Wandering All Alone

Am I Destined To Wander The World All Alone?

Derek Perspectives 116 Comments

Wandering All Alone
Having just woken up from a night’s sleep on my rock bed inside the cave where I am now staying, a remote cave far, far away from any civilization, I think I’ll head outside for a walk. Of course, since I woke up alone, as I always do, I’ll just wander down to the river by myself, sit down on the grassy riverbank, toss small stones into the cool water and become lost in my thoughts.

Chances are I won’t even speak today, but that’s alright, because I’m used to it. Rarely do I meet or talk to anyone during my wanderings, no matter where I am. The truth is, a life of travel requires me to accept an isolated, lonely existence, and nothing else.

Sure, it would be nice to have a companion, a partner, a girlfriend, someone to share my wanderings and my life with. But again, that’s just not possible with this kind of lifestyle. When you travel the world non-stop, there is simply no room for personal relationships, no room for love. My backpack is the only partner I can have, and the only partner I need.

Wait, wait, wait…hold on a minute. I must apologize.

You know, I am constantly asked how I can possibly live such a lifestyle, one that gives me zero chance of having a relationship with someone else. I think I’ve heard this question so many times that I started to believe it myself as I began writing this post.

It seems that when many people hear that I’ve been traveling for thirteen years, they quickly assume that I must be some sort of wandering monk or maybe just some kind of weirdo who walks around alone, barely speaking, rarely interacting with other people and absolutely never having any type of relationship or gettin’ any lovin’ at all. They think I must be a hermit.

Well, surprise! I’ve actually had a few long-term relationships over the years (more than 1 year in length) and I’ve had some shorter relationships as well. I’m meeting new people all of the time, and yes, I do talk to and socialize with them, just as non-nomadic people talk to and socialize with each other. Also, as is the case with everyone else on the planet, I never know where such interactions may lead. Sometimes, ‘something’ happens. Some of the people I meet become friends, others become girlfriends and with some, we might exchange a smooch or two and then carry on with our own lives. And maybe one day, someone I meet will become a lifelong partner. It’s certainly possible and I’m open to the idea.

Not very hermit-like of me, I know.

As you may have noticed, though, the one thing I don’t talk much about on this blog is this very subject, my personal relationships. I’m more than happy to talk about my armpit shaving and introduce you to my rubber ducky, but I do prefer to keep at least one aspect of my life all to myself. Again, this doesn’t mean that I’m a lonely, lover-less traveler, at least not all the time.


So Many People To Meet!

If you’re worried that following your travel goals will force you to give up any chance whatsoever of finding a boyfriend, girlfriend, husband or wife, my advice is to stop worrying. In fact, you should be quite excited because your travels will allow you to meet new people all over this great planet, people you otherwise would have never encountered. And you never know if the next person you’ll meet in some faraway, or even nearby, land will be the snuggle bunny or sexy sweet thang you’ve been waiting for.

My theory is that I have a higher chance of finding someone I can truly connect with if I am doing something that I truly love in life. Following my goals puts me into situations where I am able to meet like-minded people all the time, such as other travelers and locals interested in meeting foreigners, something that would be much more difficult to do if I was living in one particular town or city back in the USA.

Can Such a Relationship Last?

This is another common question – how is it possible to maintain a relationship while traveling?

If you do find someone that you connect with and want to spend more time with, you just have to examine your situation. If both of you have a desire to travel, then off you go into the world together. If your new partner is not able to travel or doesn’t want to travel, it’s decision time. You simply have to determine what is more important to you – spending time with this new person or carrying on with your journey. It might not be an easy decision to make, but ultimately, you will find the answer if you search deep enough.

As an example, maybe you travel to South America for three months and during your third week you meet the man or woman of your dreams in Buenos Aires. What to do? You could always postpone your travels, especially if you’re flexible and don’t organize too much in advance. You could stick around Buenos Aires for some time and see where the relationship leads. Maybe it will work out. Maybe it won’t. If it doesn’t, you move on and continue traveling. If it does, you stay with your partner and create new plans together.

And besides, if you do find someone who you really think is a perfect match for you, then chances are your entire mindset will change (which happens often in life anyway). You’ll reevaluate your goals and make changes to your life accordingly. You might not want to travel so much anymore if that means losing your new honey, baby, sweetie, darling, angel eyes, pumpkin, stud, pooh bear, cupcake, buttercup, sugar lips, booberry, dumpling, daddy mack or love muffin.

Even I, despite being so completely addicted to travel, would change my lifestyle if I found the perfect love muffin.

What’s your opinion? Do you think travel makes it harder to find a partner?

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Comments 116

  1. Mark

    Right now I feel stuck in a corporate type job that doesn’t seem to suit me, but then again many people feel that way. I would love to wander the Earth a bit and try to find out who I am, maybe once my two sons are on their own. Good luck, I hope you all find what you are searching for.

  2. Kendal

    Whew, 6 months! I don’t know if I could be without my guy for 6 months. We’ve already done a couple of months here and there and will be facing several more in the next year. Traveling is definitely tough when you have different ideas of where to go and what to do… but some solo travel is good. 🙂

  3. Abilene

    He enjoys road trips and exploring towns but has no interest in wandering around in the wilderness like I do. There is more to it but my need to travel was the deciding factor. He is not very adventurous. I probably wouldn’t have left him if I hadn’t hiked the PCT solo for 6 months.

  4. Abilene

    I recently left the love of my life for a life of solo travel and self exploration. It’s been the most difficult decision of my life and I can’t help but feel like I did something wrong. I am just so torn! I have severe wanderlust and have a need to explore the world but I also want my man:( why can’t I have both?

  5. Shelley

    I may not have been as avid a traveler as Earl, but I was a Wanderlust. I met my husband in India. I got married, settled down and had two children. I haven’t been to a new country in 5 years. And I’m OK with that, because i have found a different kind of happy. Hope to pack up my family and travel with them soon too. The best gift I can give my children is the gift of travel and seeing the world. Best.Education.Ever.

  6. Allie

    I’ve never feared a lack of relationship while travelling. I think when it comes to changing my mindset, a paradox must occur. They would have to love me enough to travel, and I would have to love them enough to stop.

  7. Kendal

    Awwww. Why not move to Toronto and make that your home base, and go travel abroad once you move there? Try a compromise! I love traveling, but gosh, having someone special… I’d love that more.

  8. Julian

    This thread resonates dearly with me! Just last week in fact me and my girlfriend, after having just come back from Mexico had the breakup-of-the-century because she wants to move to Toronto, and I want to go travel abroad. Given my uncommitted attitude to moving in with her in Toronto, it was a sticky situation for sure. She is the most beautiful and inspiring person I’ve ever been with….but I guess to me, nothing beats the open road. For better or worse, we will see where my decisions take me!

  9. Zach @ The True Generalist

    This is a question I have also struggled with. Although I didn’t look through ALL of the comments, I found a lot of positive sentiments toward finding someone, but not a lot of actual finding someones. I have a theory as to the reason for this.

    You, and many of your readers are used to being free. You’re used to being able to do what you wanna do when you wanna do it. I know this because i’ve set up my life to travel and be free. The problem is, when you try to form a life with someone similar, you both want to continue to be free and do what you want to do and the idea that you will both want to always do the same things is silly. So naturally, at some point your views will diverge. When you’re in an anchored relationship, you struggle through these times to get to the other side, but when you’re used to your freedom, you both just decide, “Oh, we weren’t meant for each other,” and you move on.

    So of course it’s totally easy to have a bf or gf for a while, even a year, but a life long partner this way? I don’t think so. You’ve got to anchor that relationship in something deeper than a lifestyle that by definition is anchored in nothing.

  10. Ksenia

    Thanks for the honest post, Earl, I truly enjoy reading your blog. However, this issue of whether or not you will meet someone because you are not stable or rooted in one place doesn’t just apply to the travel bugs out there- as an exploration geologist, my life takes me all over the world, sometimes for a few weeks, sometimes for a month, or as recently, 2 years. Each time I am faced with the decision: is the new adventure worth losing what I have here, right now? And always, I say “yes!”-what is meant to be, will be. Recently, I had my “significant other” follow me to my place of work, halfway around the world, only to find out that we probably would have been better off being apart anyways. I am a firm believer that you should not let fear stop you-be it fear of missing out, fear of change, or fear of being alone for an indefinite amount of time- and I salute all of you brave souls out there who dare to explore what beyond what is familiar and comfortable. If someone truly wants to share their journey with you, it will happen- regardless of time, place, circumstances and plans.

  11. Kay

    I love this blog !! I will soon we a travel like you ! coincidentally my last name is traveler (in dutch) Btw ! You should Visit Suriname, South America ! (borders British and french Guiana and Brazil) You”ll love the food ! no regrets !! I promise ! 😀 happy travels


  12. LeslieRI

    The one steadfast rule about relationships is there are no rules!
    Earl, I really enjoy your travel tales and I’d like to know how many 50ish women are out there wondering if they, too, can >broaden< their horizons, forgive the pun. I've spent my entire life assuming Responsibilities to discover I think I missed something. Following you, Earl, is the next best thing. Thank you for letting me come along.
    And I think I've seen baby sized backpacks!! LOL

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Leslie – There is no shortage of 50ish women out here traveling the world, that’s for sure. While they might not make up the majority, it is not as rare as you might think. I’m here in Mexico right now and have already met two in the three days I’ve been here!

  13. Kat

    I’ve given this subject a lot of thought before leaving and truthfully it is still hard to begin my journey knowing I have someone here, at home that I feel is my better half. However, traveling is truly a passion and goal of mine that I want to fulfill more than anything. What will happen when I have to leave? I am too afraid to know right now. Thanks for all your wise words.

  14. Veronica May

    Hey I think your travel story is amazing. I travel all the time when i’m not working on a vessel in the ocean, so sometimes i think i’ve made it impossible for myself to be in a relationship. But i would never be as free as i am now to explore anywhere in the world i want, and just pick a place on the map as my next destination. It’s exhilarating! And the right person will come along when it’s meant to be 🙂

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Veronica – Yes, you never know how or where you’ll meet the right person and there’s no natural law that prevents you from meeting someone while living the life that you want!

  15. This American Girl

    Sometimes I’m afraid that I won’t have a relationship again because I travel so much. However, like you said, I trust that if I continue living my life the way I want to, the right people will come into it. Great post 🙂

    1. Wandering Earl

      @This American Girl – It just seems silly to stay at home hoping you meet the right person when you could be out there traveling the world and still have plenty of opportunities to meet the right person as well!

  16. kle

    I have some strong feelings about this subject, i don’t think it’s impossible to have a long lasting relationship whilst travelling the world. But i have one exception: if you have a relationship BEFORE departing, then i’m afraid it is not likely to last long. There are exceptions of course, just saying in general.
    On the other hand, you said something very true: while travelling you find people with a similar mind setting, similar goals and interests in life and this is a huge help in finding someone “Perfect” for you. Having meaningful relationship is not easy anywhere, it became easier when you find the right one. Being at home or around the world doesn’t make any difference. My dream would be being able to travel the world indefinately with the person i love. I’m leaving tomorrow and i thank the lord, the faith or whatever that i’m not leaving anyone behind. I feel free and open to the world and to whatever life has on its pockets for me! 🙂

  17. lauramay

    I’ve been travelling for nearly ten years myself, and in many ways this is a concern of mine. Whenever I stop for a little while and meet people who’ve been on The Career Path since the day they left school (if not before), I’m struck by the idea that we live in completely different worlds. The more I travel and grow as a person, the more that sheer difference becomes an issue for me: but at the same time, I am *so* happy. I wouldn’t swap my life for anyone’s! Haha until that day (if!!) I find a reason to stop travelling, I’m going to keep following the wind 🙂
    Great blog, thanks. I’m glad it’s not just me!

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