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Maintaining a healthy relationship while traveling can be hard, but it doesn't have to be. Like anything, there are pros and cons, and by mitigating the cons and focusing on the pros, you can even make it a good thing. As someone who travels for the majority of the year, I have a lot of experience.
I'm married. My wife and I live together and travel together when we can, but we are separate for a big portion of the year, mostly due to my voluntary travel.
There are some parts of this that I really like. To some degree absence does make the heart grow fonder. After I've been gone for a month, no matter how much we communicate, we are really excited to see each other. During the periods of time that we have limited time together, our time together feels more special. I'm not sure if she feels the same way, but being apart also gives me perspective and makes me appreciate her even more.
Those advantages come with some very obvious disadvantages, though. By default, traveling a lot is probably not beneficial for a relationship. Fortunately, there are ways to mitigate those downsides.
In a normal relationship where we're in the same place, our feelings will probably mirror each others. If I'm gone, though, the separation will naturally be harder for her than it is for me. That's because I'm pulled out of normal life doing something that's fun or exciting, but she's experiencing normal life, minus me.
I try to always keep this in mind, and compensate for it. I may not have a great need to communicate, because I'm off doing exciting things, but I know that she probably has a greater need to communicate. So I make sure that I go out of my way to return texts quickly, have real conversations, and ask about what's going on in her day. There's a big difference in her feeling like I'm away and her feeling like I've abandoned her.
Even though she never asks for it, I also make an effort to make sure she knows how important she is to me and how much I appreciate her. Putting myself in her shoes, I think it would be nice to hear those things if she was off on her own without all that much contact.
We usually communicate over text, but I make a point to do voice or video calls every once in a while, even if there's no specific reason for it. Seeing your partner's smile or hearing their voice creates a much better connection than reading some text on the phone. We can't be together in person, so we can at least have that connection.
When possible, I try to break one trip up into two trips. It feels like a big difference between being gone for four weeks versus being gone for two, home for one day, gone for another two. Something about seeing each other in person resets the clock and makes it easier.
Last, I try to really give her credit. She handles me being gone very well, always focuses on the positive, and never tries to get me to take shorter trips or travel less. I am extremely grateful for that, so even as I enjoy activities that have nothing to do with her, I try to mentally give her some of the credit, since she's a part of making these things happen.
Although challenging, it is definitely possible to have a great close relationship even if one or both of you travel a lot. It just takes a little bit more consideration and thought.
Picture is a wild rooster in a tree in Hawaii.
I love planning trips for my friends. I think that it's a great way to do a service to my friends, to spend time with them, and to foster new connections between them. I believe that if all of my friends are good friends with each other, that makes my friend circle very strong.
The biggest trips I've planned for friends are two one-week train trips around Japan where I planned an entire secret itinerary. I've also planned lots of cruises where I organize the port stops as we go. Countless friends and groups of family have come through Budapest and I've taken them around.
People always thank me for organizing these trips, but it's totally unnecessary. I benefit just as much as they do, and it's a lot easier than people expect.
The hardest part is just picking some dates and making the trip happen. The best way to do this is choose a few "anchor" people and work with their schedules to find good dates. You book your flights and then start inviting other people. You will never get everyone to go at once, but if you have a few people locked in early, you know that you'll at least have a good small trip and it will build momentum.
I'm usually not all that busy, at least in terms of items on my schedule. I have infinite things that I could do, but very few of them have to happen at specific times or on specific days.
If I do have a commitment, though, I will be there exactly on time. An exceptional situation might cause me to be a couple minutes late. Of all of the coaching calls I've done, for example, I'd estimate that I call on the exact minute promised around 99% of the time.
There are a number of reasons why this is the best way to be, even for unimportant meetings. If I tell an oil change place I'll be there at 10:30, I will be there at 10:30. In fact, many of the reasons for doing this have nothing to do with the other party.
The first reason I do this is, in fact, for the other party. If I am five minutes late to something, I have wasted five minutes of that person's time. This is an egregiously arrogant thing to do, as I'm tacitly saying that my time is more important than theirs. If there are multiple people waiting, I'm telling them that their time combined isn't as valuable as mine.
People ask me all the time if I'd still be a nomad if I had kids, or they say that it's impossible or difficult to be a nomad if you have kids. I want to answer the question, but I think there's something even more important to talk about in relation to this.
The short answer is that yes, I'd still be a nomad if I had kids. A bunch of people travel with their kids, my favorite example being my friend Leo who does long single-backpack trips with all six of his kids all over the world. He's so good at it that I asked him to write a guest chapter about it in my recent travel book, Forever Nomad.
The thinking behind the question bothers me a little bit, though.
When I'm considering doing something, I give no thought to whether other people have done it or not. I don't really think about whether it will be hard or not. I don't think about what random people will think about it.
Right now I'm writing every single day, averaging around 4000 words. I have a big batch of writing I want to do, and I've broken it up over 10 days. This sounds like a daunting task, but I find it dead simple to complete, primarily due to one tactic that I often use.
I call it Do it or Nothing. The way it works is that you choose a task that you are supposed to do, and you give yourself two options. You can do the task, or you can stare at the task and do nothing. Very simple.
When you tell yourself that you have to do a task, every single option in the world is available for procrastination. There's no release valve. On a good day this doesn't matter because you just hunker down and get the work done, but on a bad day you're likely to hop around through whatever your favorite procrastination vices are.
Doing nothing creates an alternative, but a very boring one that has no stimulation, so you will only resort to it if you really need to. My options are to write or to stare at a blank text editor. That's it.
One of the most common errors I see amongst well-meaning people are errors of awareness. They're people with the ability to influence and they only want to help, but they lack a fundamental awareness of how others will react. This is particularly unfortunate because their efforts go misguided and can harm rather than help.
The biggest sign that you may be a person who makes this mistake is if your results don't match your expectations. You do something nice for someone and it seems to go unappreciated. You spend time with someone, but they don't make an effort to see you again. Or maybe someone complains about something to you that seems like it has come totally out of left field.
All of us will have these sorts of things happen on rare occasions, but if they are happening on a regular basis, you are probably making a fundamental awareness error.
Usually this is the result of not thinking about second-order effects of your action. For example, maybe you introduce two of your friends, thinking that they might want to date, but you didn't consider the fact that one of your other friends had a crush on one of them. Your intentions were good, but you didn't anticipate the side effects.
I don't usually give dating advice to women, but recently two of my female friends have been asking me a lot about dating, so I figured I'd consolidate some of the stuff we've been talking about here. Some of this stuff will apply to men, too, but for once I wanted to focus on the female perspective.
There are two primary issues for women to deal with in dating: the first is sifting through the masses of men who will present themselves, and the second is keeping the man once they begin dating. The other parts, the parts that are hard for men, are easy. Most women have no problem getting attention from men or getting dates.
For the first part, my advice is to just get out there and go on as many dates as possible. Women are often attracted more by personality than appearance, so the initial screening process is more difficult. However, personality can be sized up reasonably accurately quickly.
Rather than leave it to chance, spend time in places where guys you like might be. You can also go approach guys, and guys tend to think this is amazing, but just showing up in places where guys you might be interested in are should be enough. When a guy approaches you, encourage him. It can be terrifying.
Well, that's another amazing year in the books!
2017 was an exceptionally great year for me, so much so that I thought that 2018 wouldn't be able to stack up. But this year was even better than 2017 by a decent margin.
As is now tradition, I'll talk about some of the highlights of the year for me.
For about three years I worked really hard on a startup called Sett. It's a blogging platform that did a lot of things very different, and, in fact, is still the blogging platform that my blog runs on because I'm totally unwilling to give up the features that I've gotten used to.
At the same time, it was a commercial failure, barely making more money than it cost to run the servers, and certainly not enough to compensate Todd and I for the work we put in.
I also run a site called CruiseSheet. It's not wildly profitable, but it does consistently turn a profit, and I even have an employee to do all the daily tasks. These two startups are very different, and I've learned a lot through doing them.
The first thing I learned is that traditional "startups" are overglorfied, at least from my perspective. They seem to have morphed to become quite formulaic, and VC money has essentially turned them into "create your own job" instead of "create your own business". Obviously this is speaking in broad strokes, but it's how the definition seems to have shifted in San Francisco.
It's always tempting to look for complicated or clever solutions to our problems. We love hacks and secret unknown solutions, rather than straightforward answers to our problems. There's a time and place to get creative, but usually it's best to exhaust the basics first.
Whenever I'm not feeling my best, whether it's a lack of motivation, a lack of energy, not being able to focus, on anything else, I go through a standard set of diagnostics. Usually they fix the problem and I don't need to go overboard.
1. Sleep. I talk about sleep all the time because so many people are chronically underslept and it has massive effects on health, focus, productivity, and well-being. I think it's very likely that as a society we will look back and think it's crazy that we didn't prioritize sleep.
If I'm not well slept, I don't trust anything I feel because I know that I'm not at my best. Do I really not want to do this project, or am I just too tired? Is this task really too hard, or am I just exhausted? No way to know.