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Achieving a life-travel balance


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Some executives take family members on business trips.
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(CNN) -- Late mealtimes, missed sports days and weekends away; business travel is a reality for many executives who have families, and often the cause of bristly relations.

Time-zone differences and business dinners can make calling home every night difficult, while worrying about loved ones and missing out on family events can lead to stress.

But it is not just the family member on the road that is affected. Psychologists are aware that business travel can shape a family unit and those left behind, both emotionally and mentally.

While some are able to achieve a balance in their lives between work, life and business travel, others are not so successful.

Some executives squeeze family time into their travels by taking a spouse or children along -- it can provide a human touch to a stressful professional life -- others compensate by working from home one day a week when they are not traveling.

The experts say that even the most pressured executives can find balance somewhere in their lives -- it just takes discipline.

"The partner left behind is the one who has to handle the crises at home. The partner who is living in multi-star luxury in the hotel is cushioned from those crises," Paula Reardon, a relationships counselor told CNN.

"(Those on the road) may feel a sense of loss because they cannot put the kids to bed, but they are cushioned from having to deal with things like the partner back home -- it can be polarizing to travel abroad."

She believes making quality time for the family is essential in the work-life balance equation.

Reardon specializes in looking at how families and individuals are affected by being constantly on the move. Her advice on how to help keep relationships together is as follows:

Communication -- this involves not just talking about what you have done each day, but keeping up with how emotions and value judgments in the household change over time.

Practical matters -- having one detailed diary for the whole house can help keep track of school plays, business trips and sports days, as well as more mundane things like who gets the bills paid and who takes the dog to the veterinarian.

Independence -- if one partner is not traveling, then they need their own group of friends and acquaintances.

Focus -- being able to switch off from work and focus on family quality time is very important.

Rationalize work -- question whether business travel is necessary for certain projects or can it be done via the telephone or videoconferencing. Efficient work schedules also means more time at home.

CNN's Rosalind Chin contributed to this report


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