When I made the decision to embark on post-college travels, there was no doubt in my mind about who would accompany me. At the time, I was in a long-term relationship, so it seemed only natural that my boyfriend and I would pack our bags, snag a one-way ticket, and set off on our grand adventure together.
Upon discussing my travel plans with him, I was elated to discover that he had always dreamed of exploring the globe and was completely on board with the idea of accompanying me. Together, we purchased tour guides, printed maps, and began planning an extraordinary journey that would undoubtedly change our lives.
And then we broke up.
Surprisingly, my boyfriend embarked on a three-month journey across the US, and just one month into his trip, he decided to end our relationship. Heartbroken, I returned to my parents’ home, attempting to piece my life back together and temporarily shelving my own travel plans.
Honestly, the thought of traveling solo seemed absurd to me. What could possibly drive someone to make such a decision?
Unless they have friends, of course.
No, my plan was to study diligently, focus on personal growth, and ultimately hope to find a partner who shared my passion for travel in the future.
I quickly shared the exciting news with friends and family: I had decided to embark on a solo journey around the world.
The prospect of solo travel captivated me as I immersed myself in articles extolling the virtues of embracing the boundless freedom that comes with a backpack and an open road. I eagerly began crafting my itinerary, tailored to my personal interests and desires, without the need to consider anyone else’s preferences. The liberation was exhilarating, yet the thought of embarking on this journey alone was equally daunting.
Naturally, life had other ideas in store for me. As I was fervently planning my global escapade, I unexpectedly met someone new, and found myself gradually falling head over heels in love.
I could have extended an invitation for them to join me on my journey. We might have found a compromise by shortening the trip’s duration or incorporating their desired destinations. Alternatively, I could have gone back to the drawing board and started planning a vacation for two instead of a solo adventure.
I didn’t want to do that.
I found myself enamored with the concept of solo travel, eager to embark on a journey of self-discovery. I yearned to explore the world on my own terms, connect with alluring strangers, and cultivate my confidence and independence. The desire to indulge in a selfish adventure consumed me, as I envisioned fully immersing myself in experiences across the globe without the burden of keeping tabs on someone back home.
I made the bold decision to end my relationship in pursuit of exploring the world, and looking back, it’s undoubtedly one of the best choices I’ve ever made.
Traveling on my own changed my life.
In my journey, I achieved more than I ever hoped for. I developed a newfound sense of independence and unprecedented levels of trust. My anxiety disorder dissipated, and my panic attacks became a thing of the past. I discovered a passion for food, a fondness for hostels, and even found love in the enchanting Southeast Asia.
I once fell head over heels for a fellow wanderer, a free-spirited soul with whom I’ve been traversing the globe for seven incredible years. He’s a man who wholeheartedly supports my desire to explore new destinations, even if it means venturing out solo. Far from clipping my wings, we frequently embark on separate journeys, yet he fully grasps my penchant for solo travel and is always eager to join me when I desire his company. This harmonious balance we’ve struck is the ideal arrangement for me, and I firmly believe it wouldn’t have been possible had I not embraced the joys of traveling alone before our paths crossed.
So here is my story.
Let’s dive into the heart of this article. Is it necessary to end a relationship in order to embark on a journey?
Navigating a Long-Distance Relationship During Your Travels
Let’s face it: long-distance relationships aren’t exactly the ideal scenario for most couples. They can be challenging, exhausting, and demand a great deal of trust and commitment. To make them work, you need a robust and stable foundation, particularly if your plans involve being apart for a year or two. However, sometimes these arrangements become a necessity, and if you find yourself needing to venture out into the world solo, it’s crucial to discover whether you and your partner can weather the storm.
Chances are, you’ll need to take a step back from your travel adventures to consistently spend time with your partner. Even if they’re extremely supportive, no one enjoys being neglected for months while their significant other has the time of their life. This might involve forgoing a trip with friends, skipping a bar crawl, or turning down a Skype invitation to maintain the connection with your partner.
The silver lining in 2018 is that staying connected has never been simpler, so you can bid farewell to writing postcards, hunting for payphones, and cursing in internet cafes. All you need is your trusty phone or laptop, and with Facebook, WhatsApp, and Skype at your fingertips, you can effortlessly keep in touch with your loved ones.
There are certainly advantages to preserving relationships while you explore the world. In my personal experience, I’ve found that travel has a unique way of expanding the heart. When I embark on a solo journey without my boyfriend, I often find myself missing him deeply, recognizing the immense value he adds to my life, and seeing our relationship as a shining beacon in my personal universe. Sometimes, after spending a considerable amount of time together, I feel the need for a break. However, as soon as I’ve had some time away, I find myself yearning to return home, all previously harbored resentment forgotten.
In previous articles, I’ve explored the incredible benefits of traveling for personal growth and self-discovery. Embracing new experiences through travel can lead to increased independence, confidence, and self-esteem, ultimately shaping you into a more well-rounded individual. This personal transformation often results in heightened open-mindedness and patience, which can significantly enhance your romantic relationships. So, before you embark on your next journey, consider the positive impact it may have on both you and your partner.
One significant advantage of embarking on a solo journey while leaving a partner behind is maintaining a connection to reality. Long-term travel can often resemble a Peter Pan-like existence, where beer becomes a breakfast staple, leisurely days are spent on the beach, and nights are filled with endless parties. This carefree lifestyle allows you to do whatever you want, whenever you want, and with whomever you choose. Although it may sound like a dream come true, it can also make reintegration into everyday life quite challenging after experiencing several months of unparalleled freedom. By having a partner back home, you remain grounded in reality, preserving your ties to daily life. Moreover, regular communication with your partner provides a sense of routine and structure in a lifestyle that typically lacks such stability.
Contemplate the Possibility of an Open Relationship
If the mere thought of non-monogamy sends waves of fear through your heart, feel free to skip this section. Open relationships aren’t for everyone – I know they’re not for me – but neither is monogamy. For those who can navigate open relationships successfully, they can be a positive experience.
If you’re considering an open relationship, it can offer the ideal solution for exploring the world without neglecting your emotional needs. This approach allows you and your partner the freedom to experience new adventures while maintaining a strong connection.
Before embarking on your journey, it’s crucial to ensure that your relationship is rock-solid, with both you and your partner being equally open to the idea. Trust and excellent communication skills are essential, as you’ll need to be on the same page regarding boundaries and expectations. Be prepared to invest time in establishing ground rules and determining the level of information disclosure that works best for both of you.
When in Doubt, Continue Nurturing the Relationship
One of the primary motivations for wanting to embark on my travels without my partner was the fear of encountering someone new and feeling restrained from pursuing them. Admittedly, these thoughts likely indicate that my partner wasn’t the right person for me. If you’re experiencing similar feelings but are hesitant to make such a significant decision out of fear of future regret, consider postponing your choice.
Admittedly, embarking on a journey to explore the possibility of meeting someone more compatible may not be the most morally upright choice. However, if I were the partner left behind, I would prefer my significant other to venture out with an open mind, discover that I am indeed their perfect match, and return to me after a spectacular world tour, rather than ending our relationship in pursuit of something ostensibly better.
There’s no harm in embarking on a journey while in a relationship, but keep in mind that it can change your perspective. You might meet someone new, or discover that you no longer wish to be with your current partner, leading to difficult decisions upon your return. Consider trying solo travel during your relationship and see how it unfolds. You may find it easier than anticipated, and you might even come to appreciate the person who’s been patiently waiting for you back home.
So, when is the right time to make this decision?
Chances are, both statistically and realistically, your relationship might not make it through this journey.
It may seem harsh, but it’s a fact of life. Long-distance relationships often have a low success rate because people inevitably change over time, and you’re no exception. As a seasoned travel journalist, I’ve witnessed this firsthand.
It’s reminiscent of watching college students arrive at the beginning of each academic year. Year after year, countless young adults return, many of them committed to maintaining a long-distance relationship with their partners back home. Inevitably, these relationships gradually wither away as individuals embrace new experiences and explore the romantic “opportunities” that present themselves on campus. I can speak from personal experience: a former partner of mine went off to college, found someone new, and ended our relationship within six months of starting classes.
Traveling has the power to transform individuals, and by extension, their relationships. As you embark on your journey, you’ll be inundated with a plethora of new experiences, immersing yourself in diverse cultures, meeting new people, and adapting to different situations. Throughout this transformative process, your perspective on life may shift dramatically, potentially creating a disconnect between you and your partner. It’s important not to underestimate the profound impact this can have, especially when it comes to life-changing voluntary projects.
As you embark on new adventures and evolve, your partner back home may remain relatively unchanged. Upon reuniting, it’s not uncommon to face an awkward situation where you both recognize that things between you have shifted. In such instances, it begs the question: should you consider breaking up before leaving?
You are strangers.
You’ve transformed your life, but they weren’t there to make a similar change or truly comprehend the experiences you’ve had.
Embarking on a journey as a young, single, and carefree backpacker is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Do you really want to limit this adventure by clinging to an unproven relationship? It’s important not to harbor any regrets in the future for not fully embracing the incredible opportunities that travel presents.
Discover the Best Course of Action
As I mentioned earlier, the appropriate decision depends on your unique circumstances. If you’re in a stable, committed relationship, it may be worth maintaining the bond while you’re away. However, if your relationship is rocky, casual, or your heart is no longer invested, it might be wise to part ways amicably and return without any regrets. After all, loyalty should not be the primary factor in preserving a relationship.
In my personal experience, ending my relationship before embarking on my travels was the best decision I made. This choice allowed me to connect with incredible individuals, enjoy unforgettable experiences, and ultimately, find my perfect match just four months into my journey. I couldn’t be more grateful not to have someone back home weighing me down as I discovered the love of my life in Thailand.