Accountability, Challenges, Leadership, Priorities

7 Habits to Maintain Your Integrity When Traveling

Traveling is risky business. While it’s physically safe to travel, being away from home poses unique risks to your marriage if your character and integrity are weak. In fact, you’ll face the temptations and integrity-compromising situations I’ll be discussing in everyday life, but during solo travel they’re much more apparent.

Traveling is an escape of sorts. You’re whisked away on a plane to a faraway destination where nobody knows you and you’re free to do whatever you want. You’re away from your normal routines and familiar faces.

The past four days I’ve been in Chicago for a conference. While I do have good friends in the city to spend time with, I’m essentially alone; and as I’ve explored on foot and spent late nights traversing Chicago by train, I am reminded of the many pitfalls inherent to being alone in a large city.

What happens in Vegas…. goes home with you.

We’ve all heard the slogan of “Sin City” (Las Vegas): “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas”. I sincerely hate that marketing campaign. It succinctly sums up the mentality I’m trying to address here, the mindset that our value system can be put on pause when we’re away from home. As followers of Christ and husbands/wives who seek to glorify God through our marriage, we are called to be integrous no matter where we are, no matter how we feel.

Here are seven integrity-guarding habits to use when you’re traveling solo.

7 Habits to Maintain Your Integrity

1: Get Accountable…Honestly

Accountability is the best way to remind yourself that you’re not alone. I have a few people in my life that I trust to ask me the hard questions regarding my behavior. This is because I know I’m not perfect, and I know I will have weak moments.

Selena is my biggest accountability partner, as well as a few close buddies. Between them, I know I’ll have someone with a vested interest in my integrity asking me the hard questions. Also, I know that if I’m in a weak moment, I can call and ask for prayer, encouragement, and a swift kick in the butt.

Accountability only works if you’re completely honest. Lying and fibbing will negate any effort to be held accountable. Husbands, ask your wife to keep you honest. Wives, ask your husband. Identify destructive behaviors you’re prone to and articulate ways you think you’ll need accountability.

This only works if you genuinely want to do the right thing. If you’re looking for a way to sin, you will. But if you’re looking to be righteous, get accountable.

2: Arm Your Devices

Speaking of internet integrity, don’t be left to your own devices on your devices (see what I did there?). Phones, tablets, and laptops are a portal to virtually anything on the web. Accountability helps with this, but multiple lines of defense are always good.

Install accountability software on your computer and other devices. X3Watch is the one I use, and it’s very good (there’s a free version). There are others, with different features and price-points. Make the move, and invest in your integrity. Don’t be an island unto yourself, ask those who love you to fight alongside you.

3: Wear Your Ring

Don’t take your ring off when you’re traveling. I leave it on even when I’m asleep to avoid the possibility that I forget to put it back on before I leave. It’s like a beacon of light signaling your loyalty and unavailability.

Once in a while, you might catch the eye of a stranger across the room. If you notice a girl/guy giving you their “I’m interested” stare, casually use your left hand for some activity near your face: fixing your hair, scratching your ear, or even picking your nose. Whatever the cue, make it obvious that your ring is there. Hopefully they’ll respond by respecting your union and your absent spouse.

4: Use “Adultery Repellant”

When I meet new women (colleagues, waitresses, or random conversational strangers), one of the first things I mention is my sweet Selena. If you can’t find an organic way to mention your spouse, use plural pronouns like “we” and “us”. They should get the clue.

Integrity: The husband who guards his eyes, shields his heart, and protects his marriageTalking about Selena diffuses any idea they might have that I’m a single guy looking for a date or otherwise. By talking about your spouse openly you’re doing two things:

  1. Bringing her/him into the conversation. They are now part of the open dialog.
  2. Reinforcing that you value your spouse.

Some people may try to win your affections even if they see you wearing a wedding ring. Talking about them quickly diffuses the thought that you’re open to anything other than innocent conversation.

Michael Hyatt says it well:

“I will speak often and lovingly of my wife. This is the best adultery repellant known to man.”

5: Recognize and Avoid Vices

Let the wife make the husband glad to come home, and let him make her sorry to see him leave.Steer clear of any places or behaviors you know are stumbling areas for you.

  1. If you’re a gambling addict, don’t go into a casino – even if it’s for a casual drink with a friend. Just don’t.
  2. If you struggle with drug use, don’t go where drugs may be distributed or available.
  3. If you struggle with sex-related failures, don’t stay near the red-light district. Don’t use your computer in your hotel.
  4. If you’re an alcoholic, don’t go to bars. No one is forcing you to order a beer when at a casual dinner with friends/colleagues – so order anything else!

Sounds simple, but when you’re traveling alone it’s easy to start down paths you’re all too familiar with. The best way to avoid the end of the path is to completely avoid its beginning.

6: Schedule Calls

Set aside time(s) when you’ll call your spouse each night. This gives you an opportunity to include them in your trip while also keeping you honest. If you know you’re talking at 9pm, you’re less likely to go on a drinking binge or put yourself in compromising situations.

7: Lean on the Holy Spirit

Everything I’ve mentioned above will only work if you genuinely want to be a person of integrity and you trust the Holy Spirit to guide and strengthen you. One of the fruits of the Holy Spirit – proof that He is alive and active in you – is self-control. Lean on the Holy Spirit to help you when you feel weak. He is always there to miraculously catch us when we fall. Lock this verse away in your heart and grab onto any other verses that you know you’ll need to strengthen you.

Galatians 5:22-23
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

Did I miss anything? What are some other ways to maintain your integrity when you’re away from home?

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  • Heather Knight

    All good stuff, Ryan — love what you and Selena are doing with this space. David and I just hit the 15 year mark, and it’s amazing how the perspective of a time-tested relationship alters so much of what was once selfishly important. Tim Keller’s “The Meaning of Marriage” forever changed how I regard the marriage covenant — I see that you referenced him in one of your posts. Great meeting you at PubU. Blessings to you, Selena and your new bebe.

    • Thanks Heather, it was certainly a pleasure meeting you. And yes, Keller is definitely a favorite author of ours!

  • Randy Freels

    Place a family portrait on the tv, all screen savers/backgrounds should be of your spouse.

  • Liz and Ryan Bower

    Great Post Ryan! In my previous job I did a lot of travel away from home. Scheduling calls with Liz and talking about her often kept me focused on our marriage and away from any potential temptations. One other thing to add is that how you nurture your marriage before leaving for travel is extremely important too. If you leave for a far away place without your spouse and you know that things are amazing back home, you will be less tempted during travel. Great post! My wife Liz and I are super excited to have stumbled upon your blog! Keep up the great work for love and marriage!

    • Thanks Ryan, glad to have you! Excellent thought, by the way: the battle when traveling can be fought and won at home by nurturing a loving, healthy marriage every day. Cheers, and looking forward to more dialog in the future!

  • Dave Baker

    It is helpful to have an accountability partner — another man whom you can call from the room. Sometimes it’s possible to have the front desk at the hotel turn off the “adult” (actually “immature”) channel. I once had a votive candle that I’d take and light and put in front of the TV. It’s best to leave the damned thing off entirely, due to the barrage of sexual innuendo and images on shows and commercials. Take a book to read in bed, or get into the habit of turning the light off as soon as getting into bed, rather than sitting in bed bored or watching TV. Write a love letter to your wife at the desk before going to bed. Don’t use wi-fi in the room; go out to the lobby if you need to take your laptop to check emails. Do whatever it takes, men — whatever it takes.

  • Oc Film Company

    Among all that’s said, the best one is definitely the last one – Leaning on the Holy Spirit. Ultimately, it’s the only thing that will keep you on track! The rest are just results of leaning upon it. God bless you for writing this! A very good reminder for husbands!

  • Spencer Schultz

    Keep 1st Corinthians 10:23 in mind… “All things are lawful, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful, but not all things edify.” Just because you’re away and you “can” do something doesn’t mean it’s what’s GOOD for your marriage or even your life. You will guard and bless what you value, so if you value your marriage you can say “Yes, I could do this, but does it PROFIT my marriage, my spouse, my life…… and does it edify God?”

  • Charles Mares

    Just say Jesus! There truly is power in His name. It is impossible to walk in the Spirit and the flesh. Merely saying and calling on His name is powerful enough to get you back in the Spirit. Walk by faith and not by sight. Our eyes are the lamp of our body. Let bad in and bad will grow. Let light in and light will shine outwardly. Bring your bible with you and lay it out in plain view to an open passage that encourages you and watch the Spirit of God strengthen you!

  • Becky

    How about skype with wife before bed?

  • Elizabeth

    I would like to add a word of caution with the ‘adultery repellant’. I’ve had this used on me in the past – forgive the expression, but ‘repellant’ is something one uses. When I’ve been on the receiving end of this, all I was doing was having a normal, friendly conversation with the persons concerned (it’s happened more than once) and I had no intention of hooking someone! Just please use discernment and sensitivity when you whip out your own brand of adultery repellant – not every single person you speak to will be out to tempt you – not every single person is interested in finding a relationship – not every single person you meet will be interested in you! And not every situation (especially in church FYI) will require you to hit the thinly veiled panic button that says ‘but I’m married! Be ye cautioned, Singleton!’ Maybe this sounds a bit harsh – but that is how it can make some people feel, especially if you are single, and you are in Christian circles. Yes, absolutely, value your spouse – yes find ways to help make sure your spouse comes first – but single people have feelings too! I understand the context of what the writer is saying – I just wanted to add basically – yes I agree, but please use your ‘repellant’ with caution and discernment as to the situation you are in – is not necessary 100% of the time.

    • Niecey

      Probably using the ‘repellant’ to remind himself …. Not ‘against’ you personally. It is very possible you may well have been a temptation to him even though you weren’t necessarily ‘interested.’

    • emma

      I agree. I stopped talking to men at church unless they engage first because of the “I must let her know I’m not interested or unavailable.” If they say hello, I say hello. It is hurtful when you’re simply trying to be like Jesus and it’s automatically assumed you’re into them. It’s okay just to say hello. If the person crosses the line beyond general kindness, then you can set boundaries. It hurts when even Christian single men act like we have skunk spray on…yet men who don’t know Jesus can hold a platonic conversation and move on. It’s very sad when men in the world treat women better and have less fear. And it’s not because they are all after every woman they see either.

  • Serdic

    Great article. I honestly don’t see any reason to take off your wedding ring unless you’re going to be working with electricity.

  • Bob Cleveland

    I traveled extensively for 9 years, from 1975-1984. Whenever I did, I always called home every evening. Always. But I can tell you that what’s really required is simply a decision; that you are absolutely faithful, sober, etc, and that you will NOT let any temptation out there on the road rob you of that. There’s too much “Can I be a Christian and ____ (fill in the blank … gamble … drink, whatever)”, rather than leading a life in the world as much like Christ as possible (as opposed to the other way ’round).