With more opportunities than ever to travel and see the world young people are giving up a life of stability with someone to seek adventures by chasing a nomadic lifestyle. This is easy for those who are single and independent with no ties to hold them back, but what if you’re already loved-up when you decide the travelling dream is worth chasing? How do you know whether you can face this relationship challenge and keep the fire burning while you hit the road?
I started out travelling full-time over three years ago and have spent the last few years flitting about all over the globe from the beaches of Australia, to the jungles of Asia, to the winding streets of Europe. Travel has always been a huge part of my life and relationships have had to form around that. This has meant some lonely times and some tough choices, but by facing the struggles head on and making a decision that would focus on my happiness – I’ve ended up with a wonderful man who shares my travelling dream and can’t wait to build a future with me.
Now I want share what I feel are the biggest challenges a couple will face when one or both partners choose a nomadic lifestyle.
Deciding whether to travel or not
Making a decision to travel can be a serious make-or-break for any relationship – sometimes it is just one person who wants to see the world while the other is happier to stay at home. How do you fulfil both dreams without crushing someone’s hopes? For some couples, a shorter-term travel plan makes a perfect compromise for the best of both worlds, for others it is the right decision for one to jet off while the pair make long-distance work. For myself, it was a tough choice but I was forced to leave a nine-year relationship behind to follow my travelling dreams.
My tip: Follow your gut and make a harsh judgement of your relationship and whether it is holding you back at all. You shouldn’t live with any regrets.
Before you travel, you need a budget and money worries can be the worst thing for a couple to face. If one of you is great at saving while the other one is spending quicker than they can earn, it can feel a little one-sided and lead to tensions. It’s important to discuss a plan for saving money and goals beforehand so you can ensure you are on the same wavelength – is it a holiday budget or long-term travelling? Are you going luxury stays or budget backpacking?
My tip: Make a plan and be open, if you feel the other person isn’t saving enough, discuss it before it becomes an issue.
Different travel styles
Your fella likes to save money and to go long-term, but you can’t live without your spas and fancy hotels – does your travelling style match up? It’s tricky when you simply have different ways of life, but you have to find a way to compromise so that you get the best of both worlds. Perhaps you travel for a shorter time and throw more treats into the mix, or you go long-term and look into other options for a taste of luxury such as house-sitting or discount websites for luxury stays.
My tip: Ask yourself what is really important when travelling with your partner – the quality of the hotel or the time you spend with your other half? Sometimes slumming it together can be a great experience for a couple and can bring you closer.
Spending 24/7 together
The more independent you are, the harder it can be to suddenly spend so much time in each other’s pockets. As two people who are very much solo travellers, my current partner and I have really had to adapt to spending so much time together. Make sure you remember the value of time apart. It can do you both a world of good to follow your own individual passions and to actually get a chance to miss each other. Don’t let the tension build until you are at each other’s throats because that just isn’t healthy.
My tip: Don’t feel like you’re failing as a couple if you can’t stand to be around each other 24/7, it’s healthy to need time alone or time with your friends. Enjoy time spent apart so you can enjoy catching up with each other just like when you were first dating.
Moving too fast
Are you a couple who met while travelling? Lucky you, you’ve managed to meet someone as passionate about travel as you are and you get the benefits of a holiday romance with long-term prospects. But as wonderful as it seems, it can also put you both under a lot of pressure. Many travelling couples meet and instantly jump head-first into spending a lot of time together – my partner and I met and within a week we had decided to spend the next few months living in a van together before moving into our first home. Pretty quick. You learn a lot about someone in a very short space of time and it’s easy to fall head-over-heels for someone and then quickly fall out of love as reality hits.
My tip: Don’t be afraid to slow things down and just enjoy the dating stage before jumping in the deep end. It’s not a race, each couple is different and takes things at a different pace. Find a pace that works for you.
Knowing when to stop
Living a nomadic lifestyle is fantastic, travelling is an incredible experience but sometimes it takes it’s toll. It can be exhausting to never be truly settled in a place or to have a home, and eventually you may find that one, or both of you will crave stability. The tricky bit is if this happens, knowing when and where you both feel ready to start a new life together. And what if one of you isn’t quite ready to give up the life you have built together? It could be hard to push someone to give up a life they love, likewise, it could be tricky to ask someone to keep living a life they are no longer happy with.
My tip: Always keep the channels of communication open and be honest about how you feel. If you need a break, or to find a new way to travel to keep you both happy, then explore your options. It doesn’t necessarily mean the end, it just means adapting.
Travelling relationships continuously grow and evolve as you discover more about the world and each other – the true test is whether you grow and change at the same pace or whether one struggles to keep up. It takes a lot of work to keep these nomadic relationships going when you face continual challenges in exhaustion, stress, money worries and more. The true quality of your relationship shines through in the way you both work together to face relationship challenge and to come out the other side happy and together.