing their own thing and seeing each other down at the conference, even if practically speaking you’re staying just as much out of your husband’s way in either case, the optics of the first are much worse than the second.

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      I think the “I’m just using the free hotel room” flies better if it’s something closer to an apply-your-skills work trip. Where your spouse/partner/friend spends 8-15 hours a day using their expertise to Fix The Thing, maybe goes to dinner with the group sometimes. And if their boss knows you as a no-drama, no-problems, addition who really doesn’t pout about not getting to see more of Pooky when you came all this way.

      For team building–one of the things about staying in a hotel is I can’t look around at all those household projects I should really tackle. I detach from that in a useful way. If the boyfriend is trip is explicitly for team building, then the boss probably wants everyone to detach from all the regular office projects and outside distractions and focus on This One Thing. So for the boyfriend to seem to say “Yeah that sounds grueling, I’ll be bringing Myrtle so I’m not stuck with just you people” could go really wrong.

      1. CmdrShepard4ever*

        I usually only pout when I’ve seen too much of Pooky. For most trips (personal/vacation) I usually need to schedule/build some alone time into the trip away from my partner lol. I enjoy being around/spending time with people, but I am much more an introvert and need some time alone.

    3. Kathleen_A*

      It still doesn’t seem like a good idea to me. *You* say you can be self-sufficient, *I* believe you can be self-sufficient, but the question is, would your partner’s company believe it?

      It still doesn’t look good, at least IMO. You have to understand that part of what you’re dealing with here are experience and expectations, and most of us who have had experience with coworkers’ SOs on business trips have found a significant percentage of them (not the majority but a rather memorable minority) to be somewhat intrusive. They show up at dinners, they sometimes show up at workshops, the coworker that they’re there with sneaks off to do fun stuff in the afternoons even though the conference is still going on (one minute they’re there, and the next – ::poof::- they’re gone), etc.

      My feeling is that it’s OK only if it’s a conference in which SOs are explicitly welcomed.

    4. Harper the Other One*

      I think you can ask in many workplaces. My father used to attend conferences in a lot of interesting places, and he was expected to be busy presenting/listening/networking the whole time. If my mom was interested in the location, he would say, “Hey, my wife would love to see [insert thing here.] Could I pay any difference for having a second person in the room?” Sometimes the answer was yes, sometimes no. But since it was always “is this a doable thing” nobody ever seemed to mind. I think it’s very much a “know your employer” kind of thing.

      1. WS*

        +1. My mother recently retired from a job with a national healthcare regulation board, but my dad retired 10 years ago. She had to fly all around the country and sometimes overseas, so they would ask if my dad could come along (obviously they would pay the plane fare and any extra expenses). Most of the time the answer was yes, occasionally it was no, but nobody was upset about it.

  6. cheeky*

    …many (most?) people have small children and pets at least some time in their lives, and many travel for work. This is super normal.

    1. sunny-dee*

      Yeah, I am really not sympathetic to the level of outrage that the OP has. And I say this as someone who normally travels 3-4 times per year for work, and found out that I would need to travel 5 times in the 7 weeks between when I returned from maternity leave and Christmas holidays this year. I’m scrambling to have family visit to take care of baby (since my husband travels for work, too).

      But this is a very normal part of work, and I can figure out how to make it work. Worst case, I was going to take my son with me and use to get a local nanny for the days I’m traveling.

      1. Antilles*

        To me, the level of outrage seems to be driven primarily from this: “We all have families and personal obligations. We will be training with coworkers from this other city who get to go home each night. ”
        So OP’s outrage is being fed by the feeling of unfairness – her colleagues in Other City get to go home, while OP and her officemates need to deal with the away-from-home travel.

        1. Escapee from Corporate Management*

          I agree. If OP’s issue is fairness, that’s a problem. If the issue were truly personal–a special needs child, a single parent who cannot get coverage, a disability that makes travel difficulty–then OP has every right to request that they be excused from travel. But playing the fairness card is likely to backfire with most employers for two reasons. First, there may have been times when OP or their office benefited vs. this other office, and if that’s the case, OP’s employers may remember that far more clearly than OP. Second, as Alison has often pointed out, there are plenty of situations at work that are not fair and that’s the way it is. Management made a decision, probably based on cost or other factors. Someone had to be impacted.

          BTW, I also agree on the level of outrage being way too high. Two nights business travel? For many people, that is a normal month…or week. OP may want to think about how much travel their management does before exhibiting this level of outrage.

          1. Veil of ignorance*

            “If OP’s issue is fairness, that’s a problem.”

            It’s two nights. It hasn’t happened before and seems to be a one-off. We don’t even know whether this concern over kids and Fluffy is a real one to OP, or a hypothetical.

            Yup, this unfairness is right up there with Jim Crow. Sheesh.

          2. Pomona Sprout*

            Oof, OP sounds a little bit like a 6 year old complaining that her sister’s sandwich is a tiny fraction bigger than hers, or that her older brother gets to stay up later because he’s, well, older.

            Yeah, in a way, this is not, strictly speaking, “fair.” But I think by the time we get to adulthood, most of us figure out that’s not the way life works and learn to stop comparing the size of our sandwich with everybody else’s and pouting if we don’t like the proportions. Either that or spend our lives in a state of perpetual disgruntlement.

        2. StressedButOkay*

          Unless OP’s management is completely out of it, they’ve probably weighed the pros/cons of which group has to travel. There are probably very good reasons why they picked the Other City to be the training home base instead of OP’s city – hotel costs, cost of trainers, etc.

          And, for everyone who is like “ugh travel!” there’s going to be someone going “aw man why don’t WE get to travel!”.

        3. sunny-dee*

          Except there could be real reasons for that: larger training rooms at the other site, cheaper travel accommodations for the other team, convenience for the trainer, a larger number of people at Site A v Site B.

          The OP is basically just throwing a tantrum because this is inconvenient to her and other people are not being inconvenienced in the same way. I dunno, I just don’t see the point of that.

          1. Antilles*

            Agreed, I don’t see the point of throwing a tantrum based on this either – I was just trying to puzzle out *why* OP seemed to be so outraged. And based on the letter, I think what’s really grinding her gears is the ‘fairness’ issue, which turns it from a minor business decision into a fire-and-brimstone hijacking-our-lives travesty of justice.
            Of course, the company certainly has real reasons behind it. And besides, with two offices but only one training session, by definition one office is going to play host while the other has to travel. But I really think OP is hung up on the ‘fairness’ part of this and that’s what’s driving the (over-the-top) level of outrage.

        4. Boo Hoo*

          Fairness. If a business conference is in the town someone lives then they go home. Life isn’t perfectly balanced. Maybe the trainer lived closer so they didn’t have to pay for their travel so it saved money. Maybe there are less people in her office. Maybe her office is in a more expensive location so hotels are cheaper where they are traveling. I mean, this is just how it works. That other office likely has to travel sometimes too. We all suck it up sometimes.

        5. SusanIvanova*

          I worked at a place once that managed the worst of both worlds: we merged with a company in LA, and the LA people were flown in to a conference hotel in San Francisco – our company was in the South Bay. That’s 40 miles rush hour travel. To make it worse, we had record rainfall that caused freeway closures in places that normally never closed. Our manager went but told us not to risk it, and came back to report that maybe half the people from our company managed to get there – and some higher-up from the LA side actually said “I can’t believe so many of you didn’t show – all our people are here on time and they had to come all the way from LA”.

          Sure. But on *that day*, they just had to come down the stairs.

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      I feel the letters often break down between 80% or so “What?!! No that isn’t normal,” 10% “That is totally normal and you will look weird if you complain,” and 10% Fergus lost the llama.

      1. ElspethGC*

        I would say perhaps 5% “I know you wrote in about this thing, but that *really* isn’t the problem here.”

        See: person who wrote in about how to apologise for biting her coworker and didn’t once question how bizarre it was that she even thought to *bite her coworker*; guy saying ‘I ghosted my girlfriend, how will this impact my career’ and didn’t mention that she was his live-in partner of three years.

        1. Sam Sepiol*

          Or the manager who wouldn’t let the woman who put herself through college go to her graduation and wrote to Alison wanting to tell her off for walking out.

  7. Falling Diphthong*

    #5: So if the employee hadn’t quit, you they’d be doing the work for the four weeks, you’d be paying them for the four weeks? But because they quit, you suddenly don’t want them to do what you were totally fine with–despite their poor performance–an hour earlier?

    Alison is right–if you don’t want your other employees to conclude that one day’s notice is the way to go, just let them work out their notice.

    1. hbc*

      Seriously. If you were going to let them drag along for the next four months, why begrudge them four weeks?

      I mean, I understand feeling antsy now that a good thing is on the horizon, but absent some new bad behavior during the notice period, just be glad they did you a favor and mentally wish their next employer luck.

  8. ThankYouRoman*

    My Toxic Beast Boss cut me loose a few days early. They paid me for it regardless. I think it’s fine to ask them to leave early but even Toxic Beast Boss didn’t do it to save money in the end. Think about paying them out to have them gone sooner and it’ll save your unemployment rating.

  9. Mr. Bob Dobalina*

    #5: I’ve seen this happen a couple of times, where a poorly performing employee gave a long notice period, but the company informed the employee that his/her last day would be an earlier date *and* gave a severance payment equal to wages for the unworked portion of the notice period.

      1. ThankYouRoman*

        Problem is you usually have to be a low performer or on The List to be granted this pleasure!

        I lucked out. I got to push my start date up by a few days and my (new) boss was hand clapping and happy dancing over it. I got paid my old salary and my new wages. It was a DELIGHTFUL and extra money is my favorite way to dance out of an old cruddy job.

        1. boop the first*

          Yeah, low performers always get the best deals – they get paid the same wage for much less effort, they never seem to feel stressed/worried, they’re never rushed, they never get scheduled on busy days/holidays, and they get any last-minute time off they request because management is happy to last-minute call in their strongest workers on their days off!

          1. Amelia*

            Yup. I always refer to the curse of competence: it’s never the unreliable low performers who get asked to do all the extra work.

    1. miss_chevious*

      At my place of employment we call it “payment in lieu of notice” and we do it for people who have quit, but who we don’t want around the office for whatever reason–they handle really sensitive information, they’re toxic personalities, we want to interview for the position without them around, whatever. It doesn’t solve getting them off the payroll, obviously, but it means the office can move on without awkwardness.

  10. Kay*

    I’m in a field with a ton of work travel (global health) and I also have a young child. If someone has a young child and doesn’t have a coparent or family nearby to help, I do not think it’s reasonable to tell them to use backup care overnight. That’s likely to be pretty traumatic to a 3 or 4 year old. What I have seen colleagues do is to bring the kid on the trip and pay for childcare at the hotel. That way they are spending the night with you but you’re able to work normally.

    1. ThankYouRoman*

      I’m glad you shared this. My mind went there but as a non-parent I was wondering if it was something people do.

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      One of my pet peeves is the assumption that when you have a baby, you are issued a set of relatives who live close by and are able to offer childcare any time. Young healthy retired grandparents with time to burn are most popular.

      Yes, it’s nice if you have those, but not everyone does.

      1. Not Paul Hollywood*

        One of the many reasons I don’t have kids is because I don’t have any family around to help take care of said child. When I moved away from my family, I just sort of thought, “Right, then, no kids.”

        1. Yay commenting on AAM!*

          My parents lived in the same area where they grew up, close enough so we could have a great relationship with our grandparents! And they were eager to babysit and everything!

          Unfortunately, three of them passed away by the time I was a toddler, leaving me with just one grandmother, who did not drive and also did not have the temperament or patience to handle young children. The few rare emergency times she babysat, my parents would return home to us absolutely starving because she’d fed us depression rations, and the house utterly trashed because she had wanted us to sit silently on the sofa for several hours, and then was unable to catch up when we didn’t.

          My aunts and uncles all moved away, for marriage and work, except one, whose wife was abusive and controlling and did not permit him to spend any time with “his” family.

          Best laid plans and all that…

          So even

      2. Let's Bagel*


        When I went back to work after having my first, a girl I worked with who had had her first around the same time as me asked what we ended up doing for childcare. I told her my daughter was at a daycare facility. She looked shocked. “Oh,” she said, “My parents are watching my daughter. I could NEVER leave her with strangers!!”

        Well good for you. Have any spare ones around that you’d like to lend to me? Because mine live an hour away and are still working full time. Soooo….yeah.

        1. NotAnotherManager!*

          Honestly, the “stranger” was way better than our parents would have been. She was at least a decade younger than our parents, had decades of experience with young children, and was licensed and routinely inspected by the state. We had both grandmas in to take care of the kids when our daycare was closed for a week, and they were exhausted by Day 2 and generally went to bed about an hour after we got home from work. There is no way that, even if they lived remotely close to us, they could have done daily childcare.

          Our kids also loved the ladies who took care of them before preschool. They are late elementary school and still ask to go see her occasionally.

      3. Pinky Pie*

        In our family, it’s been resolved by having a primary career and a secondary career. My husband provides health care and twice my income. He travels for work. I now work from home and do most of the kid things. If I were to travel for work, he knows not to travel… but I’d hate to think about a single family situation. His mother is disabled and I am unwilling to teach my kids to bend over for people who don’t bend over for you- so no grandparent support.

      4. SavannahMiranda*

        THIS! So much this.

        Our son went to the emergency children’s medical center last night at 2:00 am because he wasn’t breathing properly. I’m here at work today, butt in seat, because remote work is not a possibility in my position.

        We supposedly have a ‘backup care’ benefit through my job but they don’t send people, the people they send are no good, or they assign people and confirm them who don’t show up at all! It’s insane.

        If the service can’t find anyone, they tell us about this additional benefit where a family member watches the child and is paid by the benefits provider. Isn’t that grrreat!


        The first time they told my son’s dad about this added benefit, he yelled at them. They told me yesterday and I quietly said, “We have no family and no one we’re related to in the state or we wouldn’t be calling you.” I swear. The moxie.

        And it’s not so simple to just move near the grandparents / the family. That’s fantastic if your family is minimally trustworthy, competent, and not aged and in need of care themselves. Or if they lived anywhere near a place I could get a job. What hokum.

    3. MissDisplaced*

      That might be a good option, provided the issue really is a childcare needs issue. If many of the employees have young children, perhaps company perhaps it can be proposed that company arrange childcare for the duration of the training?

  11. Czhorat*

    I really don’t like being away for business, but a few nights a year isn’t unreasonable. This is one in which you might have to just bite the bullet and deal with it.

    1. fposte*

      And it doesn’t even sound like this is per year, so they may never need to go again.

      As people are saying upthread, it’s understandable if you’re in a situation where you can’t afford the domestic coverage, but the OP mostly seemed to be put-upon by the existence of the requirement at all, not by a particular challenge. And if so, that’s going to really limit her work career.

      1. Guacamole Bob*

        I agree with this. I’ve been defending parents who complain about work travel in this thread, but the indignation in OP’s letter is over the top. I’d be more sympathetic if OP had written in and said “I have a usually non-travel job where there’s a trip coming up and my personal circumstances make it hard because of XYZ. What do I do?”

        1. Czhorat*

          That, to be fair, is part of the reason to write here: to get a better sense of what is normal.

          I have a nominally no-travel job, but at my last company I did have to go to a corporate headquarters out of town for onboarding and training. I’ve also had a smattering of overnights that I technically could refuse, but at the expense of harming my career to a small extent.

          To be fair, going from zero travel to “You need to spend two days out of town” can be a big deal for some people. What I think the OP should walk away with is the idea that yes, this is not abnormal for a professional job in a company with a multi-location footprint.

  12. CupcakeCounter*

    #1 Suck it up buttercup. A job with no travel doesn’t actually mean “you will never travel during your time here” it just means that it is very rare and not part of the core of the position. I pay the bills for our onsite training and we bring people in from 12 states because those hotel rooms, meals, and travel expenses are a hell of a lot cheaper than what we are paying the contractor. For reference the last one was $50k for the 3 day training seminar and the total costs for the attendees expenses was less than $10k. Unless they are putting you up at the Ritz, one session is a LOT cheaper.

  13. Adele*

    I don’t have children but I do have dogs. I had never kenneled them or gone away without them. I quit travelling on planes and in cities and my vacations became backpacking and camping within a day or two drive.

    Then one day I became very ill while at work and was taken to the emergency room. The first tests were inconclusive and they wanted to keep me overnight. I refused against medical advice because I didn’t have anyone to take care of my dogs.

    It worked out for me medically but it did make me realize that not having backup care for my pups was not realistic. I made an effort to connect with several care providers, including a neighbor for very short term emergency care, a visiting pet sitter, and a kennel. I now get my dogs the bordatella vaccine regularly so the kennel will be willing to accept them even when I haven’t planned to have them there.

    These were dogs, for whom there are lots of services. Single parents, what happens if you are in an accident or taken to the hospital and family members who can help are a day or more away? Surely, you have a plan for that. Yes, those are emergencies and business travel is not, but it might also be a good way to try out your back-up care in a less-stressful situation when you actually have some control.

    1. Kay*

      I have a list of friends I would be ready to call on in an emergency but no way would I call on them for overnight care for a business trip. That’s a huge ask. (Not a single parent but my partner and I both travel a lot so we do need to plan for emergencies)

      1. TootsNYC*

        and the funny thing is, I would gladly be the person who watched over a friend’s kid (or my kid’s friend) for three days and two nights.

        I might want to be sure that I wasn’t going to get tapped on the regular, now that I’d done it once.

        1. Kay*

          You might change your mind if you met my 3 yr old! She is a delight (I’m biased) but also VERY high energy, talks nonstop, and tends to get herself into mischief if we don’t keep her occupied. My mom needs a vacation after watching her

    2. Guacamole Bob*

      There’s a difference between “I’m in the hospital, can you pick up my kids from daycare,” and “I’ve got a business trip coming up,” though. My friends and I would all happily pitch in to help with child care for someone having a family or medical emergency, but we don’t do the same thing for work trips.

      Part of it is that the kind of care I’d be fine with in an emergency isn’t the kind of thing I’d do for work trips. For an emergency, I don’t care if my kids watch 48 straight hours of tv, don’t sleep at all, and eat nothing but Doritos. For more planned stuff, I’d want to have them stay in their routines as much as possible, in a situation that they won’t later remember as stressful and scary.

      1. hbc*

        To me, there’s not a big difference between “I’m going to the hospital” and “I’ve got to go on this trip or I’ll lose my job.” Both count as emergencies to me, and I’m up for a one-off, but I’m not signing up to be your regular backup.

        I mean, I might do it again in a month if your kids were delightful and got along beautifully with mine and you returned the favor on a Saturday night, but all I’m agreeing to is two nights.

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        This this this. It’s like the distinction between “Can you watch my kids while I go to a funeral?” and “Can you watch my kids while I go to a wedding?” Lots of people will volunteer for the former and side-eye the latter.

    3. Harper the Other One*

      This is a very important point, and one I was coming to make. Obviously there’s a big difference between “emergency backup plan” and “something I can do when my job suddenly becomes 10% travel.” But everyone should have some form of backup plan for their obligations to pets/children/relatives they provide care for. As a one-time travel, with advance notice, things should be doable barring very specific circumstances.

    4. lobsterp0t*

      yep I am definitely the same RE: my dog, the in-a-pinch settings really highlight where you have to get backups in place that are reliable!!

  14. mayfly*

    As someone in an industry where travel is common, I can’t wrap my head around getting upset at a few days out of town.
    Also, it’s really important that people with small kids and/or pets develop relationships with at least a few trusted individuals who can watch/pick up/entertain the dependents in a pinch. Even if you never travel for work, you need to be prepared as possible for the unexpected (emergency surgery, weather-related delays, car troubles, etc.). If you have a support system, it provides valuable margin for your life.

    1. TootsNYC*

      I so agree with this.

      I understand that it can be hard, but “developing contingency babysitters” is a powerful and crucial thing for your family.

      1. Kay*

        There is a huge difference between having someone care for a kid for a few hours (or hell, the whole day) and overnight. Young kids get freaked out without mom, dad or a close relative at night. Most kids can’t éven handle sleepovers till 5 or 6. There’s also a huge difference between an emergency and a routine business trip – I have plenty of people I could call on during emergencies but would not expect them to care for my child during a business trip because that’s a major imposition. IMO, only close family (or very close friends – and mine all live on the other coast) should be asked to cover for business trips .

        1. Guacamole Bob*


          There’s a complicated calculation for this around age and temperament of the child(ren), how close family live and what the relationships are like, the culture of friendships around swapping babysitting favors, how much of an emergency it is, how long it’s for, how much money you have available to pay someone, etc.

          As my kids get older the occasional business travel is no big deal for me. I totally understand why it’s a big deal for some people.

          (And this also holds for people caring for elderly relatives, people with pets, people with medical conditions, etc. Parenthood is one of the more common examples, but there are a lot of other circumstances that can make work travel difficult.)

          1. Lily Rowan*

            I’ve been reading these comments, thinking about the one time I babysat overnight — I was in high school, the kids were maybe 4 and 6? But I finally realized the key there was there were a ton of friendly neighbors. I didn’t actually need anything from any of them, but they were there.

            FWIW, the kids were totally fine; I was the one who was freaked out. (And that’s why I didn’t get pregnant in high school :))

        2. mayfly*

          I guess I see it as an emergency if there is unexpected mandatory work travel for a job that ordinarily requires zero travel, especially so if we’re talking about a single parent who is the sole income for the family. Being unable to accommodate two nights worth of travel is simply not realistic for the vast majority of jobs.

        3. Holly*

          That’s the point of TootsNYC’s comment – you have your kids develop a relationship with someone else trusted in case of an emergency.

        4. TootsNYC*

          this isn’t a routine business trip; it’s a once-in-several-years trip.

          And sure, I wouldn’t want to be asked regularly to care for other people’s kids overnight unless that person was particularly close to me.

          But my point is–every parent needs to be figuring out contingency plans.

          I would also say that little kids can too do overnights–it’s all about what they’re used to. (and a little bit, it’s about the personality of the kid)

          I personally think sleepovers should happen between ages 3 and 9, and not after.

          Individual circumstances will flavor this, but: parents need to be plotting contingency plans.

          1. A New Level of Anon*

            And very much about the personality of the parent, I think. There are parents who would never let a child of any age go to to a sleepover, for instance.

          2. Kay*

            I thought this before I had kids, and maybe some young kids would be fine staying with non family, but mine would not (and I also had several failed sleepovers as a young child so maybe this isn’t surprising). My travel is a lot harder on her than I thought it would be.

    2. Jillociraptor*

      Yes, one thing the comments on this post has reinforced for me is the lack of significant social bonds for so many people that they don’t have a trusted adult in their life that they would leave their kid with. I don’t mean to romanticize the past (I’m in my 30s) but growing up, it seemed like we always had some cousin, friend, or neighborhood kid staying at our house, including infants and toddlers. I can think of probably a dozen people my parents left me with overnight or over several nights, some family and some not. And I was a super anxious kid! I cried the whole time and broke out in hives! But I turned out fine. Even beyond having someone to turn to in an emergency, it makes me sad to think about just generally not having very many of these bonds in your life.

      1. SarahTheEntwife*

        You might have many close friends and yet still none who can watch your kid overnight. Especially if you’re talking about a very young child, not everyone’s house is going to be safe for a little kid, and plenty people work long hours.

      2. aelle*

        The way I see it, it’s not really the point. I have a big network of friends, some with children, some without, neighbors and paid care workers that I am happy to have watch my child for several hours, and up to a full day dawn to dusk. But overnight is an enormous ask. My toddler is hard to put to bed and still wakes up every 2-3 hours through the night, every night. Asking someone who is not their parent, no matter how close we are, to handle their evening routine, bed time, night, then their morning routine on little to no sleep when they are not used to it, on top of everything these adults have going on in their own lives, is a huge imposition. Yes, I have many people around me who would do it in an emergency, and some who would probably do it graciously in a non-emergency situation. But I am super aware of how big an ask this is.

  15. Former Retail Lifer*

    I’ve refused OPTIONAL work travel on the grounds that a dog sitter is too expensive (my preferred sitter charges $70 per night for two dogs). It’s not that I don’t have it; I just don’t want to spend it if I don’t have to. I also have medical issues and our work travel involves sharing a room and I just can’t deal with it. But again, these are OPTIONAL trips that just serve as brown-nosing opportunities. I don’t think I’d have a leg to stand on if they were required. I’d most definitely still TRY to get out of it, though.

    1. Bunny Girl*

      Dog care is so expensive. My boyfriend and I don’t have dogs yet, but I’m super happy that both of us totally hate travelling because I think it will ease our financial burden. My mom looked into having someone professionally watch her dog and it was insane! It was cheaper for her to fly out one of my younger brother’s friends and have her stay at the house. And that’s what she ended up doing and still does. Her dog gets treated like a princess, they have someone that we know and trust in the house, and the friend treats in like a vacation. It’s a win all around.

      1. ThankYouRoman*

        At least dogs tend to travel well! Our vacations were always camping or national parks. I got a pet friendly rental so my mom could visit and bring her pooches. Granted she’s within driving distance, 5hrs that is.

  16. TooTiredToThink*

    #1 – I once was required to travel to another office to partake in training – which meant I had to kennel my dog for a week and half. The thing was – the training was via webinar! The reason my boss wanted me in the other office was so that he could pop in and out of the training as he had time. Which he never did. This isn’t entirely a helpful comment; but could the broadcast the training via webex?

  17. TooTiredToThink*

    #2 – Please start looking ASAP. You will be so much happier in another job. This same type of garbage happened to me at ToxicJob. Person A quit w/o notice so they gave that job to Person B. They then decided to give me Person B’s job. On top of my own. Then they could never understand why I couldn’t keep up (my original job was full time). When I’d comment on how much work it was I’d basically be told to shut up. So if it really is you doing two people’s jobs then yeah; get out. Quickly.

    1. Bulbasaur*

      Depending on the country #2 works in, they could have some legal protection in this scenario. Employment law varies widely but in some countries the employer is obliged to explore all reasonable options for keeping the employee in the job, and must also provide support in good faith if the employee is making a genuine effort to improve.

      The manager being dismissive and asserting that there’s no way the employee can improve would be a huge red flag in one of these jurisdictions and would very likely be exposing the employer to legal liability. Unfair or constructive dismissal are a couple of the categories that employers can fall foul of this way.

      (Unfortunately the USA is not one of those countries, hence Alison’s answer – but if OP #2 is outside the USA then it might be worth considering).

  18. Linzava*

    I have to say required work traveling for me is a no go. I can’t get on a plane at this time because of severe anxiety associated with air travel. An overnight within driving distance, I’ll do that with very little issue as long as it’s within 6 hours, but the minute I’m required to fly, I’ll risk my job and refuse it. Luckily, this has never come up and probably never will for me.

  19. Let's Bagel*

    I think it comes down to whether or not you can make it work, somehow, some way. If there is some type of reasonable childcare arrangement that you can make, but you just don’t want to, then I say I think you need to make it and just suck it up for this one time. But if you have a young child or young children, are a single parent and there is truly no one who can watch your children for three days, then I think it’s reasonable to explain this to your employer and offer other solutions, like Skyping into the training. A reasonable employer should respect that sometimes single parents of young children will just have no other option.

    For the record, I have two young kids (3 and 10 months) and I have to travel for my job occasionally. It’s an incredible hassle, even considering the fact that I have a spouse, and so I do understand where single parents are coming from in that sometimes there is just no one available (that you feel comfortable with, which is critical) to watch your children. The ages of the kids matter, too–it’s a lot more realistic or reasonable to think you can pay someone your kids don’t know as well to watch them overnight if they’re in middle school vs. preschool.

  20. MissDisplaced*

    Two overnight stays to be trained on the new system. This is a one-time thing right? Seems pretty reasonable to me and not “hijacking” of your time. Sure, one trip of 5 days/4 nights might be better? (done all at once) But still, if this is a one-off training I don’t see that that is is some kind of horrible unreasonable request. Pretty normal stuff that happens once in awhile.

    If you REALLY have an issue, you might want to ask for a Webex screen call or something, but you’d better have a very good reason for wanting to be accommodated in that way (like health or mobility/adaptive issues).

    Can it really be more cost-effective to pay for travel, meals, and hotels for five people?
    This I don’t know. Not enough info is provided. I have to assume there was a good reason to host it at one site and not multiple sites? Sometimes this is done because the trainer is only available for one session (provided as onboarding from the software company), or maybe it’s a “hands-on” training with lots of oversight and customization required, or maybe your company just thought it would be a good idea for everyone to meet and bond as part of the training so you’re all on the same page.
    All I’m saying is that I’ve seen and participated in similar, and the timeframe you describe is quite normal for big enterprise implementations such as SAP, Oracle, etc.

    1. lobsterp0t*

      My thing would also be… I can think of maybe 2-3 people in my teams who I would feel could get enough from tele-training because they’re adept enough at using those systems that I’d be OK making that compromise.

      That and, I have spent my own time remote-training someone via screen share only to find out they were distracted by something and missed half of what I was saying – I couldn’t guarantee they were actually focusing on the training, so I was pretty annoyed when I then had to review everything in depth at a later point.

      Granted, these were also issues picked up in performance/capability plans, where needed of course, but… it’s a factor. As a boss I would definitely feel better about having everyone on site so I could get all the cues that people were really getting it. Implementations like this whole system change represent a huge investment for most orgs… in the non profit world we end up wasting a ton of time/resources on the exceptions we make and regret down the road. Do it right the first time and move on dot org.

      Most of the rest need more hand holding. So I guess without knowing whether LW is savvy or not, that might also be a factor in whether the manager is willing to accommodate.

  21. Faith*

    I have been in a situation where a 3 day work trip would have been a huge imposition. When I was exclusively breastfeeding my infant shortly after returning from maternity leave, being away from her for several nights could have had significant issues both for her (she would not take a bottle at home at night – only in daycare) and for me (issues with milk supply, clogged ducts, mastitis, etc. when pumping at night vs. breastfeeding) Plus, there would have been an issue of storing, freezing, and transporting breast milk, since TSA tends to give women a major hard time about it. I could not think of any accommodations on my employer’s part or any arrangements that I could have made myself that would have resolved those issues.

    1. Dee*

      Alison says that in such extenuating circumstances it would be reasonable to bring those issues up with your manager. But absent such circumstances, this is a very normal expectation and it would be unreasonable to object. And nothing in the OPs letter indicates such circumstances.

      1. Antilles*

        +1. That’s the key here:
        The answer isn’t a blanket “you always need to go and your circumstances absolutely don’t matter, deal with it”. If you have such circumstances, then yes, it’s absolutely appropriate to politely push back and say you can’t because it would interfere with nursing your children / taking your spouse to chemo / whatever. And a reasonable employer would agree and figure out a way to make things work.
        BUT without special circumstances, you’d generally be expected to figure it out for a short trip even if your industry normally doesn’t require travel. If your reason for not traveling is just a preference or a generic “well we have families”, refusing to do any travel ever ever ever is going to come off extremely rigid and out of step with the norms in many industries.

    2. Kay*

      I had an overseas trip involving a 15 hr flight when my exclusively breastfed daughter was 5 months. I was really fortunate to be able to bring my baby, and my mom used miles to come with us and care for my daughter while I was in meetings. But not everyone can do that.

    3. V*

      Yep. The last two months of pregnancy I had weekly doctors appointments and wasn’t supposed to travel more than an hour from my hospital. Then breastfeeding a baby who rejected all bottles (fortunately I work from home). I had about 1.5 years where I couldn’t travel, and then managed an extended trip by just bringing my husband and daughter with me for 3 weeks.

    4. NoLongerYoungButLotsWiser*

      actually, years ago, I was the on-site “babysitter” who kept and played with an infant, while the mother – who was the trainer – did the training for a 2 day workshop. Breaks, she breastfed. I had the baby, his toys, his well documented emergency book (every contingency laid out, in case he began to x,y or z during the interval). It worked out well.

      So taking baby with you, using the hotel sitter or arranged child care, is not impossible at all. I was a one-off, arranged for that two-day workshop. But I understood from her that it was working out well.

      Later, I used to fly in and stay at the hotel and watch my nephew during all the week-day conferences they traveled to. Since it was family, shared the room, and took him sightseeing (stroller, or bus) during the trade show, etc. And when there was a formal evening dinner required, kidlet and I went and had mac’n cheese or whatever his heart desired… the company was fine with any +1 (or more) in the hotel room, as long as the trade show pieces, conference, and required dinners were all attended. They were living hundreds of miles from any family… so it was easiest for me to go to them, or wherever they were.

  22. DKMA*

    I’ve been trying to pinpoint what bothers me about the travel letter, because in most situations and reading through a lot of the scenarios in the comments, I actually have a lot of sympathy for this being a hardship, but with this letter…I do not.

    I think it’s because they are just generally pissy and outraged, but don’t provide specific issues. I think this also colors the advice I would give.

    Annoyed because you have to travel and the other team doesn’t and it’s not fair? Suck it, up
    Annoyed because now you have to arrange standard care for a pet or child and you have the means to do it relatively easily? That’s the breaks
    Worried because [Insert specific thing that makes this hard for you] and you honestly don’t know what to do? Let’s see if I can help you think through options, then provide scripts to push back on your management to come to a solution that you can live with.

    So many people struggle to balance competing responsibilities, or make things work despite disabilities and other limitations, that being annoyed mostly because somethings not fair just comes off as so whiny.

    1. MissDisplaced*

      The one thing that jumps out to me is that is is all FIVE employees are angry and disgruntled about having to travel for the training. Reads almost like its more about not wanting to get trained (or change) than travel maybe?

      I’ve seen this happen. It’s not so far-fetched an idea. People will dig in their heels in all sorts of ways.
      I remember when we implemented Salesforce, we had some staff who absolutely refused to attend any of the training and would use every excuse in the book to avoid the software (“But I’m not trained!”). Then they would moan every month when their reports were due and try to get others to do their work. Like nope!

      1. DKMA*

        Ooh, interesting, I completely buy that this isn’t really about the travel, but a resistance to change in general.

        Solution is the same: suck it up, do your best to make it work, don’t contribute to culture of negativity, if you are a manager work to explain to your teams why it’s necessary and don’t put up with bs yourself.

      2. kittymommy*

        Here’s the thing – are all five outraged or is the LW just assuming that since they are, the colleagues are as well? I may have missed it, but I didn’t see anything where she has actually spoken with them. I know I saw where “five people who are angry”, but that came off (at least the way I read it) as an assumption that of course all five are angry because she is angry.

        I don’tknow… I think like others there’s just something about this letter that left a bad taste in my mouth.

        1. MissDisplaced*

          I don’t know? They did end with:
          “Five people who are angry and disgruntled about having this hardship placed on their lives in order to keep their jobs? It really does not seem fair.”

          But I suppose is possible they aren’t really all angry. Like I said, I can certainly understand one person being really upset about having to travel due to (insert issue), but all 5 of them being THAT angry seemed odd. Something about that wording setoff alarm bells that is wasn’t *just* about travel. Like I said, I’ve seen it before. It could be either side too, company forcing hand, or employees digging in heels.

      3. Jillociraptor*

        Could be this. Could be that the employees nodded politely when the LW expressed their outrage and they interpreted it as agreement. Could also be a shared culture of getting worked up into a lather about things like this. I’m doing some contract work with a group that’s doing a reorganization — no one’s job is changing, the only thing happening is that some of the department heads are moving to report to a different senior exec. Some departments are appropriately going about their business without angst because literally nothing is changing, and some departments are VERY in their feelings about it and are incapable of getting their work done. It’s a cultural norm that can get set locally, even with departments in the same workplace–probably amplified in small, more isolated local offices.

    2. Jillociraptor*

      Right. I have pretty much always worked in jobs where travel is very common. Even in those situations, it was totally normal and fine to say, “For X reasons, it’s tough for me to make this trip. Can we figure out something else?” And we almost always could–video chat, subsidy for a caregiver, do one day in and out and we’ll concentrate the most relevant agenda items then, etc. Super easy. I don’t always know your situation, but if you have extenuating circumstances, we’ll do our best to figure something out that meets the business need without unnecessarily putting you out.

      But if one of my employees came in guns a-blazing about how UNFAIR it is that they have to travel one time for a major training that is likely central to the operations of the business going forward? Because some attendees at the training get to go home at night? And they weren’t given notice when they were hired that there might be a chance that someday they’d have to travel once? Yikes.

    3. Engineer Woman*

      Travel-adverse letter writer is furious over one business trip because it’s not what she signed up for? Whining because it’s “unfair”? Get over it! Life is unfair. I say this as someone who dislikes travel but understands it’s part of my job AND having had bait and switch (my opinion) at one job. Was told it’d be about 10-20% travel (okay…can do it) and then turns out more like 40%. Not happy but still not to the level of outrage that the LW is expressing. Sorry: no sympathy from me.

  23. Happy Hiker*

    I think something got missed with regard to the employee who was unable to collect their personal belongings from a former employer. I work in a field where it’s standard practice to supply your own professional resources, textbooks, reference manuals and other materials to do your job, items that can cost hundreds and hundreds of dollars, all at the employee’s expense – employers don’t make these sorts of materials available onsite, or provide any sort of allowance or reimbursement for an employee’s “resource library” Any employer who interferes with returning personal belongings to an employee is committing theft, in my view. I think AAM’s advice should have also touched on that fact that it’s not OK for employers to delay returning items – no matter how small – that belong to a former employee. If the shoe was on the other foot and the employee was keeping items that belonged to the employer, you can be sure the employer would strongly object and maybe even involve law enforcement. The employee deserves more respect than they’re getting from the former employer, in my view.

    1. DKMA*

      Agreee with this, the former employee absolutely deserves to get their property back, but it’s not at all strange to not let a fired employee access back to company property (risks of violence, normal disruption of awkwardness for remaining employees, etc).

      So not returning the items is unacceptable, but a delay of a week or so to collect and possibly mail the belongings would not be out of line.

    2. ThankYouRoman*

      Yep! It sounds low cost from the letter…they added “food” to the list. But if it’s like an entire tool box or expensive books, you better believe it that you should escalate to filing a police report. They’ll escort you to get them if they’re worried about issues from having a fired person on site.

  24. twin mom*

    OP mentions that the travel is only 3 hours away — if necessary, would it be possible to drive RT each day instead of staying overnight? If you left at 5pm you would be home by 8pm. Not ideal but if it’s necessary … you do what you have to do!

    I did this several times for work when my twins were 3-6 months old as it was way too much to ask my partner to take on bedtime by himself. I would leave at 6:30 AM, drive 3 hours, do what I needed to do, and then drive back. It was … not fun, but I did it!

    1. Belle8bete*

      Holy smokes that’s a lot of driving. I would have begged a friend to go over and help my spouse if he couldn’t handle it by himself, but you made it work.

  25. Hiring Mgr*

    It’s pretty normal that anyone might have to travel for work occasionally, but it’s also reasonable to expect that if a parent can’t make other arrangements then it’s not a huge deal if they don’t go. Things happen and I’m sure the OP will figure it out if she can’t make the training

  26. Schnapps*

    I have to admit, in my (privileged) two-parent-household-with-former-nanny-who-still-helps-out-and-a-grandmother-who-will-drop-everything-to-help-out world, my first thought was, “A night away from the family in a hotel room by myself? Sign me up! I can stay longer too!”


    1. E.*

      Haha, I had a friend who was a working parent (married and with involved grandparents, although they lived out of town) who loved work travel for this reason.

  27. KP*

    I’m beginning to realize my relationship with my friends and siblings is very different than a lot of other peoples. At a rough count, there are 15 children in my life (3 months – 13 year) where I would happily spend two nights at their home if their parents needed me. Yes, it’s a big ask…but if I love you, I love your kids. I don’t feel obligated or put out by it. I’ve taken vacation days before to watch children. I’ve gone to their homes before I had to be at work.

    It doesn’t happen a lot, and I’m happy to help when I can.

    I don’t have kids. I work full time. I have 3 dogs and two cats. But, I almost always have contingency plans for things, so maybe that’s where the difference is? I’m ready for the bottom to fall out, so when it does, I’m ready.

    1. Miss Haversham*

      It’s so nice to read something about people being kind and helpful to each other! I’m sure your friends appreciate that very much. My adult daughter is similar with helping people with their pet-related boarding needs.

    2. Kay*

      You are a good person! I’ve been burned by people who I thought were good friends refusing small asks, so I am now very cautious about asking for help.

    3. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

      I think this is increasingly unusual, at least if you move away from the area where most of your family is, where you grew up and have a large friend network, etc.

      This is one of the reasons why we decided not to have kids. For various reasons we don’t have a network of people who would look after a child and don’t have the financial resources to pay for child care. If I were living back home it would be a completely different situation.

  28. CatMintCat*

    It’s only three hours. Would it be possible to drive home at night and back in the morning? It makes long days, but it’s doable if you must go. (And, yes, before anyone asks, I’ve done exactly this.)

    1. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain*

      Right. In some metro areas a three hour one way commute is a normal daily occurrence (waving from Los Angeles over here where it can take 3 hours to travel 40 miles) Luckily I don’t do that anymore on a daily basis but I could absolutely do it for 3 days.

    2. alienor*

      Yeah, I did a two-day work event once when my daughter was an infant where I drove two hours each way so I could be home at night. It wasn’t ideal, but it worked. Most of the rest of the attendees stayed at the hotel overnight, so I did miss out on any evening functions, but I didn’t really want to go out drinking with a big group anyway.

  29. Curiouser and Curiouser*

    It just feels to me like OP1’s letter would read very differently ignored the question were “I took this job because it didn’t require travel. I have X hardship. Is it reasonable to tell my boss I can’t go? How do I broach that conversation?” rather than “Isn’t this unfair?!” It isn’t unfair. It IS reasonable to bring up hardships and request an alternative. But the hardship can’t be that it’s unfair…

    1. SherSher*

      I think you’re absolutely right. I feel like OP is coming across as whiny when they may have a very legit reason for being unable to travel. It’s all in the delivery!

      1. MissDisplaced*

        Exactly. It may be a pain in the ass, and disruptive, but no it’s not unfair to ask employees to attend a one-time training (paid for I assume) that isn’t a normally-required thing.
        It would only be unfair is other options WERE presented to management for those with legitimate hardship, and were refused and/or threatened with firing. And I find it hard to believe all 5 employees do have a legitimate hardship.

  30. Sapphire*

    The moment when you realize you’re going to be fired is such a gut-punch. For me, it was when my manager said “You need to think about whether this job is right for you.” I had been job searching on and off for the past year and a half, but right when I got home that night, I started filling out applications.

    At least they mailed back the rest of my stuff when they fired me two weeks later because I couldn’t haul it all on the train.

  31. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain*

    Pets can be boarded or have a friend/neighbor check in 2 times a day or something. Most pets are already used to being home alone most of the day anyway if the owner has a regular job. I don’t think I know anyone who has a pet that doesn’t have some sort of options for when they go on vacation.

    If there really is a group of employees with small kids that don’t have overnight child care options (I’m actually thinking that’s probably an exaggeration by the OP though), and I’m assuming these are small children rather than teenagers who might be able to stay with a friend for those 2 nights — could they approach the company to ask about children traveling with them and having on-site day care provided during the training sessions? I just think the company might be agreeable to paying a person to watch over 3-5 kids in a side room for 8 hours provided the parents bring activities and pay their own food costs. But if the company doesn’t want to pay for it, maybe they’ll just allow the parents to do it on their own dime.

  32. PorecelainOne*

    I’m a single mom of 5 and don’t work because it is such a hassle of finding childcare and the expense but I also know that you have to have some kind of plan in an emergency. What if you’re in an accident, what if you have a child that is hospitalized and you have other children? If you’re saying that there is absolutely no one you would trust to watch your kids and there’s an emergency they’re going to wind up some place you don’t want. I’m not saying a business trip is the same as an emergency but it just shows that you have to have a backup plan and it’s not safe or healthy to isolate yourself that much.

    1. E.*

      I don’t think people were assuming they were a single parent, just pointing out that that might be a case where they could more reasonably push back on this. I’m actually assuming they aren’t since it wasn’t mentioned.

    2. (Different) Rebecca, PhD*

      Because if there’s another custodial parent without outside nighttime obligations, this becomes a complete non-issue.

  33. E.*

    Re OP #1 – I’m not clear if it’s one 2-night trip or two 1-night trips? Either way, unless there’s a very unusual and difficult circumstance (ie, you’re a single parent, and the kids are very little or have special needs, and you’re brand new to town and know nobody, etc), you can’t reasonably refuse this. If the reason is simply having kids, trying to get out of it will probably not go over well.

    Travel is discussed during the hiring process if it’s a frequent thing. Going to a one-time training is just an accepted part of working. If all 5 people are really are angry and disgruntled about this, well, it sounds like everyone is overreacting. That said, if you do have some very unique circumstance that makes it truly impossible, you should talk to your manager – but not if it’s just because the trip will be inconvenient.

  34. Cristina in England*

    OP, I feel like a lot of commenters are being unfair to you. Yes it is unfair. Yes it is disruptive to your life and would cause a lot of people real hardship. Just because something is considered normal doesn’t mean it’s ok or right or that you should just go along with it. Goodness knows I could think of about 35 things that are “normal” and also wrong.

      1. WMM*

        It has to become a conversation. Here is what I can do, here is what I can’t do. Can I drive in and out for one day, and video chat for the rest of the time? Is there a self taught type of training available?

    1. lobsterp0t*

      I mean, normal-wrong and normal-pain in the ass are also… not the same thing.

      All work is a pain in the ass. We all have to work to pay the rent, because capitalism.

      I guess I just don’t see why it’s so unfair? It’s just part of the crappy system we’re all in, but it’s not oppressive to ask people to travel one time for training.

      1. Mongrel*

        “I guess I just don’t see why it’s so unfair? It’s just part of the crappy system we’re all in, but it’s not oppressive to ask people to travel one time for training.”

        You go to work and get paid for your time – part of the system (which includes travel time, that was a decision you made when you accepted the job)

        You get dragged out of your home and stuck in a hotel without any reimbursement – you’re expected to suck it up because “it’s normal”.

        I think it’s objectively unfair; you’re out of pocket for child\pet care, you’re not being reimbursed for lost leisure (whatever you normally do of an evening) but because everyone else has had to do similar things it’s rationalised away.

    2. MissDisplaced*

      I think the tone and hostility of the letter (and lack of additional information) is what is making people react that way. Sure, business travel is an imposition if you’re not expecting it. But being asked to travel to another site for a one-time training is not at all “unfair” or unreasonable. And how is it “hijacking” their life exactly? They would still be in the training during the day regardless of where it was held.

      Now, if the company was making them go and not paying for it, or other reasonable options for the people who may have a genuine hardship were presented and rejected under threat of firing (of which there is no evidence in this letter to support it) I can understand such a feeling of anger and disgruntlement. But presented as it is, no.

      1. Sal*

        It is hijacking their evening when they get home from work. When I get off work I want to go home and be with my kids/pets/spouse. To ask me to stay in a hotel in a strange city without them is not how I would choose to spend my (unpaid) hours after I get off work. I’m paid hourly and when I clock off my time should be mine. I wouldn’t travel for work either and picked a job where it is not a requirement ever.

  35. SherSher*

    Re: the last letter (should they shorten the employee’s notice time)… If OP were willing to pay out the full notice period, there’s nothing wrong with letting them go sooner rather than later, is there?

    1. Miss Haversham*

      I think people are fine with that. It’s just that the LW seems to want to terminate the employee right now and not pay.

      1. Pomona Sprout*

        Exactly. It sounds like LW wants to have their cake and eat it, too (as the saying goes). Sorry, it doesn’t work that way. Telling someone who has given notice to just leave now and btw, you’re not getting paid for the days you said you were willing to work is nothing more than a retroactive firing. Which is pretty crappy, imo.

  36. WMM*

    As a SAHM to a couple of special needs kids, I totally get the stress involved. When they were small, it was simply not possible, and now that they’re big, it would still be a BIG ask of a company, and it would have to be coordinated with my husband’s job to not be a time where he has zero flexibility due to deadlines and the like. People who don’t live near family or have wide friend networks likely don’t understand. One friend watching one kid for one night is totally different from asking a friend to watch 2+ kids for 2+ nights. When you add special needs, there are simply zero options.

  37. Quickbeam*

    Re #4…..I once got fired from a job and was walked out. I was not allowed to pick up my things. This job was 60 miles from my home. The HR department called me for *5 years* to come get my things. I was working elsewhere in another area. I didn’t want to make a long drive to a place that was not a great memory to do some walk of shame to get a box of stuff. I told them to throw it out and stop calling me.

    At year 6 an HR employee drove to my house send dropped my stuff off. Unannounced. I was more annoyed than anything. Unless it’s expensive equipment, I’d say let it go.

  38. Indie*

    Work travel is unheard of in my field; I dont mean rare – I mean it has never, ever happened and there would be uproar if it was even suggested. The unions would be involved before end of day. Even though I am petless and childless, I’d be quite annoyed myself; despite the fact that travel never bothered me in my former field. People often enter this type of work specifically for these more stable circumstances to suit their lifestyles. Higher ups specifically do hours more of at home work after hours in return for never travelling. Lower down, the deal of our commitment never entering the overnight realm is reflected by salary.
    I dont know the OPs field but there are instances where work travel would be out of step with the overall agreed upon package.

  39. Jake Terrier*

    A key part of the difficulty of traveling if you need child or pet care is the expense of it, which is not reimbursed. So essentially every time you ask that employee to travel, you’re taking a big portion of their paycheck from their pocket. In addition, you likely need to drop off and pick up the day before and after you travel, adding additional nights to your child/pet care arrangements and more $$. Employers assume you have someone you live with or nearby who can handle this for you for free or at low cost, and they need to stop assuming that.

  40. M*

    Regarding the team building question.

    Slightly different situation, but we had an out of town conference for the association we’re all apart of (memberships are paid for by my department’s boss and the hotel rooms were paid for by the company) and about a dozen of us went to the conference. At least half of my team brought their spouses to the Friday night party (food & dessert stations, 1 drink ticket for conference attendees, cash bar, dancing & lawn games), one person brought her 2 kids to the hotel, too (but they did not attend the party). The president of the association brought her husband as well, so clearly this is seen as completely normal & welcomed for this particular chapter.

    We only saw them that night & the following night for dinner & drinks after the conference wrapped up. It seemed really bizarre to me, having always been told that’s not appropriate, but this is apparently what they do every year, and it was seen as a disappointment when a coworker said their spouse couldn’t make it.

    So, there may be situations where ‘team-building’ means ‘bring your family if you want so we can all get to know each other better’…but of course, that should be something coming from this person’s boyfriend’s boss or like in my case where it’s been long established and talked about as a normal expectation that this will happen.

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