Last week, I discussed tips for academics traveling abroad for research, work, and conferences. But what about the family they often leave at home? As stressful as travel and life in a different city can be, life without your other half can be just as anxiety inducing. If you’re lucky enough to join your spouse on their journey, awesome! If you’re holding down the fort for the time being, here are some tips to help ease the wait.
There are certain things I will do only when Josh is away on a trip. This allows me time to myself (which is important in any relationship), and gives me something to look forward to while he’s gone. Set a budget or a schedule for the weeks when your spouse is away and make time for you to do something that you know your spouse wouldn’t want to participate in, whether it is watching a certain movie, getting takeout from a restaurant, etc. While Josh was away, I joined my fellow Potterheads (all 30,000 of them!) at Kent Potterfest.
Create a routine.
We are creatures of habit. Just because your spouse may be in a different time zone, doesn’t mean you have to be. Go to bed at your normal time and wake up at your normal time (or earlier to adapt to having one less helper in the morning). Anticipate when you will be able to communicate with your spouse if the time difference is extreme, but be responsible–don’t jeopardize your sleep or work schedule. Email is your friend and you can read it at any time. Creating a consistent routine will help speed up the time apart.
Be prepared for something to go awry. It doesn’t even have to be at home, it could be wherever your spouse is. A forgotten paper, a specific document only on the desktop computer in the office (that’s just poor common sense c’mon), or, in our case, really bad wifi at a German apartment, which meant I needed to order a USB ethernet and ship it to Germany for Josh to pickup at amazon locker. So I had to:
- Go on amazon.de and find a well rated product that was prime eligible
- map a shipping location close enough to his apartment
- pay for said item in euro
- sneak in some American candies into the shipment
- all while translating the website from German to English and praying I didn’t accidentally sign up for Amazon Pantry
- Send the walking map directions from the apartment to the packet shop to Josh and hope to God that he gets his package.
Set travel limits.
The deeper you dive into academia, the more trips you tend to take. Australia, Germany, New Zealand, not to mention every college in the United States. Some trips will be a couple days, others will last weeks or months at a time. Talk to your spouse about the amount of time you are willing to spend apart, and be willing to make arrangements to join them on their journey.
Remember your souvenirs.
However long your spouse is away for, and whatever madness may be going on at home, remember: there’s chocolate at the end of the tunnel. Lots and lots of chocolate.