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Travels With Teddy: How Some Execs Cope on Road

BYLINE: Lisa Faye Kaplan
LENGTH: 436 words

Business travel can take the starch out of the most self-assured corporate titan. So some executives cope with the stress of success by bringing along their old "blanky" or "teddy" or "Mr. Duck," security objects from childhood that make far-flung places seem more like home.

"I take him everywhere," says Elisabeth Elman, 25, a New Jersey public relations executive of a beige teddy bear named Snuggles. "I bring him with me to have a piece of home. And since I've always brought him and haven't had any trouble traveling, it's a superstition. If I don't bring him, I get really upset."

Hotels around the nation report seeing stuffed animals and well-worn baby blankets in rooms occupied only by corporate honchos.

"It's something familiar in a foreign environment," says Rachel Spasser of the Parker Meridien Hotel, a midtown Manhattan hotel that caters to business travelers. The Parker Meridien's housekeeping staff regu larly digs through a mountain of sheets to retrieve teddy bears or tattered blankets owned by executives unhinged at their sudden disappearance.

Some corporate guests of Washington, D.C.'s, Carlton Hotel, two blocks from the White House, bring along nightlights, those flame-shaped gadgets that once kept childhood demons and hobgoblins at bay.

"That's a security thing," says Kathleen Keenan, a spokeswoman for the hotel.

Security objects are a part of most childhoods, substitutes for mother that toddlers carry wherever they go, psychologists say.

"We often push our children away from us too soon," says Karen Shanor, a Washington, D.C., psychologist. "They still have this need to attach. If the person isn't there on a reliable basis or in a loving way, there is a tendency to attach to some thing."

Most kids outgrow their particular security object by the time they reach school age.

But some hold tight throughout their adult and professional lives.

Britain's Prince Charles travels with a teddy bear so ancient that the Queen Mother has sewn back its velvet feet to restore some dignity to the old friend, according to Andrew Morton's Diana's Diary (Summit Books, $ 19.95). "When the prince travels abroad, his valet places teddy in a plastic shirt bag and takes him with the entourage," Morton says.

Security objects come in all shapes and sizes. Family pictures, favorite slippers, over-stuffed Filofaxes can be invested with powers to comfort and protect people far from home, Shanor says.

"All alleviate a bit of anxiety and have some connection to home, whether it's the home of today or that coziness and security as a child," she says.