Long-term Travel Truth: Relationships suffer


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It is so difficult to strike a balance between keeping relationships and losing them when traveling indefinitely.

As a solo nomad, one of the worst things you deal with is loneliness. Eventually you want to go "home." But dealing with the loneliness is even more difficult than the feeling itself because, if you travel long enough, home becomes nowhere. Or worse, everywhere. What should one do when everything, everywhere has tiny remnants of home but it's... just... not?

It's easy to slip into feeling spread thin and to be desperate for that comfortable feeling and warm smell of "home."

So, what should be done? Seeking short-term company only does so much for the soul, and connecting via computer screens just isn't the same. Here are some "avoid being lonely principals" I have learned from 14 months on the road:

I don't have any answers, but I wish that I did. All I have to give is the truth: that your relationships with other people will suffer as you learn to suffer less at the hands of loneliness.

It's sobering to be alone, no one physically with you, while you're in the middle of a homesickness crisis. The advice I give my nomad friends (and take myself): just wait it out.

"It'll pass, just stick with it. You are loved," I tell them.

But is that true? Does one ever really, truly adjust to constant aloneness and avoid loneliness altogether? Doubtful. We all need our kindred spirits, and when you find them on the road, you will most certainly leave them.

It gets worse when people start to complain back "home" that they miss you and want you to return, but you know deep down that what they're asking of you is impossible. Once you put your stuff in storage, say your goodbyes, and jump into long-term travel, there's never really any "going back." Still, the fear of missing out runs rampant in your mind. It's enough to drive you crazy.

Slowly but surely, however, you change on a very deep, even spiritual level and that's the hardest thing for friends, family and lovers to understand. Because while you're out in the world, "home" continues just as it was when you left, and the people you leave behind are no exception. They won't understand you and, in time, you won't understand them.

If you find yourself stationary after all that travel, you'll find yourself wanting to be back out there, adventuring. The world is out there just waiting to be experienced after all. There's so much to see.

The answer, perhaps, is to strike a better balance: to travel slower, to not resent extended time spent standing still in beautiful locations, to have and appreciate travel partners who join you and remind you of who you are, to get back to what travel means: changing from within through the act of traversing our big, blue planet.

It's true that the journey is the destination when you're traveling indefinitely, finding home everywhere, yet nowhere at the same time.

And there's value in learning to want less; not just possessions, but wanting to change less, too. There's plenty of change on the road. There's no reason to frantically seek it, to be running around the world going 100 miles per hour with your hair on fire.

Be patient. Be present. Change and adventure inevitably come, and never in ways you expect. You'll eventually forget you're alone.


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