I’m an old maid at twenty-five.
Or at least that is how it’s starting to seem. Everywhere I look I see couples; out at the bars, at the supermarket on Sunday, walking their dog in the snow. Just this month two more women in my small office got engaged, making me the only official Single Person left in the building.
I’m not some sort of social pariah and I don’t have incurably bad breath. Men hit on me occasionally, though not constantly, and I go out every so often. I am totally date-able. But I am also leaving on a year long backpacking trip this summer and I just can’t be bothered to put the time and effort into trying to meet someone when I want so badly to be anywhere BUT here. It seems that in choosing to do this long trip, I’ve signed myself on to being single for at least the next two years.
There are many great traveling couples out there, but they all seem to have met before their lives went mobile. The travel lifestyle itself, with the constant moving around, is not so conducive to meeting someone and sparking a long-term relationship. Few people really appreciate the philosophy of this alternative lifestyle and even fewer want to sign up for it.
All around me people I know are planning weddings, while I am hard at work planning my next adventure across the globe. Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy with my choices. I’d much rather be saving up for airfare than a down payment on a house at this point in my life.
More and more I’m beginning to understand that choosing an unconventional lifestyle means not just gaining opportunities, but giving some up. I’ll get to see the sunrise over the pyramids but I might not be able to watch my friend get married. I’ll get to see the Great Barrier Reef before it crumbles, but I know there’s no guarantee of a white picket fence for me when I get home.
I’m okay with that trade off. The truth is that while I do miss the perks of a relationship (particularly the spooning), I’m not ready to give up the autonomy that comes from having the sole say in my life plans. I want to be able to go where I want, when I want, without seeking permission, or cooperation, or understanding from a significant other. Maybe I’m selfish, or maybe I just haven’t met the right person worth making that sacrifice for.
So I’m going to be single for a while. That’s something I can live with. I’m not lonely; I meet new people every day when I’m traveling. And hopefully when (if?) I meet that totally awesome right guy for me he’ll love me more for my boundless energy and wanderlust.
Until then it’s window seat for one please.
I know you haven’t written on this site in a while, but.. I’m leaving for my first trip to Italy which is also my first solo, and you have really quashed a few fears. At 37, I’ve been married, beaten down, and happily divorced. (Study your dark and handsome one for psychosis if you haven’t already!!) While I have no intentions of a overseas tryst (much to my office’s chagrin), I do plan on enjoying each day as much as I can and seeing only the crap “I” want to do. U
mmm wine, Michelangelo, and gelato, please! Congrats on accepting your single lifestyle (if you still ride that road). And for all others that may stumble here – don’t compromise! I plan on saving for my solo trip regularly!
just stumbled upon this post of yours… is there any update with you?
i guess i’m kinda experiencing this as well… you feel like you’re the only single person on the planet… but you don’t want to stop exploring yet.. life is incomplete without travelling to other places..
i say you go girl! haha sounds cliche, but you know what i mean… haha 😉
at this point, i’d give up almost everything to be able to travel, but then you have to pay bills and save up for that travel of a lifetime…=D
I haven’t thought about this post in a long time- but yes! here’s the update!
About three months after this post went live I went to a travel blogging conference in New York where I met a dark and handsome fellow blogger who shared my ideas about life and travel. He was headed to China to teach English for a year, I was headed off on my big trip but we were able to meet up in various exotic Asian locales and started a pretty serious romance. Now we’re planning a big trip to South America in the fall… together.
This was not at all what I expected to happen when I set off to plan this trip (and when I wrote the above manifesto, the spirit of which I still absolutely believe). I think it’s a really great example of the idea that when you follow your heart and your passions, everything else kind of falls in line. I thought I was giving things up to travel, and while I was, I was also opening the door to a whole slew of new opportunities.
Window seat it is! 😀
And I’m here letting you know that you are not the only one making that choice 🙂
Isn’t someone 25years old too young to get married, anyway? 😐 I’m pretty sure I won’t be prepared for that in 2 years 😀
Hurray for travelling 😀
who knows who you’ll meet or fall in love with during your travels! be open to all the possibilities. Travel really changes you so remaining unfettered is the best thing you can do!
“I want to be able to go where I want, when I want, without seeking permission, or cooperation, or understanding from a significant other”
I know what you mean
Craig Zabransky says
Twenty-five? You have so many adventures (and relationships) ahead. Amazed to even see you may want a picket fence with your wanderlust… After your year RTW just move to New York… Here the 30s are your 20s.
Oh I’m not saying I do want that. Definitely not right now anyways. It’s just that with every choice you make you rule other choices out and I’m acutely aware of this. I know I’m making the best choices for myself though and I’m pretty sure that’s the best way to stave off regrets.
A big part of me is really ready, not to “settle down” but to be with someone. I don’t ever want to “settle” in a place, I need to find someone who wants to keep moving with me. And I’m not talking moving constantly, but trying somewhere new every 5-8 years or so. But everynight I do wish there was someone to come home to. So my next move will be for at least 5 years and I’m definitely getting a dog. Dogs help, a little.
It’s hard when you realize that you’ve got to let go of somebody (or give up the opprotunity to be with somebody) in order to follow your own path. In the end, it comes down to being who you really are. If you need to go but stay, then you can’t be who you’re supposed to be and then how could any relationship succeed in that situaton?
Went through that myself before moving overseas. It hurt, but in the end the decision was easier than I’d imagined it would be.
I think that is one of the most difficult decisions (giving up somebody to follow your own path). However I agree, the rewards far outweigh the pain.
While I’m no single girl (yep checked still a guy) I too put the whole relationship stuff on hold when the thoughts of travel came to life. It didn’t seem fair to chase down a relationship when I intended to depart Australia and return when I’m good and ready.
At time’s I miss having someone but when there is such a big world out there to see, nothing is going to hold me back just yet.
When the right lass comes along travel will be a requirement and hey even guys can hold onto the romantic notion of finding their true love abroad, and not down at the local pub 🙂
It’s hard because it’s not really in my nature to just ignore one aspect of my life so completely (especially when all my peers seem to be pursuing it so fervently). But it is necessary.
Alexis Grant says
So glad this link popped up in my Twitter feed. I’ve been there — backpacked solo at age 27. And now, at age 29, I’m still there! And happier than ever. I love some of the comments here — they’re so right when they say you gotta live the life you want to live, and the right partner will show his face along your journey.
Beth Oppenheim says
Really loving this post and seconding many of the comments above. Your writing style is just like the subject matter, honest and confident. I think that solo travel is a really amazing way to experience things on your own terms – and kudos to you for being able to write about it so openly and passionately 🙂
It’s okay to be single 🙂 While it’s common to be planning for weddings ( notice the template?), just go ahead travel and do all the things you wanted to do. The trade off is totally worth it!
Yeah and based on the conversations that go on in my office at lunch, wedding planning sounds pretty damn boring.
I’m so glad I saw this in my email this morning. I feel the same way. At this point, to be honest, I’d regret not doing the things I want to do and living the life I want to lead than not getting married and having a house. If it happens, great, but I’m going to do the things I want and love. And, if a man comes along that is willing to walk that road with me, then all the better, but I’m not stepping off it for him.
You’re not an old maid! You’re awesome.
Pretty much my philosophy. Can’t wait around for the perfect partner to show up, gotta do the things I want now even if it means doing them alone.
wow it was totally nice to read! 🙂 being single is ok why not! obsessed search for love – why?! i will start my travels at the end of this year and until then i’ll keep it excatly that way you do! 😉
and hey please think positiv! the Great Barrier Reef will never crumble! 🙂
I’m right there with you! I’m 25 and before I quit my job 3 weeks ago, I was the only single person in my office too. People keep pushing me to date, but who can date when there about to go MIA for months on end. With any decision you make you have to give something up, but just think how much you’re going to gain! And, no I don’t think you have bad breath 🙂
Yeah, looking at the people I know who are settling down now- I’m definitely happy with my choices!
Yes, TOTALLY with ya…
The only way I want to be in a relationship *any* time soon, is if it is with someone who is as passionate about travel as I am. And whether or not we were a traveling couple in the same way the Martins are; the point is, any man who captures my heart will need to be as adventurous (or even more so) than I am. I don’t mind kids or a home base one day…but travel will always be the priority!
And you are NOT an old maid @ 25.
With only a month left until I go I’m now encountering all the plans that people are making that I won’t be around for. It’s weird but I’m jealous that I’ll miss out on things. I’m also walking away from a relationship with someone I love.
I often wonder what is wrong with me that I feel compelled to do this. But it’s just that, I’m compelled to do it. And as much as it sometimes feels like I may be missing out on something, I know once I do it all the doubts will go away.
Remember we’re not running away from life, we’re running toward it.
I don’t think there’s anything wrong with us but I do think it sucks that society makes us feel that way for living outside the norm!
love your last line there “Remember we’re not running away from life, we’re running toward it.”
“…maybe I just haven’t met the right person worth making that sacrifice for.”
Believe me, it’s probably that more than being selfish. 🙂
I would have loved to have all sorts of experiences and stories before I got hitched, but I wasn’t the type of person who’d have anything exciting to share either if I didn’t have my better half backing me up and getting me out there to do cool things. (Before him, I was horribly shy… Now, I’m still shy but no where near as much as before!)
I’m definitely not knocking all the cool couples out there. Nothing makes me happier than two people who bring out the best in each other.
What a great post. I feel the exact same way. Who knows … maybe you and I both will meet some Aussies and end up splitting our time between “winter” in Australia and summer in US. 🙂
That’s what I keep threatning my mother with! I have met important boyfriends while living abroad in the past so who knows?
zoe zolbrod says
It sounds like you really know your mind, and know that most things are a trade-off of some sort. I was your age when I set out for my big solo trip, and once I started preparing, my intention was to stay single. Of course, a couple months before I left, I met someone I really liked. I think it was harder for him to say goodbye than it was for me, who was heading out on this great adventure. But I loved getting his notes and packages poste restant all over Asia (this was before the days of ubiquitous internet), and I liked the feeling that there was someone who cared when I came home. Still, when I finally did come home, it wasn’t long before it became clear we were in pretty different places. I was still in a very wild and free, unconventional mode. Traveling does change a person. Years later, I met someone who also had the travel bug. Eventually, we did settle down together, and now we have the whole jobs-house-kids thing. Good luck!
I think the fact that people change and outgrow each other is a fact regardless of travel, but travel does exacerbate or force the issue. In any case I’m glad you found someone on the same page!
Great post! I can see from this and your question about how I travel without my boyfriend, that the whole dynamic of relationships and travel has definitely been on your mind lately!
I think you’re going about this the right way though. While I’m glad that I have my boyfriend, I am very lucky in that he’s okay with me traveling without him, and I would *not* recommend that folks about to head out on the road get anywhere near a relationship until they’re home again. It’s just too potentially messy.
haha you are right, it definitely seems to be coming up a lot lately! I do admire your relationship and that you manage to make different interests work for both of you.
loved this article and I can totally relate!! I currently AM on my year long backpacking trip. I’ve got a homebase staying with my family in the Philippines, but my unformalized intentions is to travel through other parts of Asia while I’m here! And you’re right, this lifestyle definitely doesn’t lend itself to coupledom. I’m 27 this year [next month] so I’m definitely feling perhaps I should settle down eventually… at least by “normal” standards. So many people say things like they’re so jealous or “I wish I could do that!” but right again, I don’t feel many people actually DO want to sign up for such a lifestyle.. Because it IS a lifestyle, and not just a trip. It does make me wonder how easy it would be to find someone w/ similar unconventional lifestyles.. It seems the more “out there” the less likely you are at finding someone and settling down. But maybe that’s just it… there are alternatives to the template way of life! It’s legitimately ok if you don’t ever “settle down”.
I think maybe it’s harder to find the life partners who are actually into the nomadic lifestyle because they are all off being nomadic themselves. And road romances are notoriously short lived. I dunno, it’s tricky. Very tricky.
Now there’s an idea for a website…Daters on the Road. Hah.
I kind of love it!
I find that if you search on dating sites for “travel” you get some pretty awesome, even nomadic, people. I didn’t think I’d ever be able to find a reenactor boyfriend without attending events, and yet I found one on OkCupid.
YES it’s very tricky, tricky!! and i agree with you… they’re off on their solo journeys. While you’re off on theirs. And it’s hard to be “lifepartners” because freespirits by nature probably wouldn’t settle down like that and it’s probably easier for freespirits to eventually go their separate ways.. is lifepartner even in our makeup? lol
I actually am interested in another solo traveler while he’s off doing his thing and I’m off doing mine.. we’re going to meet up in Nepal to trek the Himalayas and he’ll visit me in the Philippines too. Could be an interesting chapter unfolding… Who knows! lol
That sounds potentially exciting!
I find that the internet is actually excellent for finding folks with unconventional lifestyles. I’ve had great luck with OkCupid and Match.com. My current boyfriend, who meshes so well with travel, I met on OkCupid.
My 2 sisters-in-laws both found guys that enjoy the nomad lifestyle. Try Irish or Australians 🙂
My husband and I have a bit of the nomad in us, we end up moving every year. I’m more open to it since I don’t have a particular career path or goal. Mr. Biochemical Researcher, not so much.
Pylin Chuapetcharasopon says
I completely agree with you. However, my life right now involves getting my research and own life together, and I’m usually so busy I don’t even know if I date, when/where that would fit in my schedule!
Have you seen the show Departures (travel/adventure show on OLN and National Geographic)? The hosts on the show talk about the exact same sentiment…how “choosing an unconventional lifestyle means not just gaining opportunities, but giving some up.” Personally, I think the trade-off is worth it.
I think you’re very brave to travel alone for an entire year! I have yet to travel alone. Best wishes on your travels!
P.S. I know some people who meet their significant other through their travels, too! (they’re originally from the same place though).
I have not seen that show but I will have to look for it! thanks for the tip.
Yes, it’s fun! And, you’re more likely to get upgraded on flights as a 1 vs a 2!
Jacki Welsh says
I think you pretty much summed up my life – or almost. I’m currently trying to figure out if I’m ready and willing to give up certain things or not. I will admit, I want it both ways.
Those choices are tough!
You might be able to have it both ways. Check out this post by a traveler who is also a homeowner: http://nancythegnomette.com/2010/02/01/house-vs-globe-the-vagabondhome-owner-crisis/
Great post! I agree with all of it, I definitely want to do what I want when I want. I just finished a job last month and I could have stayed at home, found another job and saved up money for the new car I desperately need, the new apartment I need to rent or house to put a down payment on but instead I just up and left on a trip for 2 weeks because that is what I wanted to do and thats all I care about right now in life.
I also thing being travelers make you a more independent person and that scares guys off pretty quickly haha
Who knows maybe you will find love on the road! 🙂
I do wonder if (some) guys find it intimidating that a girl wants to traipse all over the word by herself. If that is true, then that’s fine by me- weed out the weak ones right?
Exactly! get rid of the weak ones! haha
I actually had a convo with a guy friend the other day and he said no matter how great a girl is if she says she is a traveler or traveling soon he is out the door. He stops being interested right there. I laughed at him and then told him he was crazy haha
I think you’re on the right track there, in that the men who are scared off by an independent woman are not guys you should spend a minute on anyway.
hahaha i love that.. weed out the weak ones! it’s like natural selection. darwin was onto something. 😉
Amen, girl! I’m in the exact same boat. Except I definitely won’t be travelling until a few years from now, and I’m STILL hesitant to get involved. I kinda love that, given the opportunity, I can up and leave whenever. Although I have to admit, I’m totally envious of travelling couples. I’d love to do that.
You can always still date, just keep “must like traveling” as a dealbreaker.
Yes but it’s hard to weed out the “like the idea of travel in theory” guys from the “actually willing to uproot their lives” onces.
That’s why you go after ones who have done it before. 😉 They’re out there. Try the internet, when you get back.
haha oh I know allll about the internet. I’m an old OkCupid vet actually. Not quite as much luck as you though 🙂
haha great point 😉
makes common sense!
my ex was the “in theory” kind of guy… about everything.
total fail for me!!!
Great post! There is so much pressure on people (especially women) to settle down in order to be able to “start a family” (vom) by their late 20s. It is just ridiculous, but it is great that you are focusing on what makes you happy rather than listening to what you “should” be doing. You have the rest of your life for marriage and kids, but traveling now is a great way to learn more about yourself. Safe travels!!
Yup, different priorities for sure. No kids for me anyways for a looooong time.
Who says you have to have kids at all? 😉
You should take a look at the “childfree” community. I think you’ll find that there’s a lot of travelers and nomads in it, both past and present.
Marc and I are both childfree.