Traveling Solo When Your Relationship Status is Decidedly Not Solo

7 Tips to Keep the Love Alive From Afar

By Jennifer Nagy & Her Amazing Boyfriend (With All of the Muscles)

I’ve always loved traveling. It’s the time when I feel the most alive, the strongest and the most empowered (I know, how clichéd!)… but it’s true. That being said, there are a few negative things related to travel for me… loneliness, trying to date while spending a large percentage of your time overseas (impossible!), missing out on things with friends and family and, depending on where you’re traveling, it can be crazy expensive. But for me, the good definitely outweighs the bad.

I booked my current trip (I’m in Paris, France right now and heading back to Iceland in a few days) around four or five months ago, when I was single. I had decided to stay single so that a fledgling relationship wouldn’t get in the way of my travel – or my enjoyment of my travel. In the past, it has been very hard for me to do long distance (read: constant breakdowns and breakups); I spent way too much time missing my significant other (and focusing on what I didn’t have), instead of focusing on the amazingness that is my life while traveling.

But then I met my boyfriend - an amazing, HOT, sweet, thoughtful man (with all of the muscles) and who every single one of my friends (and parents) really like (seriously, this NEVER happens!). And it was going really well the majority of the time (even the best couples fight sometimes), leaving me in a very difficult predicament. As my trip approached, I knew that I didn’t want to risk losing him, so we sat down and talked about it. Luckily, we both had the same idea: we wanted to stay together and try it long distance during my 1.5 month-long trip. Eek.

I was super happy but I was also terrified. I was worried that I’d lose him by leaving for that long and I stressed that I would ruin our fledgling relationship because of my fear and projections. To be honest, I almost did; I spent the few weeks before my trip worrying, stressing and panicking in equal degrees - so much so, that I actually thought about canceling the trip altogether. But thankfully, we did make it through those difficult few weeks.

As I said goodbye on the day that I left, I cried. I even asked him to promise me that I’d see him again, because all that I could think was that I may never see him or spend time with him or have sex with him again (none of which were things that I wanted to see happen). He promised and was totally sweet about my mini-meltdown. I went to the airport and the trip started…

The first week of my trip was in Iceland, driving and hiking the Ring Road solo (if you haven’t been to Iceland yet, go. Immediately. No, I mean immediately.) It was a gorgeous country and I spent the whole week hiking, reveling in nature or driving. I’ve never been so exhausted in my life! I was too tired to stress about missing my boyfriend and we talked every night when I (finally!) arrived at my hotel, so it was a great way to ease into so much time apart. I did miss him a little, but, it was still an amazing week and I thoroughly enjoyed doing the trip alone. So far, so good.

Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon
Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon

After the week in Iceland, I traveled to Paris for a month of eating, drinking wine, sleeping in and getting back to a regular routine (including work). A glorious change after the exhaustion that typified Iceland for me. Serious heart eyeballs (you know the emoji with the heart eyeballs? That’s how I’ve felt every day about Paris). Even so, I was worried that, with all of this free time, I would start to miss him a lot more and become more unhealthy about us. Strangely enough, I didn’t. Once again, we chatted in the evenings and I kept myself occupied all day looking at beautiful things, beautiful people and eating beautiful foods.

Paris, je t’aime
Paris, je t’aime

In fact, our relationship has evolved significantly for the better since I left on this trip. We feel less like boyfriend and girlfriend, and more like a team, like partners. I have serious issues with trusting that people will be there for me over the long-term, but being away from him (and seeing how committed he is to me, and to us) has made me trust him. We’ve developed an intimacy – both personally and sexually – that I’ve never had with anyone else; honestly, it feels fantastic. I’ve never been happier – and it’s all because I took this HUGE risk of traveling solo, when I wasn’t, in fact, solo.

Are you thinking of traveling solo when you’re in a relationship? If so, my sexy boyfriend and I wanted to share our tips for how to better manage this difficult situation. Hopefully, they will help you and your significant other (SO) maintain your relationship, even when you’re thousands of miles (and multiple time zones) apart.

#1 – Stay Busy

When you’re traveling, being alone and having hours of time to fill with absolutely nothing will just make you miss the person more and freak out unnecessarily. Also, it’s way more interesting for both parties if you have some cool stories to tell about what you do every day!

The same thing applies to the person who is staying at home, especially since the person who stays behind always has the more difficult situation to deal with. One of the biggest changes when your SO goes out of town is that you now have all of this free time, that you would have previously been spending time with him/her. It’s important that you proactively make plans for yourself, which is beneficial for two main reasons: first, you want to make sure that you are keeping yourself busy and that you’re not getting depressed or lonely, and second, because it will help reduce the envy that you might feel about the amazing things that your SO is doing without you on their trip.

#2 – Trust is Key

To be perfectly honest, I would not suggest that you leave on a solo trip unless both you and your SO trust each other completely. Also, I would recommend that you only consider it when you are both invested in the relationship being successful, because being apart – especially for long periods of time – does require hard work and, at times, periods of loneliness.

#3 – Technology is Your BFF

This is an important tip so listen up please… I would absolutely suggest investing in a very good cell phone plan that gives you unlimited data roaming while traveling. Although it can be expensive, it is worth it because you need to make the person at home feel like they can reach you if need be. Also, it’s been great for us to be able to share stories and information about our travels with each other, while actually in the moment, rather than just chatting at the end of the day.

Also, I would recommend that you both download and use Whatsapp or Viber to keep in touch. Both give you the ability to make free calls and send each other voice notes, which I find really effective at making you feel closer. Unlike a message, you can actually hear the person’s voice and have a (pseudo) conversation with them. It feels more like home.

This one may be obvious, but you both need Skype for two reasons: one, Skype sex, and two, so you can actually have real conversations and see each other’s faces while you do so. I was really surprised at how much I missed seeing his facial expressions when we talked. It was amazing to be able to video Skype (once I got my WiFi issues under control); I almost felt like we were lying beside each other in bed again.

#4 – Front-load All of Your Concerns

My therapist gave me this great advice before I left… tell him what you’re going to need before you leave on the trip. Before I left, I told my boyfriend that I needed him to be in touch every single day in some way, even if it was just a single text to tell me that he wasn’t dead. I also told him that if he wasn’t going to be in touch for a few days, that was fine but that I needed him to tell me that upfront (before he disappeared). Otherwise, by the time he got back from his days of absence, I would have already freaked out and put up my walls again (which are absolutely impenetrable, btw) and then… relationship over!

Both he and I know ourselves well enough that we were able to identify what we needed and what our dealbreakers were in this situation; if you don’t, it’s important that you take the time to think about it individually and then discuss it together before you leave. You want to make sure that you have as many of the hard conversations upfront, in person, because then you will have a much greater chance of successfully navigating everyone’s emotions and ending up with a positive outcome.

#5 – I Miss You Too!

It can be easy for the person staying at home to fall into a negative thought process where you assume that the person traveling is having so much fun that he/she has forgotten about you, or that he/she doesn’t miss you as much as you miss him/her. I can tell you from personal experience that this isn’t true.

Honestly, even though it’s been easier than I anticipated originally, I actually miss my boyfriend a lot. Even though I’m having an amazing time on my trip, I think about him very regularly. Whenever I see or do something cool or eat something delicious, I wish he was with me to experience it. I am also always thinking (and keeping notes) about what he would like because I want to bring him back and show him all of the amazing things that I’ve discovered.

For the first time in my life (ever), I’m actually excited to go home from my trip. Part of me even wants to go home early, just so that I can see him. This is a very good sign (in my mind); it shows how much I like him and how much I miss seeing his face, being able to touch him and spending time with him.

#6 – Find Ways to Share Your Travel Experiences with Your SO

My boyfriend came up with a really fun way for him to feel like he was taking part in my trip and to keep connected, even though he was so far away. Every day at the end of the day (or throughout the day), I would send him my itinerary for that day, including restaurants, hotels, attractions, etc. He started plotting them on a Google Docs spreadsheet so that he could track my progress around Iceland, and better picture what I was doing and experiencing. I would also send him photos from the different things that I saw (and the meals that I ate) and he would send me photos from his day. Sharing these experiences and memories of our individual lives made us feel closer together, even though we were leading very different lives while I was away.

#7 – Sex, Sex, Sex & More (Skype) Sex

One of the hardest parts about traveling for long periods of time while you’re in a relationship is not having sex. When you’re used to having really good sex all of the time, it becomes very difficult to all of a sudden go without it. One of the best ways to address this issue is to keep the sex alive from afar.

Before I left, we went shopping together and bought me a new vibrator and a bunch of sex toys that we’re both looking forward to trying out when I get back. We send each other sexy photos and videos and involve each other in our individual sex sessions. There are even vibrators that you can buy that are controlled by a smartphone app, allowing you to actually be actively involved in the other person’s sexual experience, no matter where in the world you actually are.

Overall, sex is a super important part of a relationship so it’s very important to keep the lust for each other alive, even when you are apart. For us, the lack of sex was particularly tough, but by following the above tips, we have created a very unique sexual intimacy that we’ll be able to maintain even after I get back.

Well, there you have it… our best tips for keeping the love alive from afar. Although long distance relationships can be very tough, it can actually deepen your relationship (counterintuitive, I know). So, why not? Go for it. There is a lot to be gained and, as long as you follow these tips, not a lot to lose!

Have any other tips to share? Did something work particularly well for you and your SO? Contact me at jenn@jennnagy.com with your thoughts, tips and feedback if you try out any of our long distance relationship tips!

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