Written by Brock Butterfield @brockbutterfield
In traveling I always like to ask people who live life on the road a few questions. One of them is “What is the hardest part of living full time on the road?” Surprisingly the one response that comes up most is “Holding relationships with family and friends.” I realized that I’ve lucked out with holding my relationships in the sense of having extremely supportive friends, understanding parents and family members who are in awe that you can quit a 9-5 job, move into a bus and travel the countryside. Well, except for my Grandma. She still asks me when I plan to “go back to work”.
Now, I will admit that keeping an intimate relationship had always been hard. I did a fairly good job of checking in with past girlfriends and even going to the extent of finding a clearing in the trees to call on my satellite phone only to be asked, “Who’s that girl’s voice in the background?” and me answering, “I’m in the middle of Alaskan backcountry and that’s Brady. I’ll tell him you think he sounds like a girl.” Or as some of you may know you only have a 5-8 minute window where the satellite is within view before you drop the call and annoy the hell out of your lady. I could go on and on about these hilarious and ridiculous situations but while living on the road I also lucked out with finding someone who is just like me, can work from the road and lives in her own bus.
Through all of this though I’ve noted on the things I’ve done well, learned from and still do to keep in touch with friends and family while on the road. Here’s a few of my favorites:
1. Send a postcard. We’re so digital these days that I didn’t realize how excited people would get when I started sending postcards. I usually like to write them like a hippie would with “Ya, man, it’s all about the government controlling us with processed foods man.” Most are just me being funny and nothing really about the weather or where we are.
2. Call your Mom once a week. My Mom has adapted to following my travels through social media but she still prefers to hear my voice once in a red moon. Calling is so much more personal than the ease of texting that we’ve fallen into. It doesn’t have to be your Mom but whomever you’re closest with in your family deserves a call each week so they know you haven’t eaten some wild and exotic plant and died in the woods.
3. If you’re dating someone, keep them in the loop with you travels. Picture messages and Snapchats of your day. Most of the time I find it hard to actually find time to call before bed because I’m either deep in the woods, exhausted from driving all day or the time zone difference doesn’t line up right. I’ve found for the most part that if your potential life partner understands you and your lifestyle then just checking in when you can is helpful.
4. Insta-face-snap-tweet it. I hinted towards this earlier but a great way to blast out a new age telegram is through social media especially if you’re in a country without minutes for your cellphone but are able to find some janky free WiFi. Let everyone know what you’re up to.
While I hear that holding relationships is one of the hardest things about living on the road full time I don’t think it has to be. It just takes a little effort and those that get your lifestyle and support will see your posts on social media and grin.