When I set out to become a digital nomad, aka someone who travels nonstop and works remotely, being in a relationship wasn’t exactly part of my vision. In fact, I told some of my friends I wanted a hookup buddy in every country. Of course, that’s exactly when I met my significant other. I was hesitant about being in a relationship when I’m traveling all the time, but actually, it’s given me the best of both worlds.
I met my significant other while I was in Ibiza, and given the fact that he lived in Germany, I didn’t think it could really go anywhere. But since I was doing this whole nomad thing, I figured his city could be one stop. I planned to stay for two weeks, which became two months. Now, I’ve been leaving and coming back every few months for almost a year and a half.
My relationship and travel complement each other well. My significant other gives me someone to come back to when I’m sick of sleeping in unfamiliar places, and traveling alone gives me the freedom and solitude I don’t get when I’m staying with him. "A couple still has two individuals in it, and it's OK to for each person to embark on their own journey and do a bit of exploring on their own,” practicing psychologist and Harvard lecturer Holly Parker, Ph.D., author of If We're Together, Why Do I Feel So Alone?, told Bustle. “Being in a relationship doesn't mean being tied at the hip."
But I was right that being in a relationship as a nomad poses challenges that other relationships don’t. Here are some things to keep in mind if you’re a nomad or someone who travels a lot and want to stay in your relationship.
Make Sure They Know This Is Your Lifestyle, Not A Phase
My boyfriend used to ask me where I wanted to settle down so that he could join me. I had to explain to him that for nomads, there is no “settling down.” People often think being a digital nomad is something to do while you’re young to get the wanderlust out of your system. So, you may need to explicitly tell your partner that for the foreseeable future, this is the plan. And they’ve got to be OK with it.
Don’t Let Them Stop You
I realized about a year into my relationship that I wasn’t being as nomadic as I wanted. Since crashing at my partner’s place was comfortable and free and took no effort to plan, I was just staying there all the time. But I was also missing out on the adventures I was seeking by being a nomad in the first place. And without even realizing it, I was building up resentment toward him. Making plans to go places on your own takes more time, costs more money, and causes more anxiety, but it’s worth it. You’ll become unhappy in the relationship if it’s making you give up what you want.
Plan “Workations” Together
One problem I often run into when I travel with my significant other is that he views travel as a vacation and I view it as a workation. I can’t stop working just because I’m traveling, or I’d never work! This has led to some frustration for both of us: Him because I don’t spend as much time with him as he wants, and me because I feel pressure to entertain him. The solution? To plan “workations.” Even though his job is in an office, he’s worked on side projects while we’ve traveled together. We sit in cafes together during the day then go out at night, and both of us are happy.
Don’t Worry About “Settling Down”
But what’s the end game? I’ve had this thought a lot when I’ve thought about my relationship. But then I think, maybe this is it. You don’t have to be together 12 months a year or even six months a year to have a happy relationship. There are plenty of people who constantly travel for work and stay with their partners.
There are a ton of ways to have a successful relationship that don’t involve a white picket fence or 1.5 children. So, if what makes you happy is traveling half the time and living with your significant other the other half (or any other ratio, for that matter), then that’s how you should live your life.