Planning a trip to a professional conference always has its logistic challenges, but if you’re a mom, there are even more factors to consider. Sometimes things work out, sometimes they don’t. In my case, this year, they didn’t.

I had planned to attend the 54th Annual Conference of the American Translators Association in San Antonio in November. Since my husband works overseas for much of the year, the first consideration was whether or not he would be able to come home to watch our kids during that time. Once he received the go-ahead, I registered for the conference, booked a hotel room with a roommate and bought a plane ticket. Everything was in place. Then things changed.

Just a few weeks out from the conference, my husband now was told he couldn’t fly home in November. With no family members within a 1300-mile radius who could take over babysitting responsibilities, I racked my brain for an alternative solution. I came up with a few possibilities:

Hire a nanny from home and take everyone with me. Unfortunately, there were a few problems with this plan. First of all, I had already purchased my plane ticket, so I would have to change my own flight plus add three more tickets at a much higher price than the low rate I paid when I first booked. I could drive, but it’s a 13-hour trip, which is never fun with little kids. Second, I had a roommate in San Antonio, who probably wouldn’t be thrilled about adding three more people, two of them under 7, to our room. So I would have to book another hotel room as well. This conference just got a whole lot more expensive.

Hire a babysitter in San Antonio to watch the kids while I am attending sessions. There are several babysitting services in San Antonio, such as Nanny Poppinz and Mom’s Best Friend. I still would have to pay extra for the new flights or take the long drive, though, and would need another hotel room.

Cut your losses and sit this one out. This is what I ultimately decided upon. It was a tough choice, but in the end, I decided that it’s just not worth the hassle, let alone an extra two grand or so, to attend this year’s conference. Even if I did have a babysitter in San Antonio, my networking opportunities would be limited. After leaving the kids with a sitter all day long during sessions, I wouldn’t want to leave them again at night to attend any after-hour events, which is where the real networking happens. Luckily, I was able to cancel my registration without any penalties (the deadline is Oct. 14) and my roommate was able to find another person to take my spot. Southwest Airlines let me cancel my flight, although instead of a refund I am getting a credit to use for another flight. Still, compared to most airlines’ cancellation policies, this is pretty good.

I was hoping this year’s ATA Conference would be the culmination of a year of business expansion, but as they say… the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.


About the author - Marion Rhodes

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