Does being in a relationship stop you from following your travel dreams or taking a gap year? In part 5 of the excuse buster series, I’m talking about relationships and how they can ruin your dreams of travel, if you let them.
Okay, that may be a little harsh, it may be more accurate to say that people can often hide behind a relationship because it is easier than taking a gamble on following their dreams.
I hear it all the time. So many people say they wish they could travel, they wish they could see all the things I have seen or do all the things I have done. But damn that ever present ball and chain. They have a partner. They have responsibilities, don’t you know? What would they do without each other?
Are Relationships A Barrier To Travel?
Saying they are in a relationship is an extremely common excuse made by people who say they want to go backpacking or see some exotic part of the world, but then start to list off all the reasons why they tell themselves they can’t. So many people tell me ‘if only they were single’.
To be fair, this is a really difficult one because I think my initial response can sometime sound a little harsh. Affairs of the heart aren’t always easy to define and can often be messy.
But the truth of the matter is a relationship is not an excuse to not follow your travel dreams.
Many people travel as a couple, many more still travel separately for short periods and still head back to their loved ones. Many people take extended solo trips and still remain committed to their partners back home. Not everyone who travels is single!
Let’s play Devil’s advocate for a moment. If you really want to travel the world and your partner really doesn’t (because for some unfathomable reason there are people out there who literally don’t want to see the world too), and they are actually stopping you, physically or emotionally, then you may need to ask yourself a simple question. Are you really with the right person?
This is hard, I know, and is an area where you may really need to ask yourselves – and each other – some very difficult questions. But if you are not compatible on such a fundamental dream, then are you actually right for each other in the long run? Is the person you are with really worth foregoing your dream? If they really loved you, they would probably tell you they weren’t right for you themselves.
Of course it isn’t always so black and white. Relationships in and of themselves are not a barrier to travel, no matter what people tell themselves. If you are in a loving long term relationship and for some reason your partner can’t come with you on any given trip, then there is no reason you still can’t go backpacking for a month or a few months or so on your own. Remember, backpacking isn’t always about the long gap year or two. Your partner – and your relationship – will still be there when you get back. They may even want to go off on their own adventure another time while you have to work. Time apart to do your own thing can actually make a good relationship even stronger!
Of course if you do want to set off on a round the world adventure on your own for a long or even indeterminate period, and you both don’t think your relationship can survive that, then you have to go back to the first option and assess between yourselves what it is you truly want out of your life and whether you are truly compatible enough on such a fundamental level.
You Can Be In A Relationship And Travel!
Alternatively there is a better solution, the best of both worlds if you will. You and your partner can go away together. It’s a completely crazy and off the wall notion, I know, but you could both actually pack your bags and head off on a round the world adventure as a couple!
Actually it isn’t that crazy, people do it all the time, and have been doing for a very long time now. It is far better for a relationship to have someone alongside you with compatible goals and dreams, to have someone who shares the same passions as you do. And what better thing to have a shared passion for than travel?
I have met as many couples on the road as I have single travellers, and many have found it a magical and rewarding experience that gives their relationship new depth and meaning. Many have even become closer as a direct result of the bond of shared experiences.
As the backpacker demographic has shifted over the last decade, there are even now couples who have married, had kids, and taken the entire family backpacking! For some it may be their first time, for others it may be their second or third round the world trip, but they couldn’t give the wanderlust up once they had kids. That’s the very definition of not letting kids ruin your life!
So are you really going to sit there and tell me you can’t go backpacking because you are in a relationship?
You can either break up if the relationship isn’t right, travel separately for a while and come back to the relationship if it is strong enough or travel together! There are as many individual compromises here as there are individual relationships, but if you truly want to travel the world, a good relationship is never a barrier to that.
Stop making excuses!
This one may be slightly more difficult than others, but it is still an excuse! If you don’t follow your dreams now, you never will, and the regret will stay with you for the rest of your life.
Will your current partner? Are you sure?
What did you think of the article? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below or on my Facebook or Twitter pages and please feel free to share it with any or all of the social media buttons. If you want to get more great backpacking tips, advice and inspiration, please subscribe to updates via email in the box to your right.
Excuse Buster Series Part 4: It’s Too Dangerous To Go Backpacking.
Excuse Buster Series Part 6: I Have No One To Go With!
Making And Breaking Friendships When You Travel The World.
The Sacrifices Of Long Term Travel.
Having this dilemma at the moment. Wanting to go on a gap year this August for a year, luckily my partner is extremely supportive and encouraging me to do it. He however is the type of person who doesn’t want to join me and would rather spend $5000 on a new TV while I would rather spend it on travel/experiences. I have a horrible thought in the back of my mind that a lot can change in a year, and travel seems to accelerate (for me at least) personal growth and development in life, and that it could exacerbate our differences. I’m scared the relationship wouldn’t be the same after I came back from my travels. Oh what to do!
It is a difficult one and only you can really answer that. It’s a good sign that your partner is supportive, but ask yourself how compatible you are if your dreams are so different? Relationships naturally change over time anyway, and travel absolutely changes you for the better. You just need to ask yourself if you could come back to your partner as he is now and spend your life with him after a year of that change? You may not even want the relationship after a year of travel? Ask yourself what if the relationship DOES change when you get back? What if it ISN’T the same and you go your seperate ways? How would you feel? Devastated? Or simply sad but able to move on? If it is the latter maybe you are better off following what your heart seems to be telling you already?