You may be a pro family traveler who mastered long-haul adventures with littles ones in tow, but traveling without the kids can feel like brand-new territory. Whether you’re traveling for business or a getaway to recharge, traveling without the kids can feel both exhilarating and confusing.
It’s normal to feel a little guilty for leaving your little ones behind and to want to stay in touch regularly to make sure they know you’re still there for them. But it’s not as simple as just picking up the phone. There’s an art to keeping in touch with kids while traveling, starting with understanding what to expect.
Adjust Your Expectations
Before you fire up the smartphone to launch FaceTime or make a quick call to your kids, ask yourself what you expect. If your kids are toddler age, they may not respond with warm smiles and sharing the songs they sang at preschool. Instead, they may melt down and suddenly be hyper aware of your absence. Meanwhile, teenagers may act indifferent or be buried under homework to really stop and give you the attention you’re looking for. Other kids may be having such a blast with grandma and grandpa they just don’t want to stop to talk. So take a moment and figure out what you’re hoping for from a call, decide if it’s appropriate to call and adjust what you expect from the start.
Mail a Postcard
Remember a phone call or video chat isn’t the only way to keep in touch with your kids while traveling. A postcard from your destination sharing a fun anecdote or something you saw will likely delight your child and start a new tradition. Send a postcard from every location until they have their own collection they can put into a keepsake book or frame on their wall.
Record a Daily Note
You can still find ways to talk directly to your child without ever talking to them personally, especially if your child isn’t quite developmentally ready to have a conversation while you’re away. Record a daily love note, bedtime story or quick video telling them you love them that the caregiver can play when appropriate. That way your child feels connected without feeling confusion or sadness when syncing up with you in real time. Bonus if the caregiver can record videos of your child so you can feel connected from the road.
Make them Feel Like They’re Right There
If you think your child can handle some contact while you’re traveling, get out your smartphone and make it fun. Show them around your hotel room or share your spectacular urban view. Talk about the things you saw, but consider the childlike perspective. Your kid probably won’t be that impressed about the history of your hotel, but they will likely go crazy over the idea of room service and the fancy tray you have right in your room.
The real trick to traveling solo and staying in touch with your kids is all about timing and empathy. Think about what your child really needs, which may in fact be not calling them and proceed accordingly. And don’t forget a new toy or keepsake doesn’t hurt in easing the bumps to reentry and turning your absence into something exciting for them.