A recent topic of discussion with my wife and her family has been the amount of time I’m away from home. It always surprises me when I take the time to add it up.
For one particular destination, the hotel rewards program keeps an easy to access tally: 202 days away over the last 4 years (including tonight). I’ve probably had another 40-50 days to other destinations for work. This doesn’t count the days where I’m gone most of the day traveling back home.
Before 2013 back to when I started working remotely, I probably was gone for another 250-300 nights–most of that during a 2 year period where I was traveling 3 weeks a month.
So, a pretty safe estimate is I’ve been away for almost 2 years of my 15 years of marriage.
There are some positives to this abundant travel: I’ve racked up enough hotel points and perks that I rarely pay for a room when I travel for fun and even those free rooms usually get upgraded.
On the downside, you start to lose the sensation of “home” after being gone so frequently. I was gone for almost 70 nights last year and it seemed like my time at home was a never-ending transition from returning from one trip and preparing for another. Thankfully, I don’t have children or this would be a big problem with my relationship with kids.
My feelings about the travel go in cycles–there are times that the solitude at night can be really helpful. I struggle with stress due to work and not having to interact with others for a few hours at night can really help me reset. The flip side is when I don’t need that kind of reset, it can get quite lonely and I don’t always handle that well.
It would help if my destinations varied more, but most of my travel is to the city I grew up in–so there isn’t a lot of novelty to enjoy as a tourist.
I think it would impact any relationship, but being gone so much really has challenged my marriage at times. While it does make you not take for granted your time together, you miss of lot of the small things that happen every day. At least for my wife and I, we’re not big long distance communicators, so only big things tend to be shared and our calls are fairly brief. That is not at all how we share when we’re together (when I’m not in the early stages of my return transition, anyway).
The forced distance has helped our disagreements–we’re forced to decide if the issues are important enough to revive when we reunite. Yet that same distance at times makes us feel disconnected or as if we’re leading very different lives (my wife hasn’t had to travel for work for a few years).
All the goods and bads aside, my desire to continue being gone so often is waning fast. I will be making that a factor in my next position and hopefully will regain that sense of home I’ve lost these past few years.