Staying Connected with Family while Traveling for Work

Traveling for work can often bring enjoyment, as it provides an opportunity to escape, network, gain new skills, or find new clients.  However, it can also cause stress when leaving behind your family when you are one the road.  By planning ahead, you can make your trip a success, and stay connected with your family at the same time.

Get organized:

When one family member is traveling for work, it puts extra pressure and stress on the other spouse, particularly when there are kids involved.  To allow for an easier transition, sit down with your family a week before the trip and make a schedule for the entire time that you will be gone.  Make a list of what meals your family will have each day, what after school activities they have planned, and what other responsibilities need to be addressed when you are gone.  Leave a copy of the schedule at home on the refrigerator, and keep one with you while on your trip.  This way, you will know what is going on with them, and you can check in about how things are going.  It may also put you at ease to know that the household will be in good shape while you are gone.

Schedule time:

One of the most important strategies for staying connected with your family while travelling for work is to schedule time to communicate with your family.  Before leaving, get as much of an itinerary as you can for your trip, whether you will be in meetings or at a conference, find out when your down time will be.  Once you know that, schedule a specific time to call home and check in with your family.  Talk with your family and determine how often it is appropriate to check in.  Perhaps you can plan for a few minutes in the morning, and a longer phone call at the end of the day.  When you call in, be sure you are focused on them, and not on your work, during the entire phone call.

Video call:

While it does not replace a person to person interaction, having a video conversation through the computer may make you feel like you are almost there with your family.  There are many programs, such as www.skype.com that offer free video calling from one computer to another.  Before leaving for your trip, be sure that both you and your family will have access to a computer.  Download whatever software is needed and test it out to make sure it is in working order before you leave.  When you are ready to have the video chat, be sure to be in the privacy of your own hotel room or living accommodations, and not in a public location, if possible, so that you can feel comfortable talking and sharing with each other.

Text:

If you have a busy schedule while traveling, you may not be able to check in much during the day.  Texting offers a great way to check in with your family members, to let them know that you are thinking about them.  If you get a break between meetings, or are waiting for the next session to begin, send your family members a brief text to tell them that you love and miss them, and to ask them how they are doing.  Be sure to let them know when you next meeting or session begins, so they don’t respond back when you are unavailable.

Be present:

When you do check in with your family, whether through phone calls, texts, or videos, spend that time focusing on them, their needs, and asking them how they are doing.  Try to put the stress of your business trip aside, so that you can be with them for those few minutes that you do have together.  Find a private location to talk, block out the projects that you are working on, and refocus on your family.

Reconnect when returning home:

Reuniting with your family after a business trip for work can be such a rewarding moment.  When you get back home, take time to hear from each of your family members about what you missed while you were gone.  Give them each some alone time with you, so that they know they have your full attention.  Share information, stories, and pictures from your trip, so that they have a better understanding of what you were working on and what you did while you were gone.

Traveling for work can provide both a great professional opportunity and a stressful personal situation, as you struggle to stay connected to your family members.  However, there are many simple and easy ways to stay connected, by focusing on your family and planning ahead.