Relationships. Romance. Partnership. Marriage. Sex. Companionship.
To many, those things are just as essential to life as water or oxygen.
What sort of impact will living a nomadic life have on your current relationships? Or on your prospects for finding one?
Today I am returning to fleshing out my ‘Answers to Common Excuses Not to Travel‘ series of articles that I started last summer. I apologize upfront for not keeping on top of this project – we’ll blame it on the time spent living a fabulous life getting in the way of producing these loftier posts. I suppose there is also some hesitation – I’ve covered the basic topics that are easier to address and which have firm resources to point you towards. Now we are getting into the topics that don’t have easy answers, and the “right answer” will vary widely for folks.
And ‘the relationship issue’ is indeed one of the most substantial excuses we have heard from people explaining why they’re not embracing a traveling life. The issues range from a fears around traveling solo, to the complications that come from having an existing partner who is not interested in or able to set out for a life on the road.
For the Single Traveler
When you travel alone – you’re on your own time schedule, you’re seeing the things you want to see, you’re free to give in to your whims, you’re able to eat whatever you want whenever you want, and you have the flexibility to be moving on to your next destination whenever the desire strikes. There is a lot of freedom that comes from not having to keep another person’s wants and needs constantly in mind.
The sort of freedom that comes from solo travel thrills some people, and terrifies others.
Some want to experience traveling the world as a single person before meeting their ideal mate in life, for others solo travel might be the perfect thing to fill a gap in between major relationships, and some folks just prefer being intentionally single for the long term.
On the other hand – some people just don’t want to travel alone. We run across many people who put off their travel dreams because they want to share it with a companion and they are waiting to find the right person to partner up with. Some people wait a lifetime, which is tragic. In our experience however, even if you start off alone, you are much more likely to find a like mind once you are already on the road than if you wait. Someone drawn to a life of travel is going to be much more attracted to an active traveler, after all.
When Chris originally set off to be nomadic, he needed to actively let go of his attachment to finding a nomad-compatible relationship in advance. Just as he was becoming fully comfortable with the idea of being without a primary relationship and a partner in life and travel, that’s when I came along and messed up that plan for him. The universe tends to work that way. *grin*
We are living proof – you can find compatible life and travel partners out on the road. After all, it’s easier to meet people who share your interests by getting out there and exploring them!
If you are considering traveling alone, it’s a good idea to make sure you know what you’re getting into. Some long term single travelers begin to express a certain level of loneliness with the transient nature of the romances and friendships they explore as they travel. Pursuing new relationships on the road requires a good bit of intention setting (both for yourself and your mates) to avoid getting emotionally hurt in the process. It also involves learning to make an art out of saying good bye. Check out the links above for some insights, particularly the comment threads.
Here are some other resources for the single traveler that might be useful:
Solo Traveler Blog – A collection of resources about a variety of topics that come up for the solo traveler.
Matador Travel Partners & Lonely Planet’s Travel Companions forums – Both of these highly visited independent traveler sites offer forums for meeting up with other solo travelers. Sometimes, finding a short term travel companion helps a lot with easing any loneliness.
Wandering Individuals Network - A network of solo & single RVers who meet for events across the US. (Caution, their website auto plays cheesy music.)
Even if you do have a life partner, if one or both of you is craving some solo-style travel, try it out. A week or a month spent venturing off in different directions can leave you energized with a wealth of new experiences and stories to share with each other when you rendezvous again. For traveling couples that are together 24/7, an occasional extended break can actually be a great way to recharge and reset with some much needed alone time.
Mismatched Travel Lust
But more often than not, one of the biggest barriers we’ve discovered in talking with folks is that they’re in a relationship they love – but their partner does not share their wanderlust. We’ve heard everything from “my wife couldn’t do without the curling iron if we lived in an RV!” to “staying at luxury resorts is my husband’s idea of ‘roughing it.'”
Another common issue is mismatched physical ability, particularly amongst couples who wait until retirement to begin traveling. We have run across several couples that have had one partner’s medical issues derail plans to spend their golden years exploring the great outdoors or exotic foreign cities. All too often we are told by older couples that they wished they hadn’t waited so long to follow their dreams.
No matter the reason, a significant mismatch in ability, desired styles of travel, or even a desire to travel at all leaves folks having to make some tough choices and compromises if they want to explore a travel-centric lifestyle.
For some, the compromises are too much – and perhaps changes to the relationship just have to be made so that everyone can get their needs met. Perhaps you’re able to eventually convince your partner to enjoy travel, particularly if you ease them into a traveling lifestyle slowly. Perhaps you’ll decide that occasionally living/traveling apart is an appropriate choice for where you are in life. Relationships can work even when two people choose not to live together full time. For some, it’s ok to agree to go your separate ways for a while – it doesn’t have to diminish the love or the commitment.
One afternoon in Utah while filling up our gas tank, we encountered a solo woman RVer. We stopped and chatted for a bit, as us travelers tend to do. She shared with us that her husband of several decades didn’t like to travel – but she was drawn to it. She now spends 6-months of the year living with him at home, and the other half of the year out on the road visiting with family and friends. It seemed to be working quite well for them.
There are ways to to find workable solutions, if you’re willing to look outside the box of what we’re told relationships need to look like.
Whether solo or partnered, life is best lived when you are following your dreams. Don’t wait!