I'm a travel lover.
There's something about hopping on a plane carrying me to a new destination that brings about feelings of excitement and accomplishment. Thankfully I've been blessed with many opportunities to jet set around the world before the age of 26, and though my passport isn't overflowing with stamps, there's just enough proof of the lasting memories that I created around the world. I can't deny that I've been to some amazing places that have opened my eyes and mind to different cultures and customs, while sparking my own creativity and desire to live a fulfilling life.
But what I don't like about travel is the many misconceptions that come from being a woman of the world. I've been in situations where a former partner didn't want to travel with me because they assumed that since I've “been everywhere" (as if there aren't over 200 countries to explore!) that there's nothing left for us to experience together for the first time, despite the fact that most of my travels happened before I was even legal. In my mind, traveling in my teens where I was chaperoned or a victim to curfews is a completely different experience than voyaging in my 20s when I'm young, semi-wild and free.
It got to the point that I started to question myself for being given the opportunity to travel at such a young age. I didn't grow up with a silver spoon, I just had a family who saw the importance of me experiencing other cultures and seeing the world outside of my North Carolina home. They instilled in me a love for travel and because of that I find myself often seeking new experiences, but what they didn't tell me was that one day I would potentially pay the price when it came to my love life.
I'm not the only one who's fought the relationship battle that comes from being a person on the go. Many avid travelers find it hard to sustain relationships while jetsetting around the globe, but just as many have found a way to solve being single without sacrificing their desire for foraging new lands.
We chatted with a few travel junkies on the impact that traveling has had on their dating life, the misconceptions of being an avid traveler, and how they keep the flames lit even when they're thousands of miles away.
Meet the Travelers:
How Travel Has Impacted Their Dating Life
Evita: Dating was very difficult for a number of years. It took diligence and many of my relationships were long distance. I found myself feeling torn between where I was, and back home where my boyfriend was. It was tough. The biggest lesson I learned was that you have to make sure your relationship can work while you are abroad, not because you are abroad.
Gloria: While traveling has definitely introduced me to other beautiful and diverse ethnicities around the world, there simply is no immunity when it comes to the awkward status quo that the dating culture has become in 2017 for a millennial. I will say, however, that it's been a nice change of pace being courted in Europe, something that isn't as widespread in America, and simply experiencing different ways other cultures show and profess their love for a woman.
Erick: It really depends on what assignments I'm working on an in what part of the world. Sometimes it helps and sometimes it restricts. For example, if I'm doing a long-term gig like learning Tango in Buenos Aires for six weeks, it's great. But if I'm working for Eurail exploring Europe by train it's tough as I'm constantly moving every few days. All depends on whom I'm seeing at the time to be honest. But long lasting romantic relationships, nope.
Rachel: I try not to subscribe to the whole dating for black women is hard phenomenon. I dated when I was living in New York, but I think while I was doing constant and consistent travel I wasn't dating as much, and that's obviously because I wasn't home enough to date someone consistently. A guy that I was dating this summer was like, 'you're going to have to go to some of these places over again' and I was like I'm okay with going there again. It's not like I won't say I've already been there I'm not going because it's a whole different experience when you're going with someone else, and I feel like at this point I'm ready to experience a lot of my travels with a companion.
Oneika: The tendency is to think that travelling and living abroad have a negative impact on one's dating life (due to moving around so much), but in actuality my lifestyle has actually enriched it! I feel as though my dating pool widened as soon as I left my home country-- I've come across men from all walks of life in my travels. I've been blessed to meet really fun, adventurous, globally-minded guys on the road.
If men (or women) are intimidated by their number of passport stamps
Evita: At this point, no because since starting Nomadness Travel Tribe, my network has truly changed. I have world travelers all around me. I think my business acumen and worldwide reach intimidates them more than my actual stamps do at this point.
Gloria: I wish I could say that my passport stamp count is a turn on for men (hahahaha, stop reading mom), but in actuality, it only seems to intimidate and complicate who I am as a person. Men feel they can't amount to what I've done or where I've been, so they either put on this obnoxious front like they're worldly and well-versed in politics, or they just don't even bother. Not to mention, a man would have to be in a position to deal with long-distance dating, or be able to have a lifestyle that allows him to work on the road like I do. That in itself can be a challenge, so for me at least, it's easier to stay emotionally unavailable and focused on growing my brand.
Erick: Not really. I think women that travel are more intimidated/impressed. Women I meet who don't travel fall into two camps in regards to my travels. Over the top impressed or couldn't care less. Since I've been to 88 countries I get the "You probably have a woman in every city" comments a lot.
Rachel: I have encountered some guys who do get intimidated and obviously they don't want to admit to me that they're intimidated. I've heard people say things like, it's hard to catch a moving target and I'm like, but you're not even trying to catch me what are you talking about? You have to kind of date with the intention to say what you're interested in and I think a lot of times people base off of social media perceive what they want and I know for me on my social media on my IG you will mostly see my travels, things related to travel quotes, so you don't see my day to day life, and I do that very specifically because it's a brand, and so I think a lot of times people see that and they're like you're always gone you're always traveling and that's not true, and if I do travel it's at the very most a week or a week and a half out of the month.
Oneika: Not at all! Because the men I meet abroad tend to be travellers themselves, we are pretty much on an equal playing field in terms of our passion for travel and discovery. So instead of comparing the amount of stamps we have, we often trade the intangibles-- travel stories and life experiences. I think that a man who's confident and secure in himself will be interested, not intimidated, by his woman's international exploits, even if he isn't particularly well-travelled.
Misconceptions About A Woman who Travels
Evita: That we have men all over the world or that we are running from something that keeps us from settling down. I respond by telling them that neither of those are travel gender specific, and they could be talking about anyone, including themselves.
Gloria: When someone, a man specifically, learns I'm traveling on my own, it's usually met with, "Well, aren't you scared?" or "Wait... all by yourself???" as if I'm a toddler, freshly potty-trained, able to wipe my own @$s and this discovery just can't simply be possible. It's usually met with a sarcastic response about how I had to ask permission from an imaginary boyfriend, ha, but in all honesty, a lot of them come away impressed, and I hope I can help continuing to change the perception of what women should and shouldn't be doing alone.
Oneika: I've heard men say that women who travel a lot won't make good wives or life partners because they are constantly "running away." I've also heard men say that women who travel solo put themselves at risk; the assumption is that women are inherently too weak and fragile to travel on their own and thus need a man to protect them. I think these sorts of assertions are preposterous and based on ignorance and misinformation. So my initial response is to provide examples of wanderlusting women who travel safely on their own and still manage to balance travel with a healthy relationship.
Whether or not being an avid traveler determines who they date
Evita: I was (newly in a relationship) open to dating men from all backgrounds. Them being a traveler wasn't a deal breaker, but they had to at least respect what I do. I'm so entrenched in building Nomadness, and that has an international scope. It's to the point that if you didn't want to engage in travel at all, you'd be missing out on a huge part of who I am as a person. I feel in that case the relationship would never work out.
Gloria: At one point, I had to take a step back and wonder if I've set my standards too high (Spoiler Alert: ladies, the answer is usually NO), but all I really want in a man is someone who's driven, compassionate, and a man of God. While traveling for a living accounts for an extremely small percentage of men in the work field, I'd be fishing for pixie dust only limiting my options to men in the same field as me. So ultimately, someone who not only understands my lifestyle, but is open to finding ways to also work remotely based on his own skill sets, would be my ideal kind of guy. Once you've found what it is that makes you happy in life, and you realize that it's not a person or dollar amount that's attached to it, you almost prefer rolling solo, because it's less complicated. But I'm willing to complicate my life for the right person. I'm just in no rush ;)
Erick: Not at all. The women I date tend to look the same and have a certain personality type. It's not a "requirement" they travel or like to travel. But it sure helps. The thing for me is I'm not very good at negotiating in a relationship. I just don't have time for it in the lifestyle I lead. If someone told me they wanted me to stop traveling, the relationship would largely end right there simply because she doesn't understand me at all. For some, travel is a hobby. For me, it's life. It's everything. Like painting to a painter or dancing to a dancer. Someone I date has to understand that. Heck someone I'm friends with has to understand that.
Rachel: I'm open to dating people whom I share a lot of interests with. Travel does have to be a factor and I realize that I travel a lot more than the average person in general, so I cant' really date like who I'm interested in dating based off of the amount that I travel. People base it off of I haven't traveled this many places maybe this won't work and that's not true. But I definitely say that they would have to be open to traveling and new experiences. I'm open to dating people who are open to the thought of traveling. But if they aren't open and are like Rachel you travel and I'm going to stay home, then I'm definitely not interested in you just because travel is a part of my life and my brand and business so you have to share that passion with me because it's not going to go away.
Oneika: I am interested in men who are curious and adventurous, full stop. You don't have to have a passport or travel internationally to be those things. That said, a man who is supportive of my passion for travel is a must. I have to be able to do me; I have to be able to live the life I want and do the things that I enjoy. Travel is a huge part of my life, so a guy who doesn't accept that is a guy I can't be with.
How to keep a relationship going from thousands of miles away
Evita: Super open communication, even when it sucks. Skype and phone sex. Creating a light at the end of the tunnel, in the form of a date when the long distance will stop. Undivided attention when you are together.
Gloria: With any healthy relationship, compromise needs to be at the core. There needs to be a little give and take from both sides, and while one party might have to travel for work, I think it's also important they take a few weeks or a month off to just spend in one place with the person they love. Start new traditions every time you see each other or any country you visit together. It'll make the time you spend apart, that much more bearable.
Erick: Yikes. My exes are going to laugh you even asked me this question. lol. I think it's important that both parties are open to compromise. My biggest character flaw is selfishness when it comes to my travels. I prefer to travel alone and hate when someone interferes with my plans. Also, make sure you don't waste time fighting when you are together. Since your time is so limited together don't waste it. Cut out all other distractions and focus on each other.
Rachel: Record a video on Snapchat or a personal video like this is what I'm looking at, this is what I'm seeing, and here's some photos, face-timing and stuff like that, I think that's very helpful. Especially when you're away because it makes them feel like they're seeing what you're seeing and experiencing some of the things you're experiencing. And I think time apart allows you to miss somebody. Or bringing back souvenirs, I don't buy a lot but if I see something that I know someone would really like it let's them know I thought of them and I'll get that. It lets them know that you listen to what they're saying or they know you know they like something outside of a shot glass and a keychain. That has been really helpful for me. Them knowing upfront that this is what I do and this is my life.
Oneika: Communication is key. Establish expectations and routines for how and when you'll stay in contact with your partner when you're away. Will you Skype every two days? Whatsapp in the evenings when you get back to the hotel after a day of sightseeing? Chat on the phone every morning when you get up? These are things that should be addressed before you jet off. Spend quality time together when you're in the same place. It's hard being the one who gets "left behind". Separation can put a real strain on a relationship, especially when one person is living it up in a new place and the other is doing the same old thing back home. Plan a date night, spa day, or picnic in the park so you can reconnect once you're back in the same area code.
Why you should date a person who travels
Evita: She will be one of the most flexible people you will come in contact with. She'll know how to take things in stride, have better compromising skills than most, and probably be more empathetic to the world than someone who has never left their neighborhood.
Gloria: We'd be cheaper dates, because we'd value experiences over material things, we'd have a home, but it's more of a feeling than a place, meaning we don't always need to fly thousands of miles home to celebrate every major holiday, and she wouldn't succumb to societal pressures, because society is often the last thing she'll turn to when making pivotal decisions in life.
Erick: People should definitely date those that travel. Travelers tend to be resourceful, compassionate, sociable, and energetic. Also ridiculously positive. Some of the coolest women I've met have been travelers and could see myself actually making something work long term if I was in a different place in my life. It's all about expectations. Don't date a traveler and expect them to "eventually" stop traveling or change. It's unlikely to happen and if it does I assure you it's probably not by choice, which may lead to other issues.
Rachel: She's not as complicated as you would think. I've seen how people live and are so happy on a lot less than what we have, so it made things a lot more simple for me. I think about a lot of things before I even make big purchases. It doesn't take a lot to make me happy now. So I say date a girl who travels because it doesn't take a lot to make her really happy. I'm okay with doing simple things and I think just because I live a life of adventure so I don't necessarily have to be always doing something super crazy when we're dating. She's open to new adventures, a great communicator and very nurturing.
Oneika: She'll never bore you. Women who travel are adventurous, risk-takers, and unafraid to try new things! She's easygoing and highly adaptable. Women who travel are pros at thinking on their feet, being flexible, and accepting that things won't always go as planned. She's well-versed in diplomacy, culture, and human behavior. Women who travel are used to coming across people from all walks of life. They also have a deep appreciation for history, are tolerant, and have a high level of cultural fluency.