Dad’s Guide to Staying Close to the Family While on the Road

Dads Guide to Staying Close to the Family While on the Road

Unfortunately, some of us have to pack our suitcases up often for our jobs– and as much as we don’t like leaving our families, knowing that a week here, or a month there is just what we signed up to do.  Obligation overtakes heartache, and we grab our sick-packs, neck rolls and toothbrushes to board our airline of choice to rack up our frequent flier miles, and off we go across the globe.

Up until the last ten years, if you traveled for work, you were a slave to the hotel room’s phones, lobby pay phones, post cards, and snail mail to stay in touch.  And even if you were able to get in touch with a loved one… time was limited because there was actually a time where we paid long distances fees to talk from state to state.  Any veteran military spouse can tell you technology has come a very long way from what it used to be.

The truth is technology is so unbelievable today that a lonesome traveler doesn’t have to suffer the hotel-room-blues anymore.  Speaking from our own experiences, here are some tips to staying close to your family while you’re gone.

1) Don’t put away your cell phones yet

That’ s right, don’t power down that phone just because you’re out of the country.  Simply put your phone on airplane mode and you can utilize all the apps that work via Wi-Fi such as Skype, HeyTell, KaKao, WhatsApp, and iMessage.  Most hotels have free Wi-Fi for their guests, and so do most coffee shops.  When on the road, Wi-Fi is your “best-good-friend.”

2) Skype

Skype has successfully been keeping families connected since 2003, but has made vast improvements to their app over the years. Connections are mostly clear, and Skype-to-Skype calls are free  and can be used over Wi-Fi.  Video chat is a huge plus for when your significant other and kids want to see your reaction to a joke, or want you to join in the talent show practice sessions. So, be sure to download Skype to your family’s cell phones, laptops and TV before leaving town.

3) Facebook

An obvious and sometimes really hated App used to connect others, Facebook kinda-sorta becomes your best friend while away.  You pay more attention to other people’s statuses, and read posts, meme’s, and blogs that you normally would’ve skimmed right past had you been in the comfort of your own home.

The best part is that when your spouse says “did you see the shoes I ‘liked’ on Julie’s page” you can give your sincerely honest “yes, yes I did.”

4) Instagram

If you haven’t gotten on this bandwagon yet, you might as well give-in old timer.  Your family is excited and interested to see what it looks like around you, and what you’ve been up to!  Not only do you get to share photos of cool things like the odd looking food sitting in front of you, or a monument like the Eiffel tower, but you can manipulate the photos with a number of filters to really enhance your experience and make it look even cooler than it actually was to be there by yourself.

5) Take Lots of Photos

Take pictures a step further by taking a ton of photos that you know only mean something to your family (like a local with a side-80’s pony tail), and only share it with your fam via a private or group text message.  What this does is it makes your experience a little more personal by sharing it with them only, and lets them know you were thinking about them specifically at some point during your day.

6) Order a Pizza…

…or any type of take out, and have it delivered to the house.  Let the family know, you can still take care of dinner even though you’re far away.  Apps are available now, like UrbanSpoon, and GrubHub, and they allow you to peruse menus in a selected area and call in an order or even order online.  Or check out Yelp for menus and delivery options.  Some of your favorites like Papa Johns, and Pizza Hut even have their own apps that you can order ahead of time, so you can send a special dinner surprise as you’re eating your morning cereal.

7) Date Night

Just because you’re away, does not mean you can’t still enjoy a movie date with your other half. If you don’t have the movie handy yourself, have your wife or partner turn the laptop around to face the TV while video-chatting, so you can watch the Hell’s Kitchen Season finale, or The Notebook for the 34th time together.

8) Take Notes

It’s hard to remember everything that happens over the course of a day or week, especially if you’re in a different time zone. Try to jot down things that happen to you, so when you do have time to check in, you have loads to talk about.  As bad as it sounds, believe us, it helps keep conversation off of the mundane, “so what did you do today?”

9) Find “That Thing…”

Every time you travel to a new state or country, look for a unique Christmas ornament for your wife, postcards for your buddies at work, refrigerator magnets for your friends, and of course your kid’s favorite toy item from each country.  Whatever you do, don’t leave wherever you are without finding “that thing,” because even if it’s a snow globe, or a goofy t-shirt, once the collection builds up it becomes something everyone looks forward to.

10) Be Flexible

You’re most likely not in Kansas anymore, and that means even though you have to adjust to your new time zone, everyone back home still has to continue with their already established schedules.  As thoughtful as it may be to wake up your family with a morning phone call, it may not be doable. So, instead of asking your family to adjust their routine, consider staying up late for a 30 minute conversation. It may be hard, but it’s necessary.

Follow these guidelines, and parting doesn’t have to be such sweet sorrow!

For more great travel posts, check out our post on Adjusting your baby to different time zones

Photo Credit: DaniAshley Sisk and Man in airport by Luis Marina (CC BY 2.0).

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Robert lives in Southern California with his wife, and new son born May, 2014. He enjoys photography, traveling, and blogging at his Daddy-blog, The Scared Dad | A Journey of a First Time Father.

Comments (5)

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    Although I appreciate that it was written by a dad – alllllllllll of these tips could be for moms, too. Why is the default assumption that if you’re traveling for work, you’re male?


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      It absolutely can be, Bonnie! Many moms travel for work as well.
      Since this article was written by a Dad, he chose to write it as a guide for other dads, like himself.


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    I’m curious why there aren’t more tips about how to prepare the household to be down one parent. Buying guilt presents, ordering pizza, Skyping- that’s all great but what about what you do, pre-trip, to help the parent at home get ready to handle everything on their own? That’s what would really be helpful for my family.


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      Preparing the family for a parent to be away is a great post idea- thanks, Alison!


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    Preston Davis


    I always try to remember to do #8, even when I’m home! So much is always going on and competing for our attention, it’s hard to keep track of everything. I have this widget called Jot that I keep right on my home screen and use it to take down little reminders!


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