Travel A Lot For Work?

It can be hard to meet people, date, or maintain a relationship when your career keeps you on the run... all the more reason to try these smart tips.

By Dustin Goot

ven in this era of ubiquitous communication — cell phones, email, IM — frequent travel can take its toll on our ability to date and maintain relationships. Still, that doesn’t mean it should be an excuse for singlehood. Globe-trotting professionals just need to date a little smarter—and with the help of this sage advice, that’ll happen as easily and smoothly as you rack up frequent-flyer miles.

Embrace the setup
You don’t have as much time to meet people at the bar scene and the usual places, so you have to be more open to other options. Let your friends introduce you to someone;
Keep your date thinking about you by promising a special occasion when you return.
online dating is another great option. As Jill, a New York web consultant, summarizes, “You have to make the most of your time. If someone invites you to a party, you should always try to go because you might not be in town for the next one.” The lesson: Put yourself out there, and be assertive.

Scope the airport
“The airport is a bonanza,” says dating coach Scot McKay of If you’re taking a flight on a Monday or Tuesday morning, roughly 90 percent of people there are in the same situation as you: traveling for their jobs. Check in a few minutes early and strike up a conversation at the airport coffee shop, McKay recommends. Ask where the other person is traveling. If they aren’t compulsively checking a Blackberry, they’re probably bored and eager to talk.

Build anticipation
Travel creates annoying lags between outings that will kill your dating momentum if you let it. If you’ve started seeing someone, keep your date thinking about you by promising a special occasion when you return. Try to be mysterious: Set a date but don’t say what it will be. Then drop little hints leading up to the event. Give the other person assignments, like buying a new outfit or packing a picnic. This will only work once or twice, but it can get you through that awkward “getting to know you” month.

Set realistic expectations
Don’t try to hide the fact that you travel a lot or that you have onerous work commitments. If you’ve found someone with whom you connect, be straight about how much you’re usually around (honesty is always the best policy, right?). They may say they can’t handle it, and there’s nothing you can do. Better to know at the beginning than three months down the road.

Don’t invite jealousy
When you are frequently apart from someone, jealousy will rear its head—it’s a fact of life. The best you can do is try to minimize its influence by checking in often simply to say hello—it’s reassuring. Don’t call from a party or a crowded bar; that leads the other person to dark thoughts.

Include them in the experience
What better way to show someone you’re not being naughty than to give him or her a taste of what you’re seeing and learning? Take a picture on your cell phone
It’s your job to fit into your partner's life.
and send it with a sweet note. Or snap some photos or short video clips and email them later. According to Diane Mapes, author of Dating in a Post-Dating World, you should focus on small things that remind you of the other person. It will feel like you’ve shared a moment, even when you weren’t together.

Make simultaneous dates
Devin, a film production assistant who often travels on location, says he and his girlfriend learned to connect with virtual dates. This involves taking an activity you normally do together at home and making plans to do it concurrently while apart. If there’s a TV show you both love, watch it “together” while chatting on IM. Or plan to attend the same movie around the same time, then call each other after.

When returning, fit into your partner's routine
John, a San Diego-based consultant, says his company offered training on overcoming the strain of frequent separation from loved ones. One tidbit he found especially useful is that while you are away, the person you’re seeing is establishing their own routine without you. When you come back, it’s your job to fit into your partner's life, not for him or her to change everything for you. If your sweetie's taken to working out every evening, don’t argue about it; ask to join instead.

Exchange keepsakes
It sounds cheesy — heck, it is cheesy — but small, personal gifts can work wonders. So if you’re traveling, bring home an item that caters to the other person’s unique taste—maybe a favorite food or even just a small trinket. (Do NOT bring anything from the airport gift shop, which will reek of last-minute guilt pangs.) A little token of your affection will help let the other person know that he or she is on your mind when you’re apart.

Dustin Goot is a freelance writer based in New York City. He has also written on dating and relationships for Wired and Time Out New York.
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