Traveling frequently for business can be really tough on relationships. Your family or friends may think it's all sightseeing, fancy meals and luxurious hotels. While it sometimes can be those things, more often it is flight delays, microwaveable hotel pantry food and walls so thin you can hear your neighbor flush.
I used to play this martyr role where I wouldn't allow myself to have fun on a business trip because I felt guilty. I also found myself coming home and being irritated with my husband because things weren't as nice as when I left it. I'd been gone for four days so shouldn't I get to come home to a clean house, stocked fridge and litter boxes cleaned? After a couple of years I started setting some ground rules and this is what I learned.
- Make a real effort to see your friends or family by scheduling it in. I make sure I have some kind of social date with a friend every single week. Sometimes it's a shared workout, a coffee, seeing a band, it doesn't matter, as long as I'm not isolating myself.
- Don't expect to be greeted like royalty. Your partner, spouse or roommate doesn't care that you have been gone all week. They're dealing with their own responsibilities while you're gone and may even resent the fact that they have to take them all on themselves.
- Touch base every day. Whether it's by phone, Facetime, email or text, always have at least one touch point a day. It can be lonely for the traveler and/or the person at home. It's nice to know that someone is thinking of you and cares.
- Don't leave your house a shit storm. I always make sure trash is emptied, the house is picked up and my husband has some groceries he likes. I used to spend a lot of time cooking meat, rice or other dishes for the week but then when I would come home and they would be sitting there untouched and ready for the garbage, I would get really upset. What I thought was helpful and loving was something he didn't care about at all and sometimes even annoyed him because he felt like he had to eat it. Know that what you are doing is appreciated rather than wasting your time.
- Take them with you. I've had a few instances where my family got to take advantage of my travels by having a free hotel stay and sometimes even eating on part of my per diem. My parents and my husband got to visit me in San Diego on a 3-week trip when they otherwise probably wouldn't have gotten to go. My brother and husband played on South Beach for two days while I worked and hung out me me in the evenings. My brother went with me to Japan and China on a work trip that ended up being more like vacation. If I hadn't had him there with me, I wouldn't have seen nearly as much and wouldn't have been able to share such incredible experiences.
What have you learned about relationships and travel?