Skip to main content

A Traveler’s Guide to Making Long-Distance Relationships Work

One of the most rewarding aspects of travel is meeting new people from around the world. And sometimes, that leads to falling in love far from home! But making it work with someone who doesn’t live in the same city, country, time zone, or even continent as you can be tough. I should know: I’ve been in a long-distance relationship for six years!

I met my boyfriend during a study abroad program in university (I’m from the USA and he’s from the United Kingdom). We lived in the same city for the first eight months of our relationship; since then we’ve had anything from a one-hour train journey to an entire ocean (and a five-hour time difference) between us.

A couple posing with a heart art sculpture

Even though a long-distance relationship is hard, it helps my boyfriend and me to know we aren’t alone: Lots of travelers fall in love on the road, whether that’s during study abroad (like us), a volunteer or backpacking trip, or even while hostelling! If you find yourself in the same boat, here are some of our tried and true tips for making it work despite the distance

Plan ahead

Chances are, you don’t want to be in a long-distance relationship forever. That’s why it’s important to have an end game. This doesn’t have to be a full five-year-plan, but it does help to have a rough idea of when you will be reunited. This might just mean planning ahead to the next time you see each other, which will give you something concrete to look forward to.

Because my boyfriend and I live on different continents, we only get to see each other every 3-4 months. Of course, this is tough, but it means we are always busy planning our next reunion (and always have a trip to look forward to).

Travel together

You really need to enjoy traveling to make a long-distance relationship work: after all, you’ll be doing a lot of it. Chances are, though, that if you met your partner while studying abroad or backpacking, you’re already both fans of travel. My boyfriend and I switch off who travels each time we see each other. Whenever I head to England to see him I get doubly excited: to be with him, and to be traveling! A love of travel definitely makes the distance easier.

It can also be fun to mix things up and travel together when you reunite, instead of just hanging out in one of your hometowns or countries. My boyfriend and I have hostelled together throughout Europe, traveled along the west coast of the USA, and are soon off to India together. We might have limited time together, but traveling can make that short time so much more memorable.

Discuss your budget

One thing that most people don’t consider before embarking on a long-distance relationship is how expensive it is. Taking a long-haul flight every time you want to see your significant other can get pricey, and fast.

It helps to come up with a budget together so you’re on the same page and no resentment develops. You can save money by staying at one of your homes during reunions, or choosing budget-friendly travel accommodations like hostels. If you need to travel internationally to see your partner, consider getting a travel rewards credit card or joining a frequent flyer program – those points will add up quickly. I’ve gotten a few free flights to England this way

Socialize together and apart

Between visits, it’s not healthy to spend all your time pining for your partner. Chances are, your friends won’t be thrilled by this, and it’s not good for your mental health, either. So, when you’re apart from your significant other, make time to hang out with your own friends. You’ll definitely feel better for getting out, and they can be a support system for you.

The same is true for when you’re finally reunited with your partner. It can be tempting to lock yourselves up and spend 100% of your time together, but this can be too intense and isn’t healthy over time. Instead, try to make time to meet your partner’s friends and even get out and socialize with new people during your visits. That’s actually one reason my boyfriend and I like to stay in hostels when we travel together: hostels are social environments, which makes it easy for us to make new friends and get the experience of hanging out together in a group – an experience we never get when we’re on separate continents!

Schedule long-distance “dates”

While it’s important to have regular reunions, it’s equally important to devote time to your relationship when you’re apart. After all, if you’re in a long-distance relationship, the majority of your time will be spent apart!

To make us feel like we’re still spending time together even when we’re not in the same place, my boyfriend and I like to schedule long-distance “dates.” This means regular video calls, watching our favorite TV shows simultaneously, cooking meals over FaceTime, and more. Note that I say “schedule,” because if you have a time difference, it can be tricky to do these things spontaneously. It might be a bit of hassle to plan out when you talk with your partner, but it shows that you’re making your relationship a priority.

Falling in love while traveling is definitely romantic, but things get a little more complicated when you both go home. There’s no denying that a long-distance relationship is tough. However, if you’re both committed and open to new experiences and can prioritize good communication, then there’s no reason you can’t make it work!