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!

46 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. Avatar 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. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Avatar Bob Soon to launch says:

      Sometimes though, you have just say, if not now when?” Then just hit the road and know that whatever you have is all you’re going to need. Truth is, there’s no way to plan this move, you just got to go. At least that’s what I’m hanging my dreams on come June 30.

  3. Avatar 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. Avatar Mark says:

    Well, that is timely. I’m headingโ€‹ 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. ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. Avatar Tammi Padilla says:

    Brilliant response, I love this!

  6. Avatar 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. Avatar 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!” ๐Ÿ™‚
    They’re not together anymore (Praise Gato!) and, yes, we’re still friends.

  8. Avatar 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. Avatar 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. Avatar Denise Jackson says:

    Love this. <3

  11. Avatar 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. Avatar 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. Avatar 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. Avatar 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. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Avatar Darla says:

      TxLady, your comment could have been written by me. I live in Texas, have a secure job to which I commute close to an hour one-way, and I am tired of the rat race as well as this pace of life. There is very little leisure even while enjoying leisure, because someone is waiting for me to leave so they can take my place. One has to consume and spend money to relax in any one place, or feel like a loiterer. I am divorced, but have been dating a man for almost 8 years, who has no interest in going anywhere that is not related to music or that is over an hour or two away. I’m not sure he is capable of just sitting and looking at scenery or the night sky, or even hiking and fossil/rock/artifact hunting. People are amazed, impressed, and think I’m nuts for backpacking, camping and going on trips by myself, but life is short. If I wait for people to make up their minds to go with me or to even try it, I’ll miss out. I haven’t gone for over a year as it is, and it is really getting to me. I have pets and a 15-year old son, who I love dearly, and not listed in order of importance. I will take them with me despite their sighs and complaints, but it’s not as easy as it is when I go alone. ๐Ÿ™‚ I am planning to live in an RV once I get my son on his own and get a nest egg. It’s what keeps me going now, whether it really happens or not.

      • Darla…just want to encourage you. Keep growing that nest egg. You will know when the time is right. Sometimes dreams accomplished take a bit longer than we would like, but it does not diminish the excitement when that moment finally does arrive. And it will. My best to you as you look forward to a future of adventure. Becky

  15. Avatar 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. Avatar Ptb says:

    Reminds me of that country song about the guys wife giving him the ultimatum of ‘quit fishing or I’ll leave you’……” ….I’m gonna miss her.”

  17. 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.

  18. Avatar 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.

  19. Avatar Tonita says:

    This was a great read, full of amazing advice. I’m currently taking that leap of faith with my partner to see if we can make it though the good times and the hard car trouble times. We left and sold everything in MI to start new in OR. The drive was interesting as I learned I’m no so good at driving in snow nor up in mountains but my partner is, but he can’t drive in really bright sun or at night, so that where I come in. Lots of give and take as we are in a small space and the time spent together is, a lot. Getting time away from each other is the most difficult as we are currently looking for work, but finding things that both of us enjoy and planning out activities to keep us out the car make the experience worth it. I love the freedom we have achieved doing this and I hope it continues.

    Let us see where this road takes us !

  20. Avatar Bryan says:

    I am married for 13 years (after a failed marriage of 29 years (if failed works here?)) and my wife, absolutely refuses to, even, go camping. So, I have a few choices: Divorce, abandon or stay! My wife has held my hand and watched when we didn’t know I would live! She stuck by me and I will stick by her! I don’t owe her anything except what I choose and I cannot even think of leaving her.
    I have told her and I have plans to ‘hit the road’ after she is gone (deceased). She says, “Great!! As long as I don’t have to go.”
    I am not waking up and thinking, “Is she dead, yet?” I can and will be patient even if it means I die first. I’ll ‘hit the road’ one way or another but love is the one ‘too precious’ commodity, it shouldn’t be forsaken for any reason.
    I hope this makes sense.

    • Avatar Elisabel says:

      you can always hit the road alone, with a pet, with friends, and enjoy. If love is too precious, you will look out for yourself and make your dreams come true and not be sad living with your love one. And your loved one need to understand that you need to roam free from time to time.

  21. I’ve read these comments, follow your dreams! Go you! Anyway my husband is constantly on this forum. He also spends hours on the phone giving advice to peope who live in vans. He inherited a large sum of money and has spent $75,000 getting his “rig” perfect. After 70 (no type-o) 70 weeks of packing he went to the RTR to give advice in person and was back 2 weeks later. He’s been packing again for 6 weeks. He goes no where: kitchen, bathroom, work on the rig, order more parts,give more travel advice, check the weather. I finally rented an apartment and started divorce proceedings.I’m the”tether”..But
    I actually travel,have a great job, provide his health insurance, pay the bills, take care of the house and kids because he’s busy packing and leaving tomorrow….tomorrow….. I hear him on the phone telling folks how marriage held him back, how he’s never going to put down roots again! The ideal vagabond life! I hope he joins you all on the road someday! But for now, remember there are 2 sides of every story and some “travelers” are camping in 4 bedroom houses with giant TVs, petting the dogs and giving travel advice while the “tether” is at work. I’m not slanderous or vindictive, this is just a glimpse from the other side of the story. I also have no intention of outing him because I may be a ball and chain, but I’m not an A-hole. Collige Virgo Rosas, Carpe Diem, yolo etc. Just rember love is complicated, marriage requires shared dreams and sometimes the “tether” isn’t really the problem.

  22. Avatar Richard says:

    Great post. Thanks for your sharing so much.

  23. Avatar Brian says:

    Bob, I have been following you on the web for over 10 years, I hope all is well, but I must say that your blog has been terrible the last 4 months, you have hardly written anything, and the articles that are published don’t concern most of the people that are van dwellers.

  24. When you love someone, decision was easy

  25. Avatar Jackie says:

    My problem is my wife is handicap and feels isolated in our RV, as it is very hard for her to get in and out of it. We bought a ladder and that helps some, but still hard for her. I wanted to add a lift but she didn’t want to since it’s an older RV (1976) and she thinks we won’t have it long. It also doesn’t drive well up hills. For example, going to Sedona in March, I barely made it up, slowed down to about 35 miles on a highway, but we made it. I’m fine with that, I just pull on the slow lane and rest can pass me. I wanted to stay in our RV there but she decided it was too hard so we got a hotel for the four days we were there. But the itch is there and really I can’t leave home since someone needs to help her around the house. Makes it very hard for me, because I want to go live this lifestyle, I feel I would be so much happier, than stuck in front of a TV or computer.

  26. It is May 1st and the snow has been coming down here in northern Minnesota all day. I look outside the sliding doors and see my new bought 1965 16′ Winnebago camper trailer sitting out there with a tarp on top of her waiting to be attended to. Last weekend I was up on her roof removing the vent to soon be replaced with a Fantastic Fan I have sitting in my shed. She sits out there, and through the white curtain of flakes, speaks to me in her non-verbal language eager to do the adventuring she was created to do. She has become a part of me; the adventuresome, simple and real other part of me wanting to be expressed. I smile.

    I can’t tell you exactly when the beckoning to travel started; only that it has been in the last 3 years. Like most of you, in those three years I have researched and read blogs like this one, seeking the courage to follow a dream.

    I was a stay-at-home mom, homeschooling my two children and loved my life. I have no regrets or things I’m running from, but rather something I am running to now that they are both adults and on their own. Also like many of you I have a spouse who has no interest in the life of a nomad. I am trying to reconcile how I show respect for the man that I am married to and at the same time do what I almost feel compelled to do. I’m still working on that.

    When my dreams of traveling in my Winnie and boon-docking out in nature are expressed, I am called a “hippie”. If you knew me, you would find this as humorous as I do. Really, you would. I’m not rebelling against anything. Why do people feel the need to pigeonhole others when we all are so multifaceted? People change. Dreams change. That’s what makes life the adventure story it is for you and for me.

    I think I would rather be likened to the adventuresome people that established this country; not afraid of heading into new territory. Hopeful. Expectant. They followed their dreams and I owe them a debt of gratitude. They wanted a country where they could be free to follow their dreams; be that on a hobby farm or in a New York apartment or in a little camper traveling the country. That is what freedom of choice is all about. Thank God we still have the remnants of that dream of freedom to strike out on our own in this country.

    So all the women out there like me who want to be brave enough to follow their dreams, pray for me and maybe someday we will meet at the RTR or on some wayside rest. I don’t know when the Winnie and I will be out there but I expect it will be soon. The goal is set; the plans are made, excitement and faith overshadow the fear of the unknown. And I am truly looking forward to meeting like-minded brothers and sisters to encourage and be encouraged by. Happy travels you hippies you!

  27. Avatar Clinton Johnson says:

    I should have read this awhile back. I am in my second marriage to decent, honest, christian lady and what anyone would think should have a lot going for it… but I am not happy and neither is she. Seeing her kindness to others makes me wonder why she is harsh and hard towards me. I’ve confronted her on this point and she doesn’t see it. Our relationship is much more brother-sister-like than anything. I want to travel in the worst way and see the country, while she is not interested and would rather spend time with her friends than me. Her time is virtually used up garden and volunteering with little left for us. In a few weeks, I am leaving for an extended westward trip by myself in a new truck camper, which I probably should not have bought, but it seemed like the thing to do at the time. I did attempt to travel alone last year, but a string of family deaths and family matters cut that short and forced me back. I’m will see the west / northwest this summer and hope it won’t be as lonely as I imagine it will be. My tether is virtually self-imposed, in that, I stay in a poor relationship, rather than, face the uncertainty of being alone or on my own. But, in a few weeks I’m doing it come hell or high water. What has held me back is the fear of being alone, or maybe the fear of failure. I’ve let this fear suppress my happiness for way too long.

  28. Avatar Sonia says:

    Brian, I’m not sure if you know but Bob is having family health issues. Just so you know. He’s not ignoring or blowing things off. He’s just tied up as we all can be at a time or another. He will be back as things allow. Patience grasshopper, patience.

  29. Avatar Missy says:

    I am waiting on a sick husband to pass then I am hiring the road

  30. Avatar Robert says:

    Our days are numbered and the end is always near. Waiting for the right time, retirement, spouse could well be to late. We have all seen old, feeble people show up at interactive locations because they always wanted to go there. Now they can look but not touch. Go , while you still can experience not just look. As for a unwilling spouse. Trade them for another or none at all. We have but one life,if they are too selfish to let you go. Put yourself first.

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