A major concern for full-time travelers is missing out on events and time with their extended family. In this article, I’ll share some personal experience with my biggest full-time travel struggle, missing family while traveling.
The extended family wasn’t as much of a factor is our decision to travel full-time because ours in not located in one main geographic location. Having moved a lot as children, then meeting in the military, my husband and I are from different states. Our parents are in Florida and Tennessee. Our siblings are in California, Georgia, North Carolina, and Washington. We figured as full-time travelers, we’d actually see them more than we currently do.
I’m not going to lie to you, this is my greatest full-time struggle. I really miss my boys!
We started our full-time journey our first year as empty nesters. It was perfect timing because traveling saved me from wandering around our large four-bedroom house. It was a little tricky as we had a son in college, but he ended up enjoying visiting us in the RV during his breaks. We have a toy hauler, and the garage became his bedroom when he was visiting, complete with a television and bathroom. You can see a tour of it here. When our older son was ready to complete an internship, he spent the summer with extended family.
However, I was not fully prepared for how hard it would be not seeing them often. This is really more of an empty nest struggle, than a full-time travel struggle. Even living in the same city, as they became building their adult lives we didn’t see each other as often as I’d like. My oldest son and I even resorted to scheduling weekly hikes. Now we have to find other ways to keep our relationship strong.
Tips for Keeping in Touch
Obviously the telephone is a simply way to stay in touch. Now you can use it to go beyond hearing each other’s voices.
We like to video chat with our family with the free iPhone app, FaceTime. If you don’t have iPhones or MacBooks, you can also use the free video chat app, Skype. We are very fortunate that we have the technology today to “see” each other regularly.
Texting is a simply way for us to keep up a conversation throughout the day. Anytime something strikes us, we can send a quick message or photo. Sometimes we even send audio chats back and forth.
In the last few months we’ve visited our oldest son in Virginia, Sean’s brother in North Carolina, my parents in Tennessee, and Sean’s parents in Florida. So traveling in the RV really has allowed us to see them more often than we were able to in our previous, busy lives.
We’ve ensured our itinerary over the next year will take us to Texas to see our two younger sons, as well as getting us back to Virginia in time for our oldest son’s wedding!
We also include 2 plane tickets per year for each son to come visit us at a place of their choosing. And when all else fails, I fly to see them!
What the Future Holds
I’m not sure what the future holds, but I don’t think I’ll want to continue full-timing once I have grandchildren. I want to develop close relationships with my grandchildren, so I’m thinking we’ll need to slow down our travel even more to spend increased time by wherever they live.
I’d love to hear your suggestions about how you stay close to your grandchildren while full-time traveling! Please let me know how you manage it in the comments below.
I struggle with the same. When we were visiting my daughter in Missouri, we got to see her almost every day. When we said goodbye, it wasn’t so hard because we were headed to Florida to see Mike’s girls. When we left all of them, though–it was hard. We do daily texting (funny video shorts of us making faces or telling family jokes), send Facebook messages, Facetime whenever we get the notion–we just let them know we’re always thinking of them. They are each following their own interests and building their lives, so time with them was on a grab-it-when-we-can basis anyway. When grandchildren come, it will probably alter the travel plans a little. Either that, or we will have to add frequent air travel in our repertoire–’cause grandbabies will be a game changer.
Thanks, Dawn. I think grandbabies will be a game changer for me as well!
Grandbabies don’t need to be a game changer. We had several when we hit the road in 2007. They have remained very close thru calls, txt etc
We have had 2 born since. Yep, they arrived into the world inspire of the fact that we were not there
Yep we saw them at about 6 months, 1 year and by 2 they knew exactly who we are, comecrunning for hugs and lap time. The little boys talk fudhingvwitb Pa on the phone etc
In the end when we see them we are the greatest thing since sliced bread for about 2 weeks. Then they are off into their own world.
We were a military family. Our children were very close to both sets of grandparents in spite of only seeing them once a year. So I had no qualms about ours living and being connected to us as well.
Thanks for sharing your experience! That is good to hear!
Sarah Rooney says
Ready to start our full-time when our HS Senior goes off to college. It’s nerve wracking thinking of everything we have to do… I’m thinking technology will keep us close. At this age, he’s off with his friends, or at soccer just about every night. It’s not like we see him much anyway! 🙂
That’s when we went, after our youngest went off to college. He actually enjoyed coming to stay in the RV in various locations when he was on spring/summer/winter breaks. Best wishes!
We love that we can roll in & spend a month with family. They don’t have to take off work. We aren’t underfoot. We have our own car & kitchen. But yes, grandkids are the main reason our friends are going from nomads back to settling down–unless the grandkids aren’t all in one city! If you stick with it long enough, they will start to plan fun destination vacations with you!
I’m definitely looking forward to some fun vacations with grandkids in the future. My kids did that with my parents and loved it!
Betty Asphy says
Sounds like you are doing the right things to keep in touch while traveling. Isn’t video chatting amazing? Just think hundred of years ago this did not exist.
Definitely. I don’t know how my parents dealt with it without video chat. Maybe I was more of brat. Ha Ha!
There’s a pro and con to everything we do and hopefully the pros always outweigh the cons. Otherwise it’s probably not something worth doing.
Very true. We’re making it work now although I have some tough days. I think I may change in up when I have grandkids though. Maybe only RV 1/2 the year.
I am lucky in that my husband almost always travels with me. I would really miss him if I went on my own all of the time.
I can understand what you are feeling and it’s quite natural to want to visit our children, even though they are now adults. My three daughters live a long way away but with technology these days it doesn’t feel too far. We’re in touch most days via messages and I keep up to date with their lives pretty much. One daughter lives in U.K. So we struggle with not seeing her all that frequently except via FaceTime chats., but it will be very different if she was to start having children. Australia is a long way away!!
This makes me so grateful for all the incredible technology we have at our disposal nowadays! And to be honest we’ve got family nearby we don’t see hardly ever and yet family in different countries that we see a lot more often! Distance is not, in my experience, a denominator in closeness of relationships ❤
I love how you’re making an effort to see your family even if it’s difficult! I don’t know how I’d cope with that:) I use Skype a lot to keep in touch with my mum, since we’ve lived in separate countries for 6 years now. And it does feel awesome being able to talk to her pretty much every day:) Thanks for sharing your experience!
I do love technology! It definitely makes it easier.
That is such a relevant topic you’ve discussed there. There are times when travelling makes you guilty of missing out all the real action in our families and close one’s lives. In reality though, we try hard to compensate for not being there always. 🙂 Cheers!!
Thanks for reading my article. I do feel like when I’m with my boys, I do overcompensate.
I love your openness and honesty! I have to say my lame way to deal with missing my family is not think about it. Some sort of protective mechanism… clearly need to learn from you!
I have my days where I try not to think about it either. There’s no right way to deal with it.
lexie mary says
Such a great story of your life you’re sharing with us, I know how it feels to be alone somewhere in the world without your family, but these struggles will make us stronger I know. Just stay optimist and happy I’m pretty sure your children are proud of their mom.
Thank you for those kind words!