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Notes On Dating A Non-Traveler (And How I See Love On The Road Differently Now)

love

Chris and I, spending a day in Brooklyn — our home borough — in Prospect Park

Okay, so let me start off by saying that when I say “non-traveler” I don’t mean my boyfriend doesn’t travel. In fact, he speaks fluent Italian, loves getting away to remote destinations and is super adventurous (he just took me rock climbing in Brooklyn — who knew?). What I mean is that he doesn’t travel as a full-time job or hobby. Instead, two weeks per year is what he has to plan the perfect trip and explore the world.

Some of you may have noticed me briefly mention him, Chris, in some of my previous posts; however, this is the first formal announcement I’m making that I’m possibly a little less independent than I once was — although don’t think I still won’t be traveling solo most of the time.

I’d always believed that in order to live my life the way I wanted and to be understood I had to date another travel blogger, or at least a vagabond of some sort. As you’ve read in the past during my relationship stories, this didn’t always work out so well for me. That’s not to say that it can’t, but in my experience I’ve found many guys who have a thirst for the world are not always keen on settling down, even if it is just with a girlfriend.

On the other hand, I’ve dated guys who had nothing to do with the travel world: accountants, bartenders, advertising creatives, city employees. None of these worked out either, often because they couldn’t deal with the amount I traveled (and often felt sad they couldn’t do the same). I’ve also written about the pitfalls of this in the past.

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Chris and I taking a selfie at our first sporting event together, a Red Bulls soccer game near NYC

A Change Of Pace

Then about 10 months ago I met Chris. It was completely by accident. A college friend was visiting and told me she had a friend who wanted to come out for a night of dancing and drinking with us. He showed up in a Nintendo t-shirt, with long hair just above his shoulders and a friendly demeanor. When the music came on he jumped around and swung his head like nobody else was in the room. I was like a magnet to his positive energy. And after one weekend of being inseparable, that was that.

Oddly, he was — and still is — actually proud of what I do. Despite the fact I make less money than him, he’s constantly bragging to his friends and family about how I paved my own way for success and created a life that allows me to explore the world and live on my own terms. And while 95% of the time he can’t come with me, he always wishes me a safe flight and to have fun, genuinely happy for me.

There have been a few trips we’ve been able to take. About three weeks into us dating I invited Chris to join me in Lake Placid for a weekend of hiking, hot tubs and good food. While certain boyfriends in the past have taken this as a sign that I was trying to speed up the relationship, Chris happily agreed. Instead of freaking out and seeing wedding rings in his future he took it for what it was, a chance to spend a weekend doing something fun with a girl he was interested in.

volcan pacaya

Eating marshmallows we roasted on Volcan Pacaya in Guatemala

Learning About Each Other

During the weekend I saw so many sides to Chris — all good: his ability to go with the flow, how friendly and personable he was with all our waitstaff, how knowledgeable he was about the outdoors, how he appreciated a well-made cocktail. Not to mention spending time along on the trails naturally allowed for those minute details that aren’t important enough to bring up over dinner but are so insightful and seem to flow when you’re in a quiet place for a long time, like that your first kiss was when you were 10 or that you won your 6th grade spelling bee.

We also had the chance to go to Guatemala. While Chris’ sense of adventure and curiosity made him a lot of fun to be with on the trip, what most impressed me was what happened when we sat down on the plane. Out of habit, I immediately opened my laptop and starting outlining articles. He, on the other hand, turned his phone off — he didn’t even bring a laptop — and started up a conversation with a 10-year-old Guatemalan girl in the seat next to him. Instead of tuning out and staring at Twitter or Instagram, two things he has no interest in, he seized the moment to practice a new language and get to know a local. He was practicing what I was preaching on my website even when I wasn’t. Chris may not get to travel as much as me, but when he does he doesn’t waste any opportunity to have a transformative travel experience, something I truly admire him for.

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Chris and I bar hopping in Brooklyn

Seeing Things Differently

You don’t need to travel to share new experiences with someone you love. At least once each week we try a new restaurant, explore a new park, go on a local hike, see a performance or movie or find a new scenic spot in the city. We share our favorite places in New York City with each other as well as frequent venues neither of us know at all. In fact, just last week we chose a random subway stop to meet at with no plans in mind. I typed “whiskey” into Apple Maps and we decided to go to the nearest bar with the word whiskey in the title. It was a really fun night that included a delicious chorizo burrito, hockey, free pickle back shots from our new bartender friend and Rummy. Maybe not hiking Mount Everest, but still an adventure.

So there you have it. My public relationship announcement and public declaration of appreciation and admiration for a truly special guy, the first one who I feel like truly gets me.

Have any of you nomads made it work with someone who couldn’t travel with you all the time? Please share in the comments below.

Also Check Out:

Notes On Transformative Travel And The Importance Of Being Present

Smarter Travel: How To Plan And Save For An Epic Adventure

Get Lost In These Wanderlust-Inducing Travel Photos

Jessie Festa standing in front of grafitti wall

Hi, I’m Jessie on a journey!

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14 Comments

  1. Frankie on August 12, 2014 at 3:50 pm

    As a traveler/adventurer I approve of your dude! I am from Guatemala, currently living in Arizona…I climb mountains, i hike, i love culture. Whenever ive traveled abroad, hiking boots, tent, sleeping bag and wilderness gear are always in my backpack. I think this guy will expand your repertouire of adventures. Cheers!

    • jess2716 on August 13, 2014 at 12:18 am

      @Frankie: Thank you for the kind words. I agree he’s definitely a keeper 🙂

  2. Megan on August 12, 2014 at 7:12 pm

    love this! and what a fun game to play with googling whiskey! haha.

  3. Nellie on August 13, 2014 at 9:31 am

    I love this. 😉 It reminds me of the relationship I have with my husband Alberto. He’s just like Chris, he loves to travel but can’t do it as often, he’s WAY more adventurous than I am and he respects what I do. We still have fun at home and now we travel together, we keep our laptops aside and truly embrace the experience. Anyway looks like you’ve found a keeper there. Yay! 😉

    • jess2716 on October 27, 2014 at 5:57 pm

      @Nellie: Just seeing this now for some reason. Thank you for the kind words. Would love to meet Alberto someday. I love reading about your adventures together when you both get to travel! 🙂

  4. Anne on August 13, 2014 at 3:05 pm

    There are so many facets to a great relationship. The healthy ones keep life exciting, passionate, curious and adventuresome … and woven throughout with love and mutual respect for each other’s desires and interests! You beautifully described that exact relationship you and Chris are shaping together! Enjoy and keep celebrating every treasured moment together!

    • jess2716 on August 13, 2014 at 3:25 pm

      @Aunt Annie: Thank you so much for the inspiring words. Hopefully you will get to meet him sometime soon. Maybe next time you and Uncle Jimmy are in the city?

  5. Mariana on August 14, 2014 at 12:38 pm

    Loved reading this! Crazy how someone so special can come out of no where. Happy for you 🙂

    • jess2716 on August 14, 2014 at 2:02 pm

      @Mariana: I was definitely not expecting it. Thank you for the kind words 🙂

  6. Val on March 11, 2015 at 10:20 pm

    Hey Jess!
    I was actually wondering if I was the only traveler that was experiencing to be in a relationship with a non-traveler. I googled it, and I found your article. I don’t feel lonely in this path anymore! haha lol
    I gotta say, my life has changed 180 degrees since I’m with my partner. I backpacked non stop for 9 years with no set destination nor limit of time, and for the past 4 years I have been learning to travel always with a return ticket and time sets beforehand in a type of consensual agreement of how long is too long in our relationship for a long-distance run, which is usually around 2 months depending on the phase the relationship is living, but now I’m getting ready for a 9-month adventure in Asia, as my hen-party trip or farewell to being a single traveler before starting traveling with kids (He’s gonna meet me halfway time for a month). If I’m honest, it still bothers me a lot to feel a anchor, I miss my complete freedom of time and space. But, he is definitely worth it, and even though I fought a lot at the beginning this I feel for him, I just love him, and so, he is still the choice I make everyday.

    Make everyday count and happy travels!

    • jess2716 on March 11, 2015 at 11:38 pm

      @Val: Ah, your comment was like poetry 🙂 Sounds like you’re a great match. My ex — we’re not together anymore but are working on things — definitely didn’t travel very much. Only two weeks per year. Was not easy, since I would have loved for him to share all of my trips with me, but I loved him so made it work (and would be willing to do so if we get back together). It’s definitely not easy though when you have that travel bug itching you 24/7!

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