So this travel writing thing. How does it work when you’re in a relationship? How does it work when you’re married?
This is something I get asked about. A lot.
Many other travel writers I meet are single – in fact a good chunk don’t have permanent homes – in order to free themselves up to move around as much as possible. So I get a lot of questions: about whether I pine for my husband, whether I’m desperate to get back by his side, whether he gets upset that I’m away all the time.
The answer to all these questions, perhaps shockingly, is a big fat no. Because the truth is, Pete and I love our time apart. Not because we’re running off and having sordid affairs while we’re on our own. Not because we piss each other off and are desperate for a break, either.
We love our time apart because it makes our time together so much richer.
When a trip’s coming up, we make the moments before I leave really count. We’ll go out for a special dinner, spend the night just chatting and drinking wine, write each other letters to read while we’re apart… Basically, no Maccas on the couch watching Big Brother in our house.
And when I come home, I’m full of tales, inspiration and treasures from the road that spice up our conversations and bring masses of new energy buzzing around the both of us. Meanwhile Pete can spend hours regaling me with the highlight reel of what’s happened at the family vineyard (he’s a winemaker) while I’ve been gone.
But I suppose the real key to our successful ‘away marriage’ is that Pete and I are not two halves of one whole. We’re two whole people, complete without the other, and with our own passions, hobbies, and friends. We’re both independent and fierce individuals. We love each other with a passion that I believe is rare after seven years in a relationship, but we don’t need each other. We don’t feel lost without each other and we’re definitely not codependent.
Yes we’re often happier when we’re together, but we can also exist happily without each other for a few weeks at a time. We’re a great source of love and happiness for each other, but we’re not the only source. Travel and writing are great sources for me, making wine and music are great sources for Pete, and we give each other the freedom to indulge in those loves. We want each other to thrive, so that we can be the best versions of ourselves for each other when we are together.
I’ll admit there have been moments – like when I’ve reached the top of an intense volcano hike in Papua New Guinea, when I’ve had a close encounter with a leopard in Zambia, or when I’ve been enjoying a fancy resort in Sri Lanka by myself – when I’ve wished Pete could be by my side.
But those moments pass – quickly when I can jump on Skype and call him to share my tales, and even more quickly when I remind myself what a true privilege it is to do the work that I do.
It’s not for everyone, but it sure as hell works for us.