Okay so here’s the deal.
At high school I was a geek and I didn’t do relationships.
Didn’t get invited to parties, had zero dates, spent a lot of time in the library. Read lots, wrote a bit, drew a bit, hated sports.
Then in later years, I tried to be a cool kid.
Go on, ask me how well that worked.
I’m telling you this because I don’t feel qualified to offer useful relationship advice.
But relationships are a huge part of travel. REALLY HUGE.
And when I stared writing about slow travel, I knew there would come a time when I’d have to cover the topic.
And I’ve been dreading it.
Luckily, I have met many quality people from a huge range of backgrounds.
People who genuinely like people.
Some even like me. Trashy, let’s-see-how-many-weeks-I-can-avoid-being-sober-because-I’m-a-writer me.
So instead of writing a painful post filled with dated TV references, I asked my friends for their advice.
And I got hit with some GREAT ADVICE.
Some is unique to their situation.
Some of it is personal.
And some of it is obvious enough that even I can see how it applies to me.
So here it is!
My friends’ amalgamated wisdom on singledom, partners, dating, and sleeping around while travelling.
When we travel, we are removed from our daily reality.
And we feel removed from consequences – which is not necessarily the case, but the feeling remains. Inhibitions are lowered and and we experience a lot of “new” quite quickly.
Some experience a long-running “travel high” where they are more receptive to their wants and interests, and more likely to act on an opportunity. And suddenly, flirting becomes okay (don’t ask me why I found this surprising I’m a nerd remember?).
This makes for some challenging moments, as the opportunities don’t line up with how we’d act if we were in our home town. Cognitive dissonance sets in. Or not. So here’s how to get out of your head and just enjoy your travel – partnered, single, or a bit of both.
If you plan on travelling with a partner.
Take time to be together. Go and enjoy relationship things. Take an evening stroll on the beach. Play pool together. Climb a mountain. Whatever it is, please feel free to spend time together! Just because you’re away from home and meeting new people all the time does NOT mean you have to drop your partner-y plans and hang out with randoms every single day! Relationships need attention too!
Take time to be yourselves. That being said, be confident enough in yourself, your partner/s and your relationship to allow each other to do your own thing. You are two people. Or more. Not one. Embrace your independence and love your partner enough to give them theirs.
Be sure of where you both stand. Travel, even slow travel, brings up a range of challenges that you will never experience at home. And people react differently. It will change you, and it will change your relationship – for better or worse. If you are both prepared for that, then travelling together can be a rewarding experience. If you want your relationship to stay the same THEN DO NOT DO IT. Stay home!
Travelling alone when in relationships.
If you are travelling without a return date, make you know (not think, KNOW) your relationship can withstand that pressure. Or you will suffer. Travelling without your significant other WILL put enormous strain on the relationship. Each day brings interesting and exotic people into you life. One partner will feel left out, the other will come to resent them… you can see how it’s easy for a relationship to end when travelling solo.
If you are serious about the person back home, then make sure you both know that. Lay out the terms before you leave. Build a communication schedule. Stick to it. Know the risks involved, and be okay with them before you even think of leaving. And above all don’t forget to love each other.
Whatever you do, don’t do the following:
- go over seas while your girlfriend’s at home
- meet another girl, hook up
- travel around with her for a few weeks, then meet a third girl
- take said third girl to the hotel room you share with second girl
- have sex with third girl on you and second girls bed
- have second girl walk in
- get locked out of your room and sleep wrapped up in a sheet on the tiles outside the room
Because then you’ll be cheating on the girl you’re cheating on your girl with? and that’s just wrong?? on too many levels???
(please note this has not actually happened to me or anyone involved in drafting this article)
Travelling as a single person.
Be free but stay safe. When travelling, every day feels like a once-in-a-life-time opportunity. Keep it simple. Keep it fun. Don’t take it too seriously! Stop overthinking and start making the most of it. Some of the most meaningful, pure, and loving relationships can spring up from shared travel experiences – the fun times and the tough. Take a chance – the outcome can be glorious. It could also be disappointing, but that’s fine. There’s always tomorrow!
When sleeping around, look after yourself first. Don’t be a sloppy mess. You can’t please anyone if you aren’t taking care of yourself as well. Eat good food, sleep well, and use protection.
Don’t get too attached. The rules that apply at home (other than generally not being a rubbish person) may not apply when you’re travelling. Exclusivity is not implicit. It is an explicit agreement that requires a conversation. You wanna bone one person? Have the chat.
You must ALWAYS use protection. Condoms are cheap and judgement-free. Buy them. Carry them. Use them. What happens in Southeast Asia doesn’t always stay in Southeast Asia. Especially herpes or pregnancy.
And for everyone else.
Don’t be a dick. If you find yourself in a situation where your relationship expectations are not met, that’s your own damn fault. Form up your expectations and communicate them clearly. If you don’t get the result you want, move on.
Don’t be that one guy who follows a girl around all night because “she’s from the same town as me” when she clearly told you to fuck off about 15 times already. You ass-hat.
You can only really be happy with someone else if you’re happy with yourself. Don’t fall into the trap of caring for others while neglecting your own wants. Take time to do what you want to do. If you want to spend the afternoon in a hammock drinking cheap wine but everyone else wants to go on a two hour hike to the local waterfall, let them. Enjoy your hammock time. And let everyone else enjoy their sweaty health kick. Or vice versa.
Point is, look after your own needs, and let others do the same.
Don’t crash a moped when the girl you’re into is riding on the back. Because she will likely not be so into you after the fact. Like the old saying goes:”nothing kill romance quicker than picking gravel from an open wound on the side of the road”.
For everyone’s sake, when making boom-boom, find a room with a lock. And use the damn lock. Nobody needs to see that. Or hear it.