Parts of my job may seem pretty glamorous to some. Over 30 countries, countless dinners, hotels, parties with the rich and sometimes famous. An experience that few may ever know. On one hand it IS fantastic that unlike most Americans I can honestly say I have been around the world, in fact I have been around the world several times.
I have a great appreciation for the various cultures and people I have encountered while traveling. I also have an appreciation on how the world views the US, it's government, its leaders and Americans in general. I also see how Americans traveling internationally view other cultures. But all this is for another post.
There is a very real downside to all this travel - being away from friends and family, missing out on base hits, A's on exams, a new tooth, a new friend and all the other little milestones that happen everyday in the lives of those we love.
Over the years I have tried to plan travel in such a way as to not miss those important milestones, of course that has not always gone according to plan. Still, if I can't be there physically, I do try to use planning and technology to manage as best as possible.
Here my top TEN to stay connected while on the road.
The Traveling Dad's Simple Guide to Staying connected w/family:
1. Set a time each day to connect home. You may be in a different time zone and even a different day. It is important to set a plan on when to call or chat so everyone is ready and eager to connect.
2. Use technology - Webcams are a great way to make everyone feel closer. Nothing makes the road less lonely than the smile of your spouse and kids. Online video and soft-phone products like SKYPE are free to use with any internet connection.
3. Make time - dont rush the call. Your kids may have nothing to share or they may have a whole host of great experiences to tell about. Be in the moment, don't be thinking about the meeting you have to rush off for.
4. Have a set of open ended questions ready. If your kids are young like mine, they really only want to say hello, see your face and hear your voice. And unless something special happened that day they won't have much or know what to say. Ask specific questions that have them recount what they have done while you have been gone or want to do when you return. Asking "how was your day?" will only result in "good" as the response.
5. Make even more time for your spouse and listen, listen, listen. Address all things big and small. Even those items that can't be handled while you are traveling at least make and agree to a plan. Your traveling does not and should not be allowed to put our family life on hold. Your time on the road means the spouse is now doing double duty, not to mention they have lost their partner in parenting and that sounding board.
6. Email, text, Tweet, send phone photos about your day. - As my boys get older and they adopt today's technologies I have begun to send them texts and emails. Soon it will be our own family tweets. that way they we can all keep up with each other throughout your time away, while maybe not being able to directly connect.
7. Send them a postcard. You are probably visiting places they have never been or may never get a chance to visit. A post card is a fun and memorable way for them to see the sites and know that you were thinking of them.
8. Bring home unique items. NO not gifts. but something small and unique to where you have been. I don't recommend this for every trip, but certainly for those times when you see something that you know they would love and is very unique to the locale.
9. Bring home a story. Each trip find something about the destination that makes it special and different from home. Let the family learn from your experiences.
10. Come home ready to be part of the family. Even after a long flight or extended trip it is very important to get back to being a Dad and husband. Try and plan in advance what you will do when you get home. And most of all make every moment count!
Dad Said it's OK to travel on business