Keeping in Touch with Your Significant Other While Traveling

Keeping in Touch with Your Significant Other While Traveling

I recently had a discussion with Kelly, from Go Girl Guides, about the frustrations that can occur if you are a couple who travels separately on occasion. Scott and I like to travel together as much as possible, but sometimes we do go on solo trips.

This poses the question, “How often should you call, Skype or email your significant other when traveling solo?” Scott and I try to contact each other once a day, but sometimes finding a phone or internet can take up a good chunk of our time while traveling.

When I was in Bali, I had an extremely hard time calling Scott. Every time I tried to call, he was either busy at work or at home and didn’t hear his phone. So I would have to schedule another visit later that day to go back in order to try calling him again. It was the same situation when Scott was in Peru trying to call me at home.

I believe it’s up to each couple to find what works for them, but I’m curious how other couples handle keeping in touch while one of them is traveling.

There is a fine line between being respectful to the person who is at home and allowing yourself to enjoy your trip.

I’ve been in both situations. I’ve been the person at home missing Scott and looking forward to his call. I’ve also been the person traveling and losing track of time or having a hard time finding a place with international calling that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg.


Keeping in Touch with Your Significant Other While Traveling


Bring an Ipod Touch or Laptop

Scott and I bought an Ipod Touch for our trip to southeast Asia so that we could call our friends and family using Skype for $3 USD per month. Do you want to know how many times we talked to somebody from back home in a six week period of traveling? About 5 times. We called each of those 5 people ONCE. It’s not because we didn’t want to call them. We could rarely ever find internet to connect to that was fast enough.

I still think I will bring the Ipod Touch along for trips, but I can’t count on it working out all that often. I’m going to Nepal for 2 weeks where the internet is extremely unreliable, so I may have to come up with an alternative solution to calling home.


Set Up a Time To Call

I’ve considered this solution in the past, but if I don’t have a laptop then I have to go to an internet cafe to email Scott in order to set up a time to call. So that’s still two trips per day. There is also the possibility of setting up a specific time each day to try calling home that works for both of us. The problem I see with this solution is that it may limit the things the traveler is able to do. Part of the fun of traveling is doing things on a whim and letting things happen organically.

I know that traveling separately can sometimes put strain on a relationship if you are not respectful to each other, so I think this is a topic that many couples struggle with.


Do you have any tips for keeping in touch with your significant other while traveling? We are interested to know what works for couples and what doesn’t work.



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  1. Aside from visiting our families, Beth and I haven’t really traveled for weeks without one another. But now that you mention it, a solo trip down to Club Med does sound pretty nice. 🙂

    I feel you on the iPod touch too. I love it, but it’s frustrating when you can’t find wifi, which is why we are going to try out a jailbroken iPhone on our next trip.

  2. My boyfriend and I are both expats (from different countries). We try to visit our respective families together, but sometimes it just doesn’t work out and we travel alone.

    We usually send messages at least a few times a day and talk every few days if time/situation allows. It helps that we’re usually in locations with great phone and internet access. But even if we’re not, what really makes staying in touch easy and cheap is that SIM cards are so cheap in most countries nowadays. So, if I know I am staying longer in one place, I’ll buy one upon arrival, put some money on it, and slap it in my cell phone. Makes sending and receiving messages so cheap and easy.

  3. The longest trip I’ve taken was taken without Gary in 2000-2001, before I bothered with a cell and smartphones were in the hands of a few people. We mostly kept in touch via email, my regular Livejournal posts, which I tried to make as often as I got to sit down at a computer, and by calling home when I figured he’d be around.

    For the most part, it worked – but the email contact was the easiest. It’s not like hearing your partner’s voice, but it helps.

  4. Christy @ Ordinary Traveler says:

    Thanks for the suggestions, everyone! This discussion has some very helpful tips!

  5. Summer Travel Jobs says:

    i always make it a point to call home everyday while i’m traveling. i don’t want my family to get worried about me and i want to give them the daily details of my travel.

  6. Dave and Deb says:

    That is a great photo of you at the phone booth. It’s been years since Dave and I travelled separately, but when we did there wasn’t skype, email or anything like that. We went to an international phone booth and took a chance at calling home in the middle of the night. So we are not much help:-)
    I have friends that work and travel separately and skype is their best friend. You give some great advice.

  7. We spent 4 months apart twice in our relationship. It wasn’t as bad as we thought it would be to keep in touch because of the internet- we called each other about once a week (this was like 7 years ago now before VOIP was popular) and emailed every day. The hardest part was missing out on the other’s experiences.

  8. The NVR Guys says:

    Not to sound like a helpless codependent, but I simply would not travel without Kent. I would pass up the “trip of a lifetime” if it meant we had to be apart. I just don’t think I could enjoy a trip without him.

  9. Cathy Sweeney says:

    Although we try to travel together as much as possible, my husband travels alone on business often and I’ve been the one to go off alone sometimes, too. We usually manage to talk to each other at least twice a day — whenever there’s a chance to call. It isn’t always a long call, sometimes just a quick “goodnight”. That’s enough just to keep the connection.

  10. Christy @ Ordinary Traveler says:

    @Liv – Skype is awesome. That’s great that you have a plan in case one of you gets caught up.

    @Migrationology – Sounds like your girlfriend is a very understanding person. I agree that I would like to email at least once a day, but it’s not always possible.

    @Cam – I found that funny too. 🙂

    @Ayngelina – I’ve read a bit of Keith’s story, but I haven’t talked to him about how him and his wife stay in touch while he is traveling. I’ll have to ask him about it.

    @Robin Zablon – I think after the comments on this post I may have to go back to texting! 🙂

    @Laurel – Maybe it’s time for me to get a Blackberry or iPhone.

  11. I did a two year long distance relationship and we used to set up times to talk and send short emails throughout the day. Now when we travel separately, we talk once a day, but still send short emails. I have an iPhone and he has a Blackberry so it makes it easy to stay in touch. We do make a point of keeping it brief though so that get time to actually enjoy the trip and not just miss the other person the whole time.

  12. another great way to keep in touch with loved ones is sending each other SMS and they are cheap

  13. The one time my other half travelled without me she was without internet for most of the time so there were a lot of texts! I actually like texts because they´re unobtrusive so you don´t feel like you´re interupting someone´s day and they don´t have to find a phone/internet cafe/wifi zone.

  14. Ayngelina says:

    You should talk to Keith at Savage Traveler, he’s traveling a month at a time away from his wife, it’s an interesting way to preserve the relationship but follow a dream.

  15. I love the “Liqour” sign behind you.
    Kinda ironic, no?

  16. Migrationology says:

    I’ve been dating a girl for about 1.5 years now and when I go on a trip or when we are separate, she luckily really understands my traveling tactics. Sometimes I’m away from internet or civilization for a few days and she is alright with that. I do like to write her an email everyday, but she is flexible, understanding that it’s not always possible. I think it’s quite different for every couple and how flexible each person is.

  17. Hi Christy

    My boyfriend and I have spent periods apart occasionally & I tell you, we are Skype’s biggest fans! We tend to work out a time slot each day that works in both places (he’s currently 8 hours ahead of me!) & we both try to be on skype at that time. If one of us gets tied-up doing something else then we normally tell the other on an sms and talk the next day.

    Fortunately we have both had pretty good Internet access, but occasionally not and then we write ‘love e-letters’ (emails) I quite enjoy the nod to tradition, especially when it’s only temporary!

    Be interesting to know what other folk get up to…


  18. Christy @ Ordinary Traveler says:

    @Jill – Thanks for the input! I’m realizing that Scott and I usually travel to places where finding internet can be tricky.

    @Lorna – Ha ha. Thanks. 🙂 I think I look funny in that picture. I changed it to black and white in order to hide the fact that my eyes were red from drinking that day. Lol. I’m looking forward to the conversation about the subject of this post too!

  19. Lorna - the roamantics says:

    wow! that’s tough! i’ll be interested in seeing what others respond, because when we were together, francisco and i traveled together to all of the places that would have posed those problems and we were only on separate trips in places like our families houses where connecting was easy. we had to deal with the time difference from buenos aires to the states a couple of times, but that wasn’t that tough and we tried to talk every day too. should make for a lot of great dialogue here! love the pic too 🙂