The world of travel and the world of romance are not worlds apart. Previously, we have looked at dating when you become an expat and then, dating as a travel nomad. These are both quite peculiar situations that many people would consider not compatible with romantic attachments, at least not long-lasting ones.
I beg to differ.
To start off, when you roam the world, your chances of meeting that special someone become so much greater. You are exposed to more places and more people, travellers and locals alike, than could ever be possible should you stayed in your home country. You form new friendships, find companionship and maybe, just maybe, discover love – be it for a few weeks, months, years or forever.
Yes, moving from place to place all the time means you will inevitably leave at least some meaningful connections behind – including romantic ones. It’s true that, in general, short-term dating is more compatible with travel than long-term relationships. Even if you do form a relationship on the road or before getting on the road, the odds of successfully maintaining it long-term are not in your favor.
But you can try.
You should definitely try, in fact, especially if both of you are determined to make it work. There are several ways for it to happen: for your partner to join you on the road, for you to settle down with them, or for you both to work out a plan for making either of those things happening in a set amount of time.
Travelling with your significant other, just like reigning in your wanderlust to stay with them are topics to be discussed another day. So let’s focus on the third option: on making a plan to make the relationship work until one of you is willing to take a leap towards drastically changing your lifestyle. More often than not this means that you will end up in a long-distance relationship for a while.
So let’s talk about long-distance relationships while you travel, and how to improve your chances of them surviving your wanderlust.
Rule 1: Decide if it is the right person
Do not confuse summer romance with long-term potential. It is heartbreaking to meet someone you like and then leave them behind, but it often is for the better. Think long and hard about your life situation and the person you are getting involved with. You may be in love, but serious relationships need time to develop and grow. If both of you are certain that you can work out long-term, give it a go.
Rule 2: Establish a timeframe
This should actually be rule Number One and Only. Your long-distance relationship must have a reunion date, by which you will seize being a long-distance couple and become… well, just a couple.
Whether they join you on your travel adventure; you move back to their city; they immigrate to your home country to be with you, or you both go live in a new place – the reunion may happen in many ways, as long as you have a clear plan for it. It also doesn’t really matter how long it will take, as long as you set the time limit. It can be 6 months. It can be a year. Hell, it can even be five years.
But if you just decide to be romantically involved over Skype for an undetermined amount of time and see what happens, you will fail. Take if from someone who tried: this kind of relationship is not going to work. One of you will inevitably meet someone closer. Your priorities, circumstances, plans may change. Obviously, this could happen in any relationship, not just long-distance, but long-distance relationships without a plan are doomed.
Rule 3: Commit
This goes without saying, but you both have to be on board with it all. You both have to be sure that you want to be in a relationship with each other, that you both are willing for it to be long-distance for some time, and that you both agree on the plan to make it no-distance eventually. Put it simply, you have to be on the same page. Which is no small feat for any relationship, to be fair!
Rule 4: Communicate
Communication is key! Before, during and after you embark on your long-distance love journey. Talk about the big stuff and the small stuff. Talk about what you want to do right now and in five years. Talk about your aspirations and ambitions. Do you want to travel for the rest of your life? Do you want to settle down at some point? Will you move back home in future? Do you want a family? Do you want children?
These are loaded questions, for sure. It is very important to ask them when getting into a long-distance relationship, if only to know that the inevitable pain of being away from someone you love is going to be all worth it one day.
Rule 5: Have a meeting schedule
Make it a priority to stay in touch with each other. Have Skype dates on a certain day of the week, call each other when you can, send texts and messages daily or almost daily. Staying connected while you travel can be tough sometimes, what with the lack of internet or exorbitant data charges in remote areas, but do the best you can.
Snail mail and sending postcards can also be a fun way to remind your significant other how much you miss them. There are many ways of staying in touch. You as a couple will figure out what works for both of you no matter where in the world you find yourselves.
Last but not least, you will want to see each other in person as much as is possible according to your reunion plan (remember that one?). It is not a rule, because sometimes it isn’t possible at all – for lack of money, visas, opportunity and many other reasons – but it is great if you can do it. (Who would disagree, really?)
Long-distance relationships may be hard, but they are not impossible. If you follow the principles I outlined, you do have a shot a success. I sincerely wish you all the best and the best of luck!