Nomadic Lifestyle Tips

Nomad Notes: Fitting Love in Your Backpack

In a new series entitled Nomadic Notes, I’m answering your most frequently asked questions. Consider these bite-sized blogs calorie-free treats of travel knowledge. =)

Relationships On The Road: Fitting Love in Your Backpack

I’ve seriously lost count of the number of e-mails I’ve received that start with, “So are you really a solo female traveler? I mean, don’t you have a boyfriend?”

These questions inevitably lead to others like, “How does traveling affect your romantic relationships?” and, “How do I find a significant other while traveling?”

Heart Paris

Yes, I do travel solo. But as far as relationships are concerned, much like the Facebook status, it’s complicated.

I could sit here and spew facts and skills to use to help keep romance alive while on the road. I could provide you with a list of affirmations and tools that I think would be helpful in finding a travel mate. But if I did that, then this blog wouldn’t be based on reality. And since I’m all about sharing my true story and not the one I wish I was having (damn my moral compass), I have to confess…

Hilary Australia

I have NO idea what I’m talking about when it comes to finding love while traveling.

That’s right. On this topic I will be of no help.

I’m single. I haven’t had a healthy working relationship since I graduated. And given the sample population of men I’ve studied so far, I’m not sure I will find one anytime soon.

I mean, don’t get me wrong. I’m not in any hurry to find The One. I still have a lot of growing up to do before I’m ready for that relationship. I’d just like to have one that didn’t suck.

I don’t know why I thought it would be easy to find a guy who loves travel and adventure, and is also looking to share a deep spiritual (and let’s be honest, physical) connection with another person. That’s not too much to ask for, is it? I mean, there are PUH-LENTY of fish in the sea… right?

Sea

Well, I may be swimming in the wrong sea.

From what I can gather, most backpackers are flighty, non-committal, unreliable, and pretty jaded when it comes to love. It may just be the nature of the lifestyle. It’s too bad I don’t jive with this.

But for some backpackers, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. My fellow traveler, Jeremy Foster of TravelFreak, writes about why he enjoys being nomadic and single in his guest post: Confessions of a Traveling Male.

Then again, I’ve known of other adventurers who have coupled up, traveled together, and are incredibly happy (like my friends at YTravel Blog and Lateral Movements). Even my surfing idol Holly Beck managed to find a guy who loved Nicaragua, surfing, and eco-friendly living as much as she did.

phil-couple-1

So what’s the secret? How do you fit love in your backpack?

I guess the only truthful answer I can give is I don’t really know. I’m still trying to figure it out myself.

Even though I haven’t been able to make it work, I have full confidence that it can work. After all, others have done it.

But in the meantime, I choose to focus on being happy with myself and developing friendships with the nice men I meet. Because eventually, whatever relationship I get into should form from friendship, right? And maybe from bonding over some awesome surfing?

Yeah, I know. I’m so cheesy, I should be on pizza. But sometimes cheese is good, right? :)

Hilary on Nica beaches

Do you have relationship advice for fellow travelers and adventurers? Leave it below! Let’s discuss. 

31 Comments

  • Reply

    Lynn Schriner

    August 30, 2013

    I love this Blog! I love everything about this blog including the young, vagabond, nomad who wrote it! She inspires me with the spirit of her goodness. I am actually quite protective of her. So any GUY who thinks he is good, kind, adventurous, honest, spiritual and HOT will have to pass through a lot of people who love her. (That would include me by the way)
    In the meantime the stories, the adventures, the growing, the lessons, the exhaustion and the joy will go on! I am right there with you. I know that one day you will look into his eyes and
    “just know” and when you walk down the aisle or the dirt path or the red carpet and say “I do” it will be for life…cause that’s just the kind of girl you are.

    • Reply

      Hilary

      September 1, 2013

      Thank you so much, Lynn! I have so much love for you and all of my blogger friends who have connected with me through my stories and travels. And I love everything about this comment. It’s just bursting with compassion and humor and it makes me feel all warm and fuzzy! :)

      And don’t worry. If/when I meet the right guy, I’m sure he’ll charm everyone. Because that’s the kind of guy he’ll HAVE to be. ;)

  • Reply

    youngjeninspats

    August 30, 2013

    I’m with you, it’s hard. Anything I could say though, Anais Nin has said it better: “To travel? To travel one must love the sky, countries, fall in love with cities, but detach one’s self from individuals. The cure, the secret of happiness is there: to love the universe with its changing aspects and its marvelous antitheses and its analogies more marvelous still. The exterior world thus becomes an inalterable source of joy, and all the more perfect because we are its only mirror; the shocks and wounds only come from human beings.”

    • Reply

      Hilary

      September 1, 2013

      Thank you so much for sharing this. This was just perfect .

      Have you had any successful relationships on the road?

      • Reply

        youngjeninspats

        September 2, 2013

        Absolutely never, but that’s fine with me. Everything in life has a price that you have to pay, and for the life I lead that is an absolutely acceptable one. And it’s a huge pain in the ass to factor someone else into the equation, or explain to a boyfriend that I’d rather travel alone this time and all that. Sometimes it gets lonely, but when I get that feeling I just try to go somewhere new and explore :-) Some people need to be in a relationship, I guess mine is with the world :-)

        • Reply

          Hilary

          November 29, 2013

          HAHA! Well, at least I’m not the only one in this basket :).

          And what a GREAT way to look at it. I guess I’m with you. I’m in love with adventure and personal growth. I suppose that doesn’t leave much room for ‘a man’, now does it?

  • Reply

    Hailey

    August 30, 2013

    We are always waiting to hear that Tarzan came to knock you off your feet…Someday ;)

    • Reply

      Hilary

      September 1, 2013

      Haha! Wouldn’t THAT be a silly sight? “Mom? Dad? This is Tarzan. I met him in the back jungles when I was studying gorillas…” ;)

  • Reply

    Robert

    August 30, 2013

    Amen sister. Wish I had some good advice, but it’s damn difficult! Don’t let your heart wither, I guess. And that’s not even mine; Deepak Chopra said it. Keep moving forward. You’re pretty special, which means your peers and partners are in rarefied places. Keep climbing and you’ll find them.

    Or, set your sites on some fella, and seduce him like there’s no tomorrow!

    • Reply

      Hilary

      September 1, 2013

      Haha! Thanks for the encouragement. I hope this post doesn’t come across as me being depressed, because I’m not. I’m really enjoying this time of my life and I’m not lonely. But since I always get so many questions about it, I wanted to make sure I shared my situation.

  • Reply

    Brittany

    August 31, 2013

    If you want to find a guy or the man of your dreams. You gotta think it make a list of the qualities you want in a guy and believe and act like you met the man already! I got this advice from the book called “The Secret” and it works! That’s how I met my first boyfriend actually and still with him till’ this day!

    • Reply

      Hilary

      September 1, 2013

      You’re absolutely right, Briitany! Thanks for the reminder :)

  • Reply

    Gina Johnson

    August 31, 2013

    I’m still trying to figure it out too and I’m 43! I admit that I feel pangs of jealousy with the couple plans and wedding invites I’m privy to, but I’ve started to accept that maybe I’m not the “marrying kind”- especially living in a town like Vegas. I may be meant for singlehood…yes it’s a bit sad, but I fought hard to become the woman I am today. Someone will either appreciate it or I’ll continue on this journey alone.

    • Reply

      Hilary

      September 1, 2013

      I know there is someone out there for everyone. But it’s a tricky matter being in the same place at the same time, finding each other, and recognizing that connection. Must be some kind of magic to have all of those line up, I think.

      But I agree with you. Don’t compromise who you are. You will find the right man. I know it! :)

  • Reply

    gumiii

    August 31, 2013

    Having been on the road too many times, I’ve done the non-committal “I love you but goodbye gotta go” route. I also did the “let’s do this while it last” thing. And then when you least expect it, something just quite extraordinary happens. One that will knock your socks off. One that will mess with your travel plans. One that will send you to the other side of the world when you did not plan it that way. And make no mistake, it may not last forever. But then it’s one of those things that stays with you forever. So keep traveling and just enjoy one day at a time. You never know when it hits you.

    • Reply

      Hilary

      September 1, 2013

      =) Good advice! Yeah, I always say that my definition of love would be when I decide to change my plans so that they can include someone else. Or even to go where that person is going. I think you’re right though. It always hits you when you least expect it!

  • Reply

    Lythya

    September 1, 2013

    I never did consider this side of it. When my two friends and I were traveling we did a LOT of flirting to the point where I ended up making out with a british guy on a bench in Sophia, Bulgaria. And my other friend is still being semi-courted by one of the guys we met.
    Of course flirting, one-night stands and fooling around don’t add up to a relationship. It takes time to form relationships, and for romantic ones you should preferably spend every hour together for two weeks for the attraction to stay.
    But while traveling that’s practically impossible.
    I think the only advice I can deduce myself to is: if you feel attracted to a person and wonder if something more could happen see if you can tag along whereever they’re going or get them to come with you. Is it worth postponing plans in order to find a significant other?

    • Reply

      Hilary

      September 3, 2013

      It sounds like you guys had a lot of fun in Bulgaria! :)

      I certainly have some awesome memories of times like those, but it can be incredibly difficult saying goodbye to those connections, romantic or otherwise. But I think you’re right; if it’s something that really matters to both of you, you will find a way to make it work and travel together. Honestly, that’s how I define love at the moment: being willing to change my plans and goals and dreams so that they include that guy, even if that means not traveling. Shifting of priorities, you know?

      And even though I haven’t found that just yet, I can’t begin to tell you how many of those guys I met that I am now good friends with. Thank goodness for Facebook. :)

  • Reply

    Gene

    September 3, 2013

    I can’t think of any advice, but I can offer some encouragement. There are 3,487,869,561 men on the planet. The average age is 28, so lets say 25% is in the 24-30 bracket to be conservative. That means there are 871,967,390 men of that age. Subtract 1/3 that would be married gets you around 287,749,239. Figure half are in a relationship leaving 143,874,620 available.

    Now if just 10% are nomadic travelers or nomadic at heart and 10% of those have the qualities you are looking for, there are roughly a million and a half men out there that are not only good men, but fit your life, out there.

    Sounds like pretty good odds to me.

    • Reply

      Hilary

      September 3, 2013

      I like those odds! =)

      Thank you for the reminder, Gene. I’ve always been terrible with math. So glad I have you here to help me out with it. ;)

  • Reply

    Erica

    September 4, 2013

    ah, the inevitable question.
    though I do feel like there have been quite a few travel blogger weddings? wait. I can only think of two.

    anyway, I love that in essence, this post is about giving all relationships a chance and not necessarily focusing on THE relationship. I mean, travel is all about embracing different perspectives, right? It’d be pretty tough to do that if we were on one-track minds to find ourselves a significant other. Plus, being able to travel solo and embrace being single is quite empowering and I think in the long run, will attract a nicer person who values that. :)

    that’s not to say that being in a relationship isn’t desirable. I mean, I did just move to Seattle ;)

    • Reply

      Francis Tapon

      November 29, 2013

      What’s in Seattle? I was there 18 months, and didn’t find love.

      Great question that Hilary raises, but realize that female nomads generally have an easier time finding a nomadic male partner than the other way around. Women tend to favor safety, security, stability, a home, kids, etc… They’re more risk averse than men.

      As a result, adventurous nomadic men really struggle to find a partner with similar values.

      If 1% of males are nomadic; then 0.1% of females are.

      I addressed the issue of finding a committed partner in my article “Are Nomads Running Away from Something?” You might enjoy it Hilary, Erica, and others……

      • Reply

        Hilary

        November 29, 2013

        Thanks for commenting, Francis! You bring up an interesting perspective.

        I would have guessed that it’s more difficult for nomadic women to find men, since men who tend to travel are interested in ‘an experience’ versus finding ‘a relationship’ and thus would be averse to women with all of the qualities you listed above. But I suppose I only think that because those are the shoes I fill. I have no scientific evidence to back up my theory. :)

        Thank you for sharing! I’ll be sure to check it out! Happy adventuring!

    • Reply

      Hilary

      November 29, 2013

      Erica, WHY am I JUST seeing this? #epicfail

      Yeah, I think you’re absolutely right. Everything I’m doing now is just grooming me for bigger and better relationships. Is it weird that I’m ALMOST a little scared to meet ‘The One’ sometime soon? Like, somehow he’ll put a stop to all my self-growth and progress? Or maybe that’s just it, isn’t it? When I do meet ‘that guy’ he’ll only push me forward?

      And I thought you moved to Seattle so we could be closer? ;)

  • Reply

    Les Petits Pas de Juls

    September 7, 2013

    Hey Hilary!

    how fun to read you again and again … Nothing cheesy in what you write, there’s nothing wrong in traveling solo and not finding (yet!) your other half! although, I must say, like very often in life, it’s when you don’t look for things that they actually happen.

    when I left for my frist world trip 3 and 1/2 years ago, I wanted nothing to do with men anymore… 10 days into my 10months-trip, this guy in Mexico hosts me through Couchsurfing… and guess what?!? we clicked but I didn’t stay, I had a trip to make, people to meet, myself to find! but 18months later I came back, and we’ve been together for 2 years now. He knows I need to travel and let me go once, lets me go again now but will be going with me in December.

    And Life is Good. Because I met him. Unexpectedly. On a Trip.

    Love can fit in your backpack, if you let it come in! ;-)
    Happy life!
    Jul’

    • Reply

      Hilary

      November 29, 2013

      Aww, Juls, I love reading your comments again and again and again. I never tire of hearing your thoughts on my travels or your supportive words. Though I am sorry it took me so long to see this! Ack!

      And wow. What a story! I had no idea. That does sound like an epic romance. Where are you guys headed out to this December? Oh my gosh, that’s in a couple days! Where has the time gone?

      Guess I just need to make a little room in mine for some extra love :). Thank you for commenting! Lots of love!!

  • Reply

    Jeremy Foster

    October 4, 2013

    But there’s a little more to it, Hilary. It’s not that I enjoy being nomadic and single and getting with girls the world over. As a traveler, the scope of a relationship is limited to me, and so I am sentenced to a life of flings and flighty love. I am jailed by one-week relationships and deep connections that often don’t last longer than a couple of days.

    It’s a fantastic lifestyle, honestly, but it’s disheartening and difficult at times. Sometimes I feel like I’ll never find someone to share my life with, in full, and that’s sad. But I have made countless meaningful connections with people all over the world, and that’s truly beautiful in itself.

    • Reply

      Hilary

      October 4, 2013

      Beautifully said, Jeremy. And I hope you don’t feel like I pigeon holed your article. It merely felt a little more optimistic than my views on the speed-relationships associated with travel.

      It’s nice to know that the nomadic men out there have the same questions that I do. :)

  • Reply

    Gaurav

    March 26, 2014

    Great blog Hilary,

    I am currently on a trip for over 7 months away from Melbourne my home. I believe as human beings we need to give to others in order to feel good – that doesn’t necessarily mean having a close long term relationship. It starts with everything we do from the moment we smile at others. Especially for a traveller this is really important as so many people have helped me along my travels and essentially all this is love. So be sure to pack a lot of love in your backpack when travelling as it keeps you out of trouble, helps you find your way, make new friends, learn from new experiences… the list goes on.
    P.S. the Americans I met through Texas and Tennesse were awesome. Some even inviting to join them for dinner and breakfasts because I was travelling alone. I have never experienced such kindness in all the countries I have visited.

    • Reply

      Hilary

      March 26, 2014

      Hi Gaurav,

      Thank you so much for reading and commenting! Welcome to the world of travel. :) We’re happy to have you.

      I’m so happy to hear you have experienced so much love and community support through your travels! I too, have been so lucky to have experienced the same kindness. This post in particular was focused on romantic love, but yes, you’re right; keeping your heart open to those around is incredibly important!

      Hope your travels continue to be a blast! Where are you headed next?

  • Reply

    Gaurav

    March 27, 2014

    Romantic love….well I used to believe in romance since I was 16 or maybe even before. I dreamed I would get married at 26 and go with ‘her’ to Paris and cross the ocean like the Titanic and so on.
    Romance never worked out for me. Then in about 2006 I got hooked on country music – the honky tonk type with a medium to fast shuffle beat (Dwight Yaokam, Amber Digby and many more) and I decided that my first solo trip would be to Texas and Tennesse and live the songs I listened to. So I did.

    Then I decided that I dont have to wait for a special someone to experience Paris so I did my trip as intended… Paris was still romantic without someone. Then I continued onto Southampton and sailed on the Queen Mary 2 to New York. I just visited Belfast a few days ago where I saw the dock where the Titanic was built. Then onto Quebec City where Prince William took his wife. So basically, I got to do all the things I found ‘romantic’ without someone and it was definitely worth it.

    While I’m not closed to friendships while travelling, I am pretty closed to ‘romantic relationships’. I cant think why I would want to get married now, its been years since I was ‘in love’. But ‘maybe’ a ‘Roman Holiday’ is possible (as the movie goes).
    On the positive….if you need to know how to meet people while travelling (and try and start a romantic relationship, perhaps try ww.meetup.com, it’;s good for letting you meet like minded people in the city where you are travelling.)

    I like to visit romantic places and France is full of them! I am heading for Portrush from Belfast tomorrow which is on the north coast. Then I will return to France and continue my travels which include Tours and the Loire Valley, Lille, Waterloo in Belgium, Auxerre a romantic medieval village and last but not least, Paris. I saw the rest of France in February-March.
    Au revoir :)

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About Me

About Me

Hey fellow adventurers, my name is Hilary! After being rejected from grad school, I took off on a solo journey around the world. Now I constantly challenge myself to take on new experiences. This blog documents my journeys from Europe to Fiji, swimming with sharks and living with tribes, to becoming an accidental beauty queen and working for one of the top national media outlets. If you like what you're reading, please subscribe! Here's to the next great adventure!

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