The Weekly Flyer from Points, Miles, and Martinis wrote about a topic that many business and/or frequent travelers can relate to: loneliness. Even for people who love travel, being gone from home and loved ones so often can take its toll. I’m on the road on average 2-3 times per month for 2-3 days at a time. That leaves a huge burden on the Home Warrior, taking care of the Mini Warrior and our dog, plus handling any issues that come up with our renovation (like when we had no heat for three days or hot water for FIVE DAYS). While there are certainly perks to traveling, being gone and missing birthdays and other events is so hard. I feel like I don’t get to spend much quality time with my husband or son, and not nearly as much time as I’d like with my friends or hobbies.
In the PMM comments Ric Garrido (the incredible story-teller from Loyalty Traveler) mentioned that in his experience frequent travel is hard on relationships. He said most travel bloggers he meets are single people. That makes a lot of sense, since one partner being gone much of the time can lead to resentment and strain on a relationship. It can be difficult to feel connected when one person is bearing the full load at home while the other is sitting alone in a hotel room.
So on that note, here are some suggestions for you to stay connected to your loved ones while you’re on the road. Hopefully it will lessen your sense of loneliness, and lighten the load of the ones at home.
Organize ahead of time. Before you leave, help your spouse plan as much as possible for the time you’re out. What’s for dinner? What activities are planned? Any doctor appointments? It also helps to schedule your FaceTime or phone calls so everyone has something to look forward to.
Unpack. This is a tip from the Weekly Flyer, and I totally agree. Do your best to unpack your suitcase soon after you get home. I am horrible at this, and it annoys the heck out of the Home Warrior to see my suitcase full of dirty clothes reminding him of my trip and taking up space. I vow to unpack within 24 hours from here on out!
Pull your weight at home. This was a tip a while back from Mommy Points. She wrote a post about being the spouse of a frequent business traveler, and it was very eye opening for me. Sure, when I get home I may be exhausted from 18 hours of travel, but I also had the luxury of four days of eating and sleeping uninterrupted, conversation with adults, and not changing diapers. When I walk in the door I immediately take over child duties to give my husband a break.
Video calls. Take advantage of technology to get some face or conversation time with your loved ones. Whether it’s your best friend, spouse, or child, it helps to stay connected. If you have older kids, it can also give the parent at home a breather. That being said, if it makes your child sad or they can’t understand while you’re not there in person it may be better to talk to your spouse after bedtime.
Get updates from home. The Home Warrior sends me pictures, videos, and quick texts throughout the day to let me know how the Mini Warrior is doing. That lets me still keep up with his life even when I’m not physically there.
Involve your family in your trip. Try having your kids pick out a local site to explore, or pick out fun souvenirs. Even something small like sending a postcard can help. I will often take pictures of the cool things I see and send them to the Home Warrior, so he still feels like a part of my day to day life.
Making sure everything goes as smoothly as possible for the people at home can lessen any guilt or anxiety you have about being gone, not to mention any resentment on the part of those at home. Once you’re on the road, finding ways to involve them in your trip makes everyone feel connected. It’s not easy, but with planning and work you and your family can stay connected.
Readers, how do you stay connected with your loved ones when you’re on a work trip?