The Work Vacation- Smiling Suitcase Style

Vacation days are scarce for us Americans, so you have to be able to take advantage of every opportunity to get out and see the world. Sometimes, the best way to do this is on your company’s dime…sort of. In my job, I get the opportunity to attend conferences once, maybe twice a year. Like most conferences, it’s held at a pretty sweet hotel, of course my meals are paid for and it’s usually held in a great location. So, my few chances of living high on the hog at the expense of someone else are few. It’s at this time when my alter ego shows up. We’ll call him the vacation worker ant. It’s that part of me that works every angle possible to treat the rest of my family to a pretty cool vacation. I’ve been doing it for years and my skin has toughened up to where I really don’t care how many people watch some of my scavenger ways. I’m always looking for opportunities to save money so we can spend money. So here’s how a typical conference goes for me and feel free to laugh at any moment, I’m used to it.

My typical conference will last 4 days. Seventy five percent of the time we will have enough airline points to get tickets for my wife and kids, of course mine is paid. Since we exclusively use credit cards for all purchases and have stayed away from debit cards for at least 5 years, the free flights add up faster than you think. I also do all of my trip spending on my personal credit card instead of my company credit card so I can get more points, especially the double points for the flight. Then I get reimbursed. The hotels are not cheap but when you’re only adding on to the days already covered by my company, spending 2 days for 6 days will make me smile endlessly. It’s not all rosy though, my kids have to bunk together, which can be trying at some points. Lots of kicking, poking, etc, but they’re used to it also and glad to do it if it means traveling somewhere cool. Every now and then you can get a rollaway, but it seems to be harder these days. As for eating? Well, that’s where it gets to be funny. Usually at a conference, there’s a breakfast period before the conference begins. So that takes care of me, and what about the rest of the family? That’s when the worker ant steps in and takes over. You guessed it. I’m that guy with a pile of food on my plate heading back up to the room to let the girls have breakfast in bed. Sure, I get the looks, but I don’t care. Is that a banana in your pocket or…(you know the rest)? Anyways, it’s saving me money and filling bellies in the process. Cocktail hour? I’m there. Two fisting drinks and food out to the family before we trek out on the town. Call me cheap? Sure. Taking advantage of the conference? Hardly. Have you seen the price of conferences these days? I should take a suitcase down there and pack it full or fill up a canteen with wine. OK, may have done that before too. I’m like Cousin Eddie filling up a bag full of food at the buffet line. I look at this as more of a hunt for survival. Take away the receptions, waiters, tablecloths, ice sculptures, and fancy decorations and everything else that goes with modern society and I’m just a man foraging for food in the wild. It’s a mastery of bending words to somehow serve your own purpose. As the eyes stray my way, I give back that look of “Don’t you judge me.” It’s a dog eat dog world and sometimes my kids like good cheese and shrimp. As for the drinks? A man’s got to do something to keep warm.

I say all of that to say this. I stretch the dollar as far as it will go, because what I save on one end usually gets spent on the other. We live pretty large on vacations, and it’s mainly due to little things like this. I recently spoke to another employee who told me she never takes her family along on the trips and tends to stay in the hotel room and attend the receptions. I simply don’t understand that reasoning, but I’m also the type of person that will go out of my way to make a trip unique, fun and entertaining, and most of all with the people I want to be traveling with, my family. It’s a no-brainer that we never are ready to go home, we have everything we need right there! Some of the best family trips we have ever been on have been business-related. And quite honestly it works for us. If you like to travel the way we do, you will do whatever it takes to make it memorable. And memories last so much longer than that leer you gave me in the elevator. But if you smile and say hello, I may just give you one of those crab rangoon.


  1. Nancy

    Some of my best memories of a family vacation were those spent with mom and dad at one of his water conventions! I went to places I would never think were interesting, but we had the best times ever!!! Great memories for me!

  2. Leticia Stabrino

    I love it! I’m the same way, very cheap but just like you said, every $5, $10, or whatever that I save I see it as more money for fun activities.


      That’s exactly the way we choose to view our travels. Can’t say we’ve ever been ashamed to cut corners when we have needed to. It’s the only way we can really make the vacations count for us in a big way. That is the stuff we really like to spend money on and yeah, $5 or $10 can go along way. Thanks for the comments! And excuse my lateness, I’ve been making a bit too much merry lately.


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