Several thousand people travel for work on any given day in the world. I'm right there with them.
The travel required for many jobs is taxing – physically, mentally, and emotionally. However, it’s even more taxing on the families of those business travelers.
Kids don’t get to spend as much time with their parents, and often times parents have to miss sporting events, school activities, parent/teacher conferences, and growing milestones. Business travel may look glamorous, and I’m sure some parents would like the solitude and peacefulness of it, but I’m here to tell you – it’s not as glamorous as it looks.
When traveling, it's important to keep in mind that your family doesn’t know how much you miss them unless you make a CONSCIOUS effort to show them. Otherwise, they’ll just think you’re enjoying being away.
Even in today's digital age, business travel is never going away. If significant travel is part of your career, there are several ways you can keep in touch back home, even while you’re out of reach. If you commit to doing these things when you’re on the road, your life at home will be much better when you get back.
1. Knock out the Honey-Do’s
Stay-at-home parents have the hardest job in the world. What makes their job even harder is when the other spouse leaves a bunch of honey-do’s all weekend, and then leave town for the week on Monday morning.
If you’ve got a work trip coming up, sit down with your spouse and find out what you can do to make her (or his) life easier while you’re gone. That gesture goes a long way. And if you don’t, it also goes a long way – in the wrong direction.
This is my favorite way to stay connected to my wife and children. Talking on the telephone is great, but actually seeing your family when you talk to them gives an added element of them feeling like they’re still with you, at least in some way.
Also, it gives your family a glimpse into what you’re up to. Over the years, I’ve given my kids tours of my hotel room, shown them my room service dinner, snow on the ground outside, let them meet co-workers of mine, and several other things.
When traveling, make it a point to FaceTime your family at least once a day. Sometimes time changes make it difficult, but our favorite time is usually between my last meeting and dinner.
3. Text Messaging
I don’t know what the world did before text messaging. Texting is a great way to stay connected with people, without having to call and have a full-on conversation.
Make it a point to text your spouse, and children (if they’re old enough), 3-4 times during the day, just to check in and so they know you’re thinking of them.
If you think that sounds excessive, I beg to differ. Even during the busiest, most intense meetings, there will be 3-4 times during the day when you pause for five or ten minutes to eat, get coffee or water, or use the restroom.
It’s not hard to piggyback a text message or two onto those breaks.
4. Have Dinner Delivered
Nowadays, most areas have food delivery services that extend beyond just pizza. Look up these places in your area, and have dinner delivered to your family at least once during a week when you’re gone.
Doordash and Uber Eats are great options, and many restaurants have their own delivery services nowadays.
The kids won’t care as much, because it will be food on the dinner table for them. But trust me, your wife or husband will thank you for relieving them from cooking and cleaning another meal.
5. Surprise Them
Everyone loves surprises, especially those that show extreme care. I don’t do this on every trip, but every once in a while I like to send a surprise home.
Some examples are a bouquet of flowers to your wife, a postcard to your family from the place you’re visiting, souvenirs when you return, and my family’s favorite, chocolate-covered strawberries from Shari’s Berries.
There are several other things you can do, many of which involve more creativity than I have. But the bottom line is to stress the importance of showing your family you love them and are plugged in with them, even when you’re an airplane flight away.
Business travel is tough on all involved, but it’s a necessary evil. If you follow these steps, you will stay much more connected to your family while you're away. Most importantly, they will appreciate you caring for them, and you will have an even stronger bond when you return.
How are you staying connected when you’re away?
Bret Barrie was a Hall-of-Fame and Presidents’ Club-winning sales rep and is a top-producing sales leader in the medical device industry. He is also the author of The Selling Edge: How to Reach the Top in any Sales Industry and Promoted: The Proven Path to Career Advancement. A baseball enthusiast and fitness junkie, he is happily married with three children and lives in the greater Sacramento area. For more information, visit bretbarrie.com.