Travel Has Killed My Love Life

I wish I could say that making travel one of my top priorities in life has been easy, but it hasn’t always.

I am sure that many people who read this post will disagree with me, and that is fine; but in my experience, making travel a top priority just cannot come without other sacrifices. Such sacrifices can present in many forms, including money, stability, career, family, love and more.

I have written before about juggling the two passions in my life – midwifery and travel – and though it is hard, when considering only those two particular passions, I think that I have managed to carve out a fairly balanced life for myself. My time is distributed fairly evenly between both catching babies and planes. I spend half the year up to my elbows in amniotic fluid and the other half unable to close my purse because it has become too full of old boarding passes. It’s busy, it’s insane and it’s hard work, but it certainly isn’t a bad way to live.

However, when I look at my life on a larger scale, I have to admit, being so focused on these two areas of my existence has resulted in a few other parts becoming casualties along the way; and this is especially true when it comes to my love life.

Captured at a glacier not far from Reykjavik with a Nikon Coolpix S31
Captured on a glacier not far from Reykjavik with a Nikon Coolpix S31

Describing my love life as a train-wreck would be one of the biggest understatements of the year.

So can I completely blame travelling for my lack of a normal love life?

As much as I would like to say ‘yes’, that would not be completely true. There are numerous things that contribute to me being a failure in the relationship department.

I am not great at compromise. I am so used to being on my own that my independence has driven people away. Special shout out to the guy who dumped me because – and this is a direct quote – “you are so independent that it makes me feel emasculated”. I am always choosing the wrong people and I find it really hard to fall in love.

However, despite travel not being the sole cause of my ‘more often than not single’ status, it definitely plays a role.

Meeting someone is really hard when you travel and work as much as I do. I work mostly night shifts and when I am on nights, I sleep all day long. When I am not working, I am travelling. On the rare occasions when I am not working or travelling, I am writing, editing photos, answering emails, planning upcoming adventures and catching up on The Walking Dead.

Even if I do manage to meet someone, then I have to deal with the fact that dating me, well, it kinda sucks.

I am never around. I get bored easily. When I say I want to travel, 9 times out of 10 I want to do it on my own and not with whoever I am dating. I work really weird hours. I might meet someone wonderful only to find out that they want completely different things in life, and I refuse to compromise, even just a little bit. I am endlessly stubborn and at the end of the day, I am always thinking about my next adventure instead of my significant other. Always.

It’s not that I’m cold, it’s just that there are other things in my life that mean so much more to me.

For the most part, spending a life alone suits me. I need alone time more than I need ‘people time’ and I really do enjoy my own company. I almost never feel lonely and I have never, not once, found myself truly longing for a ‘normal’ love life.

That being said, it can be hard to watch everyone around you hit all these stereotypical milestones. My friends seem to all be suddenly in relationships with the people they will most likely marry, or they are getting engaged or actually are already getting married. They are moving in with their partners, they are buying houses, they are getting puppies and they are even having babies.

My friends are doing all the things that society expects them to do, and despite loving the path I have chosen, it is hard not to feel a little bit like I am getting left behind.

kyoto-arashiyama-bamboo-japan

But, even though I do feel like I am getting a bit left behind sometimes, and despite having some days where I do find myself cuddling a baby at work and thinking that maybe I could want one of my own, such a life just wouldn’t suit me.

As much as I love being in love – I’ve never met someone who I loved enough to make them a higher priority than adventures. It is possible that I have not yet met the right person, but I think it is more likely that seeing the world is so important to me that I will never meet someone who trumps travel. Though that may not sound ideal for everyone, I am okay with it.

At the end of the day, travel may have killed my love life, but it has given me a love of adventure, a passion for exploring and a life that is endlessly exciting. For that, sacrificing a normal love life might just be worth it.

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20-something year old Australian backpacker writing her way around the world.

99 thoughts on “Travel Has Killed My Love Life

  1. Oh Ellen. One day, out of nowhere you will meet the person who you want to travel with, who shares the unsocial hours and joy of discovering the new. Until then, keep doing what you are doing as the only person who can really make your happy is you x

    1. But that’s the thing, maybe I won’t! Maybe I will be perfectly happy on my own while travelling. I don’t really buy into the whole ‘you must find a romantic partner to be happy’ thing… Who knows if I will find someone?!

      I really do believe that I can be happy regardless of whether I have a stereotypically functional love life – even though having one would be nice!

      1. I fell for the stereotypical once. A wife, land, house, mortgage, 2.3 cars, etc. did not last long.
        Still wandering, have never looked back….

  2. I’m in the same boat as you, especially with more and more friends marrying off and buying those homes in anticipation of starting a family. Until I meet someone who captivates me (and is, well, single, unlike last time), I’m operating under the assumption that I’ll be on my own and will just do things that keep my mind sharp–and that means a lot of traveling, too. Just doing life at my own pace; it keeps life enjoyable until I’m pleasantly surprised by meeting someone, if it ever happens.

    1. Me too, I think it’s easier to just anticipate a life alone! That way, if someone does come along you can be pleasantly surprised and if they don’t you won’t be disappointed.

  3. Better not to be in a relationship than to be a bad one! Just because you have different priorities doesn’t make then the wrong ones for you. Times are changing – in the US singles are now more than 50% of the population.

    But yes, travel does come at a price – doesn’t everything worthwhile? I have lost touch with some friends because I’m not around so much.

  4. I received the exact same quote from my last boyfriend and we traveled well together! It seems that societal “norms” sometimes just aren’t normal for everyone. Your love life is just different. You get that love-rush from adventure and exploring something new. No one person can embody those feelings yet, and may not ever, who is to say that’s so wrong? Its like having multiple love stories at each terminal exit, a new beginning and new “relationships”… Just with the world.

    1. I love this comment SO much! You are totally on the money here! Each new adventure is like falling in love, only without all the heartbreak and complications!

  5. After I read this I thought… “I know those feelings.” I’m married now, but when I started dating Ben a decade ago travel wasn’t on my radar. I never thought I’d be able to. People normally have time or money, but rarely both. I have enough of each.

    My work hours are crazy. I work until 11pm and sometimes 2am. My husband goes to work and I go back to sleep! Today’s my day off and I’m wrapping up the details of my next trip in a few weeks. Ben’s coming with me to the Bahama’s.

    Happy dance! I love the balance in my life. Some people work all year for a week off. I take off for a paid week every 6 months and build a few extra long weekends on top of that.

    2016 I did Virgin Islands, Puerta Vallarta, Cozumel and Cancun. 2017 kicks off with Bahamas quickly followed by a 4 day adventure to TBD. I love my job and having ability to get up and go when I want!

    1. You are lucky you have everything so figured out!

      Although, I must admit, 2 paid weeks per year still hardly seems like enough! I get 7 paid weeks each year which I know is on the higher side, but still, two weeks is short!

      1. 2 weeks is doable, but short indeed. I split it into 2 adventures that tend to run 9 days ea. I don’t have it “figured out” but after a couple of years of doing this, I’m understanding what to look for and pay attention to. The entire process is an adventure from packing all the way to getting on the return flight home. I Love my adventures and balance in my life.

  6. My love of wandering ended several relationships, Ellen. I was in my mid 40s before I found someone whose love of travel came close to matching my own. Yes, there have been compromises. I now own a home but I have a million acres of wilderness out my back door and a river out the front. So we continue to accommodate each other’s needs, and live happily. –Curt

  7. This is hands down the most relatable thing (minus the part about being a midwife) that I have ever read on WordPress. It is so comforting to know that in my loneliness I am not alone, and even more comforting to know that other people live similar lifestyles and are happy. It is so hard for others to understand that you can not be in love with somebody and still be in love with your life. Thank you for the bit of inspiration this Wednesday morning.

  8. The older I get, I realize that nobody was wired or built with the universal “that’s the way it should be” blueprint. You enjoy being unique, and if you had married the first guy you ever dated you might have felt terribly tied down and prevented from living your passions. You are still young–in the future your passions might change, and you might settle down or take on the responsibilities of a “normal” life. Live a full life, and explore while you are able to.

    1. Oh god if I had married the first man I had ever dated my life would have been a complete disaster haha!

      But on a more serious note, thank you for such a lovely comment, encouraging words like this mean more than you can know!

  9. Thank goodness a love life is one item I no longer think about. Why bother when if is so unlikely to happen at this stage in my life? Go for the adventure, if a special someone is meant to cross paths with you it will happen. I often refer to one of my daughters and her husband. We spent five years living in China. She is an academic. He is not. Somehow they met, both working in go nowhere jobs as a means to an end. Her travels rarely include him, but they make it work.

  10. No two people are exactly alike. There will always be differences, but one day someone will enter your life who shares 99% of your desires and then compromise will come, as there will not be much to compromise about. You will still discuss and disagree but it will be important to both of you to forget and move on and concentrate on the future together. It will come when you least expect it. You are balanced in your life and happy, that is more important that all the social BS that goes on in our lives. Live a life makes you smile and feel good about. Wishing you a fun filled 2017 full of adventure.
    “May the calm be widespread, may the sea be as the smooth surface of the greenstone, and may the rays of sunshine forever dance along your path” Maori Prayer.

    1. Thank you 🙂 Sometimes I find these pieces a bit hard to write (and then I get nervous to post them – this one was sitting in my ‘drafts’ folder for about a month) but I am always really pleased when I do put them up.

  11. You could be channeling two friends of mine. She, a former JP Morgan SVP from NY and he, a birder and environmental scientist from California, loved traveling. Enjoying learning and exploring the world, each was traveling alone but acknowledged something was amiss. They met in Nepal and had a drink and shared some laughs. A few months later, they chanced to run into one another in the Italian Alps. Each had been thinking about the other since the first encounter and decided that this seemed like fate.

    That was twenty-five years ago. They’ve been married for twenty-four years, living in California and traveling together. Cheers

  12. Ellen, you are an extraordinarily feeling person. Like you, at 22, I was enamoured of the road and part of me has remained so, these past 44 years. I was fortunate to have had 29 amazing years, with a woman who largely saw the world as I did. She’s gone now, and in the wake of widowhood, I still strike out on the trail or on the road, to amazing places near and far. Like you, I also spend my working hours in acts of service, until I leave my day job, four years hence, and head into wandering acts of service, that could very well take me around this amazing planet.
    That said, may your life, either singly or with a true soulmate, pan out as it is meant to be.

    1. This is such a lovely comment. Firstly, I love to hear that people have had such wonderful relationships – it really is beautiful. Secondly, I am sorry to hear about the passing of your wife, but I imagine that she would be incredibly happy to know that you had not lost any of your adventurousness. Thank you for reading and sharing your story <3

  13. I can really relate to this in a big way. For fifteen years I was in a relationship with a great guy, it was he who introduced me to camping and holidaying abroad. We liked the same things, rarely argued, laughed at the same things, could read each other’s minds and finish each other’s sentences, we were soul mates. He was eight years younger than me but the age difference never mattered until someone sowed a seed in his mind – I already had a grown up son when we met and all through our relationship he never wanted kids until that seed of doubt was planted. By then my child bearing years were over so even if I’d wanted another child – which I didn’t – I wouldn’t have been able to give him one, so he went out and found someone younger who could.

    Our break-up was traumatic and the first year of being on my own wasn’t the best, but learning to drive gave me a whole new lease of life and I started camping and travelling alone with my two little dogs. Like you I enjoy my own company, and though I’ve often been asked if I get lonely I never do as I have so many things to occupy me, but I’ve now become so used to being on my own that I don’t think I could contemplate having another relationship. For one thing it would be hard to find someone who has similar interests – camping and animals in particular – and also I’ve become so used to being able to please myself without considering a partner that I would find it hard to share my leisure pursuits with someone else. Admittedly there have been odd occasions when I would have liked to have someone to share certain things with – maybe an early morning dog walk along a deserted beach or turning a corner and seeing a beautiful view in front of me – but otherwise I’m quite happy to forgo a normal love life for the many advantages of being alone.

    1. You and I sound like very similar humans! When I picture myself 20 year from now, I always imagine having dogs, but I never really think about a partner or kids. As long as I have a valid passport and a few doggos, I will be a happy lady.

  14. I’ve been reading your blog for a while now. I love your style, adventures, photos and your passion. I read this blog and I like your perspective – frankly, I question why relationships are constantly made out to be ‘the thing’ we’re all striving for. A life less ordinary is far more appealing and yes, one day you might meet ‘the one’, but I hope it’s the kind of ‘one’ where your life is still your own to live the way you wish, and they are simply another part of it.

    1. Thank you so much! It is so lovely to hear that people enjoy my ramblings 🙂

      As for relationships not being the thing to strive for – you are so on the money! Thank you for sharing your perspective <3

  15. This is beautifully written, Ellen! I think everyone feels a little “left behind” at some point or another, but your ownership of your choices and the life you’re so actively leading really is an inspiration. And the acknowledgement of the sacrifices you make is refreshing! Thanks for sharing 🙂

    . *kinsey lane sullivan* linkedin l twitter l instagram l website

    On Wed, Dec 28, 2016 at 9:39 AM, TRAVELLING THE WORLD SOLO wrote:

    > wwellend posted: “I wish I could say that making travel one of my top > priorities in life has been easy, but it hasn’t always. I am sure that many > people who read this post will disagree with me, and that is fine; but in > my experience, making travel a top priority just can” >

  16. Marriage isn’t for everyone, although love is always a bonus. If you keep traveling, then you are more than likely to meet a similar mate who is happy with a part-time relationship. I have been married for 34 years but really prefer to travel alone. Much of our life has been spent apart as he traveled so much but maybe that is what makes it work. All that matters is that you enjoy life and ignore the jerks who feel emasculated.

    1. I definitely am not keen on the marriage idea! But I do hope that you are right and that I eventually find someone who I build a part time life with. Thank you for reading <3

  17. I remember when I was younger and planning yet another trip my mum telling me she was worried I would never settle down. Apparently that’s a bad thing. Sometimes I looked at my friends with their husbands and children and houses and would get a slight pang of jealousy, until one of them told me how jealous she was of my life being able to travel often and unhindered. At 33 I’ve accepted that children are not for me, something that society hasn’t quite caught up with. Whilst I have and do take trips with partners I still prefer being on my own for adventures, and suffer the jibes from my brother who thinks it’s hysterical that I holiday separately from my partner.
    For me, one of the most insulting things to hear and read is the old ‘you’ve just not met the right person yet’. It’s still such a strange societal concept for people to be single in adulthood, especially for long time frames. ‘How on earth can someone be happy without another person to “complete” them?!’ Enjoy and embrace the life style that makes you happy, and don’t bow down to anyone or anything that suggests it is wrong. After all, the key to happiness is internal contentment. Or a cat… 😂

    1. Oh man, I totally agree! So many people are like ‘oh don’t worry, it will happen for you’ – I am over here like – that’s not the point! I will be happy and love my life even if it doesn’t happen. So crazy that that is still such a foreign concept to so many people.

      Hahaha to the last paragraph! I think I will just get 10 bunny rabbits and be the crazy bunny lady!

  18. I totally understand how you feel. I’m not good at compromise either or dealing with my partners lack of travel experience and not being able to roll with the any situation that comes up when traveling (which are endless).
    I guess being happy loners and self admitted narcissists our type have to be able to deal with people not sticking around when we tell them” is my way or the highway.

    1. Oh man I totally relate to that first statement! Maybe one day I will find a travel partner who complements me… but I won’t be holding my breath!

  19. I can so relate to this! I have been living overseas and traveling around the world since 2006 and dating sucks for me as much as hard for you too.Despite all of this, I wish one day you will meet this one person loves you for who you are, embrace your independence and adventurous spirit, and you both will happy to travel around the world together. For now, just keep happy traveling. I do not think it is worth to compromise our travel life just for the sake of the relationship. All the respect for pursue your passion no matter how hard it is.

  20. I think your mentality is great! I am exactly the same, studying and travelling will always come first and anyone who wants to be a part of my life has to deal with it! I don’t think my boyfriend particularly likes the fact that I’m always planning to use any free time to travel but he puts up with it because he knows it’s not going to change! One day you’ll meet someone who loves and respects you enough to support your life.

  21. I loved reading this. Even though I’m in an almost 5-year relationship with someone who loves traveling as much as I do, I truly understand your point of view. Me and my boyfriend have been on an LDR state multiple times: me living 2 years in another city in Portugal, him studying abroad in Europe, and now me moving temporarily to the USA for work during 2017. Whenever I moved, I was always asked “How does your boyfriend feel about this?”. I hate this question because, even though most of the times it comes with genuine concern, it seems some kind of judgement, like “you don’t care for the relationship enough”. The answer is luckily always “He’s super supportive, he knows it’s a great opportunity for me”. This to say that I feel like you, I could never be in a relationship with someone who tried to tame my desire for growth and exploration and settling into a life of marrying and having kids earlier than I want. Of course it’s hard to be apart, but when relationships are strong they survive this.

    I wish you find fulfillment in whatever the future holds, even if finding a partner is not in sight. Keep doing what really makes you happy 🙂

  22. I can SO SO relate to this post! I totally know the feeling you’re describing! And even though sometimes I get a little sad about it then I think about all the things I saw and still have to see and that wanderlust feeling just hits me and gives me new energy! Travel is such a great thing, it’s tough but full of surprises and opportunities!

  23. This was such an eerie post to read early in the morning. I felt like you were describing me throughout it! I can empathise with you Ellen, but I applaud your view that you can be happy without all the traditional milestones. I firmly believe that’s true and to read that you’re having such a great time doing the two main loves of your life warms me up. Keep it up!

  24. I really enjoyed your post. Personally, and this is totally my own opinion, far too many of us spend far too much energy on being “normal”. What is really more important is that can you honestly answer this question: Are you happy with your life? If your answer is “yes” and if the answer is sincere and honest, then you should just be happy being you. If you are truly happy and fulfilled, then you are way ahead of most of us. Two thumbs up for your courage to write so honestly about your feelings.

  25. Can I just say as much as I feel your post on a personal note, I just love the Arashiyama backdrop? It’s one of those places that leave you pensive and make you feel close to yourself, if you manage to get there in the early hours that is 😀

  26. It’s much better to be single and doing what you love than being in a miserable relationship and being unhappy.
    When you have a partner, the relationship should be treated as friendship. Be with someone who has common interest and enjoy doing the things you love together.

    Love is something that comes when you least expect it and it comes at the right time. I used to be a solo traveller and I loved it then I met my husband while travelling and although we are different we both love to travel and because it’s both of us travelling together, we compromise the things we do. For example, he loves activities while I love museums so we find a common ground when travelling. So NOW I LOVE couple travelling much more because I’m doing something I LOVE with someone I love.

    For now, invest in yourself. Enjoy the things you want to do. Learn and Explore. Be Happy.

    Again, LOVE will come when you least expect it.

  27. I can’t say much about the love life department but I can still certainly relate to this. I’m the kind of person who genuinely enjoys spending time with other people, but also needs time by myself. Which in a world where people are expected to be ultra-social at all times is quite tricky.

  28. Don’t worry about that too much. You will find someome perfect when you least expect it. And it might happen that you don’t want him coming with you for your adventures but he will be reasonable and wait for you with his own adventures. And maybe you will find out that you actually like him coming with you 🙂

  29. I have really hesitated whether to comment or not as on the one hand we are total opposites, but on the other hand have always lived my life based on The Buddhist statement “all states of being are determined by mind”. Don’t worry not pushing religion! I have been married for 45 years to my dear Nepali wife but during this time we have done many things together and many things separate. She has gone off on Buddhist retreats, I have disappeared into the mountains. But we have also travelled the world together and still do, 2016 included France twice, Prague Budapest Bruges Rome Madrid and more. Next year it’ll be South America and when we get there we may toddle off for days doing our own thing. Not trying to advise or moralise here, but sharing how we live our lives in the moment, accepting it for what it is, always finding the enjoyable bits. Maybe we made it happen or maybe we were just lucky. Who knows, who cares!

  30. Life is a series of trade-offs – as you acknowledge. One day, if and when you find the right one, you’ll be willing and ready to trade something in for him and let him sit on the plane next to you. Until then, enjoy!

  31. Traveling solo is often considered a selfish act. Please do not let society or relationships change who you are or what you love. I doubt you being so independent was really the main reason for your last relationship failing. If he couldn’t hack it, he wasn’t worth it. Take advantage of your single-hood and explore the world. Be patient. Don’t focus too much on finding love. In my opinion you already have found the love of your life: Travel. Now only to meet someone that likes it as much as you do and that is willing to share it with you. On another note: You mentioned editing, planning and watching The Walking Dead before actually paying attention to whomever is in your life. As a married traveler and TWD fan I hate to tell you this but you will have to put whomever you are in love with before the show at times. You need to want to be in a relationship too an relationships take time and the other person needs your attention from time to time. Just being in love is not enough.

  32. I am sure it’s all about timing. Love is not something you can force. It should be mutual falling for each other. You will find this special someone someday.

  33. Relating so hard to this! Especially this month, 16 friends and counting have got engaged to their partners and I’m travellin​g around Southeast Asia. So this month especially I’ve been thinking and feeling exactly the same! But I truly do love my own company and sometimes I can go for weeks where I really just don’t want to speak to anyone or go out in groups. I’ve dated a few guys in the forces before and that’s the only time a dynamic has ever really suited my interests because I have the space and time alone to do my own thing.

  34. Tell it like it is sister! I also work crazy hours (first responder) and when I get long stretches of days off, I’m either catching up on sleep or housework or hitting the road with my dogs. Just meeting people is hard enough but someone that you like is even harder. And like you, I’m OK with not having an other human with me. I mean I have enough to worry about with the dogs, another person…ugh.

  35. I think you are way ahead of most people! Two passions that compliment each other and are so wonderfully rewarding is brilliant. The older I get, I believe that meeting new people in new places is a great way of continuing my education about myself and the world around me. Live your life not somebody else’s.

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