What if My Partner Doesn’t Want to Travel

I didn’t write this. It was a post on my forum from a member named “walkaboutted“. This was so brilliant, I had to share it with all of you. The thread asked the question of what a person was supposed to do when either the husband or wife wants to travel full-time, and the other member hates that idea. Her answer here is directly answering the man who originally posted the question about his wife who did not want to travel. But my experience has been that it is just as often, or maybe even more often, that the man does not want to travel. Whichever partner it is, this incredibly insightful post speaks to both.

Why do you feel that it’s an “all or nothing” situation? If she loves you, she should understand your need to roam. Keeping you on a tether makes you a pet, not a partner.

My beloved and I have been together for 21 years. In just the last six months, I spent a couple of weeks in Maine, he spent a month in Israel (we live in Arizona). We take journeys together, but we have different interests and hobbies, which necessitate time apart. I had no interest in riding my bike 3900 miles from the Atlantic to the Pacific. He has no interest in hanging out with my sister and family, frankly, it is boring. His metal detecting would drive me mad. Sitting and painting all day would suck out his stuffing. Embarking on our walkabout means we take our separate hobbies with us. After spending time apart for weeks or more, when we come back to each other, we are home. He is my home, I am his.

Love is a partnership, not a prison. If you voluntarily cede your dreams and independence to your new love, it’s only going to cause resentment sooner or later. That certainly will be fatal to your relationship unless you choose to deaden your emotions for all your days.

Staying together and following your dreams are not mutually exclusive . If she demands otherwise, at this point, you know the answer.

Martyrdom has its price. Do you want to pay it? Think about what you want. We only have so much time on Earth. How much do you want to regret when you reach the end of it?


I've been a full-time VanDweller for 12 years and I love it. I hope to never live in a house again!

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22 comments on “What if My Partner Doesn’t Want to Travel
  1. That’s do-able if both parties are mature, trust each other, and can afford to both travel and maintain a home base. Unfortunately, my ex didn’t tell me her reservations. We set out to travel together, wound up in Tucson for a few months, and then moved back to Ohio. She missed her grandkids, she said. She eventually left me anyhow. She’s living with her kids and grandkids (all of them) and karma is biting her pretty hard. We spent all of the “up front” money and quite a bit more. Moral of the story: know, if you possibly can, what matters to your partner. Don’t just get a “yes,” even they cooperate.

  2. CelticCat2015 says:

    I worked over 35 years as a nurse while my husband worked a very unconventional lifestyle as a Carnie…worked on shows since he was 17 years old. But the ‘conventional’ me is much more interested in boondocking than my ‘unconventional’ hubby.

    From what I can see, there’s two main reasons for a person’s reluctance to boondock:

    First, there’s the age of the vehicle you have.
    We have an ’84 Class C Ford Jamboree which runs good and looks decent but, let’s face it, it’s still 33 years old and things do happen. Just a year and a half ago our oil started leaking out of it’s ‘well’ because the gasket gave out. If my husband hadn’t been able to make a new gasket out of a piece of bike innertube, we’d have been stranded for a while in a strange town with our motorhome being towed and then in a shop, getting fixed.
    Another time our battery ‘died’ on us halfway through a 700 mile trip, making us spend $$ on three new batteries in order to reach our destination so we could then figure things out. (Yup…alternator needed replacement.)

    These are small things when compared to other things that could happen to an older motorhome, like a transmission going out on you, so keeping your motorhome in good running condition is essential but it won’t stop bad things from happening, and usually at the worst possible time.
    IMO, vehicle age is important.

    Secondly, there’s the fear of being away from traditional job opportunities. Most people have always worked for someone else, receiving a regular paycheck they could count on. To have to depend on yourself for creating a job and income is very scary for most of us.

    Of course, having to rely on a Social Security Retirement income is scary, too, since the government can take out any amount of money for any reason at any time…like being able to take out money while telling you an old student loan was never fully paid off. Or an unproven “Dependent-overpayment” of money was made out in your name 30 years ago for an severe job-related injury that occurred to your then-spouse, and they were taking the money back now.

    Most people do not have the necessary paperwork 30 years later to fight government claims like these, and the government counts on it. Plus, they make it very hard for people who live ‘off the grid’ to fight claims like this, wanting to give appointments and hearings three or even six months down the road.

    Yes, my husband is wanting to stick to a more ‘traditional’ RV lifestyle at this time, and usually his instincts are right so I’ll go along with his present decision. But this doesn’t mean that we won’t get into 100% boondocking a year or so from now.

    Once we have a newer motorhome and a way to support ourselves without having to rely on retirement income…plus, of course, a decent monetary ‘cushion’…I think my hubby will be much more open to our being off the grid than he is right now. It’s all about planning properly. 🙂

  3. Myddy says:

    That’s a wonderful response, I wish I’d heard it 4 years ago when my wanderlust was being quelled by my partner. I suffered for a year in a relationship while I tried to keep my heart tethered to a home for someone else. It takes its toll and the toll is heavy.

  4. Mark says:

    Well, that is timely. I’m heading​ out for a four month road trip in just four more days. Irene is staying home because it’s almost Spring and she loves her garden and forest. Sure, we’ll miss each other but we can share time, each evening, in our connected world. In the fall, together we’ll hit the Southwest. 47 years of marriage! Hold on, just not too tight. 🙂

  5. Tammi Padilla says:

    Brilliant response, I love this!

  6. K. says:

    I suspect you have stumbled onto a hugely important topic to many couples. When I retired we discovered that my wandering dream was not her dream. The solution we settled on was similar to these folks and it has worked very well for us. I go off on adventures for up to about 15 days at a time with my little trailer. I get about 60 days (from MAY-NOV) a year this way. Then she comes with me about two weeks and we do that trip totally at her pace and where she wants to go. I love Boondocking , Hiking, and getting up at the crack of Dawn. She doesn’t. Married 50 years. Working pretty good.

  7. JIM PETERSON says:

    I read a comment recently — should have posted it to my ‘quotable quotes’ file but didn’t — so I paraphrase:
    “At the end of my life, Father Time appeared and demanded an accounting of how I had spent my life. Unfortunately, I had nothing to tell him but regrets over all the things I had wanted to do and never did.”
    I LOVE that line, “Keeping you on a tether makes you a pet, not a partner.” It reminds me of a GF my best friend had back in the day. She had no job and did absolutely nothing around the house either. He worked full time *and* cleaned the house, washed the dishes, cooked the food, did the laundry, watered the plants and never complained. Among the many horrible things I said (which he never once responded to in anger) was, “I guess I never knew you could keep a human as a pet!” 🙂
    They’re not together anymore (Praise Gato!) and, yes, we’re still friends.

  8. Outsource - Terry says:

    Bob, I had been fussing due to you not making more post in the last two months! But, Now you have made one of the most important post yet!! My wife does not want to live in a Van or RV. She says as a military brat, she lived in just about anything for the first 15 years of her life and does not want to do the same thing now! This is sooooo good. I was going to start with short trips and then get her to where I am at. But this looks like it will work very well.

  9. Linda Sand says:

    That’s why I was a solo snowbird for three years. Dave was done traveling but I wasn’t ready for full time Minnesota winters again. I’m off the road now due to physical imitations but we live in a place that allows us to have an agreement that I don’t have to go outside all winter except in case of an emergency. Everything I need is here, including a view of a wildlife preserve, except groceries and prescriptions and we could have those delivered if we chose to do so. For now, Dave chooses to fetch those. Marriage, thy name is compromise.

  10. Denise Jackson says:

    Love this. <3

  11. Kathy Jo says:

    Years ago (before my divorce) I had saved up for a year and a half to go to Ireland. He did not want to go, and I respected that. Just like I didn’t want to go hunting and to the cabin in the mountains every weekend. Anyway, when the trip neared he said one night, “Ireland or me!” more like an ultimatum. I thought a moment and said, “Ok, Ireland then”. We divorced three years later. I can’t say that was the reason as there were many things that didn’t work between us especially after the youngest graduated from college. It is what it is. But, kind of funny now as he and I are still friends (as we share our children and grandchildren), every once in awhile he hints he’d like to travel more.

  12. Pete Eastman says:

    It is a great post Bob.It is true! I thank you so much for sharing this. Pete in the cheese head state

  13. Tom Swenson says:

    I’ve been wrestling with this dilemma for a long time. I’ve been wanting to comment every time the topic come up. But, I wasn’t in a position to say anything publicly until now.

    A couple weeks ago, the problem was solved for me. My second wife announced her plan to move out. Part of me is angry and hurt. I spent a lot of time and money helping her out over our nine-year relationship. I stood by her through illnesses and accepted her physical limitations. Finally after she was unemployed for well over a year. I married her so she could get on my employers health insurance. All I got in return was complaints, criticism and condemnation. I just went through a very difficult career transition. She showed no empathy or offered any emotional support whatsoever. I’m sick of sacrificing myself and getting absoutly nothing in return. This wife and the one before never really cared about my happiness. There were only interested in what I could do for them. I will never marry again. I’ve taken the red pill and gone MGTOW.

    There is a bright side to all of this. The last major barrier to my freedom and independence has fallen. I’m 56 1/2. I’ll be able to tap my IRA without penalty in three years. My plan is to use that time to get my ducks in a row. I plan to pay off my remaining debt (I’ve already paid down a lot) and get rid of all this crap I’ve accumulated. I will fix up my condo and sell it and hit the road. The proceeds from that sale should finance a vert nice rig and provide a sizable emergency fund in addition to my IRA money.

    From here on out, I’m living my life for me and no-one else.

  14. TxLady says:

    I’ve been married for almost 35 years to a wonderful man who has no interest in traveling. He’s been retired for a few years now and our house is paid off. I’m still employed and my job pays too well to ditch just yet as we need the insurance and income. But, I’ve been itching to see the country for a few years now. Mostly I’m just tired of the rat race; the hour long commutes in bumper to bumper traffic, etc. I think to myself every day there’s got to be more to life than this! But too many things tie me down at the moment. I’d feel like a terrible person to wish any of those things away because I love my husband, pets, home. I’m constantly looking at RV websites; blogs, forums. My sister and her husband have just become full timers; he’s got several potentially terminal illnesses so they are trying to go, see and do as much as possible while his health is still good enough that they can. I’ll just live vicariously through them for now. 🙂

  15. Cathy P. says:

    Good article. Give and take is great but sometimes you’re stuck with a taker until you get unstuck. To get unstuck, you have to do what you have to do and many have, many more will!

  16. For those who say they “want” to do this (or anything)but can’t, I have a question. What do you want more than anything else? That is, what is your first priority? You don’t need to tell me what that is, but you need to figure that out for yourself and focus your attention on it. If you continually recognize that one goal/priority matters more than any other, you will be able to reach that goal. If you split your energy and time among several things you “want,” you may not get any of them.

  17. David Michael says:

    This is a great topic. It’s different for every couple. After eight years into retirement for me, my wife was solidly into her new career as a minister. She was great at it and it gave her great satisfaction after raising three kids. This is not unusual for women in the age range of 45-60 to reenter the work force. Many accomplish incredible things in this part of life. No way was I going to ask her to give up her dream.

    Men who are usually older, are getting itchy for retirement and living life as they see fit. Thus, at age 65, I went back to college for a year, earned another Master’s Degree to teach ESL (English as a Second Language) overseas to pay for my travels. I worked in the Middle East at two different universities for four years and loved every minute of it. My wife and I were physically apart for usually three-six months
    and joined each other in some romantic place in Europe for a week or two on vacations. Fortunately, I had summer vacations to return home.

    Much to my surprise she decided to retire and join me in Jordan to explore the Holy Lands while teaching there for two years. I gave her a job as a fellow ESL teacher and we wandered around the world on vacations for two years together. I was forced to retire again at age 70 (government age limit), so we bought an RV and successfully RVed for seven years full-time in the USA and Canada. She tired of RVing at age 76, although I could have kept going forever. Now at age 80, in a small apartment, I look back upon that period as one of the best decisions I ever made. And…for the most part, we had to earn our way much of the time because our pension company went bankrupt. Today I am converting a cargo van into a camper for more local trips in the Northwest.

    So…anything is possible if partners give each other space, love and support to achieve each other’s dreams. Everything in life eventually comes down to
    compromise, especially in marriage.

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