Top Menu

On Friendship and Long-Term Travel

friendship travel

Around six years and two months ago I came back home to Virginia after my first stint of long-term travel. Has it really been that long?

Fresh off the plane from a year in Spain and learning important lessons like fitting everything you need for a week of travel into a carry-on and how to order cocktails like a native in Spanish, my twenty year-old mind was ignited with an insatiable wanderlust.

From a small town girl, who if she was lucky got to visit Virginia Beach for a long weekend in the summer, to living and traveling around glamorous Europe for a year, understandably all I wanted to do was talk about my time abroad when I got back. Sadly, I soon figured out that pretty much everyone from my “life back home” didn’t really give a shit, and plenty of people who I thought were true friends, turned out to be the opposite.

That summer was a dark one, and perhaps one of the loneliest periods of my life.

Feeling like I just had the experience to end all experiences yet I had to keep it to myself because I had no one to talk to depressed the crap out of me. However, being a born introvert, I had no problem keeping myself busy with two summer jobs, a newfound interest in scrapbooking and the invention of Facebook chat, where I could easily waste away hours reminiscing and catching up with friends from all over the world who “got” me, whatever that means.

friendship travel

Little did I know that I was throwing down the proverbial gauntlet, and that year marked a choice I made to have a life filled with travel. In my mind, it shouldn’t have affected or changed anything, friendships included, but it did. Everything changed.

Choosing a life a travel can be alienating, to say the least.

Whether friends and family can’t (or won’t) relate to your experiences around the world or you feel like you have started wandering down such an intrinsically different path than most people you know, returning home from a big trip overseas pretty much guarantees you to be confronted with a broad range of complex and challenging emotions regarding friendships.

Now as pitiful as that all sounds now, every cloud has a silver lining and I learned many a valuable lesson that summer that have stuck with me through the years: the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Here is my two cents about how to manage both long-term travel and maintain friendships around the world. 

friendship travel

1. You learn who your real friends are, and you learn fast.

While I believe that travel has many life lessons to offer you if you open yourself up to it, I think perhaps the most valuable piece of advice you can takeaway from tramping around the globe is learning who your real friends are.

All the old cliches are true. Every word of them.

True friends stay with you no matter what decisions you make with your life and will support you through thick and thin. Even if they don’t own a passport and never take a vacation, they won’t judge your wandering lifestyle and discredit you. And those that do, aren’t friends at all.

friendship travel

While they may not be able to sympathize with your visa problems or even really understand how blogging could be a career, they are still supportive and don’t hold it over your head. They understand your passion for travel and will stick by you.

My closest friends, the ones who really matter, understand that I am physically (and mentally) all over the place, and they get it. Sometimes months will go by and we won’t talk, but then when we do, it’s just like old times and we pick up where we left off. Nowadays, I consider myself lucky if I get to see them once a year or so, but they understand. We all have our own lives to lead and friendships with too much pressure and demands will not work out in the end.

Surround yourself with good people who love you for you, no matter how much of a traveling trainwreck you are.

friendship travel

2. Be openminded and be relatable

Striking a balance between being true to yourself and maintaining friendships with people with entirely different lifestyles than yours is challenging, but not impossible.

This is a murky gray area of my personality that I have spent years working on and trying to improve. If you let it, travel WILL open and broaden your mind. But do not make the classic mistake of inflating self-importance just because you have managed to accomplish something “special” with world travel.

That lonely summer between sophomore and junior year of college ended up being an enlightening one. Because I felt that people disliked me for my love for travel and my passion for storytelling, I started to resent everyone right back. Even now I am ashamed of the things I thought and how much I judged others for choosing a different “boring and ordinary” path in life. How could anyone be satisfied without travel? My young mind couldn’t wrap itself around that thought.

We all have our own paths in life to follow, and you can’t look down, or judge or even compare your lot to somebody else’s.

friendship travel

Now just because no one could relate to me didn’t mean that I couldn’t relate to anybody else. While you might not have any control over how others respond and react to your lifestyle choices, you do have 100% say in how YOU behave towards others.

Step one: don’t be an asshole.

Don’t be that person that talks in a hoity-toity manner all the damn time about all the wonderful, unique, undiscovered, off-the-beaten-path destinations you get to visit. Make an effort to listen and to relate to people on a fundamental level; you both don’t have to be great travelers.

In fact, my closest friends never travel at all. Most of them are on career paths, are finishing graduate school, hell, even some of them are getting married and popping out babies now. You’d be hard-pressed to find a topic I could relate to less.

But you know what? It doesn’t matter and we all get along like family.

friendship travel

3. You can’t make everyone like you

While I count myself very lucky that travel blogging and living overseas has opened so many doors for me, it would insincere to forget that it has cost me several friendships with people I used to really care about.

At the risk of sounding like a pretentious twat, no matter how hard you try, not everyone is going to like you and want to be friends with you, whether you travel full time or not. This has been a bitter pill to swallow with both my personal and virtual lives. Whether I am getting hate comments on my blog to snide remarks from people who I once thought of as friends, there’s always gonna be a hater out there, no matter what you do or say.

Friend break-ups are the absolute WORST!

friendship travel

It always sucks to see that someone has defriended you, or you fall out of touch with someone you used to think you were close with, but ultimately there is only so much you can do. It’s a much better investment of your time and energy to focus on the friends that matter, than trying to convince the trolls.

My mom says it’s because they’re jealous (don’t all moms say this?) though I’m convinced it must be that I post too many annoying travel articles online and sometimes I point out people’s grammar errors publicly (I can’t help it!). Growing up with no self-esteem, I was always jealous of everyone else, from their new barbies to their late curfews, even now I get jealous of girls who have a thigh gap and people with stable incomes and who can actually buy furniture – at this very moment I’m sleeping in the same twin bed I’ve had since I was 10 at my mom’s house. To imagine anyone could be jealous of me seems absurd. I’m sure it’s the blog posts and my lack of a filter.

But I digress. If someone doesn’t like you, that’s their problem, not yours. End of story.

friendship travel

4. You will make new friends on the road

One of my all time favorite things about traveling is getting to meet new people and make new friends. Many times you get to share a special experience and can bond over a love of travel.

This is a post for another day, but I cannot express enough this is my main reason for traveling solo; you just don’t make friends and have the same adventures you do when traveling in groups like you do when you’re alone.

Now more often than not, you’ll probably never see these people again (super depressing thought) but you’ll add each other on Facebook and comment and like things from time to time, and maybe meet up somewhere around the world one day and reminisce about your adventures. Occasionally thought, you will find people who will be lifelong close friends.

For me, the people you meet on the road make all the difference.

Not to mention there is no surefire way to know if you’re friends with someone than if you can travel with them.

friendship travel

5.  It’s important to make time for your friends 

This one should be fairly easy but since I’ve started traveling more and more, especially this summer, I have come to realize I’ve gotten so wrapped up in my blog and my own problems that I’ve been a crappy friend.

No matter how busy you are, no matter where you are in the world, don’t forget your friends. They are everything. 

In this day in age, with smartphones and tablets and wifi just about everywhere, it’s easy to stay in contact with people, timezones notwithstanding. Don’t hide behind the crappy excuse of “I’ve been too busy to talk.” Always make time to talk. Communication is everything.

friendship travel

I stay in contact with friends many different ways. Too many different ways if you ask me. The best two for me are Skype and WhatsApp. Also Facebook. Gchat. Twitter. Instagram. Snapchat. iMessage. But not email – my inbox terrifies me.

Even when I’m on the road and traveling all over the place and all I want to do is curl up in my own little twin size bunk bed, I make time to see my friends if possible. In fact, I’ve started to have an east coast ritual, where every summer when I’m home, I do a roadtrip from Virginia to Boston, visiting everyone I know in between.

Friendships are hard work and it’s important to pull your weight. Even if you don’t have time, make the time.

What do you think? Are you a traveler? How do you negotiate and balance friendship with a wandering lifestyle? Have any tips or advice to share? Spill!

**Many thanks to everyone who piped in on my Facebook page and helped me out with choosing this topic to write about

friendship travel


92 Responses to On Friendship and Long-Term Travel

  1. Crystal August 8, 2013 at 9:24 pm #

    All of this, YES. I have had my own challenges with living abroad and keeping in touch with my friends back “home” and now that I’m stateside again I feel like I am having to find the perfect balance the friends I left in country. I loved what you said about haters though…because yes, friend breakups are the worst and I’ve had to deal with it just like you. Great post!

    • Liz August 9, 2013 at 10:38 am #

      They are the absolute worst!! It’s so hard finding a balance :)

  2. Julie @ There and Back Again August 8, 2013 at 9:29 pm #

    I definitely agree that your true friends are the ones where you still enjoy each other just as much, regardless of how long you’ve been apart or when you were last able to catch up. One of my favorite quotes:

    “Don’t be dismayed at good-byes. A farewell is necessary before you can meet again. And meeting again, after moments or lifetimes, is certain for those who are friends.” – Richard Bach

    • Liz August 9, 2013 at 10:38 am #

      Beautiful quote!

  3. Mike August 8, 2013 at 9:59 pm #

    This is a difficult subject because friendships are extremely important to everyone. As I prepare to leave for my year – possibly more – teaching in Spain, I’ve been trying to balance spending as much time as I can with friends and family. When I studied abroad for 6 months, I lost contact with many friends and never, in fact, regained contact with them upon arriving. We either had different interests or had simply grown apart, which I believe would have happened sometime in life anyways if it hadn’t happened then.

    • Liz August 9, 2013 at 10:39 am #

      You’re definitely right about that. This is a very difficult subject and one that I feel I’m constantly changing how I feel about it, it’s really hard but something anyone who goes traveling long term definitely has to face.

  4. Amanda @ Adventure Year August 8, 2013 at 10:12 pm #

    I think one of the most intimidating things about travel to me is wondering if I’ll find friends along the way. I’ve read dozens of blogs that say you ABSOLUTELY will, but there’s still that stupid little voice in my head asking me what happens if I’m not like the bloggers I’m reading? This was a great post because it shows so many aspects of friendships! And I definitely agree that friend break ups suck and are waaaay too awkward for me. ;)

    • Liz August 9, 2013 at 10:41 am #

      I will definitely write more about that in a different post – about making friends on the road, especially traveling alone – stay tuned!

      • Megan August 12, 2013 at 8:38 pm #

        I can’t wait for that post! I’ve been in Spain for about a month and a half and have met plenty of international wanderers, but still have yet to click with locals. It’s a tough thing to address and really represent, but Liz you do a fantastic job of addressing these personal challenges of travel in your blog, something I aspire to do. Everyone travels different, but it’s nice to know I’m not the only overthinker taking this kind of adventure on. Thanks, looking forward to your future posts!

  5. Rosie August 8, 2013 at 10:35 pm #

    Practical and deep. Reminding me of the previous friendships I’m having, and how important relationships to be. Thanks for the nice post

    • Liz August 9, 2013 at 10:41 am #

      Thanks Rosie :)

  6. Erika August 8, 2013 at 10:43 pm #

    I really enjoyed reading this… :) Friendship is a difficult thing to navigate as an adult, especially if you’re nomadic. I’ve had a lot of lessons I’ve learned recently about friendship and many are similar to yours. But I would also say that just because people are in your life for a season, or you go on separate paths, it doesn’t mean that they weren’t true friends. :) I find that as I get older, I prioritize things differently than other friends. Some people just need people who are around all the time and talk on the phone everyday. To them, if you can’t do that, then you’re not a “true” friend. But that’s not how I operate. But that’s okay — and it’s okay if people readjust their standards for friendship. For you, it means being able to always pick up where you left off. For others, it may mean being there for all the special events. Different strokes for different folks, right? Anyway, I just think that just because you part ways eventually and maybe even never speak again (or rarely) doesn’t mean that what you had wasn’t true. :))))) Thanks for sharing this!

    • Liz August 9, 2013 at 10:42 am #

      That is a really, really good point Erika, and not one that I had considered with any seriousness before, thank you so much for sharing that!! I will definitely be reevaluating a lot of things now!

  7. Lauren Meshkin August 8, 2013 at 11:29 pm #

    Thank you for writing about one of the downsides to a life of travel! Some people just don’t get it and in the end… we need to accept that and move on. I couldn’t have read this at a better time. Thank again :)

    • Liz August 9, 2013 at 10:42 am #

      You’re certainly welcome!

  8. Jessica Wray August 9, 2013 at 12:40 am #

    I relate to so many aspects of this.

    Luckily, it has always been easy for me to be the annoying friend that MAKES my best friends skype me or the person to send repetitive texts to get them to respond. Sometimes, even the best of friends SUCK at keeping in touch!

    It is so true how you said that no matter where you are or how far away you should never forget your friends. I am home now, and it will be so hard to leave them AGAIN.

    On another note….I get worried that people from home will get annoyed with me posting all these pictures of exotic locations. I don’t want to shove anything down anyone’s throat, but at the same time I like sharing these things with others. (I mean, amazing scenery is totally worth more Instagram space than someone’s daily Big Mac, right?)

    To sum it up….I’m glad I came across this. Keeping doing the awesome things you do while trying to be confident (but jealous sometimes also). God knows, I do exactly the same!

    • Liz August 9, 2013 at 10:44 am #

      Yay! I sometimes think people get annoyed with me and my photos, so since I’ve become a “serious” blogger, I try to keep the photo sharing and everything to my fan pages and not my personal fbook page. However, it is part of me and I don’t believe in hiding who I am either, so I still make sure to share albums or two, just not overdo it

  9. Cassandra August 9, 2013 at 3:40 am #

    Good for you for tackling the balancing act of travel and friendships! As the comments are starting to show, a lot of long-term travelers go through these stages and emotions.

    I certainly relate to what you mention about feeling alienated (i.e. DIFFERENT) after returning from a semester abroad. It brought about such a change for me that almost every topic seemed to be related somehow…yet obviously I couldn’t keep referencing it over and over again. I’ve gotten better at not referencing Spain when I go home, but sometimes it’s tough!

    Finally–We’re definitely lucky to have friends with whom we can pick right up again, even though our lives and desires are different!

    • Liz August 9, 2013 at 10:49 am #

      exactly! It’s so hard finding a balance, especially in conversations back home when all you (me) ever want to bring up is traveling.

  10. Dina August 9, 2013 at 6:58 am #

    Feel like we’re the same person! Introvert who had a very dark period after coming back from Spain the first time. Very lonely and difficult to deal with reverse culture shock alone. I learned valuable lessons about who my friends were and about moving on. Painful but worth it. Interested to see who sticks this time as I go for 9 months or more…

    • Liz August 9, 2013 at 10:50 am #

      It’s interesting, you will find out who your friends are for sure

  11. Katie August 9, 2013 at 8:39 am #

    Absolutely loved this post! I can definitely relate to a lot of it – I’ve lived abroad twice and it can definitely change friendships. Like you said though, your real friends will be there for you no matter what :)

    • Liz August 9, 2013 at 10:50 am #

      :) exactly

  12. Christine August 9, 2013 at 9:55 am #

    WOOHOO!!!! That photo of me covered in mud is really making the rounds. Love ya girl, and our friendship is proof that the universe totally gives you what you need–who would have thought we’d meet in JORDAN out of all places? And re: the jealousy–the grass is always greener. When you’re paying rent, you’re longing for freedom; when you’re out exploring the world, you want your own bed. Hope to see you somewhere in the world soon xo

    • Liz August 9, 2013 at 11:01 am #

      You’re right as usual :) So glad we met!

  13. Katie August 9, 2013 at 10:09 am #

    I can so relate to this! I’ve been home about 9 months now after traveling for over a year and while I was so excited to come back, I feel like no one is all that excited to have me back. :( I probably have 2 friends that make any effort to get together with me at all – everyone else is a constant exchange of “oh, I already have plans, maybe another time?” and then when I try to suggest another time, it goes nowhere. It’s very disheartening, but as you said, these people likely weren’t “real” friends in the first place. But it’s hard as I try to figure out what to do next and even my 2 good friends don’t really understand why I can’t just be happy in Chicago – as I throw out ideas for my next steps or heading back overseas, they just sort of emptily nod without providing much support or encouragement.

    • Liz August 9, 2013 at 11:02 am #

      It can be so incredibly frustrating. I hate that part of it. At least we have the travel blogging community :)

  14. Mallory August 9, 2013 at 11:14 am #

    Liz, this is all very true! I think life (as a cycle itself) has many cycles within it, of which people come and go all the time. There are always people long-term that are there for you, and then there are people that are so jealous that all they can do is stare at you from behind their computer, glaring at your Facebook posts, instead of actively trying to remain friends (I’ve even experienced this from family members). You have nothing to be jealous of! Everyone is so different, how can we compare apples and oranges? It’s all fruit!

    Keep doing what you’re doing! People’s behavior fascinates me, but I’m over the negativity that some people have. The world is a hard enough place where we have friends/family members who don’t show support…there’s no room for that! Especially in the grand scheme of things…

    You’re awesome Liz!

    • Liz August 9, 2013 at 6:09 pm #

      It’s all fruit – I love that!! So true! I am over the negativity as well. I don’t understand people, I really don’t!

  15. Megan Coffroth August 9, 2013 at 12:39 pm #

    I’m so happy I came across this post today! I just graduated from college and I’m getting ready to leave the U.S. at the end of August. So naturally I’m experiencing that bittersweet feeling of excitement mixed with nostalgia. You have a lot of great advice regarding travel and friendships! No matter where you are in the world, your true friends are always there. Thanks!

    • Liz August 9, 2013 at 6:12 pm #

      I’m happy you found me! I hope you enjoy my blog!

  16. Beverley | Pack Your Passport August 9, 2013 at 3:12 pm #

    “…though I’m convinced it must be that I post too many annoying travel articles online and sometimes I point out people’s grammar errors publicly.” – Oh my God, this is me to a tee! I’ve noticed that in the past few years of travel that people from home who I’ve been friends with on facebook have suddenly ‘unfriended’ me and there is that tiny part of me that gets hurt by that but at the same time, like you say, if someone doesn’t like you there’s their problem not yours. You can’t please everyone all the time :-)

    I love meeting friends in different countries and, even though you eventually have to say goodbye, I love knowing that we’re in so many different places across the globe that we all have someone to visit somewhere in the world. I guess that’s the positive side of having to say goodbye to people you’ve really grown close to away from home

    • Liz August 9, 2013 at 6:12 pm #

      me too!! Now when I travel I make an effort to see friends I’ve made around the globe, it’s so nice!

  17. Leah August 9, 2013 at 3:31 pm #

    Well done. You forgot one thing though: Don’t make friends with assholes. That will save you lots of future headaches. ;-)

    • Liz August 9, 2013 at 5:58 pm #

      noted :)

  18. Freya Renders August 9, 2013 at 4:22 pm #

    What a great list of learnings! I must add that you should also be kind to yourself. When you travel, you’ll be tested in every imaginable way, and you could make mistakes. Don’t be too hard on yourself then.

    • Liz August 9, 2013 at 5:58 pm #

      That is so true

  19. Dan August 9, 2013 at 8:01 pm #

    This captures all of the feels associated with coming and going.

  20. amelie88 August 9, 2013 at 8:06 pm #

    So true, every word of this post. When I got back from Spain, it was hard to refrain from saying “When I was in Spain…” It still is. I find that I am mostly still good friends with the people I was friends with before I left. There are a few friends I have simply outgrown and drifted away from, mostly because I changed and they stayed the same (and not for the better). Some friends I simply don’t talk to very much, but when we do get together, it’s like no time has passed.

    Also you made me check to see whether I had thigh gap, I wasn’t even aware that was a thing!

    • Liz August 9, 2013 at 9:09 pm #

      Ah the elusive thigh gap. how skinny can you get?? haha

  21. Miriam August 9, 2013 at 9:16 pm #

    Oh, Liz! You always write about the subjects that are near and dear to my heart. Since my high school graduation, I’ve spent years at a time living out of a suitcase. Like you, I have found that those who end up sticking around are the ones worth making time for.

    I agree with your mom. I think people get a bit envious, but I also think it has to do with the fact that in America, we’re taught to really focus on ourselves. Some people focus so much on themselves that when someone else is happy, all they can do is look at what this person has that they don’t. For some reason they end up feeling as though all of the wonderful things that happen to you are just to spite them. It’s strange, I tell ya! I couldn’t be happier that I have friends who are traveling the world. I feel blessed that I am lucky enough to know people playing different roles on this earth, when in my early years, that was not really possible. If anything it gives me hope that even as adults, we can still dream and know people who are actively pursuing and realizing those dreams.

    I really love that Dita Von Teese quote. The haters can be anyone from strangers to family, but in the end, you are the sole person who reflects on the life you have lived. As long as you are happy with that journey, let the haters hate.

    Your friend,
    Miriam :)

    • Liz August 10, 2013 at 10:11 pm #

      It’s official, we have to meet up soon. Come to New Zealand?

      • Miriam August 11, 2013 at 7:43 pm #

        I will definitely try! I’m applying to the Fulbright program at the moment and hopefully I’ll be back in Spain this time next year. Hopefully some time in between I can make a trip to the southern hemisphere ;)

  22. Mary Beth August 9, 2013 at 11:50 pm #

    Liz – This is a really important topic that I haven’t seen most bloggers touch on. You laid it out beautifully for your readers!

    I think I’m in a different category as I’ve currently chosen the life of an expat. I’ve lost so so so many friends… I really don’t keep in touch with anyone back home anymore. Part of that is because of me (I was in the Peace Corps in a super remote village for 2 years) and partly because my friends and family are not really interested in my international lifestyle. Así es!

    But it does go both ways, I neither am much interested in their materialistic self-centered American lives (yikes, sorry if that hurt someone)!

    So I think it’s very important to be who YOU want to be and do what makes YOU happy. Whatever that may be, choose it and then surround yourself with like-minded people and you will quickly make life-long friends.

    I really love your blog, by the way :)

    • Liz August 10, 2013 at 10:13 pm #

      I hear you, I lost a lot of friends when I moved to Spain for two years, but I’ve moved on. I agree with you 100 percent. I’m so glad you like my blog :)

  23. Jessica August 10, 2013 at 1:28 am #

    I really appreciate this piece. This has been something that I have definitely struggled with and may very well continue to struggle with. I think I really notice this when I came back from my year in Paris. A year that was one of my happiest and still one of my fondest. It was a part of me and I wanted to share it but it often seemed like many weren’t as eager to hear it. I’ve moved around quite a bit and the path I am choosing is a lot different than the majority of my friends. I know that as I’ve lost friends I have to think of what’s best for me. The “I don’t have the money” is a line I hear all too often. But than I realized that my life and their life just have a different set of priorities and I have to be okay with that. Even if it does hurt to realize you’ll be visiting them before they ever visit you. But again if I hold a grudge on that it will only make the divide larger. There even times when I wonder if we will have anything to talk about. The ones who are meant to be however, well it’s like picking up as if we never left. There is still plenty to talk about and experiences to share on both sides. An understanding that maybe they didn’t get to come visit you but they’ve supported you in so many other unconditional ways and that’s a pretty amazing gift. I think the most important thing I’m learning is the more confident I am in myself and my choices the easier it is to realize that the divide doesn’t have to shatter, it can shape and develop friendships for the better. And although it’s sad that not all will be understanding, that some friendships won’t sustain, cherishing the ones that do will be a comfort as well as the new friends I will hopefully meet along the way.

    • Liz August 10, 2013 at 10:14 pm #

      beautifully put!

  24. Claudia August 10, 2013 at 11:32 am #

    I met Catherine in Ourense teaching English and now she is one of my best friends in the world. We constantly txt on whatsapp. It is the best!!

    • Liz August 10, 2013 at 10:14 pm #

      small world! Whatsapp is the best!

  25. kurt August 10, 2013 at 11:35 am #

    Great honesty. At this moment this article speaks to me. With some decisions I’m making it helps to highlight priorities and the need to make some important choices. Thank you for sharing.

  26. Liz August 10, 2013 at 10:15 pm #

    you’re very welcome Kurt!

  27. Alana - Paper Planes August 11, 2013 at 1:49 am #

    It’s always frustrating to have good friends disappear (for whatever reason) when you’re traveling long term or living abroad. There’s a funny flip side to it though, where people you never really expected to keep in touch with, or weren’t incredibly close with to begin with, make more of an effort to reach out. There’s been several people in my life who I now have more contact with, in one way or another, then I did when I was living at home. People surprise you both ways…

    • Liz August 11, 2013 at 10:22 am #

      you are right about that. I have some people reaching out to me who I never thought I would talk to again. Life’s interesting, isn’t it?

  28. Heather August 11, 2013 at 2:05 am #

    This article couldn’t have come at a better time! I’m moving back to the States in a few weeks after two years in Shanghai and have been worrying about how I will relate to my friends and family. Hopefully I’ll be able to put this fabulous advice to good use!

    • Liz August 11, 2013 at 10:23 am #

      Yay glad to be of help!!

  29. Nicole August 11, 2013 at 9:25 am #

    It seems obvious to me that your old friends are/were jealous of you. Who wouldn’t be? It’s funny how different perspectives can be, because while you say it’s hard for you to imagine anyone being jealous of you, it’s hard for me to imagine you being jealous of anyone.

    • Liz August 11, 2013 at 10:24 am #

      I’ve got a long winded post somewhere on here about jealousy, that’s my 2013 project, trying to get jealous of others, particularly blogs and comparing myself to other people. It’s a toughie.

      • Nicole August 12, 2013 at 9:32 am #

        I’ve read it, and I still don’t get it. I suppose I get your jealousy of people within the same “field” as you (ie travel bloggers) but I think that’s common in every field of work. “Cross-field” jealousy however, I can’t imagine you’d ever have.

  30. Helen August 11, 2013 at 4:26 pm #

    Hi Liz,

    This post really resonated with me. I’ve been through the same things, many times. Your true friends will always be there, and those that aren’t, well I guess they come into our lives for a time and we learn from them and then go our separate ways. It’s sad sometimes but I guess that’s life.

    I’ve met so many wonderful people travelling and those shared experiences have made us so close. I wouldn’t change it.

    I think you’ve got a great attitude towards travelling and life in general!



    • Liz August 11, 2013 at 9:39 pm #

      thanks Helen!

  31. Clayton August 11, 2013 at 5:17 pm #

    It’s so true about reverse culture shock. Nobody gives a crap what you did and it’s no fun. But traveling is totally worth it for me. I’m 6 months in and starting to get the hang of it, but it’s been a blast and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

    • Liz August 11, 2013 at 9:40 pm #

      Agreed xx

  32. Heather in DE August 12, 2013 at 7:35 am #

    I read this the other day and really wanted to reply, but just couldn’t find the right words. I’ll start with one… “AMEN.”

    This has to be one of the hardest lessons for anyone who’s living their life out of a suitcase to learn. Whether you’re traveling the world or setting up shop as an expat, it’s so hard to accept that not everyone is going to “get it” or be supportive. I’ve been tremendously lucky in my family and friends, but I have a very clear memory of my flatmate in Prague being screamed at over Skype by her mother who apparently felt that “the joke’s over! I didn’t give birth to you for you to move 5000 miles away from me, etc etc etc.” Other friends have been told to grow up and get a real job, because apparently working in a cube is that, whereas traveling and teaching English all over the world is just a fake job. News to me.

    One of my struggles has been dealing with people who don’t respond/are veeeeeeery slow to respond when you try to reach out. But then when I visit home, they get offended if you don’t have time to hang out, or don’t even notice the fact that they never got back to you. It took a long time, but I accept the fact that everyone at home has a whole life that they’re living. I decided to leave, so I can’t get upset that they’ve got stuff going on without me. If we have time to get together, I’d rather spend that time catching up and enjoying it, rather than causing unnecessary friction when I’m just going to leave again. I enjoy it for what it is, and know that real friends will always be there, and new ones are to be made wherever I might go. :)

    • Liz August 12, 2013 at 4:16 pm #

      Glad we’re on the same page :D

  33. Jamie August 12, 2013 at 8:55 am #

    Thanks for this post! I’ve been stressing about keeping touch with friends and family while I’m gearing up for my year abroad and, even more so, what happens when I come back. Even with some of my other travels (all of which were significantly shorter, like ~1 month), I’ve noticed that a lot of people simply weren’t interested in hearing about my adventure or couldn’t understand how I could spend “so long” away from home and my family. I got a lot of crap for simply moving out to Oregon for school from the Midwest!! Anyway, awesome advice and I can’t wait to read your posts once you get to New Zealand!

    • Liz August 12, 2013 at 4:28 pm #

      Just don’t worry about it and enjoy your time abroad! Where are you going?

      • Jamie August 13, 2013 at 11:52 am #

        New Zealand. I’m the volcanologist from your Iceland post!

        • Liz August 13, 2013 at 4:54 pm #

          That’s right!! Don’t forget to message me once you’re there :) I want to learn about the volcanos!

          • Jamie August 14, 2013 at 10:08 am #

            I definitely will!! I’m thinking Tongariro will be one of my first stops once I get there so I can see it before the summer tourist season picks up too much, so that’ll be late September. I want to hike the Tongariro Crossing!

  34. Lauren August 13, 2013 at 3:41 pm #

    This post really resonates with me, I felt this feeling even just traveling abroad for the past couple of summers. Some friends were just not supportive, especially when I decided to apply to the ministry program to teach abroad. Some of them had very different priorities and would get angry if I didn’t want to go out every night so I could save money to travel. Needless to say we had a friendship ‘break-up.’

    I’m sure it will be harder this year since I’ll be gone for a whole year but I think you’re absolutely right, the real friends won’t care what path you take. Great post! :)

    • Liz August 13, 2013 at 4:54 pm #

      There’s only so much effort you can make, just make time for the people who genuinely care!

  35. Susanna August 14, 2013 at 1:34 pm #

    10000000% agree with EVERYTHING you have said. I’ve found the same thing with travel – sometimes you just have to shut up and only talk about it when asked, which I agree can be really depressing when all you want to do is relive those moments and tell the world how happy they made you!
    I also find the losing friends thing has happened a lot when people move away to college/university. I’ve moved away and unfortunately most of my friends from home evidently weren’t REAL friends in the first place, it was waiting to happen! Luckily every new door leads to new friends :)
    Love that image with ‘Ghandi’s top 10 fundamentals’, and I just generally love your blog!

    Susanna x

    • Liz August 23, 2013 at 7:43 pm #

      glad you like my blog

  36. Liz August 22, 2013 at 10:38 am #

    Hey Liz,

    This is extremely relevant to my own life as well and I really resonated with all of your points, actually. Thanks for writing on a very personal subject, yet again. I’ve been living abroad for almost three years and when I first moved, several friends of mine that I was very close with immediately forgot about me. Even within several months it was clear which friends of mine were true friends, and now I’m very grateful for them.

    I just wanted to add a few things on top of your post. For me, and I’m not sure if it is the case for you, but I think some people back home think that you don’t care about them, that you are not interested in their life and that whatever you are doing “abroad” is infinitely more exciting than what they are doing so therefore it would not interest you. I have no idea if this is what some people think, but I make a huge effort to ask people at home what they are doing and to tell me all the details. Living abroad is not glamorous by any means and sometimes is no longer exciting because you of course get into a routine, you learn how to get by, and then several years start to pass – you are just living life. Of course, people don’t realize this as living abroad seems an unfathomable concept to them, so it’s just important to relate to them on what you have in common.

    The other thing is the people who are not necessarily jealous, but think you are very lucky (often said in a condescending way, like “not everyone is so lucky to get to travel so much”) and privileged. Of course, anyone who gets to travel and live abroad is both lucky and privileged, but anyone can do it if its something they want to do in life and then make it a priority. We choose to not own cars, to live in an environment where our native language is not used, to not have an apartment that we can really decorate and buy lots of nice furniture and even live in places with completely different products that really lack compared to the US. Obviously these are minor concerns when you compare it to the benefits, but friends don’t realize that we also make sacrifices for the experience and that we often miss life back home. To counteract this, I try to not talk too much about traveling with people that don’t, and again relate to them on what we have in common.

    Like you said, true friends will never discredit you or judge you for your dreams! Thanks again Liz :)

    • Liz August 23, 2013 at 7:56 pm #

      Those are really great points! I’m glad you could relate and thanks so much for adding all that, you’re totally right!

  37. Cat of Sunshine and Siestas August 23, 2013 at 2:07 pm #

    Again, needed the time to sit down and savor this. When I left high school, my mom said I’d make my bridesmaid friends in college (whatevs: my two high school best friends are totally TOTALLY in my wedding), and I think my closest friends I’ve made in Spain. They’re the ones who have taken me for overpriced Starbucks when I’m down, have traveled to see my when I’m home, who I look up to the most. Even if you never lay down roots in the US ever again, you’ll likely have friends – and good ones – all around the world. We just met once, but I’m in Sevilla cuando tú quieras!

    • Liz August 23, 2013 at 7:57 pm #

      :) Hopefully I will make it back to my beloved Spain sooner rather than later!

  38. asian adventure trips August 25, 2013 at 6:59 am #

    “The world is a book and those who don’t travel ready only one page”- i like this qutation very much ,in fact this is the main reason why i quit reading and strat travelling line..:)love this so much

    • Liz September 1, 2013 at 3:12 am #

      One of my favorite quotes as well :)

  39. Allison September 1, 2013 at 2:42 am #

    This really helps me. I myself am going through a very tough time right now relationship wise… I have certainly chosen to lead a very different life from all my friends growing up. I am still young though. You see right after I graduated High School, I hopped on a plane, and of all places, moved to Israel (by the way it looks like you’ve been based on your mud picture.. I’d love to hear how you liked it, maybe you blogged about it?). Unexpectedly, I fell in love and bla bla bla, we got married, and just recently had a baby.

    Well when I first came back for a visit though, I quickly realized all my ‘friends’ back home…. were no longer my friends. It’s an incredibly sad and depressing realization. Even the person I grew up calling my best friend and sister has left me. I guess some people don’t want to be close to a girl who chooses to live and have a family in a country targeted and surrounded by terrorists and constantly on the lookout for war (very relevant looking at the news right now). I get it. I even had a hard time convincing my own (blood) sister to come visit here. But it hurts.

    I’m focused right now on adapting to this crazy Israeli culture (and my Russian in-laws) and making new friends here. Though as it seems most new moms experience, you really have to start all over again on the making friends thing. And as I said, I’m still young, most people in Israel my age are still in the army and babies are the furthest thing from their mind! Hmmm… so basically my family are my only friends at the moment. Not that that is really bad though, but I know it’s not good for long-term. Eventually you need to be around other people and share and converse and hang out with just your ‘friends’.

    I just needed to share that with anyone willing to read this. Right now I’m spending my days at home with the baby and eyes glued to the news because my husband being recruited back to the army for war right now isn’t exactly ideal (is it ever?). I chose this life, and wouldn’t change a thing about it. I would do it all over again in an instant. But… losing friends is hard, and making new ones takes work especially when your life is ever changing rapidly in big ways. And you are still trying to get over culture shock.. haha because I decided to marry a man who is both very Israeli and very Russian! Hmm… forgive me. I could rant forever about all this and I’m sure it wouldn’t even make any sense. I’m sleep deprived :/

    • Liz September 1, 2013 at 3:12 am #

      Wowza thanks for sharing, glad you could relate to my post :)

  40. Allison September 1, 2013 at 3:31 am #

    Ahhhh just read through the comments, you were in Jordan not Israel. Just came across this blog, I’m really liking it!

  41. Sara September 27, 2013 at 6:05 pm #

    Well said! After living away from home for 7 years, I’ve I can’t please everyone when I visit “home”. There are a lot of “friends” that expect me to put in all the work and communication, but don’t seem to have time for me. I’m ok with that now because I know where I stand with them. I do appreciate the ones who get me and always make time to keep that friendship going. And I love all the new friends I’m making around the world. I feel lucky and blessed to be growing my circle of friends!

  42. Hannah McCandless October 9, 2013 at 10:35 pm #

    Liz-This is awesome and exactly what I needed to read based on where I’m at right now. I’ve been perusing your blogs and love them all, but this one really spoke to me. Just tonight I had to explain to my friends why I cannot live with them next year because I am spending the year in Kenya. I was nervous, because as much as I love them, there is always a part of them that doesn’t understand that part of me. And yet, it was so affirming to see their reactions tonight. Though they were sad and said they would miss me, they all agreed it was an opportunity I couldn’t turn down. It’s hard to deal with the small misunderstandings that come out of living the life of a wanderlust amongst so many homebodies, but it was moments like tonight that made me so grateful to have friends who may not always understand, but will always be supportive.

  43. Tyana November 30, 2013 at 3:56 am #

    Wow..loves these pictures and i really liked your blog..

    • Liz December 1, 2013 at 5:57 am #

      Thank you :)

  44. Amelie December 30, 2013 at 6:31 pm #

    I can relate to basically everything you said! It´s like you put words on what I think.
    It is difficult to have some good long distance relationships but when we see them, it´s like no months or years have passed. So Worth it.
    And life have taught me, if a so called friend has never time to give news, just once in months, then it might not be a friend.
    We always learn in relationships.
    Anyway thanks for you blog, I just discovered it and I love it. Great writing. Please keep going and travel safe!

  45. Cyra @ Gastronomic Nomad December 31, 2013 at 4:34 am #

    Wow, I can relate to and agree with everything you have written here!

    When little 18 year old me moved to London, one of my “best friends” back home “broke up” with me after 6 months, because as I made more friends overseas and settled into life away from home, I was contacting her less and less (maybe only once every two weeks). She told everyone at home that I had changed and made new friends and was “too cool” for her anymore. Needless to say these other friends that I made, are the same friends I am still in contact with today, no matter where we are in the world and how little or often we manage to catch up!

    Even as recent as last year, I was back home and an old friend snapped at me for talking about my job (I work as a tour leader) & travels (actually, one of their friends was asking me about it). I think the response I got from my friend was along the lines of “yeah well aren’t you just lucky you get to travel all the time and have such an awesome life” with more than a dash of a sarcastic tone. It really upset me, especially since I wasn’t trying to talk about all my travels, I was simply answering questions.

    It’s been a real surprise to me over the last 9 years who are the true friends that I am still in touch with and those that have drifted. It’s not always who you would imagine! It’s very important to make time every now and then for those friends who matter, and to realise when it’s time to stop wasting time on those who don’t ;)


  1. 10 Mistakes Auxiliares in Spain Make Again and Again - August 13, 2013

    […] more: friendship and moving abroad, auxiliar stereotypes, how to swear in Spanish, what NOT to say in […]

  2. Bi-weekly Travel Inspiration - - August 18, 2013

    […] On Friendship and Long-Term Travel by Young Adventuress: 2nd post of Liz in this week’s list great and honest article about maintaining friendships at home and all over the world while travelling […]

  3. Reflections on visiting home for the first time after moving abroadAmericans in Spain - February 4, 2014

    […] the casualties of long-term travel as eloquently versed in my friend Liz Carlson’s blog post here but I have to say that I didn’t see this one coming. It was confusing and hurtful, but the […]

Leave a Reply