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
Backpacking vs. Living Abroad
Thinking of Moving Abroad? Why You Need to Do it Now!
You Should Know These Things Before You Move Abroad.
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6 thoughts on “What Long Term Travel Means For Your Relationships”
Yep, relationships do certainly change when you travel long term and live abroad. I have lived away from New Zealand for over 12 years now and am not as close to my extended family as I was when I left and both Grandparents I had have died while I have been away. Unfortunately my almost nine year relationship to the man I was engaged to and loved broke down because he wanted to settle down and I didn’t, but since then I met a wonderful guy while travelling, and although it is hard as I am a Kiwi and he is American, we are making it work the best way we can.
I have been away from New Zealand about 5 years now, and sometimes I really struggle when I see what everyone is up to and I’m not really a part of it anymore. It’s a difficult thing but I feel like at the same time we have to pursue the kind of life we want, because it would be a disservice not to and to stay at home possibly more unhappy. I hope you work things out with the American! My Englishman and I are getting there haha. You can only do your best!
Love this article. But I ultimately agree, relationships will change or won’t, whether or not you travel. Relationships change all the time! It’s all about the time you invest in them, and being realistic about them
Thanks Gabby! It’s very true things change all the time whether we travel or not. I feel like travel can make it more noticeable or open us up to relationships we may not have had at home, but ultimately it is about building the relationships you want to!
Brilliant post, and all so very true! I’m back n the UK after over 2 years traveling, it’s been great reconnecting with some of my friends here, but others…well I keep procrastinating about getting in touch and I don’t really know why!
My parents are the ones who inspired me to travel, despite taking all their holidays in the UK! They did come to New Zealand and we travelled there for 6 weeks together, which was great! And as for love…well my partner is a Kiwi, who I’ve brought back to the UK. I know it’s very much going to complicate our future…the whole where do we live discussion is yet to come while we give the UK a go as a couple… and while my life has undergone so many changes and events in the last 3 years, making it all quite the emotional rollercoaster, I wouldn’t have it any other way! 🙂
Thanks Gemma! It’s a funny thing with friends, some you can pick up with like no time has passed and some no matter how much you want to rekindle that closeness it feels like you’ve grown apart! I think always make time for the people that have meant something to you when you feel it’s right.
As a Kiwi who just got engaged to an Englishman, I would say you don’t need to know where you would live in future right now (we still don’t know!) but make yourself aware of future visa requirements and put things in to place now in the event you’ll need them! I had a two year working holiday visa and had to leave at the end of it and now we are living in separate countries and sorting out the complicated process for me to return, so if you can avoid that in the future by making sure you’re both on a lease agreement or have proof of living together from now, do it! Then ENJOY IT! xx