Over the years, I’ve spent a lot of time travelling. I spent about 10 years as a touring musician and Tour Manager, but I’ve also spent a lot of time travelling for work, both domestically and internationally.
For the most part, I’ve had a blast. I’ve been lucky enough to see different parts of the world, and many more places in Australia than most people will get to see, but once all is said and done, it’s exhausting.
Living out of a suitcase, hours spent in airport lounges, it’s not always as glamorous and fun as people may think.
Let’s not be mistaken here… This isn’t a whinge. I love travelling. I’m more attached to my frequent flyer status than any balanced human should be.
My love of travel and lounge-soup is part of who I am, and who I have been for a long time, but it can come at a cost. Sometimes it’s a physical cost, sometimes it’s an emotional cost.
It can’t be overstated as to how important it is to keep this all in check and keep yourself on the tracks.
Personally, I have found the biggest challenge with work travel has been since our first son was born.
It’s hard on him, it’s hard on my partner, and that makes it hard on me. I’m also pretty sure I’m not the only one who is going through this and sometimes all it takes is reading a random blog to help you through it.
So… here’s my top 5 tips for work-travel dads (and mums!).
*** Please note: It’s absolutely not a complete list. It’s not for everyone. It’s not perfect. But it works for me, and it may just work for you, and help you feel better about your travel.
Don’t feel guilty.
It’s not forever, and most of the time you haven’t actively chosen to go somewhere. It’s your job, and you’re doing what you need to in order to help provide for your family! Further to this, it’s not as if you’ve decided to go away for a few days partying with your best mates… You’re working. It may involve a nice hotel room (if you’re lucky), but that doesn’t make it a holiday, so don’t beat yourself up over not being home.
Stay healthy (food/drink/exercise)
While it may not look like it if you met me, I like running. I bring my running gear with me all the time, even if it’s an overnight trip because going for a run helps me to de-compress and relax at the end of the day. Even if you go for a walk for a while, make sure you take some time to be physically active. When it comes to food and drink, a beer every now and then isn’t the worst thing you can do but be healthy. Drink plenty of water and eat well. Stay away from the burgers and chips!
Try and keep routine with home
Try as much as you can to match what is going on back at home. I try to call home before dinner and get the rundown of everyone’s day. Usually I’ll call back before bedtime so I can verbally say goodnight. It’s much nicer that way. It’ll put a smile on your face and your kids will take notice that you do this. As we know, kids love routine. Try and keep it!
Dedicate time at home when you return
As much as I possibly can, I try to dedicate the weekend when I get back to just being a family unit. Go out for breakfast, go to the park, visit the zoo. Whatever it is you do as a family, lock that time in when you get back, to show them how much you’ve missed them. Give them your full attention. Turn your email off, leave your phone on silent.
Travel shouldn’t be a drag. You should enjoy experiencing new places and meeting new people. Share your experiences as much as you can with your family and try to include them in the fun when you can, but make sure you are enjoying yourself where possible. Read new books, take the time to write blogs, or simply appreciate the time alone. Take the positives and run with them to make the trip(s) something you start to look forward to as ‘you’ time.
Above all else, remember that travel (whilst fun) does take a toll on us all. Be aware of what your emotional limits are. Don’t be afraid to take some time for yourself. Don’t worry about what anyone else thinks about you needing a break. If you don’t look after yourself, it only gets harder and harder.
Enjoy yourself and remember to ask for the window seat. The view is better.