Relationships and Travel: The Delicate Balance

White Temple, Thailand

I think about travel and how it affects the long-term relationships in my life quite frequently. I think about my own opportunity, and whether my travel makes me selfish or not. I think about why I travel- what it means to me, how it enriches me, how it changes me.

I have no doubts in my mind that my close family would be happy if I told them I was getting a job right in my home town. They could see me frequently and I could help them with responsibilities and all the pressing issues of day-to-day life. Sometimes I feel that my travel can affect the ones I love negatively and it worries me.

The thing is, most people my age are working to settle down and makes themselves more comfortable while I strive for the exact opposite. I strive for the uncomfortable. My first backpacking trip, my family and friends were worried, but understood and supported me. When I moved to Thailand, they were a little more concerned but still supportive. It was the gap year. Still socially acceptable. Now, as I head to Korea, the support is there but I can see the questions in some of their eyes.

Why would I do that to myself? Why would I intentionally keep shaking up my life and making myself more uncomfortable?

I can’t really explain my passion for travel, the way it calls to me, the way I can’t seem to give it up. I do know that I can change a lot about myself, but my wanderlust is something that just refuses to go away.

When it comes to romantic relationships, I do realize that absence changes things. Short periods of time apart do make the heart grow fonder, but months and months do not. If I am going to maintain a  romantic relationship, that person will have to want to travel with me, or at least accept that it is a part of me that isn’t going away anytime soon. I don’t think that you should have to choose between love and travel. They are not mutually exclusive things. I think that it is possible to have a relationship with someone who doesn’t share my propensity for travel, but who still accepts it and doesn’t hinder it. I don’t think we should have to make choices like that, it just leads to resentment from both parties. If my partner wants to come with me on my roaming around the world- that’s great, and if not, I hope he can be waiting at home with open arms.

Sure, you can meet people on the road. But, do those relationships last? I have many fond memories of nights under the stars on the beach, lulled to sleep by acoustic guitars and the sound of the waves. Nights spent at bars in dirty hostels, nights laughing over noodles at roadside stalls in Asia, nights running through exotic streets and feeling absolutely infinite. But, morning comes and reality always comes and reality states that relationships are built less on fate, but more on convenience.

Travel is addicting to me in a way I can’t explain. I don’t want to travel forever, I’m sure at some point I will want to settle down and be closer with my family and friends. The thing is, home will always be there. There will always be that pressure to settle down, and so many reasons to not get out there and see the world. What I’m choosing to do (and many may disagree) is to stay on the road for as long as I choose to. Wanderlust just doesn’t go away, if I don’t notice it, feed it, then it will just grow bigger and bigger inside of me until one day it just becomes all-consuming. It will happen eventually, whether I am embrace it now or when I’m 35 is my choice.  There is no stopping this train now, it’s left the platform, it’s not stopping anytime soon.

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14 thoughts

  1. I completely understand the struggle with the idea of living abroad. I have been away from home for over 2 years and the questioning has increased. I understand the worries for the future, but time and time again, I read accounts of people not satisfied with their corporate jobs, or regretting not traveling in their youth. As for the relationships, I personally have had partners disagree with my choices. Calling me selfish and not considering their feelings, and think I am wasting my time. It’s just matters of opinion, and honestly, if I’m happy and content with my life, that’s all that matters.

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  2. “There will always be that pressure to settle down, and so many reasons to not get out there and see the world. What I’m choosing to do (and many may disagree) is to stay on the road for as long as I choose to. Wanderlust just doesn’t go away, if I don’t notice it, feed it, then it will just grow bigger and bigger inside of me until one day it just becomes all-consuming. It will happen eventually, whether I am embrace it now or when I’m 35 is my choice. There is no stopping this train now, it’s left the platform, it’s not stopping anytime soon.”

    Absolutely beautifully written, and a sentiment I also feel but just can’t find the courage to express to everyone who seems to think it’s ok to question my life choices (God only knows when it became acceptable to quiz a woman over why she’d want to travel instead of being a mum, God forbid a woman have goals in life other than reproduction!). So proud of you and so good to have another lady doing her own thing!

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  3. So true!! I feel the same way a lot of the time, and I know I’d regret it if I hadn’t left home to move to the UK and travel more. On the other hand, sometimes it doesn’t feel like home will always be there because friends and family move away, get married and have kids, and I worry that the home I’ll want to come back to won’t be there when I’m ready for it.

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  4. Great post! Sums up how I feel a lot of the time too. But I have always thought it´s important to do what you want and what feels right at any given moment and not what you feel you ought to do. Selfish? Irresponsible? Maybe a little. But you need to do what makes you happy….

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  5. Great post! This rings true with me. I feel an internal conflict between wanting to grow relationships with friends in certain cities, spending time with family, vs being on the road and seeing the world. I have wanted to travel all my life, see other countries and other lands, speak other languages and eat other food. It’s just another sacrifice we all have to make to live the life we dreamed of.

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  6. It is definitely a great post! I felt the same and I had those kind of romantic love days on the road on some point… until I met someone on the road and a few months later, we are still travelling together! So, it happens! I wrote some posts on my blogs on those kind of questions and about love while travelling as well. Feel free to have a look! I am looking forward to read more of your posts. 🙂
    abrokenbackpack.com

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