Going on a business trip comes with a lot of responsibilities, and when you are a parent this only doubles. Keeping contact with your family, particularly your kids, can be a difficult thing to do due to many reasons. Apart from the work responsibilities and the meetings you are about to attend that will limit your free time, there are even graver concerns you need to effectively plan before you leave for another country.
Most of us use social media platforms to communicate with our loved ones when we are away, and with the advancement of technology, they certainly made everything easier. You can now text, talk and video chat for hours, as long as you are connected on the internet, something that was not even imaginable not more than two decades ago. Even if you frequently have work trips abroad, today it is much easier for the kids to feel your presence in their lives despite the fact that you are thousands of miles away from them.
In other words, globalization helps you stay close to your family at all times.
However, there are certain aspects you need to consider, such as the time zones, how much free time you will have, and which application you will be using. Nevertheless, the most important one of them all is the travel destination.
Despite the social media growth and the billions of users it attained over the years, some countries might have different laws and regulations regarding their use. You might even face an entirely different situation and not be able to reach apps that you regularly use in a country at all.
For example, social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Snapchat might not be available in certain countries. Also, platforms that you use for communicating and making video calls, including Skype, Telegram, WhatsApp and Viber, might be partially or completely blocked where you are heading.
Therefore, before you embark on your business trip, make sure that you read through all of the following tips and warnings. That way you will stay connected to your kids when you are traveling for business.
Things You Need to Do Before Your Business Trip
First things first, plan your trip several days before you leave abroad. There are many factors besides packing that you need to think of when kids are involved.
The truth is, they need attention and affection, no matter where you are. So you require a good plan.
Start by explaining to them where you are going and why. Assure your kids that you will be calling them often, and explain the lengths of your trip in ways that they can understand. If they are toddlers, you will need to put a little more effort into this, as they certainly need more attention and a parental figure in their lives at all times.
After you’ve reached an “agreement” with them, focus on the following things:
The biggest mistake you can make is to not research everything there is to know about the country you are traveling to for your business trip, especially if it is for the first time.
It is necessary to check the time zone and how different it is from your current one. You need to contact your family and talk to your kids every day, but before their bedtime. Depending on where you’ll be going, this can be potentially difficult to achieve, but with a good plan and time-management, nothing is impossible.
Means of Communication
What will be your central source of communication? Obviously, it would be an application that allows you to call your family or even better, video call them. That way your kids can see your face and enjoy some time with you over the phone. They will feel less alone, and the distance will not be a tremendous burden for you or them.
Despite leading the globalization, social media platforms and applications are not available everywhere. Also, every country has different regulations when it comes to this. Did you know that in certain countries using Telegram is illegal? Even the most popular social media platforms such as Facebook or Twitter are restricted and blocked.
So what if you are out of options?
The best thing would be to sort this out while you are still at home. Hence, don’t forget to make proper research, and download all the apps that you will be using on your business trip.
Countries That Block Popular Applications and Solutions
We encourage you to do a research on your own, depending on the destination of your trip. However, to make it easier for you, we are about to list some of the countries that block the most common applications and social media, as well as other related websites that you might need.
Turkey is known for the extensive censorship imposed by the government. One of the things that are somewhat surprising is the block of Wikipedia that has been going on in the country for quite some time now. Apart from that, you won’t be able to access YouTube, WhatsApp, Viber, and Telegram.
There have been attempts to block several applications and social media platforms, but they have been temporary. However, the situation is not at its best, so we advise you to make a research on the current events and which apps are blocked at the moment.
Russia has one of the worst types of censorship when it comes to the internet. In other words, many websites and applications might be out of your reach once you enter the Russian territory.
The country is one of the biggest fighters against the use of the application Telegram Messenger and has made many attempts to block it in the country, by even blocking other websites and applications to ease up the process.
Saudi Arabia, Qatar, UAE
These Middle Eastern countries, including Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, and Qatar have all blocked VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) applications, which include some of the most popular apps used nowadays. In other words, you won’t be able to use Skype, Facebook Messenger, Viber, WhatsApp, FaceTime, Snapchat, and Telegram.
If you want to talk to your kids from Qatar, for example, you will need to think of other alternatives or find a permanent solution in a virtual private network (VPN), which we will be discussing below.
Iran and Syria are known for the critical situation with internet censorship and government surveillance, so when traveling there you need to be careful what means of communications you are using. There are certain apps that have been blocked and are forbidden to use, so you will need to prepare a little better before your trip if you want to stay in touch with your kids and family.
Some of the most popular websites blocked in Iran are Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Viber, Paltalk, and YouTube.
In Syria, there have been temporary cases of blocking several social media platforms, but the country is notoriously known for its online surveillance.
China is the number one country when it comes to censorship and surveillance. If you are traveling for a business trip there, not only will you have to find alternatives to communicate with your children, but you can also run into other obstacles, such as not being able to open your work files if you’ve stored them on your Google Drive.
Namely, China has thousands of websites, social media platforms and apps blocked on its Mainland territory. Forget about Facebook, Messenger, Viber, WhatsApp, Instagram, Twitter, and even Google and everything it comes with it.
The country has blocked access to all of this and more. Although they have suitable alternatives to all of these apps, this won’t help you when you are trying to reach your kids on WhatsApp.
These are not the only countries in the world that block social media and apps, but they are a great example that you might need more information before you embark your journey. No matter where you go, always double-check everything prior to your trip. Also leave some time to install everything you might need on your devices, and do the same for your family.
Keeping them safe is your priority, even when you are far away from home.
A Solution to the Problem
It might seem that you are running out of options, especially in countries that block most apps that you use or plan on using.
However, in these cases, your best solution is a secure VPN. We briefly mentioned this tool that is used to help you unlock apps and websites that have been restricted to use by the government.
It’s an invaluable addition to your business trip, and it will help you access social media apps that you commonly use to communicate with your family in case they are blocked.
When you are looking for a VPN that you want to use on your business trip, make sure you do proper research and choose only a reliable and strong VPN service provider. Most of them offer more simultaneous connection, which is excellent for both you abroad and your kids at home. You can use it at the same time to stay in touch, and the VPN will not only unblock the applications but it will also keep you secure online both you and your family.
Install the VPN prior to your trip and connect on a server at your home country or one that is located somewhere nearby. Make sure you stay logged on at all times.
Things You Need to Do After You Arrive
After you’ve arrived at your location, first make sure that the VPN is working as it should be. You can also use several service providers, merely to have backup VPN in case something goes wrong.
If the VPN is working and the app that you want to use is accessible, you can now call your loved one. Also, the calls will be safe, and you won’t be susceptible to surveillance.
With this out of the way, make sure you talk to your kids at least once a day. You can do this before they go to sleep, and you can ever read to them a bedtime story to make them feel safer.
Send them pictures regularly, both from you and from your trip. Do not let work take up all of your free time, because family comes first and your children need you.
Do this for as long as it takes, up until the moment your business trip is over, and you are ready to spend some time with your children in real life, and not through the computer screen.
Business trips can be rough for the whole family, especially the children. Make sure you are there for them as much as they need you to be. If you need more advice on the topic, don’t hesitate to ask us by leaving a comment below. Have a safe trip.