After a long (and, in some ways, lucky) run of only leaving town on business for a couple of day trips, I’ve learned that I will be traveling out of state soon for a conference.

While I knew this day would come, it’s still heartbreaking to think of being away from my two little ones (and, yes, my husband, too) for three nights. They’re both still young enough that they don’t understand why Mama has to leave, just that she is leaving, which makes things even harder. What’s more, the youngest is still nursing, which makes an already difficult trip just a little bit harder.

To make things a little easier for the family, I’m planning ahead on a few things:

  • Stocking the fridge. Two hungry kids and a hungry dad make for a very difficult day. By making a few kid-friendly comfort meals ahead of time, like chicken noodle soup or a Now & Later chicken dish, I can make sure that everyone has at least one hot, home-cooked meal while I am away.
  • Packing up memories. When going out of town, I always make sure to pack some recent photos of the kids to put on my nightstand, vanity and any other high traffic spot in my hotel room. In addition, I snap a recent photo of the kids with my phone that I can look at while in meetings or during any other “down” time.
  • Leaving something behind. To comfort the baby, I’ll leave a t-shirt near his crib that I slept in the night before. That way, he can be comforted by my scent even if I’m not physically there. For my older daughter, I’ll leave her a special note or toy to let her know I’m thinking about her.

In addition, I’ll warn my husband that he will probably receive more phone calls from me than the day I went into labor – and to be patient.

What do you do to prepare for out-of-town travel without the kids?