Romance on the Road

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Romance on the Road….for better or worse…

I sit down to write this post with tears in my eyes, fresh memories of a painful goodbye with desperate kisses and lingering hugs, and no promise of a happy reunion.

There is no better time than the present to write about romance on the road for a full-time traveler.

Love as a Long-Term or Full-Time traveler is complicated. Here's a persona example. #fulltimetravel #longtermtravel #digitalnomad #travelromance #TheProfessionalHobo

This post was originally published in 2011. It has since been updated for accuracy of links and content.

I want to read about romance on the road for a Professional Hobo!” is something I’ve heard quite a few times from readers and friends alike. Mystery and intrigue surrounds romance for a single woman who travels full-time. It stands to reason; until recently I wasn’t sure how it all worked either.

After Kelly and I broke up, I was in no mood to strike up a relationship – neither a fling nor a deep encounter – for a while. Although I met many interesting people and enjoyed some flirtations, I couldn’t consider a longer-term romance on the road so these encounters weren’t more than passing fancies.

Being little more than a passing fancy seems to be a hazard of the occupation of a Professional Hobo, for better or worse.

Or is it?

When I started to suffer the effects of motion sickness and travel fatigue and needed to slow my pace of travel, I found myself looking for an excuse to slow down or stop. I found the perfect excuse when I met a man in New Zealand with whom I shared a powerful connection unlike anything I’d experienced.

But despite this mutual feeling of connection, my heart was broken when he told me he didn’t want to develop anything romantic with me because I would do what a Professional Hobo does and disappear in a few weeks, leaving emotional ties in my wake that were too painful for him to consider.

Ironically, he didn’t want to have a relationship with me because I would leave, and I wanted to have a relationship with him because it would give me an excuse to stay. But in the long run, he may well have been right; I would have stayed, but for how long would have been questionable before I might have wanted to – or needed to – move on.

So alas, it was not meant to be.

In coming to terms with this harsh reality of full-time travel – the inherent lack of deep intimacy that infects travelers (and plagues full-time/long-term ones) – I retreated into my own world to lick my wounds and accept the bed I had made.

But this was no great hardship all things considered; it had been less than a year after my breakup, and I quite enjoy my own company, thank you very much. I simply hadn’t expected to experience the connection I did, and really surprised myself in the face of it by being prepared to consider something longer-term.


Months later, a deep friendship I had developed at Mana Retreat evolved into something deeper. Both being travelers of a sort, it was a good match; we gave each other a level of comfort and intimacy that was missing in our lives. But we were very clear from the start that this would be a temporary relationship, and that our hearts were unavailable for entanglement (due largely to the complications of moving on as travelers).

You can probably guess where this is going: our hearts became entangled.

Over the next few months, our relationship graduated from quiet and casual, to public and a little more serious. But we still had no idea what sort of future there was to be had, given the giant question marks that represented our futures as individuals – much less as a couple.

The relationship was (is) too new to design lives of travel and living together around one another, yet saying “it was fun, thanks for the good times” in parting seemed callous.

So when I left New Zealand, we struck a middle-ground. He has commitments in New Zealand for the next couple of months, and I have my own commitments in Canada during the same time period.

During that time, we expect to develop some answers for ourselves as individuals as to where we want to be and what we want to do. Although I’m a Professional Hobo, the lifestyle can take on many different forms, and after four years on the road, I’m ready to consider all sorts of options – from filming tv shows, to being a touring musician, to long-term house-sitting, to volunteering, and so on. There may well be opportunities I haven’t even considered waiting around the next corner for me.

Likewise, my beau (I call him my Swedish Squeeze!) has similar things to consider about his own life, destinations, dreams, and desires.

Once we respectively determine what we want for ourselves, we can see how – and if – we can walk that path together. We don’t need a lifetime commitment (or even anything close to that) from one another in order to travel together, but as I’ve already experienced, travel can be hard on a relationship, and starting out with a series of compromises is a dangerous proposition.

And so here I sit with a wet face, in a sterile airport approaching my 30th hour of travel back to Canada, reflecting on how difficult saying goodbye is, and how simultaneously exciting and terrifying a blank slate of a future can be.

As I drift continentally farther and farther from New Zealand, I don’t know if I’ll ever actually squeeze my Swedish Squeeze again. Our parting (and the time leading up to it) was a stark reminder that all we ever have is the present moment, and that it’s to be celebrated. Despite the pain of saying goodbye (for now, if not forever), I’m thankful for the opportunity to have shared something special with somebody on the road.

Who knows what the future will bring – for any of us. My lifestyle is simply a more blatant demonstration of this universal fact of life. It’s with this passion for life and sharing deep connections that we sparked our relationship, and it’s with the same continued passion that we will move on through life – together or on our own.

Que sera sera. I’m excited about my future, whatever it may hold – romance on the road or not. Are you excited about yours?

Wanna know about all the romances I had in my 12-year full-time travel career?

Yeah you do. Go on. Click here: My Sordid Attempts at Love on the Road

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45 thoughts on “Romance on the Road”

  1. Oh Nora … lovely post … but this is why I cannot be a professional hobo! I can only manage part-time, temporary, casual hobo-ness. Now you are going to break my heart if you don’t see your Swedish Squeeze again! And I’ll be waiting and waiting for the blog post that tells whether you do or not … this will become the Mills & Boon of location independent travel.

  2. What a sensitive and inspiring post. We’ve all been there in one way or another–location-independent lifestyle or not.

    I often wonder if I would undertake this nomadic life without my husband by my side. I’d like to think that I would, but in my more insecure moments I think, “no way!” I fear the minute I’d meet someone special, I’d be prone to give up my gypsying ways and grow roots (ever notice that “root” and “rot” are only different by one letter? Just sayin’…) or else insist that the person drop everything and come along for the (my) journey.

    I’m holding good thoughts that you’ll be squeezin’ some serious Swedish booty sooner rather than later.

  3. Sorry to hear that you are struggling with this. Thank for you for writing about it. It *is* a common problem and yet something that many travelers don’t talk about so it’s a good thing that you have opened the conversation.

    Each person’s experience is different but I’ll tell you the trick I’ve used on myself when I’ve been in this situation. When I’m feeling down or lonely I will stop to reframe from “Oh, I miss that person so much!” to “I’m so lucky to have shared that time and had such an amazing experience with that person!” That subtle shift from scarcity/loss to plenty/gain makes a big difference to my mental state. Whether you realize it or not, you actually do this reframe in your post. If you didn’t realize that you were already doing this, be aware of the technique moving forward and consciously employ it when necessary.

    Also, how lucky are we to live in a time of video chat, Facebook, and email? I’m still in touch with people I met while traveling years ago and am about to leave for Europe where I will be visiting many of those same people. If we had been born even 10 years earlier we might not have those tools at our disposal and it would be so much more difficult to maintain those friendships.

    Hope you feel better. I have a feeling that it will work out for you. 🙂

    • Wow i totally agree with you Nora. It truely is something travelers try not to talk about. But it is apart of our lifestyle. Friendships (whether romantic or not) come and go. Saying goodbye means one more hello. Our society tells us that if we find someone that we connect with, we should not let them out of our sites. However, this isnt healthy for a traveler. Yes we connect with so many people along the way and make memories with so many people but a true connection is never lost. We thrive on new connections. We need to remember our relationships are like all the places we’ve been–we hold them in our hearts and memories forever and in doing so they are never lost. I loved your comment on the mindset change. Its so true!

      • Wise words, Valerie!
        “Friendships (whether romantic or not) come and go. Saying goodbye means one more hello.”
        And you’re a poet in the making! 🙂

  4. I am not by any means a professional traveler but have been in relationships that seemed doomed from the start for various reasons (currently – difference of religion that isn’t important to me but matters deeply to his family). When I first met him, I explained the situation to my dad, and he gave out the very type of dad-like wisdom that I wanted to hear: When two people obviously care for each other that much, it would be silly not to take it as far as it will go.

  5. Lovely post. I thought the most important part of it was your adherence to the idea that what YOU want and how you want to live your life is important, more important that what someone else wants. Too many of us live our lives around someone else’s dreams, rather than our own. Thanks for the inspiration.

  6. very emotional post..I enjoyed reading it and it is somehow an eye opener too to realize such drawback for having a nomadic life..

    Anyway, I still hope to read more about love on the road for a Professional Hobo.. 😀

  7. I guess it is the typical ‘either, or…’ scenario. After leaving Germany 15 years ago, I traveled for 9 months before a planned 2 week trip to Boise Idaho turned into a permanent stay. Now, (after 4 kids and a pending divorce) I look back and realize that I just fulfilled the bigger plan that was laid out for me. Will there be more travelling for me in the future? I don’t know. What I do know is that I don’t regret any thing that I gained throughout the last 13 years of marriage as in wisdom, my kids and last but not least the realization that marriage has become somewhat ‘overrated’.
    The point that I’m trying to make here is this:
    You will never know when it is gonna hit you. If both of you are willing to sacrifice and commit, its a done deal. If it doesn’t work out, it was not supposed to happen in the first place.
    There is a line in one of my favorite songs that says,” If you wanna hear God laugh, tell him your plans.”…….what a scary thought, but so true.
    As for me, I am currently still in a holding pattern, at least as long as my beloved kids need me there. After that, I am gonna sell everything I have accumulated over last 13 years (House, Car, Dog), pack my things and hit the open road,…at least thats the plan. 😉

  8. @Amanda – Okay, I’ll keep you – and everybody here – posted on the outcome of this romance! You’ll know as soon as I do (er, rather, with a small delay for posting)…

    @Maureen – You just never know when love will hit, or where. I believe, when you’re ready to give up the gypsying ways in favour of growing roots, a reason will appear. If you’re not ready, then it won’t happen!

    @Nora – Yes, I was aware of the reframe. I’m very good at doing that, as I try very hard to spin a positive angle to anything. It’s actually healthier!
    And yes – thank goodness for Facebook, Skype, and email. It makes the nomadic life so much easier, and I’ve met so many amazing people online too!

    @Megan – Your Dad’s advice sounds very good!

    @Mary Anne – Yes, I’ve designed my life around other people before, and as flexible as I am, it ultimately didn’t work out. What’s ironically even more difficult, however, is deciding exactly what I want and going for it.

    @Frugal Xpat – Thanks! This post was a bit deeper than most I’ve written; I’ll keep you posted…

    @Oliver – I agree! When I look back on past relationships, even if there was pain involved, I would never retract one day of the experience….because it’s all part of who I am and where I am today. I couldn’t begin to imagine life without the experiences I’ve had to date – good, bad, or otherwise…

  9. Nora, it’s crazy because I just sat down to my computer to write my break-up post and I saw this in my inbox… though my circumstances are different this time around, your story sounds like one very similar to a touch-and-go relationship I had with a non-traveling Kiwi. Anyway, I can relate on a lot of levels – love is really not easy when you have a nomadic life. Thanks for the honesty.

  10. @Jasmine – Love isn’t easy when a nomad meets somebody who doesn’t travel, and somewhat surprisingly, it’s even difficult when two travelers meet! Maybe love just isn’t easy… ! 🙂

  11. @Adam – agreed: this is one of the biggest challenges about nomadic travel. In my post about motion sickness on the road, I talk about the challenges of staying somewhere 2 weeks vs 2 years and how differently you’re treated depending on which it is:
    And in my post on Travel Fatigue, I discuss the apathy that sets in after too much movement for too long:

    But the reality is that none of us started traveling in search of love…we started traveling to satisfy an inner need and desire, and possibly to get to know ourselves a little better. In that sense, having a relationship is superfluous.

  12. A very positive endnote to an emotional post. There’s something very alluring about romances for a full-time traveler. You want to make the most of your time because in all likelihood it’s fleeting. Still, saying goodbye is always painful!

  13. Fantastic post. Over the past little while I’ve been feeling that there is a real problem making deep connections with other people given my different lifestyle. There are plenty of other people doing what you and I are doing, but they’re so mobile that you never get a chance to really cement the relationship — or in many cases even meet them! And that sucks. I don’t know what the solution is.

  14. As I just said to Nomadic Matt, posts like this are my favorite things in the world. Thank you. As much as I love practical advice and information it’s always the feeling that I’m connecting with another person that keeps me coming back to a blog.

    Thank you for sharing such a personal topic with us. I appreciate it and I’m rooting for you and your Swedish Squeeze. But I’m confident that if you both find it’s too much of a compromise you will find someone soon who with you perfectly.

  15. Nora, it’s easy to be in love when there is a time constraint. Trust me, I’ve been down that road a few times, but you got what you wanted when you wanted and that is a good learning process.

    Commitment, however is a harder lesson to learn, and after two divorces and being into my third marriage, let me tell you: Love Hurts… Your ‘squeeze’ had more insight with you than you did with yourself at that point, and believe me this is not a judgmental statement about you… I have had made the same decisions you have about loving that you have and learned from them at great cost… Or maybe I’m talking out of my ass again, who knows?

    You’re one of the more intelligent examples of our species that I’ve ever met, and you live your life to the fullest… God bless you for that… Yet, you seem to be ‘maturing’ into your own shoes, and that I like about you, unlike some of the other people you used to work with.

    I wish you well with your next phase of life, and trust that you will make better use of your God given, much endearing talents, and find a truer more successful opportunity sooner rather than later.

    With much love and appreciation and admiration, Keith…

  16. @Robert – Thanks! I’m confident of this too.

    @Keith – Love with a time constraint: Very insightful! I too, find the “long haul” to be arduous, as any long-term relationship would be. We were still enjoying the honeymoon stage, to be sure. As for the future…..stay tuned! I’ll let you know what’s involved as soon as I do. 🙂

  17. Hey Professional Hobo,
    sounds like you have loved and lost and loved again, but you know the saying. You ever see Before Sunset? I think you might like it.
    Safe travels and good luck,

  18. As a single woman who just discovered her desire for something more than a passing encounter this post resonates with me.

    I had a long-term relationship that was clearly wrong for me, and now that I’ve been free, it’s been a mind-trip figuring out who I am, where I want my life to go. I have a better idea and nowadays find myself wondering about commitment again or being with someone longer than a blink.

    But, I am also like you – not ready to be tethered to one place or boxed in. My deepest wish is hopefully find that person who can understand my need for movement/exploration, yet as you wrote there’s nothing lacking in the present and finding a connection even when you say goodbye can be just as important, wonderful!

    Whatever happens, you had the chance to learn from someone, share and squeeze. 🙂

  19. @Leif – Yup, I know the saying, and I stick by it! Never seen Before Sunset though – I’ll be sure to check it out. Cheers!

    @Nomadic Chick – Some of my most profound connections have happened when I was looking the other way. It seems that we tend to find love when we’re most happy in ourselves and least looking for it; this is what I found for myself, especially recently. And although loving and letting go can be difficult, it’s ultimately part of the process, and…well….you just never know… 🙂

  20. Nora, after much thought, I think maybe you should’ve given it a bit more of a go with your ‘squeeze’… I may be overstepping your personal boundaries with my thoughts, as this is my inner abused child speaking here, but maybe you were right to let it play out the way it did and leave it left inside a special moment in time… and of course, Loving yourself is a much better state of mind than loving someone else more…

    Love in it’s nature is ephemeral and fleeting and when one finds it, or rather when love finds you, grab onto it and hold it with all of your heart… I’ve had my shot at true love and gave it up for selfish personal reasons and regretted it ever since, and at the ripe old age of 60 I know love can still be refound and appreciated for it’s beauty…

    Remember, true LOVE is a gift that is only offered by someone else and cannot be taken, bought or borrowed, so next time that trolley comes around, hop on and enjoy it for all it’s worth! You are too precious, special and unique to not have that free gift…

    As always, you can just say STFU…

  21. @Keith – No matter which way we sliced it, our current separation was necessary due to respective commitments. But nothing has to be forever; you never know what the future will hold….. 🙂

  22. Well said… but I think you still have that warm special place in your heart for him and miss those walks holding hands…

    By the way, Magic Eightball says try again later…

  23. “Our parting (and the time leading up to it) was a stark reminder that all we ever have is the present moment, and that it’s to be celebrated. Despite the pain of saying goodbye (for now, if not forever), I’m thankful for the opportunity to have shared something special with somebody on the road.”

    Thank you!

  24. @Megan – Thank YOU! I’m glad this resonated with you.

    @Luaay – I’m sorry for that. Does that mean you are wanting to plant roots and your partner wants to travel?

  25. i wish
    mother instinct strucked her and she quit
    now i m alone,it s hard to find girl who is proffessional hobo,nomad

  26. @Luaay – I’m sorry it didn’t work out for you. Indeed – it’s tough to find love on the road, since travel (especially long-term travel) is unique to the individual, and rarely are two traveling itineraries/goals perfectly matched.

  27. Dear ProHobo…You are my new heroine …along with Gabby Giffords and Malala!!! I am retired with 3 grown children and wanna go…be a world traveler and not a tourist. I have traveled all over the world and can’t seem to get enough. Unlike you though…i gotta get home every once in awhile….would miss the fabulous babe,our 3 children,our golden retriever and 2 grandsons too much…the fabulous babe does not share my passion for travel. I truly admire your courage. I don’t like to eat alone…go to movies alone and traveling alone frankly scares me. With that said it has been difficult to find people to travel with…men or women…old or young…married or unmarried. I really don’t care where we go…lets go!!! The world is a big place with alot of wonderful people in it. I am not interested in “travel groups”…i wanna experience the blue highways and meet the locals. I own my own home…have been debt free for this century and have over 3 million frequent flyer miles…not bragging and give all the glory to God. With that said i don’t go 5 star and all inclusive… i wanna be a traveler…a hobo….champagne on a beer budget . Any and all help,suggestions and advice would be greatly appreciated.

  28. Hello Nora,
    Im new to your website, so my first article l read was about your decision to stay in one place for a while and give the domestic life ago……
    So to read an article thats only one year old and see how your life has changed on so many levels in that one year – in many respects gives me hope that maybe one day l’ll find my ‘parter-in-crime’ to travel with and explore the world as a couple. I’ve been traveling full time for the past 2 1/2 years and l haven’t had one relationship – l thought l was in one – but he wouldn’t have called it that, and now the bubble has burst for me that there will probably never be an ‘us’ and l have to re-focus on Me and why l want to travel and where and how l want to travel.
    So l actually wanted to say thank-you for another great post because you have inspired me to write my article on ‘lost love’ and close that door because l’ve been carrying it around (hope that is) for all of 2012 and l need to stop it and live my life and not in the shadows of someone else who ultimately doesn’t want to travel with me as a couple.
    Many thanks,

    • Hey Anthea – I’m sorry you’ve had a few hard knocks in the relationship department. I think it comes with the territory when we travel (it’s such a difficult lifestyle to meld with relationships), but like you’re currently finding, it can be a good opportunity to refocus on who we are and what we’re looking for – in life, and in our travels.
      I spent my first three years on the road with a partner too….and I discovered just how hard travel can be on a relationship:

  29. Bold post, insightful. I often wonder about how I am perceived by others – but it is also an opportunity to learn about yourself – like you talk about, the reason for traveling is not to locate a missing partner, lover, etc But to connect more deeply with what and who you are? It has been said one knows oneself best through another – right? So it comes full circle. To share even a day with someone you love is what matters most. Because we don’t know what tomorrow brings – only now! So traveling or otherwise it is the same story. But I do understand the loneliness, or the worrying about what others may think, because your life is different, transient – BUT – again all life it transient! Right!? Maybe it is about how we choose to think about it – I have to agree with your statements on shifting your thinking!

    • Hi Mark,
      Thanks for your thoughtful response! A traveling lifestyle certainly puts more emphasis on the current moment; an indeed, even a day with somebody you love is a day well spent.
      This particular romance carried on through to a reunion in Sweden, and a bright future of house-sitting together; but it unraveled while we I was away on the Ultimate Train Challenge, and he was….well, let’s just say he was otherwise occupied. 😉

  30. For me romance, seduction and sex are the most important aspects of traveling. I love nothing more than to have romantic and sexual adventures with exotic and beautiful women from all over the world.

    I never lie to a woman by telling her that I am looking for a partner for lifetime. I always say the truth and make it clear from the beginning, that our relationship won’t last forever. I really enjoy those mini Relationships and I keep them in my memory till I die. But sometimes it is very hard to leave a girl because you have to decide between your passion, which is traveling and experiencing new adventures and a stupid little feeling called love.

  31. Ah nice read, nice to have someone to relate to. I’m going through the worst heartbreak I’ve ever had I think. I travelled with someone and couldn’t help but get emotional attached to someone I have never felt so powerfully connected to – was so happy and excited, but was on the other hand trying not to fall in love with them but I couldn’t help how I felt. Of course I had to go home and they continued travelling, telling me they missed me and loved me too. This kept up for 2 years of me missing them terribly as I hadn’t met anyone else quite like them. Finally I had the opportunity to go visit them but was faced with the fact that they had continued seeing other people and now had a new lover. Of course, they had changed too being a home environment is totally different to life on the road. This was pretty heart shattering and realised that I had now lost them and things were never to be the same again. I want to be mature and forgive them but I think its probably best I don’t see them again. A broken heart is like nursing a broken arm…its raw and so painful at first but you have to allow time to let it heal and endure the pain. Takes time and then maybe one day we could be friends again, but right now as much as they were someone I have loved the dearest in my life so far – maybe they just came in to teach me something, but slowly I have to convince myself….that is was just not meant to be in this lifetime. Peace

    • PGirl – Thank you for sharing….and your story resonates very much with me. Things didn’t end up working out with my Swedish Squeeze in this post – during a time of absence, he ended up with another lover and got her pregnant.
      Now – three years later, I’m nursing yet another broken heart and the ending of a 2-year relationship. One that taught me so very much, but also involved a tremendous amount of pain (both during and after).
      But like you said; sometimes there are lessons to be learned in this pain. Hang in there….

  32. Thanks for replying – so glad to see I’m not walking the ‘Boulevard of Broken Dreams’ alone. I just tell myself they didn’t deserve my love. Anyone who deserved it wouldn’t do that you and reject you. causing you so much pain. I hope someday someone better will love my sweet heart just as much as I will love them. Life can be quite cruel in these situations but maybe this is ‘Living’. I just need someone better to come into my world but now I need to take care of myself and my own needs for once and hopefully my heart will slowly start to heal….


    • PGirl – That’s the ticket! I made a promise to love myself before allowing myself to love anybody else. Being kind to myself is something I’m not very good at….but I’ll get there! As will you. It’s a journey for all of us.

  33. Exactly having a loving relationship with yourself, its not arrogance, its self love and respect. I didn’t see the pain coming at all that my darling has caused me, totally surprise like the walls caved in by their promiscuous secrets, making me even doubt that their feelings for me were actually real or just a momentary act of neediness. I suppose it doesn’t matter now, its no longer like the road so I guess we’ll just have be settle with being set adrift on memory bliss….

  34. Thanks for this post. I am really struggling now because I am currently traveling and have fallen hard for a local half way across the world. I want to plant roots somewhere; the problem is not that I want to continue to travel. I just don’t know if I want to take the risk of leaving my home country to pursue a romance with someone that I’ve only known for a very short period of time. This is truly one of the most difficult situations I’ve ever been faced with, but also one of the greatest experiences I’ve ever had.

    • Hi Amy,
      What an adventure! If I were you, I’d be asking myself if I would spend a lifetime saying “what if” if you didn’t go. Maybe you can do a test run with your new love, without completely cutting ties with your home country?


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