The Downside of Traveling For a While

The Downside of Traveling For a While

Friendships are like plants, they require water. If you go abroad for a year you might come back and find that you’ve lost your social circle. A lot will have happened and you’ll be left trying to play catch up. Also, you’ll have less in common with your friends. You spent the last two months in Cambodia, driving a scooter and getting tan. Your friends have been up to the usual and you’ve missed it.

Also, you might find out that you’re not as interested in hanging out with your old friends. You tell them about how cool Spain is, they nod and smile but there’s no spark. You say that you should all buy some plane tickets and go to Colombia for a few weeks in the winter. They look at you like you’re crazy.

Family relationships can also suffer. When you spend a significant amount of time abroad you can fall out of step with what’s happening at home. Cousins get married, people move, drama ensues, etc. All that happens while you’re listening to techno in Berlin, questioning whether you’ll have any hearing left when you’re 50.

Temporary Friendships

When you travel you’ll meet cool people who believe in adventure, have great spirit and think that Colombia in the winter sounds like a blast. Unfortunately, most people you meet are going home in two weeks and they live 4,600 miles from you. You can keep in contact but it’s damn difficult to build a virtual relationship. It’s not impossible, but for any given person the chances that a deep and meaningful relationship form are slim.

Do it While You’re Young

These things happen but screw it. I combat it with a few simple things, like making an active effort to hang out with my friends when I’m home. I stay in contact with my family and keep them in the loop. When I go abroad I always try to visit a few international friends. I’m still an outlier in terms of normal lifestyle, but I make an effort to mitigate that.

All that being said, I think the most important thing to remember is this. If you’re traveling and you find it lonely you can always come home, you’ll have the rest of your life to enjoy long relationships. However, it’s much harder to settle down, create a life and then leave it all behind to travel for a year.

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