Breaking Up While Traveling

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Breaking up while traveling – this is not an easy task….trust me.

There are heaps of articles about survival tips for couples on the road. The stress of travel can take a toll on a relationship, accelerate the natural evolution of a relationship, or even force two people to stay together longer than they should.

But breaking up while traveling? Yikes – there’s a can of worms (trust me – I know). However despite the challenges, breaking up while traveling is sometimes the best thing.

Let’s first take a look at some of the challenges travel can impose on a relationship:

Breaking up while traveling: Here's a look at the factors that contribute to a relationship breakdown on the road, along with a touching story of how it happened. #TravelBrakeups #FullTimeTravel #TravelPlanning #TravelTips #TravelAdvice #RelationshipAdvice #TravelRomance #CouplesTravel #TravelCouples
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This post was originally published in 2010. It has since been updated for accuracy of links and content.

Travel stress takes a toll

When you are in a relationship while living at home, you’re rarely on top of one another 24-7. Most couples work separately, immediately creating at least 40 hours per week of separation. Many also have individual extra-curricular activities which also divide their time together.

However when traveling, you are together all the time. Even concerted efforts to spend time alone (or even just separately) are almost contrived, and often impossible depending on the pace, style, and length of travel.

Now add the natural stress of traveling (which exists no matter what) to this potentially explosive recipe of being in constant contact. Are we going the right way? Which bus do we get on? How do we book the cheapest flight possible? What will we do once we get there? How do we stay safe? And where the heck is your passport?!

And on it goes.

As a couple, you can combat these stressors with constant and effective communication, and a well-laid routine and division of tasks that suits you both.

But sometimes, it’s just not enough.

Travel accelerates the natural evolution of a relationship

Building on the concept that you are together all the time while traveling as a couple, this accelerates the evolution of the relationship. In a traditional work-life routine, you usually only see your spouse for a few hours a day. During that time, you fill each other in on the activities of your day, run errands, prepare meals, and generally unwind from work.

You don’t have a lot of time to determine whether or not you are the perfect pair.

When you’re traveling together, however, this natural evolution of getting to know one another, becoming accustomed to each other’s quirks and eccentricities, and (in some cases) discovering that you’re not well matched, happens much more quickly.

A relationship that might last many years in the “normal” world could run a much shorter course on the road, given both the constant contact and stressful moments. You have no choice but to show your true colours much quicker while traveling.

And sometimes, your true colours don’t match.

Staying together longer than you should because you’re traveling

This can be one of the sad consequences of the above two factors. You meet. You fall in love. You hatch lofty plans to travel the world, sharing a passion and dream for foreign horizons.

And then…

You start to identify personality conflicts, communication issues, and other incompatibility traits; a process that has been accelerated by traveling together. You try to work through them as best you can, all the while still battling the constant barrage of travel stress.

It’s not working.

But what do you do? You’re halfway around the world, and have planned and paid for this trip. You’re committed to the trip emotionally, financially, and logistically, which means by default you’re committed to the relationship as well.

I mean really. You can’t break up on the road, can you?

Yes. Yes, you can. And in some cases, you should.

Why I’m writing about this

I’ve been pretty subtle about personal developments in my life until now, writing almost in code (if at all) about my relationship with Kelly. He has quietly disappeared from my About Me page and any current media interviews, but remains permanently embedded in the last three years of posts (and memories).

Although I don’t feel the need to account for my relationship (or lack thereof), I do think that I’m probably not the only person who has had relationship problems on the road to contend with. And maybe by talking about it, there are others who can benefit from it.

Kelly and I had been dating for six months before we made the big decision to travel together. And if we were to be completely honest, the decision to travel was mine, accompanied by something more like an invitation for Kelly to come along with me. We had been dating for too short a time for me to squelch my own dreams of full-time travel for the relationship, but too long for it to be easy to just pick up and leave.

But there was lots of time for us to make sure the decision was right for both of us, as it was almost another year before we actually hit the road, bags in hand. Kelly came to the table with the enthusiasm of a puppy dog, having dreamt of traveling the world himself, but not having seen much of anything beyond Canada’s borders.

We worked hard on the relationship during this preparation phase, even going to counseling as a preventative measure so we could develop coping mechanisms for the anticipated travel stress we knew could be problematic.

And for the first couple of years of traveling, things were pretty good. Sure, we had our challenges, but who doesn’t?

However, at some point the challenges became overwhelming and the good days few and far between. There seemed to be an invisible power struggle between us; one that neither one of us could identify or understand.

After the Victorian Bushfires, we were given Australian visa extensions and working rights. Although in staying longer I felt I was compromising my own desire to keep moving, this seemed to be a blessing so that Kelly could earn more money to keep traveling (not having a location independent income to rely on as I do), and we could both catch our breaths after the trauma of enduring two natural disasters in one year.

Shortly after however, our power struggle heightened. Kelly threw himself – body and soul – into his job, and started making noises about seeking Australian sponsorship. He had also spent a large amount of time and effort trying to get a music production career off the ground; something that was proving to be incredibly difficult with a nomadic lifestyle.

In the meantime, we had been in Australia for a year and a half – longer than I was already comfortable with, and with an ever-disappearing departure date. I needed to keep moving – for my soul, my happiness, and my business. I was tired of answering interview questions that went along the lines of “You’ve been in Australia for a long time. You’re not a traveler any more. Do you realize you’ve settled down?”

No! Wait! I am a traveler! My dream is one of travel! It’s just….I’ve got to compromise for now.

But when the compromise “for now” started to look like “forever”, we both realized we had a problem.

Ultimately, after seeking sponsorship and having it offered to him, Kelly felt he owed it to his employer to accept it, at least for an extra year. As you will remember from a post I wrote about planning a year of travel in two weeks, the cost for me to stay in Australia along with him was prohibitive. So we compromised in a way; agreeing that Kelly could satisfy his commitment to work and music, while I could scratch my itchy feet by traveling solo for a stint. I would go back to Australia after six months on the road, and then we could continue traveling together.

At least that was the plan.

In reality, our time apart was instrumental in us further defining our personal dreams. And Kelly’s personal dream wasn’t travel any more – at least not the sort of travel I had signed him up for.

Kelly’s dream was to get his music career off the ground; something that seemed increasingly impossible while traveling. And my dream was to travel; something that seemed increasingly impossible with each additional day in Australia.

As you might suspect, there’s considerably more to this story than meets the eye. There were breakdowns (emotional and physical), fights, and many, many tears leading up to the decision for me to travel for six months. We didn’t want to separate even temporarily, but had come to a stalemate that was taking an increasing emotional and physical toll on both of us. And after unsuccessfully trying a few different solutions, a separation seemed to be the most innocuous of compromises.

But the upshot of it all was that the separation helped us figure out what was important. And once Kelly defined his dreams of making music, he also understood the reality that it had to be done in one place. And he really wanted that place to be Australia.

So although I left Australia – and Kelly – for a temporary period of six months, during the course of my absence we decided that we simply couldn’t be together any more. Although we still loved each other, we were both compromising a part of ourselves to be together, and neither one of us could achieve what we wanted.

Remaining happily together yet unsatisfied as individuals is not a winning combination.

Kelly and I suffered the consequences of each of the challenges of traveling as a couple. We dealt pretty well with the stressors of travel, but it wasn’t without a degree of challenge. Our relationship evolved faster than it would have had we not started traveling, and our individual paths and personalities didn’t evolve in a complementary fashion. Whether we stayed together longer than we should have is debatable, as I’m a big believer that we get what we need in life when we need it. Although there was a good deal of struggle and strife for both of us near the end, it was a time for growth, and a necessary process for the relationship to run its course.

After coming back to Australia to gain some closure on this relationship (which ended many months ago while I was out of the country), I am pleased to report that both Kelly and I have flourished given our new directions. And we are happy to be friends and continue to share in each other’s success; the best outcome I could have hoped for in a breakup.

So is it possible to break up while traveling? Absolutely. In fact, in some cases, it’s downright necessary.

This was the first of a few romances I’ve had in my full-time travel career. Feeling voyeuristic? Sure you are. Click here.

In 2020, I recorded a podcast with my friend Christopher Rudder of Travel Horror Stories, recounting the story of my relationship in much more detail. Despite the sad topic, we actually had lots of laughs and covered some very applicable tips. Listen to my tale of woe here!


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59 thoughts on “Breaking Up While Traveling”

  1. We have more of a unique arrangement.

    We basically live wherever there is work. If I am working in one city, and he doesn’t have work, he stays with me. If he gets a job while I am still working, he commutes. And vice versa if he has a contract and I don’t.

    We really don’t have a fixed address. Moved 19 times this year, going to move again in 2011 Jan. We always seem to circle back to one city (our favourite) 🙂

  2. “Remaining happily together yet unsatisfied as individuals is not a winning combination.”

    One of my greatest fears when meeting someone I completely fall for. Sure, we can be happy, but can we be satisfied with ourselves?

  3. Beautiful post Nora, sorry to hear this news as such a transition always comes with pain, but glad that you have gotten onto the other side of it.

    After almost 20 years together, we actually find traveling as a family ( non-stop for the last 5 years) and as a couple, LESS stressful than living at home. Certainly, we have had extreme stresses both at home & on the road ( from deaths, hospitalizations to car wreck etc), but we thrive on the 24/7 partnership time & the high level of cooperation that is needed. ( Not that we don’t have our moments for sure).

    I think being on two different tracks can be a problem on the road OR at home, so not really a symptom of travel or lack of a love match, but just the fact that timing sometimes just doesn’t work for both parties, so a parting of ways is the only win/win choice.

    I’ve been there a few times in my past relationships. Follow your heart and your inner wisdom, you are on the right track. It’s all just part of the journey of life. 😉 Hugs to both you and Kelly.

  4. Thank you for sharing such a personal story. I agree that more needs to be written on the subject as many still see traveling together as a romantic notion ignoring the truth of the reality. My husband and I and our two daughters traveled the world for a year. In my book, Around the World in Easy Ways, I have a chapter titled 24/7 For How Many Days? I discuss how challenging travel can be on a relationship. My readers tell me they are surprised by my candor. I felt I didn’t want anyone embarking on long-term travel without having a true idea of what they were up against. 1 1/2 years after our return, my husband and I are still together but I have to admit, it didn’t look like it was going to work out that way in India!

  5. You have written my story for me, Nora!
    Let me just add that my travel break-up turned into quite a defining moment for me. I’d always travelled either with someone or at least knowing someone was waiting at home for me (and probably wanting to know where I was). After my on-the-road break-up I had to suddenly head back to my then home-base of Germany from our camping trip in Croatia. I ended up in Zagreb bus station at 3am staring up at a list of destinations and realising I could go to any one of them and nobody else had a say in it! Most of all I realised, had that happened 5 or 10 years earlier, I would have completely freaked out. But now I just saw it as exciting. Yay me 🙂

  6. @Everyday Minimalist – I’m glad this arrangement works for you! Do you often find times when you both are working in places that are hard to mutually coordinate?

    @soultravelers3 – Thanks for your take! I agree that if a couple isn’t meant to be together, things will fall apart at home as well as on the road.

    @Turner – I think that’s the fundamental balancing point in a relationship: being able to give of yourself to your partner without losing yourself in do doing.

  7. @lisa – I’m glad you and your hubby worked through your travel challenges, as I believe that can be a very powerful strengthening exercise. And thanks for writing about it in your book; I’ll have to take a peek!

    @Amanda – Great story! I too, have had a surge of excitement in the freedom of knowing I’m the only one to answer for my destination choices, but don’t know how excited and ready I would have been for it four years ago when I started traveling. Everything happens for a reason!

    @Anand – Thanks for reading! 🙂

  8. She was shamefully underpaid in her health-care job so she didn’t have much holiday money . I would have given my right arm for her so paying for the holiday myself was almost instantaneous.

    When I was at the travel agent I did hear “sirens” and saw some “blue flashing lights” , or at least I thought I did, I looked around but I couldn’t find anybody . I wondered where that came from and who it was for…

  9. I do sort of wonder what might happen if the Lady in Red and I didn’t get along as well. We met while at a swing dance in Seoul, South Korea, and 1 1/2 years later she’s my fiance. At the same time, our lives are so intertwined – partially because of travel, and partially because of lifestyle.

    It’s hard to say goodbye and hard to move on… But just like the places we go to, we keep the good memories and move on from the others. Best of luck 🙂

  10. @Dick – Ah…those sirens and flashing lights…I’ve seen them too! And sometimes the travel experience is worth shouldering the cost…as long as you’re both comfortable with it.

    @Chris – Indeed – I love how the human memory works, usually filtering out the blase and bad stuff, and leaving us with generally happy memories. I’m also very grateful for my entire relationship with Kel – lots of great memories and growth.

  11. Interesting post, I actually had something similar but much smaller scale. I had the best traveling of my life at the time when i took a 9 day roadtrip from LA to vancouver canada with my then 6 month gf. We planned this to be a yearly event. But we broke up after a yr an 5 months right before our already planned 17 day roadtrip across the US. We decided to carry on with it anyways… and while the trip was great, it ended in a huge fight the last 2 days. We didnt speak for months after that.

  12. @Maximuz – I can imagine that traveling – and being in close quarters all the time with – an ex could make for some outrageous fights! Good on you for persevering with the trip; I’m sure you both learned a fair bit about each other.

    As for how I make money, I have a location independent career as a writer. Check out my Writing and Publicity page for more info!

  13. I know this is an old post but I just want to say I found it very interesting. I’m always sad to hear about the ending of ones relationship but you’ve put a positive slant on it indeed.

  14. @Anthony – Thanks! It’s best to learn from our experiences, instead of dwell on the negative. And my years with Kelly were amazing….it was simply time to move on. I enjoyed sharing this more personal side of myself, and will continue to do so in my writing. Thanks for your support!

  15. My boyfriend and I are about to take a world trip together in January. Our situation is a little different. We work together, so we see each other everyday and night. I think we are learning now that we have to be very mindful that we cherish each other since we are around one another so much. We are learning to value the one on one time we have. I know traveling will expose us to new experiences and nuances of one another but I hope it only brings us closer. I am sorry to hear of your break-up…. I know those can be hard. I think this blog also opened up my eyes and will make me proactive to work on my relationship more and make sure we are ready to go traveling. I will be blogging of our travels and my blog is all about LOVE. So hopefully my posts will feature him a lot. 🙂

  16. @Meg – Being conscious of the pitfalls and dedicated to working on the relationship – along with some honest communication – can certainly serve to strengthen your relationship on the road. Enjoy your trip! And although breaking up was hard, it’s all part of the journey….a journey I wouldn’t change. Thanks for sharing your story! 🙂

  17. Hi Nora! I read your blog post on Ramit Sethi’s site and that’s how I was redirected to your site. Great stories and information! I have been traveling on and off for 10 years now (I’m only 27!) and for the first time I have a boyfriend. We met while traveling in NZ (he’s kiwi, I’m Canadian). We’ve spent 5 months traveling together and you’re definitely correct that you really get to know someone much faster when you spend 24/7 together! Now I’m at the point where I am looking to earn passive income and continue to travel – but my bf works as a welder and is not very computer savvy. I’m hoping we can find a way to continuously travel with both of us earning income. If you have any suggestions I’d love to hear! Cheers 🙂

  18. @Bec – There are lots of ways to earn money around the world without being computer savvy…especially if you’re under 30 and can get working-holiday visas. Great way to sample life in other countries, a year at a time! As a welder, he could also get work in lots of mining areas, although not particularly travel-friendly lifestyle or locations. And of course there’s always under-the-table work (which of course I don’t suggest(!), but which should be fairly accessible for handy people with welding skills).
    As for you, developing a passive income depends entirely on your skill sets and preferences, but feel free to ask any questions and I’ll help out as best I can.

    Good luck with your budding relationship – it can be tricky making it work between two different nationalities, but where there’s a will, there’s a way! 🙂

  19. This sentence “Even concerted efforts to spend time alone (or even just separately) are almost contrived, and often impossible depending on the pace, style, and length of travel.” is so absolutely true and something people who travel together always face.

    You know when a couple is having issues in the bedroom they always say “make a date for s*x” and that doing this can be fun. Well we have to take the same approach with time apart. Accept that it is contrived and have fun with it! See if you can avoid each other for a while, set a challenge for a day or two to find something in opposite ends of the city. Then at a later date you can take each other back to your places you found, or something like that!

    It is tough though no matter what you do.

    • Hey Forest – Great ideas! I can see that you manage to make a go of it yourself, and yes – it’s challenging, but also very rewarding if you can navigate those pitfalls.

  20. Hey Nora, Reading your blog (before dawn because my inner voice keeps me awake) I find my situation much like yours when you 1st started your journey. Like you, over the years I built a business(s), had outside interest that I enjoyed and preoccupied my time, bought sports cars and the like, but then came the divorce after 18 years of marriage. Though 2 years have past since the divorce, in the past 9 months I met another woman. Unlike my ex, she had the same desire to travel (one reason why my ex and I parted ways and why we hit if off). But the more we learned about each other, the more I discovered she is ill prepared financially to fulfill this dream. We keep making a revising a plan of departure. Have even taught her the concept of “opportunity cost”, amongst other financial concepts (my line of work)to help in the cause, but though I don’t believe they fall on deaf ears, something always comes up that she rationalizes as a need and thus defeats our common goal. She is a great gal, and though I could probably finance her way, being older and wiser, I can foresee the unlimited pitfalls of doing so. So reading this section of your blog really hit home for me. Struggled with the questions to myself: is it narcissistic to go without her? Would I enjoy myself as much if I did? Am I willing to wait a few years until she is financially better off (the list seems endless)? Regardless, I am acting as if: meaning, I have done some of the primary steps one takes (making a list of things to sell, keep and actively selling my house and business) with the hopes that one day I will wake up (at 3am since my inner voice does not let me sleep 8 hours) with a definitive answer.

    • Hi Bill – Ah…what a tough spot to be in. I feel your angst! (And of course, I have no brilliant answers for you either)!
      As you can see from my story, I stayed with my partner and we tried to make a go of it. As was our case (and might be in yours too), our ideas of travel differed despite having a similar dream.
      A colleague of mine – Ayngelina of Bacon is Magic – took a different approach and actually broke up with her partner to travel. Not that I’d recommend that path for yourself specifically, but I thought you might gain some insight from her ensuing journey over the years:

  21. Hi, Nora. I found this post while searching for advice on my current relationship issues. My girlfriend and I set out on a year long motorcycle journey about 5 months ago. We are currently in Central America and headed south as far as we can make it, hopefully all the way to Tierra del Fuego. We have been together for over 3 years so I thought our relationship was strong enough to handle anything that came our way during this adventure. I now realize that there were underlying issues in our relationship that began about a year before our departure. These issues have surfaced during our adventure and are making it difficult for us to enjoy being together. I believe it began when we started planning this trip and I expressed to her that I wanted more of a long term committment from her. I was sacrificing so much to take this trip (sold my home, quit my job, sold most of my possessions including my car) so I wanted to know she wanted to be with me long term. Well, this backfired on me because she is not interested in long term committment, she wants to take things day by day. The pressure that I put on her, although subtle, caused her to shut down in our relationship (she has admitted that this is most likely the case). Since then, I guess I have felt neglected due to her lack of emotional presence and she has developed some resentment towards me for the pressure to commit. This has led to consistent frustration between us. We recently decided to end the romantic side of our relationship and continue the trip as friends. I now fear that we won’t be able to get over our frustration towards each other in order to enjoy the rest of our adventure. After over a year of building tension, it may just be too much. Regardless, we are on the trip of a lifetime and I don’t want anything to get in the way of our enjoyment. Now we just need to find a way to move on in a positive, productive and healthy way. I still love this girl and will do anything to see her positive, almost nonsensical energy return. I used to live for her smile and laughter. Now it is far too rare a sight. We are trying to spend time apart (although contrived as you stated) and focus on finding ourselves again. We just don’t have much time to waste as there are less than 7 months left in our journey. I appreciate any comments or insight.

    • Hi Zach,
      I don’t envy your position. Even as great friends, the scars of a failing relationship will likely colour your travels together. I don’t have particularly fond memories of the places where my ex and I suffered our biggest relationship problems (which was independent of where we were). Having said that, they are not experiences/destinations I regret….it has all been a process. Then again, being on the road indefinitely is different from a 1-year trip; I had less of a need to make the best of a limited travel window.

      Only you two know whether you can salvage the last months of your trip together and keep smiling and laughing. If you can’t, you may want to look at some alternatives and compromises.

      My heart is with you…I hope you enjoy the rest of your amazing adventure with minimal heartache!

  22. This was an interesting and helpful read! I am solo travelling now after my sweetie and I travelled together for a bit and he then had to go back to his job. I’m actually struggling with the contact, or lack of contact, after being together constantly for so long. We got along well and I really enjoyed the travel time together. Beyond that, I am feeling dislocated and lonely (though excited to be travelling!). I’m struggling with finding ways to connect with him from afar – email is not really cutting it and the time zone differences and his long work shifts are making other types of contact hard; thus far nothing but email has happened and I feel disconnected from him. How did you figure out the balance of alone time vs. connected time when you were travelling and your partner was in one place??

    • Hi Travelling –
      Absences in relationships are tough, no matter which way you slice it. Some couples handle it better than others….I unfortunately haven’t had a terrific track record on this front – here’s how the next relationship I had ended:

      And even in my relationship with Kelly, there were…ahem…problems of a variety of sorts in the absences we had. So I’m not sure I’m the right person to ask for advice on making things WORK in an absence!

      But I will say this: isn’t it wonderful how many different ways we now have to communicate and stay in touch? Email, Skype, cell phones, etc etc….I can’t imagine how much more difficult traveling would have been (in so many respects) a few decades ago.

      So keep communicating in all the ways you can….and yes, time zones are a bitch. 🙂
      How much longer will you be traveling?

      • This may be an overshare, but here it is: Annnnd he broke up with me! Via email. And told me he’d been cheating for an extended time before we went away and took up with 2 of them once he got back. I have to admit I thought he wouldn’t be able to handle me being gone, but it really sucks to be dealing with this when I’m supposed to be enjoying a new travel experience (rather than mourning a relationship), and I don’t have my usual supports. This means my trip is going to be indefinite now though, and I”ll see if I can get work (and permission to work!).

        • Oh no! I’m so sorry. I was hoping your experiences wouldn’t be similar to mine (I’d hate to think it’s the standard). Hang in there girl….it gets better. And your ability to cope with it on your own and while traveling will be incredibly empowering ultimately.
          Enjoy your new freedom to explore indefinite travel – it is a gift; a silver lining at the very least.

  23. I’m not travelling but my partner and I moved far from friends and family and were together pretty much all the time for several years. Now he is working away and we are still happy together but looking forward to living together again in a year.

    Absence really did make the hearts grow fonder in our case.

    What do you mean by: “we get what we need in life when we need it.” Read Lisa’s story ( and tell me if you can tell her and her family that they need her disease.

    • Hi ET,
      I’m glad absence has served its purpose for you and your partner.

      As for “we get what we need in life when we need it”, sometimes what we need to grow, or make necessary changes – per chance to transcend – it NOT always sugar cream and lollipops.

      I’ve had my own share of tragedy, including most recently a close brush with death and a partner who is now permanently disabled as a result of a head-on collision a few months ago.
      We sure as hell didn’t “need” that.

      But then again, maybe we did. Maybe the accident kept us from treading a path even more lethal or dangerous. Maybe it brought us closer together. It has changed our collective trajectory, and our mindsets.

      I believe if you can’t approach life with gratitude, then there’s very little point in being alive. It is my anchor. Hopefully it will be Lisa’s as well.

  24. Another interesting post, Nora 🙂 thanks! I’ve got relationships and travel on my mind at the moment as my partner and I are about to start a long, long distance relationship as I move half way around the world for study (kinda crazy!). Our ultimate goal is to get to a point where we can both travel and work together (fortunately as writers this is an attainable goal for us) but still, it’s rather scary!! We’ve not been together that long but decided our relationship is worth sticking it out for. So although we won’t be traveling together at the moment, I feel like the sentiments behind this post are very applicable – some good insights to keep in mind – and are great food for thought. Kia ora!

    • Hey Hannah – Long distance relationships present a different set of challenges to those of being on top of one another on the road! But with some solid communication, lots of trust, and a dedication to being together, it can be done.
      Like I indicated in this post, you generally stand a better chance of being happy together if you are happy as individuals; so good on you for getting out there and doing it!

  25. Hi! Loved your post! Should have found this a long time ago. Okay, so my story is slightly different but I could still relate. I was going out with my boyfriend for nearly a year but after months of ‘drama’ with my job and family I decided I finally needed to just pack up my bags and to go travelling alone in Europe for a little while to clear my mind and decide what I really wanted. I thought my bf supported me in going but halfway during my trip he started ignoring my messages and phone calls. Started to really worry. Anyway. After a few days I got a message from him to say that he needed to disconnect himself from the Internet because he wasn’t ‘coping with me not being there’. I was really annoyed because I was trying to sort out my head and travelling was helping me. I thought it was selfish of him to let me worry for no reason and not giving me a little space, it wasn’t like I was never coming back. I ended up dumping him while I was overseas which I’m not proud of but it was the best thing for both of us. We havent spoken since which makes me sad because I lost my friend but clearly we had different goals and ambitions. I discovered the wonderful world and the most amazing people out there and can’t wait to discover the next city. I feel free. I felt like I wasn’t being suffocated by someone else’s dreams anymore. In the end he probably hates me but I know that he will meet someone amazing one day and have the family and kids he wanted. The most important is that travelling helped me find myself again.

    • Hi Jj – Your story sounds very familiar to that of a friend of mine – whose relationship went down the same way once she captured her love of travel. I know from experience that it’s much easier to leave (ie: be the one traveling) than be left (ie: the one waiting at home), and it causes great turmoil for both people. I’m fairly sure ours is not an uncommon situation.

  26. Wow, this one hits home. I’m currently planning to go on a long trip (probably solo). I’ve said I want it to be 6-8 months and hopefully indefinitely, living my life on the road while making money as a freelance writer, hopping from one place to another. That’s my dream (even if I don’t know if I’d like that life as I’ve never tried it). I’ve been in a relationship for almost five years now, a very happy one, but he’s always been reluctant about my dream: moving to a different country to live there. Also, he didn’t want to travel for months on end because he wants to build his company in our home country. I can’t decide what he wants, and what his dreams are. He should follow his. I wish they were the same as mine, but I really think our dreamlives are different. Now that he feels we are growing apart (I decided I would go anyway, wether he came or not), he’s trying to open up. Wants to visit me for a month here and there. And I’m not sure what to do. I’m not sure if I want to deal with the missing him on the road, not sure I want to come back (In a long term relationship you can’t just say ‘hey, I’m going to travel indefinitely, bye bye’). It’s hard, making up my mind. Almost feel like it’s all or nothing (he does the nomadic dream with me or not at all), and am afraid he’ll hold me back from my dreams eventually. It’s hard the love of my life doesn’t have the same dreams. Funny how we change over the years too, never thought I’d face this. I’m sorry you had to go trough a break up, but happy you experienced a great love. And you’re still friends. Thanks for sharing, Nora. Also nice to get things off of my chest 🙂

    • Hi MVR – I hear you. Another travel blogger – Ayngelina of had a similar decision to make before she embarked on her travels. She has some poignant musings on the topic.
      Now that you and your partner are talking more, maybe there’s a compromise. Or maybe not. I was married once (a few years before I started traveling), and part of the reason it didn’t work out is because he was unwilling to “start over” somewhere new, and felt he was too old (at 35: eek!). There was no compromising – on either side.

  27. I am in a tricky situation. Green with my girl for 2 and a half years. Been to Thailand and England together for 2 weeks at a time and am now in Canada from New Zealand for a 1 year working holiday. This trip was going to make or break us. We are now in our 5th week together (after spending 4 weeks in the states) and I am feeling restricted in where we can go and what we can do. All we seem to do now is bicker and tread on egg shells around each other. It seems like we have a long road ahead to get back to where we were but am insure if we can ever get back to that point. Any pointers?

    • Hi Keegs,
      I’m sorry you’re having troubles. It’s so hard to deal with on the road.
      Travel – especially long-term lifestyle travel, as you’re doing now – is difficult on a relationship. It requires a lot of communication and flexibility to get through it. And as with any relationship anywhere, it has ups and downs. However when you’re traveling, those downs are particularly hard to cope with (without having the standard infrastructure of support you’re used to at home).

      Question for you: Are the problems you’re experiencing as a couple on the road similar to any problems you had at home? Is travel exacerbating a problem that already existed, or has it created new challenges for you? Maybe the answers to these questions can help you determine if there’s a fundamental flaw in the relationship, or whether it’s more circumstantial.

      Instead of asking me (the casualty of a few failed relationships in the last 7 years of traveling!), you might want to ask some successful traveling couples how they manage!
      Here are two I can recommend; I call them “super-couples”! They both have been traveling full-time for upwards of five years, and I believe they’ve also written about some of their techniques for surviving the rough patches on the road:
      Dave & Deb of
      Dalene & Pete of

      Good luck; be patient (it has only been five weeks), and keep talking. I hope you pull through!

  28. My boyfriend and I have been in love for over 1 year when we decided to go on a 6 month trip together. A few month before our trip started, I didn’t feel as much in love with him anymore and was having second thoughts. My friends told me it was probably just a phase and these 6 months would give me time to think about what I wanted. We’re almost at the end of our trip now and I still feel the same. He’s really important to me but I need to break up with him. I worry though that when I end it once we get home it will ruin all the good memories of the trip for him. I don’t know how I should pull this off. Any help???

    • Hi Karen,
      Sorry – you’re on your own with this one; I can’t possibly advise when and how you should break up with your boyfriend. But in any relationship, communication is key; if there’s a fighting chance you want to be with him in the end, you need to talk to him now, not when it’s too late and you’re already finished with the relationship (which is something that is often a surprise for the boyfriend).

  29. Traveling together is intimate and personal. Give ourselves some space. If you really think you can be friends, keep in touch by email and revisit each other when you get back to your country of origin.

  30. My boyfriend and I have pretty much decided to break up in the first month of our three month trip through Asia. I didn’t think it would be this hard and I feel antisocial and lost. The options on how to proceed are overwhelming. I’m lonely but I don’t want to be around anyone. I don’t know what to do or which direction to take. Any suggestions? It would be greatly appreciated. Thanks for the personal share as well.

    • Hi Anneliese,
      Sorry this happened to you, and so early into your trip! Your feelings are completely normal. I would suspect that you might also be a bit overwhelmed by traveling solo now. Again – normal!
      Just be kind to yourself. Go easy on yourself if you don’t feel like being social for the moment – maybe what you need is some time alone to process what has happened. When you’re ready, you’ll discover lots of new friends and supportive travelers along the way as you continue on your journey.

  31. I couldn’t agree more to this “Remaining happily together yet unsatisfied as individuals is not a winning combination.”

    I’m in a situation where I’ve recently broken up with my long time bf while I’m living abroad. It’s not worth it to waste your time on something that can never be fixed. It’s better to put that energy to something that can better you in the long run.

    • Hi Karla,
      I’m sorry for this sad turn of events in your life, but pleased that you see this change as one for the better. Hang in there! And…happy travels. 🙂

  32. My girlfriend and I planned a road trip, just this Christmas. We had been dating for a little over a year. And was planning a two and half week trip, from southern ca to Vancouver Washington. Her sister lives in Washington, and we weregoing stop on the way,and stay with friends in difference places along the way. We had travelled together to baha the month before for a week and got along fine. Also we would see each other every weekend fom fri to Monday in an RV that we had in the mountains. And there was no phone reception and no tv. So I thought we would get along fine. And I think she thought the same.
    So off we went. It started really well. We went to Yosemite for two days. Great. Then drove to cambria to see a friend and her girlfriend. My girlfriend had just lost her ex lover buisness partner. And she was back on the booze. Which now I see may have triggered my girlfriend. Because all three of us did an intervention. And my girlfriend I thought came across as not herself and pouring her booze down the drain and threaten to call 911 if she got in a car to get more. I was a little shocked.
    But we left had a nice couple of days in Carmel ca then we drove to Redding. While we were in Carmel. She found a motel for $50 a night. We didn’t have wi fi so I couldn’t research the place. But I did say I think we should pay more. Must be bad for that price. She said it will be fine. Well it wasn’t. It looked really seedy and I told her I don’t think I want to stay here. But she had paid on line. And she said we will sleep and go.
    When we woke up. She discovered that her car had been Robbed. So my leather jacket got stole with other items of hers. I was mad at her. And was yelling. She sat stony faced and apologized. We made up and she bought me another jacket. I started to feel inside this was going to be the trip from hell. I told her lets go back. But she wanted to see her sister. So I gave in.
    When we got to Washington to visit her sister, her sister seemed annoyed that we were in love. And would make fun. She would make fun of my accent too. ( I’m English) I complain Ed in private to my girlfriend. But she said that’s the way she is. That’s when things started really going down hill. I wanted to leave she didn’t . So we stayed over Christmas. Then her sister wanted us to stay longer. And I told her sister. No I want to leave. That’s when I took my girlfriend aside and threate her. That I would tell her sister all the nasty things that she says about her. But won’t say them to her face. That’s when she dumped me. Told her sister. And for a couple of hours the sister seemed to delight in that fact. And we left. She totally shows a side I never knew about her. She detached and would not speak to me for two days. Refused to discuss it. I responded really badly to her mentally cruelty with verbal abuse between cry fits. While she sat like a stone. Really shocked me. Haven’t spoken to her since.

    • Hi Karen,
      I’m sorry you had a bad experience. It can happen – and at least you weren’t on the other side of the world together! (small blessings)

  33. I met my girlfriend in New Zealand, she is 19 and from Germany and I’m 30 from Uruguay, our relationship was so good, so perfect, till we move to a hostel for 3 weeks with 2 of my best friends, we had our own room with TV, and she is too shy, so she never spoke with other people and my friends they only speak Spanish, so she felt alone and start to cry saying that we didn’t had enough time together, and privacy anymore, so I spend more time with her and started to have more dates, also we hate our job (apple thining) so we start to be at a really bad mood, and start to fight with each other, also she was scared that when we move to Germany to live together what could happen if our relationship can’t work out, so I told her our problem is just this job, the stress of it, the bad mood, and the fact that we spend 24hrs together, and she start to said couples live togheter and still have a good relationship… so well we started a new trip after those 3 horrible weeks and everything went back to normal, all the love, the laughs, hugs, sex everything was perfect for a couple weeks, till one day I woke up in bad mood, she asked me if she made something bad to me and i say I’m just in a bad mood, next day she was in a bad mood, and the third day she ignored me all day, no hugs, no kisses, nothing, the 4th day she told me that she lost her feelings for me and I was shocked because I thought we just had a bad couple of days, we talk about what is going to happen with us, because we already had 3 more weeks togheter we paid hostels already, and we rent a car with one of her friends that joined our trip.

    For me I’m good right now but there are some moments every day that I just want to be with her back again, back to our relationship because I’m still in love of her. She also told me that she is really sure of her decision right now, but we she want me to continue traveling with her till she goes back to Berlin in April, and that she will be happy if I go to Germany after New Zealand, she also told me that she thought about continuing our relationship in Berlin because we can have a normal relationship, but that she right now don’t want that, and I say that this can work in Germany because is different, here we are all the time togheter, 24/7 the stress, and everything is bad for us because of that and if we try it in her country can be different because we can just see each other a few hours per week like normal people… but I don’t think she want to continue like a couple right now, that she is happy just been friends for now, and I don’t know if I should continue traveling with her after 3 weeks till she go back home, or if I should go to another city alone.

    Sorry for my English, it is not perfect.

    • Hola Santiago,
      I am sorry that your relationship is not working out. I know couples who have broken up and continued to travel together; for me, I’ve never experienced it, and I think it would be awkward. But it really depends on the both of you and your friendship. What do you want to do?

      • Well I’m gonna keep traveling with her for two more months till she goes back to Berlin, she still wants me to go there, but well I’ll see what a happen, we are okay togheter, because we still care for each other, I mean I still love her, but I’m not gonna beg for love or anything I tried to fix this and didn’t work, she is decided so I can’t change that, maybe when she leaves New Zealand she will miss me or maybe not, idk anything can happen. For now I’m cool and calm and we are good friends

        • Hi Santiago – Well, I’m glad that you are still friends, and that your friendship is strong enough for you two to continue to travel together. Enjoy!

  34. Hi Nora, I’m reading this while having a quarrel with my bf on our first overseas trip in 8 years. He said that I was being too clingy, behaving like my mother, throwing tantrums and that I wanted things my own ways (which clearly for this, I don’t think so). And now, he wants a break up. We still have 3 days before our trip ends and I’m reflecting on myself (he insisted that I reflect on myself while he’s fast asleep).

    • Hi Janne,
      I’m so sorry you’re having a difficult time in your relationship. I would be quite upset if my partner told me to reflect on myself and then went to sleep! Doesn’t sound like much of a partnership. I hope you two can either work it out peacefully, or go your separate ways to find more compatible partners. Either way….it sucks. Take care.

  35. Hi Nora,

    Reading this now, 11 years after the post. I am sorry you had to experience that. Kelli and I began traveling in 2011. Been circling the globe for a decade. We had known each other for 4 years prior but goodness, you never get to know if you are a match until you circle the globe. So many fears and preferences to face and work out as a couple, or, to own and to lead both of you in a different direction.


    • Hey Ryan,
      I now firmly believe that one of the acid tests for the sticking power of a relationship, is traveling together. Glad you and Kelli have stood the test of time. 🙂

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