Collaborations, The "Feels"

When Traveling Means Leaving Someone Behind: A Collaborative Essay

Travel opens your eyes to new experiences. Nevertheless, it forces you to leave your support system behind. This collaborative essay explores the challenges and emotions that are faced when leaving someone behind to travel.

Leaving Someone Behind to Travel

When I decided to start travel nursing, I had become frustrated with my relationships with others.  I felt like many people had stopped caring about each other. I was sick of the flakiness that was becoming commonplace in our society. It made leaving easy.

However, the fear of missing out on significant events forces me to constantly re-evaluate my career in travel nursing.  I have already missed the arrival of my friend’s newborn. I will be missing out on supporting my very best friend, “Panda”, as she begins her nursing career.  My mom has started sending me “crying emoji” and has even been open to learning how to “face-time” (a big accomplishment for her). It is also difficult to leave behind new friends I have met while traveling.  Sometimes, I wish I could put them all in my pocket and take them with me.  Despite society’s skewed values, my vulnerable heart aches for relationships to mend and new ones to be cultivated.

Meet the Collaborators

In the subsequent sections of this post, I will introduce fellow travelers who have shared their perspectives on this topic. Read on to hear their stories of leaving the familiar faces and places they call home.

Meet Claire

Claire's Footsteps

Probably the worst time to travel is when someone you love is ill. Whether it be a friend or family member, travelling while they’re going through an illness brings a deal of complicated emotions: worry, guilt and sadness can all be prevalent.

It’s important to remember that we never know what ours, or anyone else’s, fate holds. If your loved one’s illness is looking ambiguous, try to think rationally about it. A simple sentence that changed my life in terms of how I worry about my loved ones is “you can’t control what happens to people, you can only control how much you love them while they’re around”.

You can still love them from another side of the world. Climb huge mountains and scream how much you love them from the top. Travelling while a loved one is ill doesn’t make you a bad person and doesn’t mean you love them any less. In fact, sending your thoughts from abroad and sharing your adventures to them could be just the tonic they need.

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Meet Sarah

Not Another Travel Blog

When we decided to travel, I was worried about how much we’d miss home. Bizarrely though, it’s been nowhere near as difficult as we expected it to be. We’ve found that conversations with friends back home have become more strained the longer we’ve been away, as the gap between our lives has extended. We thought we’d be making plenty of Skype calls but occasional whatsapp messages have been more than adequate. I have a huge amount of respect for those who maintain friendships from overseas as it’s definitely not easy. I’m hoping that things will spring back to normal when we get back to the UK but I suppose we’ll have to see.

Surprising, we have oftentimes found it easier to stay in touch with friends we’ve made on our travels. Perhaps it’s the strength of shared experiences or a shared love of travel. I’m not sure but it’ll be interesting to find out if any of these new friendships last the test of time.

There have been odd bouts of homesickness we’ve fought on our travels and we’ve missed our families a lot. Christmas was hard, and we’ve missed weddings and babies being born to close friends. Overall, it has been much easier than we expected to leave everyone behind. In a way, it seems lonelier than it would have been if had we found ourselves missing people more.

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Meet Lauren

Northern Lauren

‘Do you miss your family?’ is one of the questions I hear so often, given that I live in Mexico City. And yet, my answer is never the one the asker expects to hear. It usually ends with an awkward silence and them thinking I’m a stone-cold bitch. Why? Well, because I don’t really miss them.

Sure, every now and again, I’ll get a pang of longing to be back at home where I don’t pay bills and my mum cooks my tea, or in a pub in Cardiff with all my friends from uni, but for the most part, I love being away from home and I always have. (My mum relishes in recounting the story of when I moved out to go to university, and how she knew that I’d never live at home again. She was right though. The thought of having to regress back to childhood and cram my belongings into my teenage bedroom makes me feel a bit nauseous.)

But let’s be honest, this isn’t the 18th century, where your only form of contact is the good old fashioned letter. You can literally be in touch with anyone you want from anywhere in the world in seconds. Tell me, what exactly is there to miss?!

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Meet Katie

The Katie Show Blog

One thing that you may have to deal with, as I have, is letting people down a lot. You will probably still have people asking if you will travel home for birthdays, graduations and holidays etc. The reality is that when you move far away you simply cannot go home for every little celebration. Unless, of course, you have a lot of money or a flexible job. If you’re just an average expat like me then you may be in the position where you must decline the invites and let your friends and family down a lot.

Another element of this that I have experienced is that people assume you actually want to go back for all those things. It’s hard, and it feels selfish but, to be honest, I don’t even want to invest my money in constant trips home when there is a whole world out there to see. The money it would cost me to travel home for a birthday or event is far more than a trip to somewhere I have never seen on this side of the world – and I tend to lean towards the latter. It doesn’t mean that you love your family and friends any less. It is just a matter of priorities while you have the chance to travel. Unfortunately, it can be hard for people who aren’t interested in travel to understand.

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Travel is bittersweet.  You may have to leave someone behind to travel.  Yet, travel allows for the opportunity to cultivate new relationships.  Most importantly, it gives you the opportunity to learn and shape your own values and priorities.

Need inspiration? Check out my playlists The Best Songs for When You Miss Home and The Best Songs to Inspire Travel.

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When Traveling Means Leaving Someone Behind | Vagabond RN

4 thoughts on “When Traveling Means Leaving Someone Behind: A Collaborative Essay

  1. This is such a relatable post – and nice to hear from other travellers who are making it work instead of just “OMG, don’t you miss everything too much to function?”. I love my life at home, I love my friends and my family. But every time I come back, the status quo is the same. They are the same people, and speaking to them via text overseas is no different from speaking to them via text at home.

  2. Some really profound thoughts here and I so appreciate those who gave a voice to some things I’ve already been feeling but haven’t quite articulated aloud. There are so many ways to stay in touch these days, it really can make the world smaller and more accessible!

  3. This really is such a hard thing! I moved to Italy at age twenty, leaving my parents in the US and thousands of miles away. I always think about how little time they could have left, and am I doing the right thing… It’s a tough one that I haven’t quite figured out how to deal with yet!

  4. I loved reading this post! Traveling solo can be so rewarding but yes it has its own sacrifices that have to be made. When I travel alone (mostly coupled with work) I miss our dog so much (more than my husband, is it ok to say that aloud?) I especially loved Lauren’s take since I am an expat in USA and feel the same about my family.

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