Mercer Transportation’s 5 Tech Tips For Staying Close Over Long Distances
With all the time away from family, it takes a special kind of person to handle life on the road as a contractor. Last year, the whole country had a crash course in dealing with isolation (from social distancing) and missing their holiday get-togethers. Since owner operators have experience staying in touch over long distances, we posted a survey on Facebook to see how you guys manage. Technology offers some amazing options for staying connected.
- Apps for Video Chat
In the Mercer Lounge, by far the most popular answer to our survey was video chat, from FaceTime to Facebook Messenger video calls. Chuck Kenny replied, “FaceTime galore,” and Beth Cunningham Murray said, “Lots and lots of video calls.” Sandy Brigner also posted about using video chat “several times a week” to connect with kids and grandkids. Tams Randolph said, “I Duo with everyone,” referencing the Google app for video chat. We’ve come a long way from the days of outdoor payphones!
- “Watch Party” for Movie Night
Most of the video streaming services, from Netflix and Hulu to Amazon Prime, offer a “watch party” feature where you can watch a show or movie remotely with friends. Anyone can pause the video for the whole group, and some services like Netflix include built-in chat on the sidebar, so you can talk about your favorite scenes and characters. If you’re watching on your laptop or tablet, you may prefer Staying close over long distances Keeping in touch with family on the road to call on the phone or use a different app for talking during the movie.
- Family Game Nights
Words with Friends is an app that lets you play Scrabble remotely with people you know. Thousands of free multiplayer games include Uno, Boggle, and Yahtzee with Buddies. If you’re willing to pay a few dollars, you can also get classics like Monopoly, Life, and Clue. If you’re feeling more adventurous, you can see what your kids and grandkids are playing and join them in a newer game like Animal Crossing or Pokémon GO. Consider scheduling a weekly game night for big board games. If you minimize the app to resume playing again later, make sure you can turn off notifications while driving.
- Online Gift Giving
If you appreciate the convenience of buying stuff for yourself online, then you really don’t want to go through the hassle of wrapping and shipping presents at the post office. Fortunately, it has never been easier to send presents with just a few clicks. Jessica Newman said how she sends toys to the grandkids regularly, and she even orders “cakes online for every birthday for in laws, parents, kids, and grandkids”—Now that sounds like a recipe worth stealing.
- Prioritizing Home Time
Even with all the high-tech solutions available, there’s no substitute for spending time together in person. While the market is booming, it’s tempting (and profitable) to keep taking load after load, but consider giving yourself some extra home time in the off season. Brian Kelley said, “I take off 3 months at a time.” Others who replied to the survey emphasized how they fly home when needed. Wayne Powell leaves his truck in Vegas and flies home often enough to accumulate some frequent flyer miles. With a brother who works for an airline, J.T. White likes to “park the truck at the nearest airport and fly home” when needed. Depending on where you live, you can also talk to your load coordinator about making sure your next destination is closer to home or a major airport.