Working away from home can be a lonely life. Spending days, weeks or even months away from your family can be heart wrenching. So, having done it for the last 6 years, what have I done to get me through these periods.
As people have said to me many times, ‘How do you do it?’ Well you do what you have to do in this modern world, you work where you have to work and go where you have to go. But how do you manage while being away? How do you get through the times when loneliness takes hold of you? How do you get through the times of crushing heart ache when all you want is a cuddle form you children, but they are 1000s of KM away? How do you manage at night when you lay in bed alone, when all you want to do is put your arm around your partner?
How do you turn these feelings around to feel something good? Well, to be honest, sometimes you can’t. Sometimes they are all you can feel, no matter what you do. You go into the hotel bar and surround yourself with people but that just makes you feel more alone. You see people with their children and that just makes you miss yours even more. You see couples walking hand in hand, laughing, being affectionate and that just makes you feel emptier inside. To the point where you return to your room because being alone feels less lonely than being around people.
At this point your probably thinking, ‘I thought this was about surviving working away from home?’
Well it is, but I had to make you realise that working away form home, though it can be fun, exciting, even glamorous depending on where you are, there is also be a very big down side to it. So now that you know it isn’t all fun and games. Let’s begin……
If you’re working away from home with another person, then all is good. You finish work, head to the bar and chat, drink, eat and generally see the evening through without much hassle. However, personally speaking this very rarely happens. So, rule number one is…
Find a hotel in a good location.
Sometimes this can be difficult. If your working in a small town or near an Airport, options can be quite limited. But, in most cases, don’t just look for a hotel. Use every travellers’ best friend, Google, and look into the area around the hotel. See if there are bars and pubs nearby, restaurants and shops. This is especially important if your working somewhere for a few days.
You will be surprised how quickly a hotel menu can become boring, or even their selection of drinks. Lets also not forget that most hotel bars are more like Airport lounges, clinical, featureless, boring and lacking in character. Definitely not where I would want to spend the evening. So, having more choice nearby is a must. Which leads us onto rule number 2-
Yes, it may come as a surprise to most people, but the human race isn’t full of head chewing monsters just waiting to feed. For the most part they are just people like you and me. So talk, open your mouth and say something to the person next to you. I have had fascinating conversations over the years with people from many different countries.
And you will be surprised to find just how welcoming most people are to a good conversation. Afterall, not many people go into a bar to be alone. They go into a bar alone in the hope that they won’t stay that way for long. I have always been a bar fly. I like to sit or stand at the bar all night, as this is where the action is. You can always get chatting to someone at the bar, even if its just the bar staff. Let’s face it, on a quiet evening, most bar staff are grateful for the company. So, don’t be afraid to start a conversation. You’re not looking for life long friends here, just a bit of company for a couple of hours. But there are times when you just don’t want to talk, and you want a quiet evening but out of your room. This is where rule number 3 comes to play….
Bring a good book.
I love reading, always have. Arthur C. Clarke and Issak Asimov being my two favourite authors. A good book has got me through many quiet times. Especially when I am away for the weekend.
Having to remove myself from the hotel room so housekeeping can do their bit, I will often take myself into a bar or café, sit with a drink and read. But if you’re not the reading type then that moves us onto rule number 4…….
Netflix, Amazon Prime etc…..
When working away you will always have a laptop, tablet or just your smart phone. This is guaranteed. And there will always be Wi-Fi. So, with a simple subscription to a streaming service you can always keep up with your favourite shows, or even discover some new ones. Or, if like me, you have our own NAS at home then you will just connect to this and watch whatever you have put one there. But seriously, this should be your last resort as life is too short to be stuck in your room watching TV.
So you may want to skip 4 and move straight onto rule number 5……
You would be surprised how many people I have spoken to over the years who have spent the night in a foreign city and yet seen nothing because they just stayed in the hotel all evening. Always having an excuse like, it was raining, or it was cold, or they were afraid they might get attacked by a conversation hating, head chewing human. Let’s face it, if you have followed rule number 1 then you will have a hotel in a decent location, so there should be no reason not to go out and explore. You may never visit that location again, so make the most of it.
Finally, if you are in a place for a few weeks then you will probably need to follow all the rules. Otherwise life will get pretty tedious, pretty fast. So, harkening back to rule number 1. Visit a local shop and get some supplies, a bottle of your favourite tipple and some nibbles for when you just want to stay in your room and relax with your book or some TV.
One last note regarding books, please, please visit your local second-hand shop when looking for books. Unlike music and movies, stories don’t change from one tech to another. There’s no leap in quality from one format to another. Whether you read from a book or on a kindle the story remains the same. So, if you’re looking for a read then buy it second-hand if you can. It’s still going to be the exact same story but reduces the amount of waste.
And if you use a kindle…
WHY. Try the printed word, something organic and tactile. A book carries the history of its being not just the story within, every crease is unique, every fold tells a tale. Help perpetuate the life of the printed word.
Till next time…….