Relationships and long-term travel: A bad mix?

A Not A Ballerina reader named Kate just asked me a tricky question. But it’s a good question, and as well as giving her (possibly not very helpful) my answer, I thought there might be some other good opinions out there to help her. Basically, her question is this:

I have the travel bug and the huge question on my mind is – what do I do about relationships? Did you have anyone back “home” or did you decide to cut it all and be a free spirit? I think maintaining a relationship while travelling all over the world for months at a time would be difficult to say the least but is it even possible?

First up, I have to say I was really lucky. For most of my long-term travels, I was together with a boyfriend who was also keen to travel. Without him, I’m not sure I would have taken the step and gone off alone, so I’m grateful for that. On the other hand, without him, I would also have gone other places, lived longer in Japan, perhaps moved on to live in Morocco or Moscow (two of the places I applied for teaching jobs in at various stages!) but, who knows.

I think Kate’s definitely right that maintaining a relationship while you’re off travelling the world would be extremely difficult. Probably not impossible for exactly the right couple, but very hard. So, what do you do if your boyfriend/girlfriend/significant other doesn’t want to travel with you? Staying home sounds like a bad answer to me, but splitting up is not a great answer either. I think it would depend a lot on how serious your relationship was, how long you were planning to travel for, and a whole bunch of other questions – but I’m hoping some readers can offer their advice!

(Writing this made me think of several bloggers I know who’ve written tangentially on this topic – have a look at Nora’s piece on Breaking up while travelling and Craig and Linda’s stuff on Couples’ travel to get some other travel and relationship advice.)

[Thanks to complicity for the pic, via Flickr/CC]


  1. Such a shame; traveling is one of the most romantic vocations and yet it’s the bane of functioning relationships. There’s no easy answer…unless you want to hear “dump em’ n go!”.

  2. I think you brought up a lot of important points about relationships. It depends on how serious the relationship is and how long the trip will last. It will definitely test the relationship for the better or worse!

  3. So, so far we’re agreed that there are no easy answers …

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