Keeping in contact while away
February 4, 2010 6:18 AM   Subscribe

I need some suggestions for some nice things to do for my girlfriend while I'm traveling for business (and more generally, how to better keep in touch).

My job requires a significant amount of travel, and up until recently it hasn't been too stressful - usually a domestic week-long trip every six to eight weeks. Lately, however, I've been traveling to Europe for fourteen to eighteen days at a time every other month. While I'm excited about the opportunity to explore some new places, it makes it very difficult to keep in touch with my girlfriend at home.

-The time difference and our work schedules means that we're mostly stuck with asynchronous communication (e-mails mostly).
-Access to the internet is expensive and randomly available. I can usually expense the cost of the internet since I use it for work, but I'm also "in the field" during most days and don't have the availability to, say, use Skype over my lunch break to reach her when she's waking up.
-Phone calls are similarly pricey and limited by our schedules (and not something I can expense).

I've been feeling pretty guilty about leaving so often on such long trips. So, I'd like some creative ways to keep in touch. My first trip I tried recording audio messages with Audacity and e-mailing mp3 files, but the files were large and the hotel internet access couldn't handle them. What do you do to let your SO know that you care and you're thinking of them?
posted by backseatpilot to Human Relations (14 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: Oh, and I'm leaving again next Wednesday, so I'm missing Valentine's Day. Any suggestions for that, too?
posted by backseatpilot at 6:20 AM on February 4, 2010

You could preorder some flowers to have delivered to her workplace for valentines, or something like that.

We're not big valentine's people, so I wasn't expecting anything one year and was absolutely thrilled to have a surprise at work. It was extra special because I would never have thought of it in a million years. Sure, it's not creative, but that doesn't mean it won't make her feel good (and all her coworkers jealous). Someone's SO must have gotten an earful about it, because two days later she got flowers at work. Coincidence? I think not.
posted by sunshinesky at 6:26 AM on February 4, 2010 [3 favorites]

Best answer: I think things that you do ahead of time and maybe leave at the house are nice. Little notes hidden away that she would come across. In a teacup she might use, something tucked away in the cereal she would eat or in her sock drawer.

Maybe you could read a book at the same time and discuss it via email.
posted by beccaj at 6:29 AM on February 4, 2010 [4 favorites]

I'm leaving again next Wednesday, so I'm missing Valentine's Day.

In fact, if you have any sort of social network at all, arrange for a friend to deliver her flowers instead of the impersonal florist delivery person approach [and they're all exhausted anyhow]. I'm shruggo on the holiday but something that was personally delivered to me with advance planning when my SO was far away and otherwise occupied would be delightful.
posted by jessamyn at 6:30 AM on February 4, 2010

I second the little hidden notes! Here's a great (though slightly different from your situation) example of this working.
posted by sallybrown at 6:37 AM on February 4, 2010

Best answer: Write her a letter whilst you are still at home and post it the day you leave, so it arrives in your absence.

Send her a postcard (or three!) from the city you are working in at the time

(can you tell I love receiving things in the mail?)
posted by unlaced at 6:46 AM on February 4, 2010 [2 favorites]

Phone calls are expensive but worth it. Go to a convenience store when you arrive in Europe and buy a card that has access phone numbers from more than one European country - you can use them at pay phone's or perhaps your hotel room phone for cheaper than hotel rates.
posted by Gor-ella at 7:34 AM on February 4, 2010

Another option for the audio message thing is to use the filesharing website You create a page they call a "drop" (like this one), which can be password protected or not (it's not indexed by Google). You can upload up to 100MB to each drop (and you can create as many as you'd like). But the best part, for you, is that each drop has a voicemail number: when you call that number, it converts your message to an mp3 (which can take a minute or two) and leaves it in the drop.

The voicemail numbers are US numbers, but you might be able to set up a Google voice number that you can use to call it cheaply.
posted by ocherdraco at 7:47 AM on February 4, 2010

I used to pick up small, thin notebooks and jot a few things from time to time, adding receipts or photos or stamps - then send the book to my SO. That's not a real frequent thing, but it can be a nice demonstration that you're thinking about her a lot, even if you're not in touch?
posted by mccn at 8:21 AM on February 4, 2010

I know this is kind of corny and overdone, but I still think it's cute: take some small figure of hers (like a little stuffed animal) and take pictures of it in every city you travel to in front of recognizable landmarks, and then (if you can find somewhere to get them developed), snail-mail them to her as postcards. That way, she knows you're thinking about her, and when you're done she'll have a nice collection of pictures of her well-traveled stuffed animal.
posted by elsewhen at 8:39 AM on February 4, 2010 [2 favorites]

Send her a postcard everyday while you're gone. Some of them will get to her after you're already home, but that doesn't matter.

Hide little things around the house: sweet notes, little treats, silly pictures. Then send her an email everyday telling her where to find that day's treat. If you can't send her an email everyday then just put each item in a numbered envelope and give them to her all at once.

Absolutely send her flowers for Valentines Day. Write her a long love letter and leave it for her to read on Valentines Day. Then bring her a really great gift (jewelry would be good)from wherever you're visiting and plan a night out for when you get back. You could also make her a Valentines Survival Kit. A Rom-Com, chocolate, comfy pajamas, and a gift certificate for take-out.

Silly, sappy things might be good too. Set a time when you'll both be awake and make a date that you'll both be thinking about each other at that time every day. Spray one of your T shirts with your cologne and leave it for her to sleep in. I also like mccn's idea of making her a scrapbook. If you jot something down multiple times during the day and then let her read it when you get home. You could even use the same journal for multiple trips.
posted by TooFewShoes at 8:43 AM on February 4, 2010 [2 favorites]

A suggestive ecard from is always fun.
posted by zzazazz at 4:33 PM on February 4, 2010

I like the 'photo of Buzzy the Bear in front of random European landmarks" idea.

I like leaving things in hidden places where she's bound to find them gradually after you're gone.

I also once timed things right so that Mr. M. got a letter from me every day for two weeks after I left. It required some advance planning.

For Valentine's Day, if it's a big deal to her and you know her friends, see if you can get them to take her out that day, so she's not alone and thinking about how alone she is on V-Day.

Virtual is great and all but nothing beats getting stuff in the mail, still. Keep long running letters and mail them every couple of days. She can hold onto them, put them in her purse, slip them under her pillow.
posted by micawber at 7:37 PM on February 4, 2010

Response by poster: These are all great suggestions, thanks.

We worked Valentine's Day out last night - she's coming with me to Europe for a few days! Even better, I didn't realize that it's a three-day weekend due to Carnival so we have a little bit of extra time together.
posted by backseatpilot at 5:09 AM on February 5, 2010

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