As a professional athlete, spending time away from family comes with the territory. And it’s sometimes difficult spending so much time on the road away from my wife and kids. I’m not going to lie, I sometimes wonder if my wife and kids even remember what I look like. Time differences, nap times, and marginal cell service and Internet can make it difficult to stay in touch. While I’m so grateful for today’s technology, sometimes it just never feels like enough.
However, my wife and I have discovered some unique and simple ways to make spending time apart still feel like a team effort. So this month I’m sharing some of my favorite ways to stay connected while traveling.
Short video messages. Between busy schedules and time differences, it can be difficult to connect in a meaningful way on the phone. As such, our family’s favorite solution has been to send short phone videos back and forth of what is happening in our day. That way it’s almost like we’re there, getting a glimpse into each other’s day instead of trying to describe it later. Not to mention, it’s like a chronological video playlist, making it nice to replay videos when I find myself missing home. According to my wife, Alexandra, each video I send gets played at least 10 times.
Snapchat. Of all the social media options we have today, Snapchat might be my least favorite. I prefer keeping my phone in my pocket and experiencing life first-hand. However, I actually do have a personal snapchat, albeit with a fake name that only my family and close friends know about. When I am in the middle of a competition, I don’t have time to call each of my important people individually to let them know what is going on. As such, having a private Snapchat like this is a great way to stay connected while traveling and competing so they can check in on me using my undercover Snapchat account.
Handwritten letters and postcards. The handwritten word is a lost art these days, but I think that makes it all the more valuable. No communication method says love like a handwritten note or postcard received in the old-fashioned snail mail. Even if it arrives after you’ve returned, it holds immense value to your loved ones.
Emails. Nonetheless, there’s something to be said for email. While email is central to modern-day business, it doesn’t have to be all business. My wife and I have found that sending thoughts and quotes of what we are reading back and forth is a great way to keep that intimate connection that every marriage needs. Life is busy and it isn’t always easy to simply jump into in-depth conversations, but if you can keep each other up-to-date, even in writing, then you won’t lose that feeling of connection.
Furthermore, I’ve picked up some habits and tricks while traveling to stay better connected when I’m on the road. See some of my international travel connectivity tips below.
International travel connectivity tips
WhatsApp. For iPhone users, like I am, text messages from one iPhone to another while you are connected to Wi-Fi are usually free. However, they don’t always go through if one of you isn’t connected to Wi-Fi. And that’s why I like WhatsApp. WhatsApp is a messaging app that will deliver messages whenever the intended recipient connects to Wi-Fi, no matter what. Plus, you can make audio calls and send photos and videos, too.
FaceTime. While I also use Skype, FaceTime is my go-to. When connectivity allows it, I love being able to see my kids’ faces, while FaceTime audio is a great alternative when service is spotty.
Wi-Fi calling. Wi-Fi calling is perhaps my best-kept iPhone secret. If you are an iPhone user, simply go to the “phone” section of your settings to switch on Wi-Fi calling. This then enables you to use your phone similarly as if you were on your cell phone carrier network. However, you typically have to have a strong Internet connection for it to work smoothly.
Header photo by Emily Tidwell.