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.
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.
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.
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.