Social Question

liminal's avatar

How do people whose jobs require extensive travel stay connected to those they love and keep their energy charged?

Asked by liminal (7761points) June 16th, 2010

My partner is considering taking a job with a company that fits her in many ideal ways except for the 80% travel requirement. We see the obvious pitfalls and hardships of such a life. It also could mean a fun way for our family to explore the world.

We are flexible people and know how to think out of the box when it comes to family life and think we can navigate the stressors well. Yet, in the fall we are planning on starting the kids with an alternative school whose schedule is flexible, but would still limit how often we could join her. Obviously, we keep going back and forth over whether or not we can make this work for our family.

What helps a family thrive in this sort of situation? What causes them to crash and burn?

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15 Answers

Blackberry's avatar

All you can do is talk on the phone. These relationships suffer most of the time, unless the two people realize that they are going to simply learn how to live without their mate for awhile. Some people actually live with so much that when their mate comes back, they are seen as more of a nuissance or distraction, or they are seen as a stranger again. Only those rare special make-you-want-to-throw-up couples can handle these LDR the best.

PandoraBoxx's avatar

My husband has a job that requires extensive travel. Business travel is hell, and having your family along makes it harder, not to mention more expensive. The trips that we went on were quite stressful for my husband, who, having to work out of hotel room after seeing clients all day, had to come back to a hotel room full of kids who were out of their element and routine. Additionally, the cost of taking the family traveling with him, in terms of airfare and meals, made it not worthwhile. We tried it exactly three times before deciding that the expense and the stress wasn’t worth the seemingly glamorous allure of being in a different place.

Traveling for business is not at all like traveling for vacation, and is often easier to handle when you are on your own. Stay connected by video conferencing, hire housekeeping help to make the weekends as stress-free as possible, so you can enjoy the time home on the weekends without having to deal with chores.

You really do want to keep your kids in as much of a normal routine as possilbe.

marinelife's avatar

I used to travel 70,000 miles a year so several years. I did it by making rules I could live with: no more than three cities per trip. No more than four days gone unless absolutely unpreventable. As few weekends as possible.

With the mileage I accumulated we never paid for a vacation for years, and we went great places.

I think with today’s Skype and internet connectivity, it is imminently doable. Just consider that it will be for a limited time: say two years or four years or whatever you can handle as a family.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

When I traveled, there was little time for leisure, and it wouldn’t have been professional to have a spouse or family along in the line of work I did.

Skype or Windows Messenger Live is ideal. It’s way to communicate daily for free via internet and web-cam.

Seaofclouds's avatar

Moving children around constantly can be very stressful on them. Even moving around just ever few years takes a toll on them sometimes (such as with the military). Most companies that require travel will not pay for family to go along as well, so you would have to cover all the extra costs on your own. Perhaps going once in a while would be good, but I think all the time would be to much stress for all of you.

As far as keeping in contact, with the internet there are a lot of possibilities. Most of the instant messengers have a webcam feature and voice so you can see each other and talk that way. You can send e-mail and also talk on the phone. It does get hard sometimes and it definitely can get lonely. The best thing to do while she is traveling is take it one day at a time and keep busy. That will help the time go by faster.

How long would she be staying in this position that requires a lot of travel time. If you know it will only be for a few years, it’s easier to weigh the pros and cons. Not having an end in sight will make it very daunting. Good luck!!

SmoothEmeraldOasis's avatar

@Seaofclouds -You are right in saying that not having an in end in sight will make it very daunting. That happens with not having a goal in mind also.
@Pied_Pfeffer -Now a days alot of people are working online and don’t have to absorb the additional cost of travel because of the obvious, but for those that don’t work at home, maybe if they can hook up with a company that will value their family as well would be just the bomb.
@marinelife -You were extremely fortunate! Kudos to you, yea!
@PandoraBoxx- Your point of view is very important, and valid I also believe that kids need to have consistency and for them to feel sedure in their sanctuary of a stable home enviroment.

liminal's avatar

@all Thanks for the input. You are giving me some nice perspective. thinking. thinking. thinking.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

I would love to have a job that puts me into other countries working on maternal mortality or reproductive rights, for example, but I know that I wouldn’t stand for the travel or being away from my family so I have curtailed certain desires of mine and not taken certain jobs in order to keep myself close. This is a tough situation, really.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

@SmoothEmeraldOasis lol, I know dear. I’m not that old!

Our job as hotel inspectors had us out on the road for 13 days and home for 8, with just a little administrative work that could be done from the house. It was a different hotel every night/day, so it wouldn’t have been conducive for bringing a family along. The 8 days at home allowed for quality time with family/personal needs.

While only 2 have quit after a couple of months, and a handful have moved on after a couple of years (to either take on another job within the company or because their spouse said, “Enough”), most are still road warriors. One inspector said, “My wife is elated when I get home. About Day 7 though, she asks, ‘When are you going back out?’ ”

It all just depends on what what you and your wife are willing to take on/give up. She may love the work she is doing, but the reality of travel, and 80% of her time at that, is not as glamorous as it appears.

lifeflame's avatar

My aunt and uncle’s family have made it work. Despite the fact that both my uncle and my cousin (his son) travel ⅓ of the time each, the family remains really close-knit.
I think the secret is to commit to spending time with the family, and to enjoy each other’s company. It’s small things like picking the spouse up at the airport, or calling home as soon as they arrive. I dunno, there’s a sort of excitement in their voice, and despite the number of trips, they always make it feel like it’s the return of the prodigal. Grandma will put extra effort in the meal, and in turn, they go on crazy family holidays and go out for grandma’s birthday.

I’m not sure if the age of the children will make a difference, it may be more difficult when they are younger. But certainly I would say that my aunt and uncle have one of the healthiest marriages that I have every known. It’s a matter of priority, and it’s a matter of love and support.

JLeslie's avatar

My husband travelled a lot in the first 7 years of our marriage. At one point he lived out of the country for 9 months. We talked on the phone every day. When he lived out of the country he came home, or I went there every 3 to 4 weeks. Be warned, that for us, and for many people I know in a similar situation, usually the first 24 hours home are stressful when you are apart a lot. Also, that whole thing about distance makes the heart grow fonder is kind of bullshit in my book. I think distance makes you accustomed to doing your own thing. I am not saying it destroys a relationship, or people necessarily stray or fall out of love, I only mean that you get your routine being alone, and then when you see your SO he/she disrupts it, and it can be frustrating.

mattbrowne's avatar

I went through a phase like that from 1992 till 2002. I saw the world, even though every business hotel looked pretty much the same. Same for the airports.

But usually the trips were 1 week max, only a few longer than that.

SmoothEmeraldOasis's avatar

@JLeslie I think that you are correct in mentioning about getting into a routine while being alone and then when a significant other begins to share that space it naturally disrupts that rythim you grew accustomed to. But communication, full open objective talks definetly keeps the relationships from disappearing into that abysmal nothingness that makes for a way uncomfortable get-togethers in person.

JLeslie's avatar

@SmoothEmeraldOasis I agree. I hope I did not come across very negative in my statement. It was just meant to be a kind of fair warning. What you say about strong communication is important, and I also think awareness that this type of transition happens when the SO returns after being gone for a while, makes it all much easier. My husband and I are still married after 17 years, the time away did not destroy us, it was just our routine for several years, and now that he rarely travels we have a different one.

SmoothEmeraldOasis's avatar

@JLeslie Yes! Exactly, that is what happens, now your routine is spread out to two individuals, and your communication is closer, you can see his reaction, his hesitance if any to responding to your queries, or maybe he is too one sided, but you see the whole senario changes. Great,that you are still together after so much time not actually being together. I wish you two all the love, peace, harmony and prosperity that anyone has a right to have. Sincerely, really I do. Have a wonderful day!;-)

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