A map of the world, Mendoza, Argentina
When I received an email from a reader last week with the title “How did you choose?”, I knew instantly it was going to be about choosing travelling over a) a “steady” career b) an education or, most likely, c) a relationship. In it, this reader – let’s call her Rebecca – spelled out her situation, all about travelling versus relationships. Originally from New Zealand but living in Europe with her boyfriend, she feels she has a few options in front of her: move home with him to be with their family and friends, move to a new city in New Zealand with him and create a life there, stay in Europe on a work visa, or teach English in Asia. In her words:
“I have thought about the pros and cons for all of these. The main thing on my mind is, with the last two options, I would most likely become single. I would hate to not be able to travel just because my boyfriend wants to settle down, but I also worry about never finding someone if I keep moving around.” Turning twenty-six soon, Rebecca told me that many of her friends are in serious relationships or engaged/married. At the end of the email, she wrote, “And so, after all that, my question to you is… how has your choice to keep travelling affected the boyfriend/marriage path of life?”
I’ve written about love and travelling a lot on this blog, it seems. Years ago, I wrote about why I’m single; a couple of years ago, I wrote about why you shouldn’t worry about love when you travel. But this is different. This is someone who is already in love, and feels that a choice needs to be made.
Ice cream for two? Heck yes! One for me and one for… me. Santiago, Chile
I’ve been pretty open about the fact that I’m usually single. In the past, I often chalked this up to not wanting a boyfriend because I was moving around so much. Now, as a technically settled woman living in London, I date and occasionally have relationships. I didn’t always consider myself a single person, though. I was in a serious relationship for almost three years in my early/mid 20s. I don’t talk about it often here, mostly because I had already broken up with him when I started this blog. We met in Canada and then moved to Scotland together. After eight months there, we moved to Japan. It was great that he wanted to do those things together, but I wanted more. I wanted to live in Paris and study French. I wanted to buy a little riad in Marrakesh. I wanted to travel around Southeast Asia. Every time I brought these things up to him, he immediately shot them down, the practical voice to my apparently unrealistic one. There were many reasons I decided to end that relationship, but this lack of imagination or sense of adventure was the biggest nail in the coffin. When I broke up with him that sunny Monday in Osaka, he fell to his knees.
“But I was going to ask you to marry me this summer,” he stammered. We had already bought plane tickets for a holiday a few months away, and he told me he almost had enough to buy a ring. He was going to propose on a beach in Malaysia, apparently. I was flabbergasted. I saw my life with him then: married, a couple of kids, living near his hometown in New Zealand. I would probably be a teacher. I would probably never live out my dreams of travelling far and wide. I walked away that afternoon, leaving him on his knees. I’ve said this before, but too often, especially for women, we are conditioned that marriage is the only thing that matters in life. I could have been married by Rebecca’s age; I also probably would have been divorced by now.
About a year and a half later, I was dating an Australian. We had been together for just over a year; we met in Vietnam, and he eventually moved to Japan to be with me. But over the year things started to crumble, and the relationship became volatile. Still, I loved him, and I really did picture settling in Australia with him. I could easily imagine the things I couldn’t with the Kiwi. One major problem: I knew I wanted to travel around Asia for a while before moving to Melbourne. He had already travelled a lot and, at first, talked about all the travelling we’d eventually do together. Things changed, though, and he was no longer as interested in this plan. I expressed my desire to travel for three months on my own.
“Well then, we may as well break up,” he told me nonchalantly. I revised my plan, cut it down to two months. He still wasn’t happy. We finally compromised on me being away for no more than a month – in his eyes, any more than that and he thought one of us would cheat, or that long-distance would be too difficult (even though during the first five months of our relationship, I was in Japan and he was travelling). And then, one morning, attempting to kill all my dreams of Thailand and India and Myanmar from fluttering through my head, I stopped. What the fuck am I doing?
I walked away from him, too.
Let’s not forget the helpful/healing power of wine (joking… kind of), Mendoza, Argentina
My advice to Rebecca – and, of course, this is just my personal opinion and you or she might totally disagree – is to remain on the road for a little while, or for as long as she wants/needs to. She’s obviously already given this some thought; if she hadn’t, she wouldn’t have emailed me. She said it herself: “I would hate to not be able to travel just because my boyfriend wants to settle down.” To me, that says it all. I believe that wanderlust is like hunger. If you don’t feed it, it will only grow and grow until it is a growling, all-consuming entity.
I’m not saying the relationship has to end; maybe, after some serious talks, Rebecca’s boyfriend will understand her situation and either want to join her or agree to a long-distance relationship. Because, while it’s a bit of a depressing statement to make a couple of days before Valentine’s Day, I actually don’t think that love is all you need, or that true love can conquer all. I don’t even really believe in unconditional love between two partners; there are times when love is not enough (unconditional love between someone and a pet, however… I completely believe in). In order to have a happy and fulfilling relationship, you need love with a healthy dose of compromise and acceptance. If your partner cannot understand your wanderlust, or even discourages or forbids you to satiate it, is that really the person you want to be with? If they can’t even let you go off on your own for a few weeks or months, what does that spell for an entire lifetime together?
Love comes in all forms… don’t forget about love with your BFF. Cali, Colombia
So how do you choose between love and travelling? In my eyes, you shouldn’t have to. I don’t believe that these are two mutually exclusive things. I’ve met tons of couples who have happy and fulfilling relationships despite (or because of) a case of itchy feet; some of them travel together, sometimes only one partner travels often, or some even live on different continents from one another, but they make it work. I believe – as difficult as it may be to realise – if the person you’re with doesn’t understand your desire and passion to travel, perhaps he or she isn’t the right person for you at this time. That doesn’t mean that you’ll never be together (I do believe people can change), but being together “forever” is a whole lotta time. I would personally never want to be with someone who made me choose; I know that I would resent him or her in the end. Relationships need mutual respect, trust, and encouragement of each other’s passions, and forbidding someone to follow their dreams or forcing them to choose one or the other shows the complete opposite of those things.
And finally, to address Rebecca’s question: how has my choice to travel affected my boyfriend/marriage situation? It hasn’t. I’ve had a few really wonderful relationships, both while travelling and while settled. Hell, I’ve had more success in the love department with a backpack strapped on my back than I’ve had with a more permanent lifestyle in London. As cheesy as it sounds, I believe that the right person will come along at the right time. And when is that time? It’s when you are open-minded, it’s when you are happy with yourself and your life. I could have settled with guys in the past, but I knew I wanted to keep wandering, that my love affair was with the world above anything or anyone else. Almost every single one of my friends is engaged, married, or in a serious relationship, but what’s right for one person isn’t necessarily what’s right for you; choosing or wanting to make a life of travel already puts you on a different path, one that many would never dream of considering. That in itself – discovering what makes you happy and passionate – is something to be celebrated and something to be proud of.
Now, thirty years old and with lots of years of solo travel under my belt, I admit that I would like to have a partner one day, but I’m in no rush. I would only consider being with someone if he was the right partner, one who understands that I’m probably going to Central Asia for a few months next year or that sometimes, for no reason, I’ll up and go to Spain for a week on my own. If he can come with me, that’s amazing. But if he can’t, all I ask is that he’s waiting with open arms when I get home.
You just gotta follow your heart, amirite? Mancora, Peru
What do you think about all of this? Do you agree with me? Do you have another suggestion?
Lovely blog post – and I agree, when you find the right person it won’t matter and it won’t be an issue.
My fiancé and I have a shared love of travel and encourage each other to explore and have adventures as often as possible. I hope I would never stop him travelling, if it’s what would make him happy and it’s what he wanted to do.
A friend of mine just moved to San Fran, leaving her boyfriend of 7 years in London. They’re still together, they’re making it work, because she wanted to go and he wanted her to be happy. Love is a funny thing, but if it’s the right kind of love – you’ll always find a way of making it work.
It sounds like you have a wonderful relationship! I would love to find that in a partner one day. And thanks for sharing your friend’s story, too – you’re right, if it’s the right kind of love, you’ll always find a way of making it work.
Good advice what you wrote about relationship versus travelling. I´m from Brazil and because of a lot bad decisions that I`ve made in my life in the past, just in the age of 39, I realized my dream to travelling to a different country. Well, better late than never huh? I travelled to United Kingdom and Polony last year. And I wanna go back to UK and also go till Germany this year. I have a sister living in UK what makes a lot of thing easier to me, economically speaking, after all, I´m from Brazil, and we have a lot of both economic and political issues here, what difficults to travel around the world. And besides, my sister has a beatiful son, my only nephew, born in England, that loves me and I love him so much! This is also a matter of family you know? But I´m facing this question right now: choosing between a relationship of six years or put my feet on the road again. I did it last year and my girlfriend couldn´t go with me and she accepted. What she didn´t expect is that I would love so much the experience of international travelling that I´d like to do it again this year. She can´t go with me again and I have money enough just to pay for my travelling and she forced me to choose between her or going to visit Europe, again. I can stay there just for 30 days, no more than that, because of my work here in Brazil. And with a serious broken heart,I chose to travelling…..she knows me about six years and she also knows about my dream to know different countries and cultures….too sad she doesn´t understand that because I love her, although I can´t let this opportunity go away…and besides, I want to visit my sister and my nephew, he´s only three years old and so unbelieveble cute! For me, put my feet on a different country by the first time, it was the most beatiful, strongest, intensive and emotional thing I`ve ever done in my life. It was a wholelife dream that came true. And I hope be able to do it so at least once per year. Thank you so much by your words.
I hear what you’re saying here, and wanted to chime in. I loved traveling in my early to mid twenties and I’ve never been a girl who dreams of her wedding day–but I did know that I wanted a long-term partner, and a more “traditionally successful” career, and an apartment that feels like home. I moved to New York City looking for adventure almost three years ago, and I’m still here–mostly because I met someone whom I can envision sharing a life with. And that, for better or worse, means compromise. He supports my love of travel, whether it’s with him or alone, and I accept that I met him in New York City (not on the road, or in my home state with MUCH better weather) and I’m willing to make some sacrifices to make the relationship work. We’re still figuring out all the rest, but for right now: I accept that I can still do some travel while in this more settled relationship, but I don’t know if I’d get the same fulfilling, easy, supportive relationship if I was always traveling.
I agree with your comment – I finally feel ready for those things, too. I would personally love to stay in London for at least a few more years but still travel often; in that case, I think I will naturally fall into a relationship similar to yours. I have had really wonderful relationships while travelling but ultimately it was a clash in personalities that broke us up, not the road.
I think you hit the nail on the head when you mentioned compromise… as I said in the post, I believe that compromise is SO important. It sounds like you have a really supportive, awesome relationship. I still hope to meet you in New York one day!
Yes! And I am far overdue for a trip to London as well 🙂 I feel like we could have some good relationship chats over a drink or a gelato! xx
Oh man – that would be amazing! You are always welcome to stay with me… x
“I’ve said this before, but too often, especially for women, we are conditioned that marriage is the only thing that matters in life. I could have been married by Rebecca’s age; I also probably would have been divorced by now.”
Yes and I totally agree. Great post! Retweeting. 🙂
Thank you very much, Keisha! I’m glad you can relate.
Hi! My name is Melisa, and I live in San Diego over 10 yrs. I already settled my self here. But something come up. My boyfriend is moving to Thailand soon and be there 3 years. So he want me to move there with him. Thinking about it stressed me out. I cant sleep at night.
Thinking leaving all behind and move with him to Thailand is very challenging. I feel like i will start over again. Sell my car and stuff.
I just dont have closed friend to talk about it. And i need an expert to give me idea. I love him and I want to be with him.
This was a great read, Brenna! To be honest, I still haven’t made up my mind about so many of these questions, and I feel torn sometimes: I met my boyfriend when I was 19 years old, and I’m still with him, the guy who was my senior prom date. But despite this long-term commitment (actually the only one in my life), I was always really careful to not neglect “my own freedom” in the last years: We had a long distance relationship for seven years while I lived in many different cities and met people from all over the world. From the very beginning, I told him that I needed to live abroad one day and that I want to travel. Since then I’ve studied abroad in Lisbon, I went on girls’ party weekends in Spain and on solo trips from Ireland to Slovakia — I even spent our 6 year anniversary watching the sunset in front of the Eiffel Tower by myself. And he always let me go.
Today, I still want to see so much more of the world, but throughout the last years I learned that I think I now prefer sharing a moment with him over just a random moment abroad. (Travel) experiences are just so much better when shared with someone special — even when there’s a little less travel involved.
I really think that there are no set guidelines on how to have a relationship… if it works, it works! That’s amazing that you guys have stayed together for so many years and that you are both so supportive of each other.
Because I’ve travelled solo so much, I admit that I would like to try travelling with someone and see if your last lines are true! I can imagine that they are.
My boyfriend and I are about to celebrate our 3-year anniversary and currently live together. He was a little sad that I decided to leave for a 6-week backpacking trip to Europe this summer without him. But now I’ve realized that I can’t even stop there. I think the right path for me is moving back in with my parents and working toward living a nomadic lifestyle for awhile. It almost feels like I’ve put a deadline on our relationship, but I think we both understand that this is something I need to do for myself.
It’s a strange feeling to be so in love with someone, yet you want to go experience the world and be single for awhile. You just hope you’re making the right decision.
I totally understand that – but it’s great that you have decided what you’d like to do and figured out how you have to do it. I’m sure you’re going to have an amazing adventure!
I agree. My fiance has travelled with me in the past but now wants to work on his career so I will be travelling for a year without him from June, and he will meet me a couple of places along the way. I wish his wanderlust matched mine but it doesn’t and I love him. Luckily he is supportive and is OK with me travelling without him, otherwise we would have a problem. He is also fine with being an expat which is important to me. We are currently living as expats in Australia and planning to go back to my home country NZ for a couple of years before hopefully immigrating to Canada. I have made sacrifices for him and he has for me – because our relationship is worth it.
See – this is the kind of relationship I’m talking about! I think it’s so wonderful to hear about couples who compromise and support each other’s goals. It definitely helps that he’s okay with being an expat, I think I’d need someone like that, too!
Great post! As I write this, I’ve been living in Indonesia for the past year while my husband of 5+ years lives in Australia. I wanted to live here, he did not, so we agreed that neither should force the other to do something they didn’t want to do. I’ve always suffered from wanderlust, while he prefers a more settled life. We met in Australia just before I headed off to Europe (again…) with no return date in mind…
We’ve been compromising for years – a few years on the road, a few years at home. I’m not saying it’s easy – it takes a long of shifting priorities – but we’ve been lucky enough that we’ve found a way to make it work. But I totally agree with your comments about resentment – we have worked hard to make a life in which neither of us will (hopefully!) resent the other. I hope ‘Rebecca’ makes a choice that is right for her – I’ve personally always regretted the travel I haven’t done more than the things I’ve missed at home while on the road (weddings, birthdays, reunions etc).
Wow, that’s incredible. Again, it’s so inspiring to read about couples who make it work. And no, I don’t expect it to be easy… but most relationships have a few hurdles, and I’d be okay with travelling being my main hurdle.
One day, as I was travelling solo and mentioned to new found friends in the hostel that I was married, they all looked at me in shock. After explaining I travel alone from time to time when my partner can’t join me (just like you suggest at the end of your post) they all wanted to know what he thought of all this. I had been travelling solo for years since we were together but I never really asked since I found it normal that I should be able to do what I love. As soon as I got home, I asked him THE question: how do you actually feel about me travelling solo?
He said… he found it inspiring. He said… he knew from the beginning that this bird would die if it was held in a cage. I fell in love all over again.
Just to say that your vision of who you’d want to settle with is absolutely attainable and if you ask me, it should be the norm. Be it about travel or any other hobby/passion, a woman should be free to have both; her relationship and her other passion.
What an amazing story – and what a beautiful line, that “this bird would die if it was held in a cage.” I totally agree with your last line… of course, as this is a travel blog, I focused on travel, but I believe any person should be able to have both, too. Thank you for your comment!
I wrote about something like this recently… I guess this time of year brings out those thoughts of love! For me choosig travel over love has always been the obvious choice, but there is a lot of pressure from family and friends who don’t think I’ll be truly happy until I find someone o “complete” me (that word itself is ridiculous). The idea of a woman being happy on her own is kind of crazy to some people. Not saying I’ll never have a serious relationship, but it will have to be one that doesn’t prevent me from travelling, or it will happen at an undetermined point in the future when my priorities have shifted. For now, the world is enough!
Yep, I totally get that! I also hate the idea of someone “completing” me. I’m very lucky that I don’t feel any pressure from family or friends to settle down, though!
Great article and beautiful insights. Nice pictures as well. May you travel far and further!
1. Great advice, Brenna! There are plenty of people who chose the path of comfort and marriage and wish they could’ve done their twenties like you did. (Ahem. I love my husband very much, but I wish I’d met him when I was 32, not 20, like I’d “planned.”)
2. I think love IS all you need. Just not necessarily the romantic kind. A love of life, of travel, for your friends, a fulfilling career — having all of that first helps keep women from treating a relationship or marriage like a happiness fix-all. It’s unfair to rely on a partner for your happiness, as many women tend to do. The healthiest relationships, I think, occur when both partners are content and in love with life on their own — and *then* find that person to share it with.
Yes! I love your second point so much. I was using “love” in this context solely as a word to describe love between partners, but you’re right, if you love your life, travel, friends, etc… anything is possible. And I completely agree with your last line; I’ve been in relationships where one of us is reliant on the other to be happy, and it never works out. Thanks so much for this comment Katie, I love it!
An amazing post Brenna,
I totally agree with you, life can not be put on hold or compromised for the sake of settling down. I was in a similar situation before the current trip I’m on. But I’m so pleased I took the risk and left, I’m learning more and more how being in love isn’t the most forfilling thing in life. Dispute the fact if already done some pretty epic solo trips, this one is different because I’m truely loving myself (in a non egotistic way) I’m so happy in my own company now and don’t need a guy to validate me. Your words are always great, thanks x
Thank you for your comment, Alex! I think it’s really important to love who you are and travelling on your own certainly helps you do that! Happy travels…
So freakin right, what a great post, this was my bed time story. Thanks for sharing your world, its nice to hear from other gals who are living their lives, just as they please. Its healthy and for me, inspiring. Reminds me I am not a freak for wanting to find me and experience everything the world has to offer me first. The love and the relationship, the marriage and the babies, that can wait. Awesome words of wisdom.
Cheers, Anna 🙂
Thank you Anna, I’m so glad that you could relate!
Thank you for this post! I’ve recently “settled”. I own a house, I have a contract at a great job, I live close to my siblings and parents and somedays it feels like my world is getting smaller and smaller. I have a five year cycle where I jump abroad for a few months or sometimes a few years. 2015 is my “go” year, but I think I’ll be staying where I am due to a hefty mortgage. But, this blog has inspired me to keep travelling! Maybe not for months on end but it could be detrimental to my soul to stay too still. This comes in perfect time to plan a wonderful summer adventure! I’m also in a bi-continental relationship, I can’t imagine being with anyone except my wonderlust-ful partner, even though I’m rarely actually with him!
Thanks for your comment, Jeanie… it sounds like you have some really exciting things planned! I’m also not in the frame of mind to travel for months on end at the moment, but I still try to make travelling a priority in my life. And wow – that’s amazing that you have found such a wonderful relationship despite the miles!
I think it’s all about priority, about what makes you happy, what serves you better. I think marriage is really the right answer for some, but not for all, even though we were raised to believe marriage/settling down is another step in life. It is not. It’s just a choice, just like choosing to travel. Both are great, both are choices, we ought to prioritize the one that enriches our lives in the long run, the other choice can wait anyway..
I agree with you – everyone will have different ideas of happiness!
I can definitely relate to this – I, too, ended a multi-year relationship when I realized that my boyfriend was always going to be resentful of my travels and my desire to live a less conventional lifestyle. Now, though, I’m with someone who fully supports what I do, and doesn’t get upset when I travel on my own.
But, having found this amazing, supportive someone has made me WANT to compromise more. I’m taking shorter trips now so I’m home with him more often, and have been trying to find ways for us to travel together at least a couple times per year. When you find the right relationship dynamic, the compromises won’t FEEL like compromises, because you won’t feel like you’re being forced into them.
YES to your last line – that’s a great way to look at it. It sounds like you have an amazing relationship! Thanks for your comment, Amanda.
ok ok you talked me into it. I’ll date you.
Hah! Well you made me laugh, that’s always a good start.
Also, beard, laid back, and alwayse on the move. Gone regularly for months at a time and McGiver calles me for advice.
… but do you live in London?!
Wicked post. I’m an Australian who has adopted the nomadic lifestyle too. Surprise hey? 🙂
I have an online business and travel the world and stay wherever I want to.
I have an amazing lifestyle, but the only thing missing is being able to share it with someone for more than a few days.. The majority of people I meet are on holiday.. I’m not. This is my life.
Unfortunately, I rarely have relationships, maybe because I know that it simply won’t work unless I meet someone like me.. Someone who can and wants to roam the globe. It just isn’t the case for most people. Boo.
Hey Scott, thanks for your comment. I have definitely been in the same situation and it can be really hard to meet someone when you move around so much. I was lucky enough to have a couple relationships that worked in spite of/because of our mutual wanderlust, but I think it can be tricky to find. Hopefully you find your travelling partner in crime soon… if that’s indeed what you want!
I’m reading this from Tangier and right before I saw your post in my news feed I was thinking, I really wish there was someone here I liked – ha! Tom left on Saturday and I’m staying in a hotel so I’m a bit lonely. But anyway…
What I would say to the Rebeccas out there is this isn’t an age to forgo your dreams for someone else. I just turned 26 a few days ago and Tom and i have been together for 3 years, and he was sad when I said I’m going to Morocco for a month. He came around eventually and tells me how happy it makes him to know that I’m happy doing what I want.
We both know that we can’t have a life together if we don’t do the things we need to do and we’re not the right people for each other if we try to stop one from doing It.
Of course, easier said than felt!
It definitely is easier said that felt, but I totally agree with you! It can be a struggle, but it can also be done.
This is such a tough issue, and one that I’m dealing with now. Everyone has their life passions that make them who they are. Some are smaller and less significant than others, maybe like a hobby. Others dictate the decisions we make in life and steer our lives in certain directions. I believe you should never have to give up the latter in order to be in a relationship, and that if being in a particular relationship requires that you sacrifice it then it’s time to let it go. So I suppose the question remains to anyone pondering whether to chose a relationship over travel: am I changing who I am or my life goals if I remain with this person? Of course it’s never that simple though!
I’d agree that it isn’t that simple… but I totally get what you’re saying! I never want to change my life goals when I’m with someone. Thanks for your comment, Camille!
I love this post, I have been asked this question or variants on it so many times by friends and family even when I’ve been single (“but what if you meet a boyfriend who doesn’t want you to travel?”) and honestly if someone wanted to stop me travelling that is to me really controlling and creepy and not the behaviour of someone I would ever want to date! But thankfully my boyfriend and immediate family are very supportive of me doing what I want – I’m spending the summer travelling alone and of course I will miss him but I still don’t really see a problem with it.
Also I love your outfit in the photo of you in Chile 😀
That’s awesome… it sounds like you’re in a very healthy and supportive relationship!
I agree with you completely sister. In the bottom of your heart, you will know what is right and if the person you are with can’t compromise, they are not the one for you. Although love does not always win in the end, I do believe that with true love, your partner would never make you choose. If you want to be with someone, you can ALWAYS find a way to make that work, and you know how well I know this now.
I definitely thought of you while writing this article… xoxo
Great post. I agree with all of the people here who are saying when you meet the right person you make it work. I met my boyfriend just before going on a nine month solo trip. He never once asked me not to go and even came and met me for Christmas and New Year. He waited another six months for me to get home and then just a couple of months later I got offered a great opportunity to work abroad for a month. As soon as I told him he said to me: “You have to go.” I’m marrying him in May 🙂
That is such a great story… thank you so much for sharing it here!
A great read! I wish I had the time to read all of the comments for more insight. I couldn’t agree more. Whats right for one person, may not be for the other. Just because society says we need to have a ring on our finger and a white picket fence and be in debt for life… well not my style really!
Im in a similar situation, where I have a visa to live and work in Japan, I have met my Mr Amazing and he simply can’t come with me. He never once has tried to stop me and understands it must be done but its hard, really hard to walk away from meeting a Mr Amazing. Although I put complete belief in whats meant to be will be but I have to do what needs to be done for myself.
Thank you so much for your comment, Rebecca! It sounds like you are in a really loving and supportive relationship, that’s wonderful.
great post! I found your blog by accident googling something for my upcoming solo trip to Vietnam and stumbled across this post and couldn’t agree more. When I was in my late 20s I ended my relationship with the perfect guy because I wasn’t ready to settle down, at all, and he had important reasons to be in his country for at least a few more years. We broke up and I went on to live in South America and Central Asia and travel to about 25 different countries. As someone said, your mid 20s is not the time to give up your travel dreams for a relationship. There is a big element of timeliness to being in the right relationship and at the ripe of age of 30-something I’ve learned that the perfect guy at an imperfect time just won’t work.
Thank you for your comment, Liliana! I’m sorry for not responding until now. I love your last line… the perfect guy at an imperfect time just won’t work. Thanks again for sharing your story here…
Like so many of your posts, this has come at just the right time for me. Thank you!
My boyfriend and I have been together for six years, and in that time we’ve travelled the world together and separately. We are now living in London and he’s just been offered an amazing opportunity to work in Hong Kong for a year. As much as we’d love to move there together, I’m at a stage in my career where it doesn’t make much sense for me to leave. Neither one of us wants to hold the other back and agree that, although it won’t be easy, it’s an opportunity for us both to grow. Like you said, a happy, healthy relationship requires more than just love: it takes acceptance and compromise.
Thank you so much for your comment, Morgan! I’m sorry that I didn’t respond until now. I hope that everything works out for you, although it sounds like both you and your boyfriend are being very rational and supportive of one another. Happy travels!
I would love endless travel, my boyfriend wants stability. He likes luxury / high end short trips, I like long, slow, budget travel. We compromise by living in a location for 1-2 years (with a two week trip every 4 months), before finding somewhere new. So far Thailand and now Brazil have been great!
We both love adventure (but in different ways), and most importantly, we love each other!
What works for one couple won’t work for another because everyone is unique. Finding what works for you (after finding if you as a couple work!!) takes trial, error, honesty, and compromise – without settling.
It sounds like you have a great relationship, Steph! I think that compromise is so important. Thank you for sharing your story here and happy travels!
This is such a lovely post, and I am really glad I stumbled upon it. Your point of view is so refreshing and real. I really appreciate it! I am in a long-term relationship right now, but I am coming up on finishing grad school. Both of us know that we’re going to have to have this talk soon! Thankfully, he understands and we’re just climbing that mountain when we get there. But I would never want to be the one to hold somebody back, and I hope I would be treated with the same sort of love. 🙂
Thank you so much for your input, Amanda! I totally agree with your last line.
This post is very on-point. Thanks for sharing with us Brenna! You have no idea how empowering and reassuring this is to me 🙂
I just stumbled upon your blog tonight after a great evening out with this guy who I get on surprisingly well, despite the fact that I’ll be moving away in one month. And this is not the first time.
I’m only 22 and comparing to your traveling years, perhaps my experience doesn’t really measure up. But being raised as a third culture kid (TCK), I’ve had my fair share of meaningful connections and goodbyes that didn’t take long to follow. With a few weeks left until I graduate, I was left wondering what would come next between me and my already transient ties, when I choose to venture off to see the world again (and hopefully kickstart my career in international development).
My evening ended with butterflies in my stomach and that fuzzy warm feeling in my heart, but was soon taken over with a familiar vague sense bittersweetness. Though this is not something new to me, I couldn’t help but each time asking myself “what if”, envisioning a different possibility otherwise.
So I ended up Googling about relationship and traveling, to see what my future possibly holds, only to serendipitously arrive at your blog. Every piece of your mind is so beautifully written and so relatable that I found myself pull an all-night (amidst my final exam revision) to just finish about 3/4 of your posts.
Thanks to you that I found some peace of mind, being reaffirmed of the positive gains, fond memories and beautiful stories entangled somewhere in between those losses, heartbreaks and goodbyes.
Keep up the great work!
Hi Lan, thank you so much for your comment! I’m sorry that I didn’t respond until now. I totally understand the feelings you’ve written about here – I’ve definitely felt them a few times, and it can be really hard to deal with when you feel torn.
I’m so happy that you found my blog and I hope that you will continue to read it in the future! Thanks again for sharing your story here and all the best with your graduating and future travels!
What an amazing story. I have read your blog at least 5 times in the past 2 days! I am 29 i turn 30 in October and I am not in any position to settle down. I have always been a traveller! My friends think im strange as they are all settled. You are an inspiration. Thank u
Thank you very much, Rebecca!
Some very interesting comments on this post! I’m in my mid fifties and have always had itchy feet. I chose to travel instead of committing myself to a true love, hoping I would find someone who I loved as much and who would share my wanderlust. It never happened and I have always regretted losing the love of my life. Few of us admit to the many nights spent alone dreaming of the love we lost and much of our insistence on choosing traveling is bravado…a big cover up. If I can offer any advice, it is beware of what you choose..sometimes there are consequences you can never accept….
Thank you for sharing your story here, Brad. I agree that there are always consequences, but I think it’s important to make choices after a lot of thought and consideration in order to minimise future regrets. I think the issue here is that Rebecca really wants to travel, and if she doesn’t do so just to please her boyfriend, she may end up resenting him.
I have definitely had those lonely nights, but I try to own up to them… I wouldn’t say that I use bravado to cover up the truth! To each their own, though.
I agree that there are consequences as a result of whatever decisions we make. Personally I would regret not travelling more than not finding love, as even if one were to settle in one place there would still have been no guarantee in finding love. I am single and so far I have travelled to six countries outside Australia. I plan to travel as much as possible and currently have no plans to settle down and marry and start a family etc
Yeah…I am very much at a crossroad myself. I love my partner of 6 years. We travel together all the time, and everything is great. But I sometimes struggle with the serendipity and the thrills of meeting new people when I am in a committed relationship.
Anyone had this problem?
Wow, I love this!
I feel incredibly blessed to have met a partner who wants to travel as much as I do. I hate to admit that a less adventurous man would have convinced me to “settle down” too early. I know I would have regretted being able to explore the world as much as I have/plan to. I’m going to share this post right now. Just love it!
Thank you for sharing this.
I’m in a long-term relationship, but this hasn’t stopped me from travelling. My boyfriend loves to travel – we’re both into backpacking and adventure – but he can’t afford it as often as I do.
Two years ago I went on a trip to Morocco with a group of backpackers. Not having my boyfriend accompanying me helped me make many new friends and learn new things about myself.
I’m a firm believer that travel is the best education one can get, and sharing that passion with your other half is simply ideal – but not everyone is so lucky to have both. I think the 20s and early 30s are all about getting to know yourself and the world around you, and to achieve us you can’t let an unhealthy relationship get in your way.
[…] recent ones haven’t lasted nearly as long. Why? Because I’ve learned when to walk away before we dragged each other down too far. I didn’t have the confidence or the independence to do that in the past. While I can also […]
[…] am not in any way advocating that you rush out and break up with your significant other – I’ve written a whole post about how to choose between a relationship and travelling, and in the end I concluded that you shouldn’t have to choose at all. Hopefully, if you […]
Thanks for this great post.
My story is that I was in a serious relationship with someone I loved very much and considered to be my soulmate. However, I had always dreamt of travelling and living overseas. He didn’t have the means or that much desire to travel and so I ended up (reluctantly) going on my own.
At first, he was supportive of me following my heart/dreams and we agreed to maintain a long-distance relationship for the year I was away. I believed at the time I could have both a meaningful relationship plus travel… however, he broke up with me only a short while into my trip, which was absolutely devastating.
I still miss him every day and sometimes painfully regret leaving at all. At the same time, if I hadn’t gone travelling, I would probably have grown extremely restless and resentful about giving up an important part of who I am – the free spirit in me that has always wanted to explore and discover the world.
“For everything you have missed, you have gained something else, and for everything you gain, you lose something else.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
I’m in a relationship with a guy I really want to be with but I also really want to travel and see the world. He can’t travel yet due to his career and leaving him would be very hard but I know what i want to do. Yet, I still feel torn as to wether i should go or stay for one more year despite knowing that all i want to do is travel
Great post! In having been on the opposite side of a relationship with a person with incredible wanderlust, this was truly insightful. You put into words what I don’t think he could express in order to explain the thirst inside. I love to travel but not sure my hunger was as deep as his. However your shared perspective helps me to make sense of seemingly unanswerable questions and a brings me to a greater level of understanding. Thanks a bunch and happy travels to you :).
Thank you very much for letting me know, Kelsey – I’m glad that you enjoyed the post! All the best. 🙂
[…] romance. There’s a whole series of my past travel romances, for example, and my post on whether or not to choose travelling over a relationship is one of my most popular. I also don’t shy away from the fact that I’m, for lack of […]
Very cool post! Thank you for talking about this subject in such a balanced way. I am currently in a travel vs. relationship pickle and feel like I don’t have anyone I trust to talk to about it and get advice. So… I’m asking a stranger for advice instead!
The spin on this that you may find interesting is that I travel for work… Here’s the deal:
I am 26 and I love my job. I am a camera operator / producer / video editor and 4 weeks a year I get to travel the US, filming for the show we create (as well as sporadically do other much shorter trips). I get paid to do what feels like play. I am living the dream right now!
My boyfriend of nearly three years has almost the exact same job description and we met on the job. Fortunately, company policy allows employees to date and I didn’t have to choose between him or the job. We have been living together in a 300 square foot studio for more than a year and our relationship has only gotten better over time! I love both my job and my boyfriend very deeply. I do realize that one is a human being and the other is a way to make an income – but I would honestly do this job if money weren’t an issue. I love it that much.
Unfortunately he doesn’t love the job as much as I do. Not even close. He actually would like to quit and move on to something else, but he hasn’t discovered that “something else” yet.
Here’s the dilemma:
I have been asked to film two separate shows this spring and summer, both would require me to be away from home for 4 weeks, with 4 weeks of being home in between. The second trip is totally optional. I’m not being pressured into doing it, the company just believes I am perfect for the job. I agree and I really want to be a part of this particular project. I would be a part of something that would change the lives of three young women, and helping others is what drives me in everything I do. It’s the reason I love this job. Take away the cameras and computers and I would still work here.
Meanwhile, my boyfriend will be staying home. In the past it’s been very difficult being away from each other for four weeks – we’re best friends. He has had more trouble with it than I have though… I’m very independent. I also think that time apart actually enhances relationships.
I said yes to this opportunity because he initially seemed supportive. Unfortunately I just found out that by saying yes, I actually really offended him and he believes I chose work over him. (Seems a bit like a trap but hey, he’s a 27-year-old dude who struggles with expressing himself. Annoying, but not uncommon. I called him out on it and he apologized… but he’s still hurt.)
What do you all think? Am I being too selfish? Or am I being the right amount of selfish? … Or is he the one being too selfish?
I can see a future with him so I don’t want to screw this up, but don’t I also need to “do me” so that I don’t resent him for not supporting me in this endeavor? Am I wrong in believing that he should understand, be supportive, and give me his blessing? I don’t think 4 weeks is that long! But then again, I’m not the one who will be staying home.
Sorry for the long post. This dilemma is a doozy. Thank you for any thoughts or advice you can share.
OK – this is coming from a total stranger who has no professional experience in relationships, but you’ve asked for my two cents, so here’s what I think.
I don’t think you’re wrong AT ALL for believing that he should understand. A relationship cannot function without compromise, and you mentioned repeatedly how much you love your job… he has to not only understand that, but support that. I do believe he’s being selfish by not allowing you to feel great about something you’re really passionate about.
I also think that four weeks away is nothing in the grand scheme of things. If he can’t deal with you being away for four weeks, what is that saying about the strength of your relationship? I’m sorry if that sounds harsh, but think about it like this… let’s just say that you two are together for the rest of your lives, and you live to be 90. That’s 63 more years together, or 756 months. 756. You can’t go away for one month to do something you really love without him making you feel guilty?
I’m not saying to break up with him or anything like that, not at all – I just think that you should really talk about this with him and hopefully make him understand that you’re not choosing work over him, you’re just choosing both.
I hope that helps!
Another great post Brenna. You seem to nail down the facts so well. I only stumbled accross your blog last night, but I have enjoyed most of the posts I have read so far, I guess also because I can identify with so much of what is said here. I have been looking for good travel blogs for a while and have come across many which were good to a bigger or a lesser degree, but yours is my favourite: a good mixture of photos and INTERESTING writing. Please keep up the good work.
Thank you so much, I really appreciate that! Comments like this keep me motivated. 🙂
After my grandparents inspired me to travel, at a young age. The seed had been planted, in a Southwest flight from phx to lax. I had made up my mind, that I wanted to be a flight attendant.
Went away to college, got married. In a relationship, where he practically forbid me to work and wanted me to pop out babies. We divorced.
I kept applying, and got on with my first airline a delta connection. I graduated that training as a new 22year old. Based in another city. A few years, went by and got in with a mainline carrier at 26. I have been in and out of relationships, and learned a lot. I had a son at 27, and I am still traveling. Made it to my Alaska in October, with my son. And now, can say have been to every state in the US at 30.
Something I NEVER would have experienced had I stayed married. I don’t regret the relationships, that have come and gone. I would have resented the stifling my need to travel. My son is now my travel buddy and I am single again. A full time mom, with full custody and a career.
What I personally feel. Is that men and women in their 20s, should travel and grow as much as possible.
Hi Alli, I’m just getting to this comment now, I’m sorry. I really respect you and how you’ve shaped your life – it sounds amazing. And this: “I don’t regret the relationships, that have come and gone. I would have resented the stifling my need to travel.” YES. Totally. You rock. 🙂
[…] And this is a fantastic read about choosing between travel and relationships and how to balance the two: How do you choose? Relationships vs. Travelling – This Battered Suitcase […]
I really appreciate the insight on this post. I wonder, how do you figure this could apply to dating someone local to where you travel to? I’m currently dating a Chinese girl who has even expressed interest in moving abroad (she is an English teacher) but will always have that that sense of home that I don’t think she wants to stray far from. And while she could base herself somewhere, I have the freedom, job-wise and passport-wise, to go anywhere anytime.
What a lovely post, and how fortunate to be able to experience so much of the world and travel solo. I’m not much of a traveler, but I’ve travelled solo once, and I actually enjoyed it more than travelling with someone.
I think people just need to be honest with themselves and with potential partners. If you’re a nomad, and your potential SO is not, not only could you resent him for not “allowing” you to travel, but he could resent you for “abandoning” him or not making him a “priority”. There is no right or wrong, just different people, with different dreams, passions and priorities.
Perhaps some people will compromise more and feel happy to compromise, but if there is resentment, it might not be the best fit. Out there, you could find your nomadic soulmate, and a person who enjoys being settled could also find a better match at home.
I moved from my home country, Colombia, as a teen, to the USA, and the experience of leaving behind everyone I loved was very shocking to me and made me depressed at first. I realized I’m a person who likes to settle down, to grow roots, and as much as I’m curious about the world, it would be a painful sacrifice to move around and leave behind the roots I have grown here in the USA again. I would have liked to live abroad for a season or two when I was in college, but due to extenuating circumstances I couldn’t do it. But to completely move and travel constantly, and live a nomadic life really wouldn’t work for me… btw, I’m about to turn 30 and I’m still single, so it has nothing to do with being a nomad or not. Simply put, to each it’s own.
Hi Laura, I’m sorry I’m just getting to this comment now. I love what you’ve written here – life is funny sometimes, and we never know when we’re going to find what we’re looking for. To each their own indeed. I love this line: “Perhaps some people will compromise more and feel happy to compromise, but if there is resentment, it might not be the best fit. Out there, you could find your nomadic soulmate, and a person who enjoys being settled could also find a better match at home.” I totally agree! 🙂
Hi Brenna, what a great post! I have been reading through them all and many have helped in some way. I have a different dilemma.
My boyfriend and I having been together for over a year now. He is from the states and we met in Australia where I live. He lived with me for 4 months then had to go back to the states for family reasons. He ended up staying for 4 months so I went over and visted him for few weeks. I had an awesome time. He then came back to oz where he intended on staying for another 6 months, then we were going to go to nz together and travel there. Due to visa problems he left early to nz. I don’t have the money at moment so I was going to join him in 6 months. My problem is that recently I visted him and he informed me he was going bike riding through India. I felt very hurt as I thought we were going travelling in nz. I don’t have a problem with him travelling, and would never want to hold someone back from doing what they love. But I feel like he uses teavelling as an excuse. He never even discussed it with me. He just says I’m always going to travel. I’m left wondering does that mean he wants to travel alone?!? He says otherwise but his actions don’t agree. I read the others post and sounds like there is a lot of conversations and compromise going on which I feel is not in my relationship. I feel it is all his way with no consideration of me or how I feel. Am I being selfish? He thinks I don’t want him to travel? Which I don’t feel is true. Would love any advice you have.
I would love to travel, but am a bit of a scardy cat and would love to do it with someone. I’m wondering if I should just go it alone?!?
Also just wondering how people manage to travel so much and get around visa/work?
Thanks heaps, Love your blog.
Hi Jodie, I’m so sorry that I’m only seeing this comment now. I’m sure you’ve already worked things out either way, but I totally understand your conflict, because you want to be supportive but he didn’t communicate with you. No, you are not selfish at all, I would feel EXACTLY the same way. He didn’t tell you about it! That’s not your fault! If anything, he has been the selfish one.
Anyway, I hope that whatever happened, you are now in a great place and feeling great. 🙂
This is a great post. Ive literally been sat here crying for the last hour because my boyfriend of two and a half years told me a while ago i should go traveling (because ive always wanted to do it) but has now just admitted his feelings that he cant lose me and doesn’t want me to go and if i do decide to go that he doesn’t think he could bare to do such long distance and not see me for so long (we already do long distance 2 hours drive apart). Now I’m so conflicted and don’t know what to do. He cant come with me because he’s an athlete working towards the olympics. He always wanted to go after the 2020 games but I don’t know if i can put my life on hold til then. I’m 26 so will be 30 by then. I need some advice. I know most of you will say leave him and do what you want but its easier said than done when this is the only person you’ve ever imagined yourself settling down with and if i go i could lose him forever. Any ideas?
Hi Rebecca, I’m sorry that you have been crying – that’s a difficult situation to deal with, definitely. 🙁 What I would suggest is a compromise – can you take shorter trips in the next few years, until he’s finished with his training/the Olympics? For example, if you go away for two or three months, that’s still long enough for you to feel that you’re doing some long-term travelling but not so long that it will completely break up your relationship. This would also be a way for you to test the waters of long-term travel and see if it’s for you.
I always like to do a bit of math in these situations (nerdy, I know). But, for example, let’s say you stay with your partner for the rest of your life, until you’re 90. That means you’ll be together for another 64 years, or 768 months. If you go away for three months, that means you’d be apart for less than HALF a percent, i.e. less than 0.5% of your entire life together. Doesn’t seem so bad… maybe? And keep in mind you’re already good at long-distance, so you will be good at scheduling calls, Skyping, texting, and so on. Another compromise might be that you go away for two or three months, and he comes to join you for a short portion of that trip, i.e. a week holiday (if possible).
Anyway, I’d just talk to him again and suggest a few solutions – I think that if two people really love each other, you can figure out a good compromise. 🙂 Good luck!
thank you for sharing your thoughts with us.
I’m currently in a very difficult position.
My GF is currently in Latin America writing her thesis. We both were very much fine, before she left.
She had plans für quite a while now, for that when she comes back, she would prepare to leave for Australia the next year. (work and travel).
Of course she asked me at first, if I wanted to join, so we can make this experience together.
However I declined, since I’m not fond of working physically, which is somehow connected to W&T to me. I said: Don’t worry, I’ll be fine here and you can enjoy your year off. We both never doubted, that we will get through this year. Eventhough knowing it’s gonna be hard ofc.
Well, she is now 1month away. The first two weeks w/o her felt so horribly for me. We are together now for more than 3 years. Made plans for the future, that we want to start our own business, being selfemployed, to travel and all and eventually settle down some place we have found on that journey.
We have never been seperated for a longer period than 3-4 days.
As she left and I stayed behind in our apartment, not really being able to communicate with her, i felt completely lost. At this weak moment, I felt like not being able to withstand that said 1 year of hers in Australia, if this is the feeling over the whole time.
I expressed my concerns to her, that we might try to communicate more, or else I’m not sure if I can take it – if it might not be better to break up.
That of course struk her really hard. And she came to thinking.
Now 2 weeks after this, when I told her about me feelings. I feel ok again. I got back to my daily routine, of course I miss her, but it doesn’t feel like this huge hole anymore.
BUT now she is doubting herself, if this is the right thing, If I’m the right one.
She thought to herself: Would I give up traveling for my relationship? And she came to the answer: NO.
I can understand this, since I encourage her as well, to take her time.
But what frightened her, was the fact that she wasn’t really struggling to make this decision.
She is afraid now, that she is not fit for me. Otherwise she would have at least struggled to choose against me, which she didn’t.
Now everything is undecided with her, since she believes that a healthy relationship should push her at least to be struggling with such a decision.
The thing is, I already figured out a way, to join her all the way. I would have loved to be traveling with her from the very beginning, but wasn’t open to work on fields etc. Now I talked to my boss, and he was fine with me working remotely at the end of the world.
That way I don’t need to worry about working, since I have a well paid job.
Despite she tells me everyday that she finds that idea great, that she loves me, that she wants a future with me, she is still confused about how she needs to think and feel about this “in my hypthosis, I would immediately without hesitation choose to travel over the relationship”
I don’t know what to do now. Because I don’t hold grudges on her wanting to travel. I find it somehow normal, that she would not give up this urge of travelling for me. But there is no reason anymore to breakup since I would come with her all the way.
I don’t know what to show her, what to say to her, to give her back that seurity we had all along before.
I’m stuck with a hard discussion I want to travel for a month but my gf that I have been with for 2years said its me or travel I’m not shore what to do I have no friends and I have 8 months till I go (if I do decide to) is this the right girl for me ? Or do I go travel solo and have no friends really stuck on this one
As I’ve said above, if someone is so controlling that they can’t let you go for one month (one month out of a potential lifetime together), that doesn’t sound like a healthy relationship. It sounds like she’s very controlling and, quite frankly, selfish. You’re not asking to go away for a year. It’s only one month. This raises red flags for me. I hope that you have talked further about this and come to a compromise or a solution.
As for the solo travel, trust me, you’ll make lots of new friends on the road. Just stay in hostels. 🙂
Hiya I love your blog
Only stumbled across it today but read quite a few entries already
I was just… well I don’t know. Confused. My head feels lost right now.
/fiancé of two years has diabetes type 1, and therefore feels not confident enough to go travelling due to having to ensure there is a pharmacy and a doctors on hand etc.
I have always loved the idea of travelling.
I studied Travel and Tourism at college, and my dream was to be a holiday rep.
I got accepted onto a recruitment course over in Majorca in the summer of 2017, which made me ecstatic.
However, he doesn’t want me to go. At all. He said if I go he will leave me.
I have told him to come but of course he won’t. I’ve told him it’s only for the summer season of two or three months doing bar work and etc and he is having one of it.
He is convinced I am going to cheat and has tried every trick in the book to stop me from pursuing this.
I love him very very very much but I really do not know what to do.
I cannot imagine being happy without him even if it is longndistance it is better than us being split up, but he won’t let me go.
He has basically forbid me from going unless I want us to end.
I don’t know what to do.
Hi Daniella, I’m very sorry to hear that this is happening. I am not a therapist or an expert in relationships but I can tell you this – he sounds very controlling and manipulative. As I said in the post, if someone doesn’t understand/accept that you want to travel for a while (and in your case, only a few months… which is NOTHING compared to a lifetime together) then perhaps they aren’t the right person for you. I would never want to tell someone not to be with someone unless I fully know the situation, but from an outsider’s point of view your boyfriend does not sound very supportive, and the relationship doesn’t sound very healthy. I wish you all the best, and I hope that you end up following your dreams.
I really enjoyed reading this. I had an arranged marriage in my mid 20s and unfortunately never travelled much but I use to believe I needed a partner to travel. I am single a now and planning to travel to sir lanka, your article really inspired me esp. when you said if I e is the right man e will understand your interest and love for travelling. Thank you for sharing
I’m glad that you enjoyed the article, Sooshmita, have an amazing time in Sri Lanka!
I had the same situation … i was travelling since o was on my 20’s… had an on and off relationships too and later on i just wanted to be single. So i was single for 4 years and then I met my ex bf..who is living in another continent.
We traveled together in Europe
I realized that it was really difficult to travel when he is around. He get tired easily due to his weight.
If i talk about travelling..he used to say that all i want is to travel and not to settle down..and i will grow alone..lonely and no one will.look after me…only me myself looking to my album and pictures. That’s his line.
To be honest…i want to settle down in the future.. And i want a bf that will understand me and support me if I am going to travel alone since there are circumstances that I cannot take him with me like long bus rides and hikes..
that fact my ex was not ready to hear from me..
at the end we broke up.
For me.. its my choice to be single or not… marriage can wait… and if there is someone meant for me..that someone will be there..in any part of the world. I don’t want to regret not doing and living my dreams when I still able to do so.
“For me.. its my choice to be single or not… marriage can wait… and if there is someone meant for me..that someone will be there..in any part of the world. I don’t want to regret not doing and living my dreams when I still able to do so.”
Patricia, I couldn’t have said it better myself. I totally agree with you. I never want to have those regrets either. 🙂 Thank you for sharing your story here!
I am 3 months home from a trip that I ended up extending…I had a great bf of 3 years that i loved to bits, we had shared interests, lived together locally and he was desperate for marriage and kids. He was 33 and I was 27 when we met, when i left i was 31. My job was full on and I wanted to learn more, so I mentioned a trip to NZ a year prior, he broke down in tears and told me not to leave, so i agreed not to. The urge to go hadnt left a year later and I applied for a work visa so I could work on a few cattle stations and learn. By the time I was due to leave I was very happy with our life, and didn’t want to go, but he said to go, because he didnt want me to resent him. This application apparently spelled the end of us, as he told me after I had gone. We had a great rship but both v busy with work, so didn’t have chance to communicate well. After a few weeks away he told me he was seeing someone else, so I didn’t see any point in returning home, I lost everything. Under a year later the woman he got with is pregnant, kids were his priority and I had felt slightly trapped by the prospect. SO, I have been devastated since I got home, as being away is a good distraction! My advice in a situation like mine would be….communicate, so much, and if you really love them, compromise or listen to your gut. If you have the home, and a life you love, really question WHY you’re going and how you would feel without that person. One post above has worried me – being 50 without meeting anyone again!! I only HOPE I can meet someone locally, and have what we had, but I am worried, as am now 32 and would LOVE to marry and have a family…
Hi Kit, I’m sorry that you’re feeling down about this. Firstly, I think you had every right to go abroad, and as you said, the urge never went away. Secondly, he gave his blessing. I honestly believe you did the right thing because, quite frankly, it sounds like the relationship would have ended eventually anyway. Someone who truly loves someone does not get involved with another person mere weeks after breaking up (unless it’s just a quick rebound), so it sounds like he was never really in it for the long haul, or he was so desperate to be in a relationship/have kids that he would do it with anyone (and you do NOT want to be with someone like that). I hate to sound so harsh, but I really don’t think you were meant to be with that person. You even said you felt trapped by him.
It hurts right now but trust me, you will meet someone else, maybe lots of other people. And you’ll meet him by doing what you love to do – in your case, it sounds like travelling, or working on a cattle station. Don’t worry – there are lots of amazing guys out there who are supportive and kind and open to communication. 🙂
And one more thing. You said, “If you have the home, and a life you love, really question WHY you’re going and how you would feel without that person.” I understand that you’re saying this after the fact, but try to think back to how you felt before you went abroad – you said that the urge was there even after a year. I personally think it’s better to follow your dreams and do something you really want to do than potentially forever resenting the person who held you back. As I wrote about in the post – if you are truly meant to be with that person, a few months or a year abroad won’t change much. I know many, many people who are in relationships even with the distance or the time spent apart.
When I read this post I loved it because I’m having some doubts of my own…
My boyfriend and me have been living together in antwerp, Belgium for 2years now. We are completly jn love with each other and besides a few normal hiccups that every relationship has, we get along very well and are happy together. Now the thing is, I’m Brazilian so I hate the culture here, the weather, I can’t grow professionaly, and have been wanting to leave to Barcelona for quite a few months now. At first he didnt even consider accepting the idea of having to move on from his hometown. But a few months of hammering it he finally realized it would be good for both of us to move there. Now he has been extending our deadline every month. And I dont know if I’m able to wait that long for him to be ready.
My question for you is: you said that your boyfriend at the time moved to Japan for you. How did you guys do with jobs at first? Because he’s biggest fear is letting go if his steady job here to start a whole new place not knowing if he’s going to have the same lifestyle there as he has here.
And I’m not sure if leaving him and going on my own is going to make me happier. I will be alone, starting out a whole new life, that I wanted to have with him in the first place..
Anyway, thank you so much for reading all of this. I love your blog.
I recently had that situation with my now ex. Except it was the opposite. He was the one who went traveling and not I.
We met two years ago and I knew he wanted to travel from when we first started dating.
Honestly, neither of us planned to develop feelings for each other, but the connection between us was so strong that it almost felt like we had no control over it.
Maybe there was a choice for him to stay with me and live life or go traveling, but I told him that I would never want to get in the way of his dream. Often, I encouraged him to go more than anything because seeing him happy over resentful made me happier.
I wished so badly that he would have asked me to come with him. His mom even would ask him sometimes “What about Kamy?” and whenever he was trying to form an answer it always seemed like he was struggling. Most of the time if his mom and him were having those conversations I would just excuse myself knowing full well what he wanted. Plus, I’m finishing up my last two years for my degree, and even though I’d be willing to just wait till my semester is over and reunite with him, I am conflicted and also want to finish it and do something for myself.
Our relationship was very independent, which is saying a lot since I was in a very dependent relationship previously and that was exhausting.I know he felt so deeply for me, and I him. He’s told me secrets that he would share with no one else, and my lips are sealed. He even told me how much he loved me as we dropped him off at the airport.
It’s really hard because it ended on a good note and we even talked about potentially getting back together in the future, but people change so much as time passes.
It almost feels like it just wouldn’t be worth it to think that maybe we would get back together, but at the same time it does feel like it’d be worth the wait (obviously I would be dating in between, I know he will be) because there was something between us that was just so indescribably beautiful and it’s just so difficult to come to this reality that it should just be left as a beautiful memory.
Can you tell these wounds are still a bit fresh?
This makes me sad. Because I have the money and the time to go travelling now. I would desperately love to, even for 3 weeks (longer would be cool but 3 weeks would be awesome). But my boyfriend won’t let me. He says he doesn’t want to be apart from me for even a day and it upsets him that I might want to be apart from him for that length of time.
But it makes me really sad that he won’t let me take even 3 weeks to do something I so desperately want to do. We’d spend the other fortysomething weeks of the year together. He’s just so intractable. So I have to squash a dream in order to stay with him and not have us break up. When I look at blogs like this I just want to cry.
I’m really sorry you’re feeling like that, Anonymous. I have to admit, however, that the relationship doesn’t sound very healthy. Insisting on being with someone 24/7 – when only one of you is insisting, it would be different if you both felt the same – doesn’t sound romantic, it sounds controlling. In my opinion, the fact that he won’t let you follow through on your dream is very worrying, and doesn’t bode well for the future.
Loved reading your post and totally agree. I’m a long term traveller and have had few but intense romances. I’m in a funny situation now. I’ll try and be brief, but I hope you can put in your 2 cents, as I would appreciate an outsider’s point of view.
My current relationship is informal/unofficial with a guy (let’s call him A) that has fallen in love with me. I have grown to love him very dearly, but from the beginning he knew I was (and still am) in love with someone else. This someone else (let’s call him B) is a guy I travelled with for almost 2 years, it was intense, beautiful, but had its hiccups. B is now still travelling, and although I’ve expressed my keen interest in wanting to be with him and keep travelling with him, he has made it clear he wants to be on his own. It’s been over a year since we split up and it’s been difficult getting over him. Still trying to. To me, he was perfect because we both love to travel and do so in a similar way, but for now, I respect his desire to travel alone.
Now, about 5 months ago I met A, whom I’m currently seeing. He hasn’t travelled as extensively as me, but definitely has the desire to. He would do anything and everything for me. I’ve even expressed my desire to travel to Africa on my own initially, as it’s been a childhood dream of mine. He totally gets it and completely supports me. This trip to Africa has been on my mind since forever, but I never quite had the guts to truly think about it until a childhood friend of mine mentioned a potential spontaneous trip with her. In the end, her plans fell through and she’s not able to go now, but it’s rekindled my desire to go, and I said I was going anyway! Originally however, I was planning to work for a few months here in Spain (where I’ve been the last 6 months) and save a few coins before heading out on my next big adventure. Being with A during these last 5 months has been wonderful, and I was originally planning to work until June, but circumstances changed and I find myself out of work and just wanting to go to Africa.
Here’s my pickle, (hope I’m using this expression correctly); A knows perfectly well I’m not in love with him, but that I want to try and forget B and has proposed the idea I stay with him in his city where he is working and that I live with him whilst I find work and/or concentrate on my art and launching my blog. It means putting my Africa trip on hold for a couple of months, and being with him in the meantime, which sounds lovely, he is amazing with me and encourages and supports my trip to Africa. However, I also feel that I can’t totally compromise myself when I leave. If I leave now, he’ll want to cut off all connections with me, which breaks my heart, but I understand him. But I don’t want that, I don’t want to lose him.
Do you think it’s best I leave now and possibly lose him forever or spend a couple more months with him and then leave on my own, not knowing if we’ll be together or not? Should I just go and forget A? Is a couple more months to be with him healthy and still be able to do to Africa, just not quite now? I hope I described my dilemma.
Thank you for sharing your experiences and I shall be bookmarking your blog for sure!
[…] I don’t want to imply that people in relationships can’t fulfil their dreams, too. But some of my past boyfriends haven’t been very supportive of my dreams, and imagine if I had stayed with one of them? Maybe I don’t want the risk of a proverbial […]
I know this post is a little old but maybe someone might read and help!
I have a dilemma where last year, single but bored of life at home I applied for a work visa for Canada. I’ve activated it and am now on a 2 year countdown to get out there and use it but, about 5 months ago, met the most amazing man.
He had enlightened my life in every way and recently I told him the secret that I was thinking about Canada to work for a little while.
He said to go for it, I would regret it if I didn’t and there was no decision to make but, I’ve been in this situation before and left a guy for a job but I think I made a massive mistake…..I’m scared of doing the same again! My current guy has travelled and lived abroad extensively and he will probably travel or live abroad in the next few years again……he was with a girl for years whom he travelled with but if he is letting me go so easily, does he not care? Should I just go? Or stay and see what happens with him?
I’ve been single most of my life bar the previous relationship and this one, I fear I’m making the same
mistake. Does anyone have an easy way to choose? My gut feeling isn’t helping at all!
[…] 2014, I wrote a story about an Austrian I met while travelling in Thailand. In 2015, I wrote about choosing between travelling and a relationship (one of my most popular posts, and the one that prompts a few emails a week asking for dating […]
Hello, thank you for this article and for the responses people made. As a person born with itchy feet, traveling is a need, a desire, a hunger. And not just traveling, but living in other places, which I find different. As a child I dreamed of meeting a guy who is everything but my own nationality and from another mother tongue and that I’d live in another country than the one I was raised in ( France). This was not expecting the fact that I’d fall in love at 19 with a man older than me and it’s been going on until now (I’m 27). He has always let me go away, abroad for long periods of time, I broke his heart twice, but now after all these years, here I am, abroad in Istanbul for three months after a year in another country, sitting at my desk, and sad because I do not share more things with him. I used to think I was missing out on travels if I didn’t do them, I now feel like I’m missing out on him and and amazing love and relationship and things we like to do together. HE also likes traveling but he cannot live with me in other places, so it’s really inspiring to see people who make it work even though they’re long distance. I guess my issue is that I also thought,because society made me believe so, that I SHOULD find someone my age and who wants the same lifestyle as I do, but after 8 years, I still fall for him eveytime we meet, and I’m do desperate that I start looking for posts like this by typing on google ” love or travel” and found your amazing post. No situation will ever be perfect, and it’s always about compromise, and maybe I’ve reached this point now that living abroad by myself (romantically speaking) is not as worth as our love anymore… but i’d never give up travelling, even for a couple of months. And the best thing, he has never asked me not to go, or to stay, despite all of this and we still love each other deeply although I left him, once again….. Thanks you for your words and for your insights….it helps to see others going through the same struggles.
Hello! Thanx for the article.
I have been in a long term relationship with a guy that is from a diffrent country.
We met in italy as he was working for a year to milano (where i leave) and we met from a common friend.
Also he is younger than me and he loves traveling a lot. i love traveling too but my career doesn’t let me to travel that often than him.
I do want to support him but it’s very painful to not see him for a long time wondering that maybe he doesn’t bothered not see me for a long time.
Even that we both trust and love each other, there are always friends, family that keep telling me that he is still very young for me that’s why he can’t settled with me yet which is true or he should stay with me in a place if he can’t better end up this relationship.
It’s very stressful for me that always someone reminds me that age difference we have and i should get married and make babies in my age.
I don’t know how to react or should do.
I know that both love and trust each other and he realy wants to make it work even if we dont see each other a half year almost or so, that i am the one for him and wants to spend his life with me and marry me one day even if he is not ready to stay in a place yet.
A lot of times we argued about our together future, ending that both want to be together and this is all that matters.
sometimes i don’t know if i am doing well that keep that relationship as i feel that pressure against the time and me.that in few years it’s not gonna be that easy to make children,if will worth to wait him as maybe he will not be able to settled the next years still and i will be getting older.
From the other hand we love each other and want to be together.
Well.. i don’t know what should i do.. ????
(excuse my Inglese not my first language)
Hi. Made for interesting reading. I am curious about your thoughts about my current situation. I am 56 and my husband 58 and we have been married since August 2018 and known each other three years. We have two teenagers living at home with us and three dogs. He is a motorcycle lover and an expedition vehicle lover and our plan has been in two years to build a four wheel drive camper and spend most of our time traveling. Yesterday he told me a friend of his is planning a motorcycle trip around the world and he wants to go. I would stay home and take care of the fort and work and he would go do his adventure and he said I could visit him in the one or other place. He would most probably lose his job and be gone a year. I am having a hard time with this. On the one hand, I don’t think I can handle it and be happy. In fact I am sure I would be very unhappy, angry, resentful and lonely. On the other hand, I know that if he really wants this and I stand in the way a small part of him will always resent that. On the third hand I am gutted that after so short a time together he can already imagine being apart for a year AND that I would in one way or another finance it. I feel at the moment that there is no way out except to let him go – I mean really let him go. I find it so completely egoistic. I would like your honest thoughts here…thanks and happy travels.
I was born in 1994. Naive advice incoming xD
you have left out many details about yourself. how much do you work(hours/day), are you capable of taking care of the kids alone, are the kids planing to go to faculty?
Like many ppl have said here, you don’t just plan to go somewhere for a year, out of the blue. Maybe his friend is using him somehow? You need to talk to him. Present him your problems. Let him solve it for you. will his pension be higher if he’d worked for the 10+ years (I’m assuming his pension starts at 70) can your salary sustain the entire family until he gets a new job? does his expertise guarantee him a new job?
Make a compromise. Tell him that you’ll be unhappy. don’t make a scene. if he is insisting so much, and refuses to cut down the time to an acceptable amount for you, make him promise that this is the last trip he will take alone. period. if you want to travel, bring the whole family with you. don’t go off alone, that’s weird…
I have a girlfriend that wishes to travel. She wants to go to expensive places, too… I don’t get it.. if you want to travel, and aren’t a millionaire, don’t save up for 3 years, and spend it all in under 1 year…. so I kind of get you… he will go and have all the fun, while you stay back and work, in order to keep the house running…. In my situation, I have decided to not worry about my girlfriend, as we are planning to create a family eventually, and I want to be able to tell her “you traveled when we were young. now we need to focus our money and time on our family.” I guess, my advice is that you should create a situation, where in the future, you’ll be able to say something like that to him, and he wouldn’t have the right to say anything about it… Think about the future, act now to change the future. today is too late(in most cases) to change today. today, you can prepare to change tomorrow…
Brenna and other travel ladies,
Thank you for writing this post! It was very inspiring to me! I see you wrote this about 4 years ago. I myself am currently at a cross roads in my life. I recently became a certified English teacher in the US. I have been working as a substitute teacher and have not had my first teaching job yet. The last 6 months or so I have been researching a lot about teaching in China at international school. I have had other friends do it. I am definitely been having a wanderlust especially being back in my hometown and everyone is settling down and working jobs 9-5. I am feeling restless for sure. I definitely have not been looking for a relationship and was just having fun. I met a guy, a professor whom is very established in his career and is definitely not holding me back from traveling. However, I notice I am falling in love with him and it is really scaring me because I was hurt a lot in my last relationship. When we started dating, I told him that I was looking into teaching in Asia for a year. I am just afraid of leaving him now if I decide to go. I don’t want to screw up the relationship. But, I know I may also regret it if I don’t and if I follow him around for his career. Any words of advice and wisdom from someone who has been in a similar situation? Thanks!
Thank you for this article. I loved reading it and it helped me become grounded again. This is what I want, I want to experience a nomadic life. But I am engaged, I am 23 and he is 27. He has a career. I cannot ask him to just quit his job for me. I don’t know what will happen these next few months, but thank you again for this article.
I am right now in college unsure about most things. My future my career. I had two certainties I love my charming loyal loving boyfriend I wanted to share my future with. And I need to travel. I need it so bad it felt like my heart wanted to pound free of my rib cage and travel without me. We’ve talked of studying abroad and I’ve looked into teaching English in Asia or backpacking through Europe. But it became more and more clear that he doesn’t share my wanderlust. He has said he’s happy with small happy and peaceful and the very idea of that for me seems like a slow death and a life of regret. He seems open to me traveling and exploring the world. He said I could tell him all my stories when I get back. But I feel as though I need someone who understands this driving force inside of me. Someone who won’t just say “sounds like fun babe” but who’s eyes light up and excitement flourishes when I do share my adventures. I now have one certainty. I need to travel. As for my boyfriend I love him but some part of me is already saying good bye. I know it will hurt if it does come to that but I know it would hurt more if I didn’t follow the wanderlust.
What if you love to travel and want to do it every chance you can get, but don’t want to technically live abroad but your boyfriend is in the military and wants to move every few years to a different base abroad? I’m nervous because I love traveling, it’s my job as well I just don’t want to live abroad. It just seems like a lot of moving and I do want kids one day and I just don’t know if that’s the lifestyle I want. I mentioned doing abroad every few years where we can live in the states for 3 years just to get a break from me commuting to see him for the past two years abroad. But I just hope I can find a meet in the middle compromise, if you have any tips ?
I think the same thing, and appreciate you for such mindful information.
I love this post and all the great comments it has generated! 😀
I also struggle with this. When I was 16 I studied abroad for a year and when I was 20 I went traveling and working abroad for almost two years and afterwards started studying at home. I have been traveling a lot with friends, but I’ve mainly travelled solo.
When I was 22 I met my now boyfriend. I’m 25 now. During the 2,5+ years we’ve dated, we’ve been on one trip abroad together. And that was only because I bought him the trip as a birthday present. He is not as keen on traveling as I am, and he doesn’t like to be away for much more than a week. I have been on a few trips without him – the longest being a month (ok, maybe about 8 trips!). He doesn’t mind traveling, but he doesn’t want to have a random job and save up for a trip. I could potentially pay for him, but in a way I don’t want to. I could take him traveling as a birthday gift every year, but yeah… I wish I didn’t have to. It’s not because he doesn’t have time for a job. He’s got SO MUCH spare time. Now he has just graduated and will probably be looking for a job for a year or more before he finds one (I’m not so optimistic because he is a bit picky when it comes to applying for jobs, so I honestly don’t believe he’ll find a job in the near future. Off course I support him!). He gets money from the government now that he’s looking for a job (more than I make). He’s cool with me traveling, BUT he is the one I want to travel with! I enjoy traveling solo and with friends, but I also want to share traveling with him. I’m so torn, because I miss him an insane amount when I’m away from him. I’m pretty sure that I would be on the road right now if I wasn’t in a relationship with him. My studies would allow me to study from abroad. I haven’t actually been at university for a year now, because I learn the stuff better at home by reading it myself. My grades are better now where I don’t actually go to class. I can’t help but think of how my life has changed so much with him in it and how I feel like I’ve given up on this passion for traveling. I also dream of buying my own place and renovating it and he is definitely not into that either. I can see us have kids one day and he doesn’t know yet whether he wants kids or not, so I’ve given him 1½ years to figure that out and give me an answer (not a kid by then, just an answer to whether he wants a life with kids).
I love this guy sooo much, and I sometimes forget about the traveling part, but the urge to travel always catches up to me.
What would you do in my situation? I’m 25 and he’s almost 27. I really want to be with him, but I find it so hard to be away from him when I travel and I also miss sharing my travels with the one I love and want to have children with. He’s VERY supportive of my travels as long as he is doesn’t take part in it. He is a really great and caring guy, but we don’t have the same dreams for the future (he doesn’t know what his dreams are… yet). HELP!
This is all so silly. Why are you even dating people if you want to be a wanderlust?
Just have casual relationships and be upfront about your desires or look for someone who is just like you and is willing to put travel over a relationship.
The rest is all just unrealistic expectations of a “traditional relationship.”
WOW I love your story!!! I definitely have a wanderlust spirit but I have been in the American system. I worked 9-5ish longer for 6 years, now Im almost done with law school and I want to be a lawyer but I know my goal is to see the world. I have been thinking about that a lot lately and my sister the other day asked where a man fits into this plan, I never thought of a man lol. I am pretty and compete in beauty pageants a lot and get bombarded with men but I often ignore them to focus on school or work etc. they always want 1 thing lol once you tell them no they leave yay. I guess in my mind I figured when I meet the right person he will have the same hunger as me? Idk but this girl sounds great and I dont think anyone should even deem their dreams for a relationship. The right relationship will understand he will come with or accept a long distance. I pray I meet someone like that with the same hunger. I love America but I want to see the world also. Ive only been to London, Dubai and Barcelona (didn’t want to leave BCN lol I’ve been thinking of even teaching english there at some point in my life). My heart is definitely on the road. <3