A couple weeks ago, I got an email from a woman who had recently left her stable, rooted life behind and taken off around the U.S., working remotely along the way. After a few months of travel, she had a question:
What about love and dating?
Because, really, she eventually wanted to fall in love and maybe even settle down and have a family. And she wanted to know if her newfound life of travel was at odds with that desire.
I mean, how can you meet anyone while you’re always moving?
It’s a tough question to answer, really. Because love is unpredictable. Certainly, I know plenty of people who met their partner while staying put…but, of course, most people do stay put, so that’s not surprising. What’s more surprising (and sweet) is that I know a number of people who met their partners in less conventional settings.
Like Annette, who met her partner in Africa and who now travels the world with him.
Or Ali, who married a man she met on Twitter and moved to Germany to be with him.
Or Emily, who moved to Chicago for a year, met the love of her life, and then took him along with her to California, Colorado, and then Arizona.
Or Warren and Betsy, who may have met each other while standing still, but who now travel the world together.
And that’s the thing. Travel and love aren’t mutually exclusive things. In fact, living an unconventional, untethered life might just make it possible to find love somewhere you never would have expected.
After all, what is full-time travel except freedom? If you’re in charge of your schedule and your home base, why not stay an extra month and see if that handsome surfer has long-term potential? Or invite that sassy world-traveler you met in the hostel to come along with you to Venice? Or go visit that witty pen pal who wants to show you her city?
Taking the risk of full-time travel, of living an unrooted life, might just make you more capable of taking a risk on an unconventional person.
But I bet you are reading this because you want to know some of my own stories, right?
The truth is that I’ve met more men on the road than I did living full-time in Denver. Working crazy hours at my job and going out over and over with the same friends makes it really hard to meet new people. And so most of the people I met in Denver, I met online.
Now I am always putting myself out there. I’m always making new friends and meeting new people. I’m always introducing myself to people on the train and in the pubs and just sitting at the top of hiking trails.
And now I have made a home base in a place that attracts scores of travelers and adventurers from all over the world.
So I meet people all the time and in a variety of contexts. I have sweet, platonic first dates that never go any further, but that I still smile about. I have week-long romances and mountaintop kisses. Sometimes, I get my heart broken. And many, many times, I flirt and I laugh and the person moves on or I move on, with just a conversation or two to remember.
And so the answer, like any answer about love and relationships, is complicated. You can meet someone standing still. You can meet someone in motion. Or perhaps you won’t meet anyone for a while, because love is unpredictable and sometimes unfair.
Which is why, back in September, I stood on top of a Swiss Alp after a 7,000-foot altitude climb and I asked myself a few simple questions:
If you knew you would always be alone, what would you want for your life?
If you took relationships off the table, would that change how you lived?
The idea behind those questions was this: if there was anything I was putting on hold, anything I was holding back, I wanted to stop. I didn’t want to spend my life waiting for something else.
That’s when I decided to move to Switzerland. Simply because I want to be here, man or no man. Flings or no flings. Relationships or none at all.
Whatever happens, I want to be here, surrounded by mountains, writing, laughing, and hiking.
And that’s what really matters.