Scenes from Sunday: Staying in touch

June 24th, 2012

How much do you stay in touch while traveling?


The kids and I leave tomorrow for a month-long trip to Canada, our first trip to Nana’s since the Epic Family Roadtrip of ’09. This time, we are taking one of those new-fangled flying machines, which will whittle our travel time down from seven days to one and a half. The packing is as least as much hassle, maybe more, since the FAA gets a say. I’ve warned the boys repeatedly to make sure there are no knives or explosives in their backpacks, but there’s no telling what’s going to get turned out of a pocket once we get to security.

Whichever way we go, it’s a major undertaking to get from Little Rock, Arkansas to Corner Brook, Newfoundland. And hugely expensive. It’s not something that can happen every year, and when it does, we try to stay as long as we possibly can. Last time, Patrick facilitated that by bringing his office with him, which made for a working vacation that didn’t quite cut it as either. This year, he’s decided he’d rather stay home and work, and have a real vacation with us at the tail end of our stay.

That makes for three weeks apart. We’re spinning it to each other as an adventure and a challenge, but I’m going to miss him so much. The fact is, we’ve never been much good at being apart. You only have to see our lives before we met to know that.

When we were in Ireland a few years back, I asked one of our traveling companions how things were going at home with his wife and kids. He said he hadn’t spoken to her, and that when one of them travelled, they didn’t contact each other unless there was an emergency. He framed it as a kind of gift they gave each other: permission to truly be away. I was both horrified and fascinated. I don’t think Patrick and I have been out of touch for twenty-four hours since the day he met me at the airport in Mexico in 1996. When one of us has had to travel, we constantly ping back and forth.

I like that we like to stay in touch. But I’m also aware that it can keep us from being fully present where we are.  Maybe the key to getting through this separation is to embrace it — enjoy the time with my boys and Newfoundland family, and let him enjoy the quiet time at home. Catch up at the day’s end or beginning, but not be checking in with each other every hour in between, as we tend to do. I’m expecting my teenage son to unplug from his iPhone while we’re away, and immerse himself in the experience of being where we are. It seems like his Dad and I should be able to do the same for a few hours at a stretch, without freaking out.

What’s your communication style when you travel apart from your family? Do you tend to stay in constant contact, or do you prefer to be untethered? Which makes for the easier absence and the sweeter reunion, do you think?






6 Responses to “Scenes from Sunday: Staying in touch”

  1. When I am away from home, I check in once a day and my husband calls me when there is an emergency, which usually consists of “Where did you put the…?” or “What time do I have to bring the kids to…?” When I travel with my kids away from my husband (we, too, have a 3 week vacation coming up in which I take them across the country to visit family, leaving him home to work) we check in much more often. It’s not really a matter of time away from each other – we do miss each other – it’s just our communication style.

  2. Tanja says:

    I like to only phone every few days but he likes all day updates. Misses me terribly. I guess we learned these styles from our families. I don’t find I have much to say on the phone. Want to know how it’s going? Read my tweets. Oooo that’s sad maybe.

  3. Stacey says:

    We don’t prescribe anything. When we’re apart, we contact each other when we have something to say and time to talk, which is usually several times a day, plus FB, text and email. That works for us; I like knowing about his day in the same way I would on any routine day, and with all these available channels, there’s no extra expense. I’ve traveled abroad without him before, and found the separation painful. I’m sure it will happen again, but I will make sure we have more options for talking/Skyping, etc.

  4. lomagirl says:

    I’m TERRIBLE at staying in touch. But I do try to touch base with my husband every evening when I’m at my family’s and he’s not. We’re always so busy though, and there is a time difference, so….
    When we were dating, I went to Canada and I would actually find pay phones to call him occasionally. Then a couple of years ago I was in Canada again, in the boonies, but managed to call with my sister’s cell phone, as she’d gotten Canada service.
    Growing up we would be seperated from my parents for a month or so at a time, and only talk for 15 minutes once a week.

  5. Lisa says:

    Since both my husband and I were in the Canadian military we’ve had numerous occasions to be separated and not be able to contact one another for long stretches of time. Especially in the early years with only the fax being the one means of communication.

    So when we both travel we will check in periodically, but don’t get stressed when we don’t hear too often from each other. Usually one call when we arrive and the other just before we leave to tee up arrangements.

    When we are away from each other, we’re away and both enjoy the time apart. We need to have a real break away from each other to truly appreciate the times when we’re together.

  6. Corrie_Alexa says:

    I can manage to be away with one or two phone calls a day. If I am only gone overnight there may only be one phone call. My husband on the other hand wants to be in constant contact and is no good at being alone. AT ALL. But…he doesn’t call me. It is my job to call him…repeatedly…and if I don’t oh snap! then it is ON. lol. That is my experience with being away from home. 🙂

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