Travel has an uncanny ability to affect the course of where you’re headed in life. I’ve seen it happen, and it’s happened to me. A small trip might create a niggling thought in the back of your mind that you want to do this kind of thing more often. Travel might also reaffirm your decision to be where you are. It might help to change your career or your general path in life. Sometimes it takes awhile to notice how travel affects you, sometimes it’s like a switch is flicked and you know straight away.
Your relationships is where you’ll notice how long term travel affects you the most. The relationships you’ve built with family and friends over years at home are going to change when you move abroad or travel. You’re going to meet people on the road and form new friendships or maybe even have a bit of romance. If you’re about to choose the adventure embark on some long term travel, or thinking of moving abroad then there are some things you should know, and one of them what it means for your relationships.
The ones at home
Travel makes you realise the different kinds of friendships you have. When you take off long term there will be some friendships that will fade to become memories, whether it’s your choice or not. Other friends you’ll hear from occasionally and pick up right where you left off in a way that works for both of you. Then there’s the friends you’re in contact with constantly, and when you see them it’s like you’ve never been apart.
The change in the friendships you had before you travelled is something that you’ll only realise over time, and sometimes it happens in ways you didn’t expect entirely. That friend you thought you’d always be close with just isn’t there anymore, and someone else who might have been on the periphery is suddenly a bigger aspect of your life.
On the road
If you’ve travelled at all you know friends on the road are the fastest kind of friends, although when you move abroad you might need to find a few different ways to make friends. Travel makes you bond with people more quickly, and it’s common to have best friends of the moment everywhere you go. The real test is when the trip is over and you’re both moving on, whether they become more of a memory along with that trip, or you end up having best friends spread all over the world who’ve never met each other.
Long term travel typically means being away from your family (or at least some them!). Luckily for me, I come from a travelling family. My parents, who have always been my inspiration, are travelling, my brother lives abroad and so do some of my cousins. However, most of my extended family are back at home in New Zealand and I do feel like I’m missing out on a lot of their life milestones. I often feel like time is passing by and I’m missing out on becoming closer with family like my grandparents as an adult.
You might find your relationship with different family members changes, based on how often you’re in contact and how you’r able to contact them, much like your friends above. Family can’t get away that easily though!
I’ve read the “date someone who travels” and the “don’t date someone who travels” articles but at the end of the day I’m not sure there’s a choice. If you’re travelling solo or even with friends, no matter how much you love it on your own there’s a chance you’ll meet someone. Actually, since you meet so many more people when you travel, there might even be a higher chance! Even if you tell yourself your love life is on hold when you travel long term, meeting someone is entirely possible, and then it can get entirely complicated.
Meeting someone from same country as you might make it easier in the future when it comes to going home, but in the meantime where are you both going? Do you ever want to go home?
You might meet someone from another country (guilty) and if you can figure things out to be together to begin with, no doubt at some point they will become complicated. Visa constraints, options on where to live, missing family and friends in two different places are all ahead.
When two people try and merge their lives into one, there’s bound to be some bumps in the road. But travelling long term can make those bumps into mountains, not unsurpassable, just more challenging.
You might have no intention of meeting anyone when you travel, but sometimes it just happens. If some kind of fate has thrown you and a person you connect with from a different background into the same place at the same time, can you ignore it?
When you set out on a long term travel adventure, be it living on the road for awhile or expat life, there are many things you won’t realise will happen. You’re excited about the adventure ahead and you might think about the changes long term travel will bring for you personally, but not necessarily what it will mean for the people in your life. I anticipated making lots of new friends, maybe becoming a little more distant with others, and missing my family a lot. If you’d told me an engagement to an Englishman was in my future, I’d have scoffed and brushed you off.
So what does this mean for your travel?
Nothing. Changing relationships are an inevitable consequence of choosing to travel. I don’t think it should stop you in any way, but I just hope you can be prepared for it as part of the adventure!
At the end of the day, it’s impossible to entirely predict how long term travel will change your life and your relationships. But that’s what makes it all so exciting.
How has your travel changed your relationships?
Read Next: You Don’t Have to be Single to Travel Solo
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