Being your own muse means taking risks, stepping outside of your comfort zone, and most importantly, having faith in yourself, your instincts, and your capabilities. In honor of that, we are sharing a guest essay by one of our friends, the daring, confident world explorer and culinary enthusiast, Rachel Sasser of the blog Trailing Rachel. She recently quit her job as a real estate lawyer to travel the world solo. While the decision to take this plunge would be tough for anyone, Rachel has also grappled with the fact that for her to live this experience to the fullest, she will be leaving her serious boyfriend behind in North Carolina. Here’s why she decided this was for the best, and why it’s made her relationship all the stronger and healthier.
Yes, I’m heading off to travel the world alone. Without my boyfriend.
And I’m okay with that. He is too.
Charlie and I have been together for a while and living together for almost two years. We’re in a good spot. In fact, I love him now more than I ever have (awww, Rachel has a heart). And we get along better now than we ever have. Like, we’re really happy. Hey, I haven’t even yelled at him in a while (just kidding guys, like I would ever yell).
So why am I leaving?
Because I’ve Got to Go
Because I want to travel more than is possible with two or three weeks of vacation a year. I want to travel long-term, to stay in places longer if I like them and be able to leave if I hate them. I want to travel for a while without making plans in advance. And at this point in Charlie’s career, he’s not able to do that – he doesn’t want to do that rather, because right now he’s building a business that he loves. I admire that.
And he admires me for going after my goals as well, even if it means going without him.
So that’s what I’m doing. Because I know that if I don’t do go now while I have the chance, I’ll regret it forever. I also know that if Charlie wasn’t okay with me leaving to travel, I’d end up resenting him – I mean we’d be broken up, but also I’d resent him (ha, I’m actually not joking, because really, who needs that kind of unsupportive boyfriend?).
He understands that I need to go. And I understand that he needs to stay.
And if there’s anything I’ve learned from people who’ve just learned about my travel plans, it’s that the phrases “Now is the time” and “I wish I’d done something like that when I was your age” come out of their mouths way too often. I don’t want Charlie to be the cause of any future regrets.
I Want to Travel Solo
I like being alone. I like doing things by myself. Hell, I don’t even mind eating alone, something tons of people dread the most about solo travel.
So I’m actually very excited to be traveling by myself. I’m excited to make new friends and learn more about myself. I want to be independent, pursue self-sufficiency (something that’s not easy when you’ve got somebody taking out the trash for you all the time), and have some time for introspection. I’m hoping this solo trip helps me figure out what I want to do in the future in terms of my career and other life goals.
They say travel can be very transformative – especially once you remove outside influences, find a little perspective, and start doing what you love. (Seriously, click that link, it’s a great blog post.)
I mean if 20-year old Rachel can fly solo to Argentina, make friends, and find an apartment in Buenos Aires on Craigslist, imagine what 27-year old Rachel can do?!
Do I wish Charlie was coming with me? Of course! He’s my best friend. And don’t worry, the offer is still on the table for him to join me whenever and wherever he wants! Through Thailand and Mexico, we’ve had some great travel experiences together. What’s better than going somewhere new and seeing awesome things with someone you love? Travel is such a bonding experience, and it will be a bit sad not to have him there to share these new experiences with. Also, splitting costs along the road would really be preferable, but let’s not delve too much into my cheapskate propensities right now…
On the other hand, I cannot wait to be able to head out the door into a new city right after I’m done getting ready and not having to wait on anybody. (As I’ve discussed previously, Charlie is a bit of a diva traveler.) I want to go where I want to go when I want to go there. I won’t have to worry about whether anybody likes the destination, the beach, the food, the activity, or the restaurant that I picked as much as I do. And that, my friends, is SUCH a relief.
To be fair, Charlie is usually a very roll-with-the-punches kind of guy on our trips together. I pretty much plan everything, he does what I say, and he will eat anything. But it is a relief not to have to worry that I’ll disappoint him or anybody other than myself.
We didn’t get here overnight. When I first started rambling about taking a round the world trip or maybe living abroad for a while, Charlie’s reaction wasn’t nearly so positive. In fact, it was more like, “Um, you want to get away from me so bad that you need to leave the country?!”
Once he figured out that it wasn’t about him or our relationship, but rather something separate and fulfilling that I wanted to do with my life, he began to understand. (Plus talking about something over and over again for a year and a half will beat anybody down, am I right?)
I still haven’t quite convinced him that he could go with me and work remotely from anywhere in the world, but yes, he’ll be coming to visit me along the way when he has time. I’ve got WhatsApp and Viber downloaded to keep in touch, and there’s always Skype. No worries, guys, we’ll be communicating.
Once I finally bought the plane ticket, Charlie was really excited for me (like, surprisingly so). Dare I even say he was proud? He started telling his friends about my trip and even bringing it up in conversations with acquaintances. I think he was happy that I was taking action instead of just talking about it for once. Charlie is very ambitious and motivated to achieve his goals, so I think he was proud that I was finally taking substantial steps toward mine. And that felt good.
No, it won’t be easy. Yes, we’ll miss each other. But we’ll find a way to make it work.
For more women currently traveling without their partners, check out The Wandering Blonde to read about how Kelly is traveling without her boyfriend and The World on My Necklace to read about how Katie is traveling for a year without her fiancé.