So, we were driving from San Franciso to Salt Lake City, we had just wrapped up 3 months in San Diego and were driving back across country. Me. Nora. Coltrane.
I have this need to feel present with my team, so I knew that by opening a second office travel was gonna spike.
At this point…Nora had been able continue a good part of her research work, while in San Diego on our first, & second, & third, cross country trip. She was wrapping up her PhD. I also started to realize that I was being asked for/wanted to do a LOT more travel, conferences, client travel, new office etc.
I know deep down I’m more likely to be a yes man, than a no man, after all yes is where all possibilities start right? Very few things start with a no. So even though I was saying no to more and more conferences (as I wanted to up client travel), I still didn’t know if I was traveling too much for her and I.
The Question: How much travel is too much?
So I asked her as we pulled out of SF… the whole country ahead of us… How many days in a month could I be gone without us traveling together? See I need boundaries, I need checkpoints.
Nora being the amazing & supportive partner she is said…I’m not answering that question, I never want to get in the way of your career / things you want to do.
Me: Please, I don’t need an exact, just a gut number. I don’t want to come home one day for you to be like “We Gotta Talk”. Let’s get ahead of this…Nora: I’m not doing it.
Me: Ok, fine then I’m not talking to you for this whole 10 hour stretch until you give me a number
Me: Fine, cranks up some audiobook,
3 hours later…
Me: Five what?
Nora: Five days.
Nora: But don’t ever feel like you can’t do you…
That day, somewhere between SF and Salt Lake City in August 2013, we had a boundary.
Each time after that as I got asked for travel, I now could fight my “yes” style and could quickly scan my other commitments and determine if going to conference X or client Y was going to cause me to bump up against maximum days. The great part was knowing that my wife was OK if I went over but for me again, it gave me a boundary to start from.
If I was smart I would have checked in on “5” over the years as I never did and we added 2 kids in that time, but even in spite of not doing that I finally decided to go back and look at the data.
First step was to get all of my travel into excel, so I used this tool:
I had to do a lot of manual cleaning, but once I did. I was able to look at the data..
I looked at 3+ years of data, specifically stacking travel with family (doesn’t count) vs travel with family (counts)
of 39 months, 19 of them had over 5 days (when including with family)
One thing that stands out, is I’ve traveled 290 days in approximately 1100 total days in the last 3 years an 4 months, 230 days were with nora / the boy(s).
This does not include the weeks that Nora was gone running her “baby” in Waslala, Nicaragua) solo, but it does include the times when I went with her down there.
So if you are wondering, how many times did I break 5, twice.
I wonder how many angry nights, of “he’s out there running around doing his career, and I’m putting mine on hold” have we avoided, not just the fights, the shitty sentiment that someone else is making all the sacrifices for travel.
I decided to write this after one of our alumni, who came back after a couple years started traveling I asked her if she has talked to her significant other as we started asking her to travel more and more, and she hadn’t yet. Well I hope that she has, even the most supportive partners will appreciate it.
PS sorry if this post had typos or wasn’t cohesive, I wrote it while the boys napped after we had a great morning in Madrid, tomorrow I gotta work, today play :)