Becoming forgettable | How absence doesn’t always make the heart grow fonder

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Last Updated on September 26, 2012 by Jess

Everyday, Dani and I open up our email accounts – we have six between us – and check our messages. It is all pretty standard stuff: newsletters, press releases, advertisements. More and more often, we receive thankful notes from our readers, who are inspired by our bold action to pack up and travel, encouraging us to keep traveling and keep writing about it.

Those emails are the best! They really spur us on and remind us how thankful we are to have packed up and started this crazy adventure in the first place. 

After all, the hardest part about living your dreams is that initial step to just get up and go.

Make new friends, but keep the old

However, what we rarely get are emails from friends and family. You know – all those people who made up our entire social circle before we left. The problem is, we really try to keep in touch. We’ll email, send pictures, send little ‘reminder’ emails about how we are so excited to get that email from them – an update about what’s going on in their lives. We’ll ask detailed questions, try to make Skype dates to call or chat…but to no avail. We even send about 20 postcards from each country we are in…and almost never hear back if the cards have even arrived.

Sometimes, this really gets us down. In fact, at some point last year we felt like people had forgotten us entirely. I think the longest I have gone without an email from friends from home is three weeks.

It is not that we are lonely, of course. We meet new people every day in the places we visit and, somehow more importantly, we have created a circle of fellow nomads that we have met both online and offline. With these people we tweet, Facebook, email and Skype – sometimes on a weekly, if not daily, basis.

Relationships  2.0 – Friends and family in an online world

One of our favorites, who we have actually met in person, told us the other day that he loves hanging out with us because of our ‘magnetic’ personalities. Words such as these certainly help us to feel like we’ve not somehow become a couple of boring old do-nothings…but we still don’t understand why our nearest and dearest don’t feel that ‘magnetic’ pull anymore.

On a recent trip home to Chicago, we discovered one reason why we might feel so…forgettable. We met up with my aunt for lunch one day, and she was cracking up before we even said Hello! The first thing she said to us was how hilarious that post was about how long-term travel can cause heart attacks.  Over and over she mentioned how much she loves our site, and how she sends so many of our articles to people that she knows. That felt so good to hear – most people we know from home never even mention our site. Later that week, a friend said how much she loves the ‘Globetrotter Girls’ and brags about us to her friends. We heard these comments a few times from exactly some of the people who we say don’t respond to our emails, postcards, or attempts to Skype. This made us realize that at least a handful of people aren’t ignoring us. It’s like my aunt said – “Oh I always feel like I know what is happening with you two thanks to your website.” They know what we are doing, but we still don’t know about their lives.

Since becoming nomads we have both had the chance to visit home and told them about our website, or the number of pictures they can see on our Facebook page to keep up with our travels. However, although we are 100 percent certain that all of our friends know about the GlobetrotterGirls, few read the site or follow us on Facebook. In fact, of all of Dani’s friends – exactly one actively reads our site. As for my friends, only one has ever actively requested to see her face on our website after hanging out – a request we were most happy to oblige.

jess tracey felix eldorado canyonWe find this so confusing – especially as more and more people we have never met write us enthusiastic emails and love hearing about our adventures. It’s already hard enough knowing that we are not present for people’s birthdays, weddings or magical moments of their newborn babies who should someday be calling us Auntie Jess or Auntie Dani but in actual fact may never know who we are if we keep on traveling like this. Neither of us can stand not knowing why a friend on Facebook cryptically mentions ‘staying positive even if there are too many a-holes’ in the world. What does that mean? What happened? We email to find out, but no response comes – but when I am home, you still make me your choice to talk about it with, to cry with, or to drink through it with. Out here, I am decoding a Facebook message trying to make sense of it myself.

We know people are busier than ever with jobs and families and their everyday lives…but we also know that most of them still spend as much time on Facebook or Twitter or Skype – tending to their ‘farms’ or playing with ‘angry birds’ or posting cryptic messages. They are on the sites that could connect us…they’re just not connecting with us.

Absolutely No Regrets

Our motto is No Regrets – and we certainly do not regret choosing this lifestyle. You will not hear a complaint from us about this adventurous, liberating turn our lives took in April 2010. We certainly don’t regret getting out here to experience each day to the fullest. But I don’t think that either one of us were mentally prepared to have so many friendships shelved by lack of contact. Especially not in a world where social media seamlessly connects people across time zones and continents and these tools allow us to communicate in real time, any time.  Somehow these tools can’t keep us connected to friends from home, no matter how hard we try – especially because not everyone documents their daily adventures on a website we can subscribe to (by the way, if you haven’t subscribed to us, you should – you can sign up at the end of this post).

So if the past 21 months of travel have taught us anything, it has been that one of the downsides of this nomadic lifestyle has been the suddenly sporadic contact with people from home, the ones you have known the longest and shared the most with.

Luckily, we have also learned about countless people who would love to do what we are doing – and just might if we can convince them! We’ve also met some amazingly inspirational people ourselves this year and last year through the site. Some of the people we’ve come to respect so much are here in Chiang Mai, Thailand at the same time with us, and we have been able to spend time with a circle of great new buddies. Unlike last year’s non-event Christmas in Honduras, we celebrated Christmas with our friends Erin & Simon of Never Ending Voyage, eating all the things we miss here in Asia and spending a great day together.  This was a good thing, too, since there were only three Christmas emails from friends and family to answer when we got home.

christmas with erin & simon in chiang maiDo you find it difficult to stay in touch with friends and family over long distances? What do you do to stay in touch best with those you miss from home?


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Tags : Travel Reflectionstravel thoughts


  1. You put my exact thoughts into words that I can never quite express. I have traveled away from home for the past 7years in the states (for work). There are so many times that I wish family and friends from home would connect but they don’t….

    I always feel that it’s because they don’t understand my wanderlust and feel that we don’t have anything in common anymore.

    Well spoken; thank you.

    1. Hi Candy…that is so sweet…I’m glad we verbalized something you were feeling – it seems there are plenty of us that feel that way. Now we all just need to make friends and be in touch 🙂

      1. I too had been wondering about this and was trying to find the best way to write about it. I was going to go the “Who cares” angle and talk about how its human nature to adapt and carry on.

        I asked my good friend why he never asks me what I’m doing. Btw I’m of the mind we are all doing something awesome and noteworthy, traveling or not. I enjoyed my FBook chat with him so much I kept it.

        “its a passing thought ‘Oh loz is travelling’, then immediately ‘man i love xbox!’…

        I think the gist we get is ‘yep. loz is doing what he wants to do. hes safe. cool’. and thats it man. we all chase what we want and are doing exactly what we want to do right now we just have different priorities”

        Recently I realised there is another component. True we are having wonderful moments, often it is shared with awesome, like-minded strangers, whether locals or travelers. That is where the bonds are forged and strengthened. I think we sometimes wish – Why can’t these moments be had with longtime friends? Where bonds have already been solidified.

        1. Hi Loz, That’s definitely true – here we are making all these new friendships and experiencing so many amazing things in the world, but if we could share it with people with whom we have been friends for a long time, it might mean something so much more. I see what you mean. And also, it’s true about our friends – one minute they think of us, but then it’s right on to the next thing because like us, their lives are going on as well.

    2. I also experienced this problem while I was in Mexico for two months. I kept telling my children that I really loved getting emails from them…without sounding too pitiful I hoped. I was kind of homesick at times, even though- like you said, I had met lots of cool people in Mexico and wasn’t really alone with nothing to do. Unfortunately I had no Skype which I think is the answer to lots of problems, I guess it’s like everyday living at home….you don’t think twice about initiating get togethers or calling friends–but when you are traveling, it just seems like they should miss you more and be the one to do the initiating!!!!

      1. Getting homesick makes everything that much harder, too, doesn’t it? But at least you went to Mexico, spent time there, lived what some people would really consider a huge dream!
        Good on you for that, Claudia!

  2. So understand this. We always say this about our friends as well.

    i think that often they don’t as they feel they don’t have anything as exciting to tell you. Even though to you what they are doing is important and you want to know it, they feel it is not as it is there normal life and not as glamorous as travelling.

    It does make you sad though. I just concentrate on building those relationships with those who want to keep in contact and still love those who don’t and catch up when we return. Things do change though. I’m not as close as I once was with a lot of my old friends

    1. I really never thought of it that way Caz- people feel like they’re just not exciting to us – that just might be true! Also, even though they don’t ever get in touch, my best friends are the ones who, no matter what, when I come home it’s like no time has passed at all. I have a few of those and it’s amazing how comfortable we still are around each other. But it doesn’t mean I don’t wish we talked more while we are away. You’re right though – focus on the positive relationships. Really good advice!!!

  3. I completely understand this and we’ve had a very similar experience. It is easy to feel like you have been forgotten although when we went back we discovered that some people do read our site often but just never comment. I even found out my friend’s mum reads it all the time!

    I think it’s true that those people often don’t respond to emails because they think they don’t have anything exciting to say, and they know what we’ve been up to through FB & the website.

    Those that don’t read or write emails probably just find this life too difficult to relate to. Unfortunately there will be some friendships that just drift away.

    We are glad to have you two as new friends though who understand what we are doing.

    Love the thoughtful and personal post btw 😉

    1. Exaclty – there are those who really do read the site and it feels good to hear that they do. And also, yes – I honestly never thought about the fact that some people might not think they have something interesting to say. But I really do still want to know everything that is going on with people – when I go home and get back all involved in even the tiny details of friends and family, I love that. I wish it could stay like that on the road. We promised this time after Chicago – my friends and I – that we would be better….for the first week we were, but not so much anymore. We love having you guys as friends, too – not only do we understand each other’s lives – but we just keep meeting up on different sides of the planet 🙂 ps thought you’d like this post 🙂

  4. I’m glad I’m not the only one who thinks this! My last big trip was for 2 years and I barely heard from friends or family. It really surprised me. I, too, received comments from friends who thought their lives were too boring to write about and often got told… ‘we’re living vicariously through you’… after I returned. But actually I loved receiving news from home and the absence of communication was felt.

    And I hear you about the postcards! I religiously send postcards from every place I visit… making sure that all my friends and family get one every month or so. It’s a huge effort. It would be nice to know that they arrive.

    As bloggers and writers, communicating is our bread and butter. Perhaps it just doesn’t come as naturally to others.

    1. Hey Kirsten – also an excellent point – as writers and bloggers I suppose we are automatically keen to communicate, something our friends might not be, that’s true! Glad to hear we’re not alone on the post card thing. Only two of our friends ever even really mention them. But we keep sending them because we know people do like to get them, right? And we’ve definitely heard the vicariously living through you more than once, too. Which is great, I am glad we are living exciting lives, but home is just as important to us! Thanks so much for commenting, btw!

  5. Oh goodness.. yes, we’ve definitely noticed this as well in our social circles. And every time we return to one of our previous home bases, we seem to have less and less connections.

    I think it’s at least partly a combination of:

    – Some real life relationships just don’t translate to online mediums, especially those that were initially developed in person
    – When you fall out of daily proximity to some folks, you fall off their monkeysphere (ie. the number of people they can actively keep up with)
    – While folks admire what we’re up to, they either just don’t get it, don’t feel they can adequately contribute or feel somewhat intimidated.
    – They read a entry blog, and feel caught up enough with us.. forgetting that we have no context for what is up in their lives.

    In some ways it’s sad – I do very much miss regular interactions with people who we were once regular witnesses of each other’s lives. For the first couple of years, I thought this would be the thing that took me off the road… missing these types of friendships.

    Being nomadic does entail some redefinition of community. And once I was able to make that shift, I think community is now a major contributor to what continues to drive us to keep on the road some 5 years later. And definitely, our closest friends these days tend to be fellow nomads … who we enjoy rendezvousing with all over.

    1. Hi Cherie – it’s so interesting to see just how many people share these feelings with us! It seems you have had such similar experiences to us, and that you also get sad about losing touch with those friends you used to know so well. The ones who are technophobes – we totally understand. It’s the ones who are all over Facebook/Twitter but don’t stay in touch that make us sad a lot of the time. Also you’re right about redefining community as a nomad. We have starting forming some really great relationships with fellow nomads, which is so fulfilling!

  6. Completely understand! I’ve been living in Papua New Guinea for the last 7 months – it’s not that far from Australia but I really do feel like I’m missing out on a lot of stuff from home. I think it’s harder for people to email those that are away – for them, it’s like life is still continuing and those “normal” moments in their lives that you really, really want to hear about are pretty standard for them! They probably feel like it’s not even worth tapping out on a keyboard.

    Stay positive though! You won’t be forgotten! 🙂

    1. Right, Rebecca – a lot of people probably think that these ‘normal’ moments are unspectacular, without realizing just how badly we want to hear all about them!

  7. I think Caz has a good point about why people don’t write as frequently.

    I’ve only been gone 14 months, and I do not receive frequent emails from friends. But I receive the big updates, and every once in a while, I get a “just thinking about you” email which absolutely makes my day.

    I think I just assume all of my friends read my website. If they aren’t, I don’t want to know!

    1. That’s funny, Stephanie! We kind of assumed all our friends would read our site, and then we would reference something that we had definitely written about and we could see right away that friends or family had no idea what we were talking about. Nowadays we get our most uplifting emails from our awesome readers and fellow nomads it seems. There is the occasional ‘just thinking of you’ email – but we’d still take a whole lot more of those!

  8. This used to really, REALLY bother me a lot when we first left. I don’t care now if my friends don’t read my website, I understand if there are more important things to do then wonder what I ate in Italy. People have busy lives, and I get that.

    But when I send personal emails and inquiries on what is going on, it does hurt not to hear back. Some friendships have absolutely faded from my life because of it – and have been particularly painful. One of my best friends before I left home is no longer in my life, and it happened very soon on in my travels. I was going through a really difficult time and I tried to reach out to her to no avail. What I have learned though is that if I’m not getting the same effort back from my friends then I put into it, then they are not worth it, and it is time to “unplug”. Friends come and go, and as painful as it can be, sometimes we are better off in the long run anyways.

    1. You’re right, Dalene – our friends don’t need to know about what we ate in Italy either – and the older we get, the busier people get with jobs and life and work and family. We get that, too. Some friends we definitely lose touch with – and that hurts. On another level though, what also hurts, is that when we go home and spend time with friends, it feels so great, but as soon as we leave, it’s communication graveyard again until we make the effort again to come home. I guess it would be nice to know more often that people actually thinking of us when we’re away…

  9. I have experienced this and not at the same time.

    I moved abroad and doing do made me lose a lot of friends. It was as if they thought I had abandoned them, which is ridiculous.

    But I also had a lot of people that would never email, skype or comment on my blog but when I did finally get ahold of them, I would find out they did read my blog after all. I constantly had to convince them that their lives interested me and just because they aren´t traveling doesn´t mean I don´t want to hear about their lives!

    Others never read my stuff and that hurts sometimes. You put so much into what you write and complete strangers will become your friends through your blog yet your friends from home don´t care?! So hard to swallow.

    Luckily, when I took my 6 week trip back to the states, I found that I still had a solid base of friends. It was much, much smaller, but being away truly made me realize who my real friends were. The ones that were equal in the communications, the ones I didn´t need to get life updates from because I already knew.

    Wishing you both the best and I hope to be one of those people you actually meet someday!

    1. Rease – you really hit the nail on the head here. We both still have really great friends back home. And while the group has gotten smaller – the best ones are still there, definitely, no question. We get particularly sad about the fact that we make ourselves so available online – Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, StumbleUpon, Pinterest, Skype, email and of course, our site – we just wish more people would take advantage of staying in touch. But then, like you say, strangers and readers become our friends through our site, which is great – and we definitely, absolutely hope to be able to meet you someday – maybe next summer?!

  10. Wow, I feel like I could have written this myself! Feeling like people have forgotten me back home has been one of the hardest things about my trip! I do everything you mentioned trying to get friends to keep in touch but it seems to no avail. A few weeks ago, I had set up a Skype call with a small group of friends back home and was devastated when they just totally forgot!

    At the same time, I do get emails or comments here and there from people telling me they’re reading everything – and often it’s the most random people, like a girl from high school I haven’t talked to in 15 years!

    I got the best surprise though when I woke up Christmas morning to an e-card from 30 of my friends back in Chicago!! I almost cried. Made me realize that maybe they haven’t totally forgotten me yet. 🙂

    Happy holidays – hope our paths cross sometime in Chicago or elsewhere!

    1. Katie – that is so so great of your friends to send you that card for Christmas – People don’t realize just how much these little moments sometimes matter more than anything. We also have friends from high school who read our site, too, we found out – love that! Definitely hope our paths cross sometime soon!!

  11. let me just say…shame on your ‘friends’…and I don’t care if they’re reading. I’ve been living abroad for the past 2 and a half years…sure, it is true that you don’t speak to friends as often as when you live in the same country, but my REAL friends ALWAYS answer an email if I send one, as well as regularly comment on posts and photos on facebook. I also get birthday wishes, birthday cards and gifts. So yes, communication is reduced, but heck, if a friend totally disappears I wouldn’t consider that person a friend anymore.

    1. Ah well….it’s a tough call. We were feeling the same way, too, and for some friends it is really frustrating. But for others – like one of my best friends, I went home and saw what her situation is like right now and I realize that she is in a really really tough place at the moment. Now I understand and don’t have any hard feelings. The others, the ones on Facebook ALL the TIME, that hurts. But we don’t count people out as friends at all. Life’s too short for that, we think, and also, I think we’ve both done an awesome job at collecting a pretty amazing group of friends, so it would be a shame to ex-communicate them. For now, though, we’re still hovering around sad, maybe we’ll move on to angry as time goes on. But we’d still never give this lifestyle up – at least not now!!!

  12. …and then you come home and realize that friends and family are simply stuck in the same “rat race” you left them in. They just don’t find the right time with one day running into the next. But in most cases it doesn’t hurt your relationship, as you reconnect as if you’ve never been away.
    2 or 3 years on the road might feel like a lot to you, because it’s an impression overload, but to people stuck in a daily routine it seems to be nothing.
    The weirdest experience is, when people speak about developments, news items, or simple family affairs as if everybody knows about them – except you. What has been back home their main talking point for months might have completely passed you by. We’re “home” now for over 2 years, and still discover “gaps” in our knowledge (where everybody thinks we should really know that).
    Don’t worry too much – not many relationships are lost! ♥

    1. Hi Juergen – definitely know what you mean with this. I’ve been abroad in total now for about ten years and each time I come home for an extended period of time, I realize that it isn’t so hard to just jump in and get used to things again. Sometimes I wonder if this matters more to both of us now because we are getting older and realize the importance of friendships more than when we were young twenty-somethings. Or maybe it is because we love this nomadic lifestyle so much more than just living abroad before, and want people to share in the excitement. I know for me personally it has a lot to do with the fact that I have never actually tried so hard before to keep in touch, and also because we are a bi-national couple, where do we go home to when we do go home? For at least one of us, this abroad thing is going to be forever….

  13. While I’m not a RTW, since moving abroad from Toronto to Berlin, I’ve found the same thing with family and friends! It’s certainly hard to deal with. Love your positive attitude and that you’re both going to keep on travelling. =)

    1. Thanks Cheryl! Sorry to hear you have found it hard to keep in touch, too…life is too short to not do what you love, so we are going to keep traveling as long as it’s what we want to do and wish you luck in doing the same! 😉 very cool that you moved to Berlin, it’s one of our favorite cities!

  14. I do understand to a certain degree how friends and family can lose touch when you are traveling long term. When you aren’t apart of their lives, and vice versa, you naturally lose a bit of touch. Although I have found that a lot of family members and friends read my website and that’s their way of staying in touch. I also think those that just cut you off are most likely jealous of what you are doing.

    1. Jealousy is a tricky word don”t you think? The more I travel (and read travel blogs) the more I’m realising that we’re all moved by different things and our journey is personal to us.

      In most cases people are envious of our opportunity be somewhere but not necessarily what we did there. We all have different interests, objectives and personality traits which make our journey. For me, that’s the biggest component that governs my experiences. No so much where I am.

      I like keeping memorable quotes from conversations, this sums up my feeling well: “I’m not jealous of your stories, I’m jealous of your happiness”

    2. This is something that really frustrates both Dani and I – people should never be jealous of what we are doing. I think a lot of people don’t realize that they have the power to get up and go, too, if that is what they truly want to do. If they don’t, then they shouldn’t be jealous and if they want to, they can. We never felt like we could do this until one day, we did it! People often say they live vicariously through us and we just say – why not buy a plane ticket and join us instead 🙂

  15. I’ve experienced this feeling too, and I think it comes in waves. It may be related in some way to culture shock and reverse culture shock… maybe. (I remember seeing a chart once that tracked the emotions of being an expat and there were definite waves.)

    I’ve had periods when I felt forgotten and pretty annoyed at my old friends for not doing a better job of staying in touch. But I’ve also been really touched by people who suddenly get in touch after a dry spell… and they say they’re coming to visit. And by the friends who turn out in force when I am in the same town as them.

    I bet you get quite a few emails from your friends and family in response to this post!

    1. Hey there Barbara, thanks for stopping by. Culture shock isn’t much of a factor anymore, we’ve both been living abroad for a decade or so…but I definitely agree that it’s so touching when people get in touch then suddenly out of nowhere, that feels great. We have had a couple of nice emails in response to the post…but since most of our friends don’t read the site, they don’t actually know what we have written…ah, nomadic life!

  16. I totally get this. I have really found that some of my local friends just don’t “get” wanting to travel all the time, or in our case having a foreign partner and going through immigration troubles. We can’t relate the same on things. I also think some people just don’t think they’re interesting enough to compare.

    1. Most people don’t ‘get’ the nomadic thing, and that’s totally okay! You’re right though, a lot of people don’t think they’re interesting enough – they don’t realize that we are totally interested in them no matter what the details are! That’s what friendship is all about!

  17. I’m lucky I have quite a few friends who follow my blog — family however is another story. My nephew told me last week that he didn’t even know I had a blog, even though I told his dad far too many times to count. But like they say, you can’t choose your family. I love them to bits though…

    1. I totally get this – we have often reminded people about our site and try not to be a little sad to know they haven’t read it at all! Ah well.

  18. Absence doesn’t always make the heart grow fonder. this part make me feel sad…. I can’t travel like you do but one day maybe i can…

    1. Hey Jorge, aw that’s sweet 🙂 traveling is a great feeling, and I would recommend it to everyone, if only for a three or six month period of time. Being in total control of your everyday soothes the soul!

  19. I’ve experienced that absence does make the heart grow fonder – initially. But absence for years on end make people forget. Its been tough to deal with, especially since I’ve been making the effort. Ultimately I come to realize that its just something I need to accept. And as with life, I just needed keep moving forward and making new friends along the way. Thankfully, the few people that truly matter to me still do make the effort as I do – and those are the people I exert most of my energy on.

    1. You’re absolutely right….maybe we think certain people are still our closest friends, but since they aren’t making the effort, we need to just accept it and focus on those who do make the effort only. It’s really tough because we both know we would be friends with these people if we weren’t so nomadic….

    1. Awww, thanks! I know you do…and this wasn’t directed at you in any way 🙂 I mean you guys even came over for the cruise and we saw you tons last year – more than any time when we were stable before. Love you!

  20. Yesterday I returned to the place I called home after 3 years away, 2 years and 3 mths of that I was a gypsy, travelling and living in other countries. Being back is surreal, I feel displaced and most of my closest friends have left. So I am a bit overwhelmed. The unpacking starts in a few days (not quite ready to open the first box just yet!).

    BUT ….. In the 6 weeks I have been back in my country, I have reconnected with many people. I have seen people I haven’t even heard from in all that time (except maybe one text or email or FB comment) and it has been fantastic! Some of that has been through my efforts trying to meet up, not from their side. Often people’s busy and stressful lives are hard. We have to accept that. But everyone of them will say they have thought of you at different times, wondered where you are, hope you are doing ok 🙂 …

    I have been forgiving of those that haven’t “made the effort” (my perception, not theirs) and it has been so rewarding. I saw one person I had had no contact with in 18 months and we picked up exactly where we left off – discussing the book project we set a goal for 2 and a half years ago … she mentioned it first (we are going to get to make it happen this year!) So you see … life goes on for them while we are seeing the world through totally new eyes.

    And I really believe that true friendship survives up the downs and long periods of no contact… mine certainly have. After the nomadic experience there is no doubt we come back a completely different person, calmer, more accepting, a wonderful world view, definitely more patient (after all that waiting for trains, buses, boats and planes!) and with even more to offer the friendship. What a gift!

    Yes I was often disappointed, but being forgiving, understanding their circumstances, and picking up the threads has been so rewarding and my friends are so grateful that I don’t make a big deal about their lack of contact! I hope you find that too …

    1. Hi Mimi, thanks so much for this comment! It is reassuring definitely. I suppose our only fear is that because we are not from the same country, and will most likely live in a third country (ie not in the US or Germany), we will always have this issue of distance with friends and relationships. But you are right about the picking right up where you left off – that is an amazing phenomenon we are always so surprised by and grateful for every time it happens!

  21. I really appreciated this post (and have been meaning to comment for ages)… This is exactly my experience as well!! I’ve no idea if any of my friends have been following my adventures but I’ve hardly heard a word from anyone in 9 months of travel… It certainly feels like I’ve been forgotten by friends and family at home…

    1. Hi Liz, that’s why we wrote this…it’s true that people haven’t forgotten, and it’s true that a lot of people maybe can’t relate, don’t think they are as interesting so don’t tell us the details of their daily lives, and that friendships will go back to normal once you return. But it is just such an unexpected side effect of traveling you don’t expect when you first set off. You dream about the amazing experiences, the people you will meet, etc, but you don’t necessarily realize that, despite the internet, just how much contact with people in your daily life will slow down or stop. Sorry to hear that you share this feeling with us – but reading through these comments, almost everyone seems to agree that once you go home, you pick right back up where you left off, if that helps?

  22. I have a very similar experience with many of my friends from back home. When I see them, it’s like I’ve never left, there’s no awkwardness, and just chat like it’s been only a few weeks and not the years it’s acually been. But somehow with many of them that doesn’t translate to the internet very much. I do have to say though that with my family it’s thankfully never been a problem. My mom learned how to send texts like a pro, we used Skype on a weekly basis, and created a Facebook account. Same with my sister. I’d day with the rest of my family it’s emails maybe every months or so. With many friends, the best way to stay in contact is via Facebook – but the ones who are not on Facebook? The rare email and not much else sadly…

    1. Hi Sabrina – the awkwardness test is important, isn’t it – it’s like if it is awkward, maybe we’d have not been the best of friends anymore anyway. My mom skypes and emails, so that’s been easy, and my dad texts which is fun. Dani’s family gets on Skype every once in a while which is also fun with babies and puppies, so that has been nice, too. I feel like we could both have a lot more of the skyping with friends especially though…it’s always so interesting for us when our friends or family haven’t even heard of skype!

  23. Hey Jess and Dani, it’s Amy I am Shannon’s friend and met you the other day. Reading this post and all the comments helped me realize that I am not alone. I have been having the same issues and seeing as I will probably live abroad for a long time if not forever…it is really difficult. For some reason I always feel like I am making the effort and then I also have the guilt being the oldest sibling and having so many nieces and nephews. However on that note, I am very blessed as both my family and friends support my journey even if they do call me a ‘nomad’ and I have met so many people living abroad who are given guilt trips by family back home. In the end, I always find that when you go home it is like you never left and as one other commenter said, nothing seems to change back home. ‘same situations, different day’ and that just motivates me even more to continue with this lifestyle because I don’t want to be a part of that rat race!! Loving your blog, keep it up and if you want to get together to see some things in KL this week give me a call 010-2928522

    1. Amy, hey thanks so much for commenting! It was great to meet you and we are definitely still up for meeting up this week sometime! I think you hit the nail right on the head with the way you say that it’s because this lifestyle could potentially be forever. Either Dani or I, or both of us, will be living abroad, because we are from two different countries, and you so enjoy living abroad too, and so when friends don’t keep in touch, it’s that much harder because you know, in your heart, it could be forever. And Amen to avoiding the rat race…that is actually a life long goal of mine. I’d say we’re all doin’ pretty good! We’ll get in touch soon!

  24. Perhaps it is a combination of:
    1) Out of sight, out of mind
    2) Not as interested in travel as you are, so it is overwhelming to have to keep up with all of your travels, so they just give up because it gets boring over time for them to read
    3) Jealousy, perhaps they are working long hours to earn a living and would love to get a couple of extra days off work and they do not care to hear all about your 2 year vacation. Perhaps they think you should just settle down and get a job like every other responsible person.

    1. Thanks, Avery! I totally agree in all three points! I just had to accept that most of my friends back home are not interested in travel at all, so they don’t really care.

      1. Ive been thinking about this a lot lately and I’ve arrived at my way of finding peace with it. I like to think of it like the assurance of parent’s love. – (mum saying) “I don’t need to understand. But I understand”.

        Noone can ever truly know what another person is thinking but sometimes you just have to trust that for those who love us most, they just get it.

        1. “I don’t need to understand. But I understand”. – Love this! That’s a great way to put it, I think most parents feel like this about their traveling children, or whatever it is they do that might not fit the norm 🙂

  25. This post touched my heart! I feel exactly the same all the time. I am in touch with my family every day almost but some of my best friends I knew most of my life hardly ever talk to me since I’ve been blogging and traveling the world. It does hurt and I still don’t understand why it is like this. And then I get emails and messages from people I never met a couple of times per week …

    1. So glad that we’re not the only ones who feel this way and that there are so many travelers who can relate to this. You are very close to your family though – I usually don’t hear from them for months 🙁

  26. Thanks for this post! I absolutely feel forgotten after two years of living abroad. It hurts! Knowing all the reasons behind the lack of communication helps me understand it but does not make it hurt any less, unfortunately. I am working toward acceptance of those who don’t keep in touch and gratefulness for those that do make an effort – including a couple of friends who have made it to South America twice in two years. That’s amazing. But at the same time, the amazing ones make the rest look kind of bad…like my dad. I got married here and my dad still didn’t come visit. I get that not everyone can afford the trip and that’s fine, but my dad? I don’t get it. Sorry for the negative-nelly comment, but it helps my self esteem to know that it isn’t just me who feels this way.

    1. Hi Jamie, thanks for sharing your thoughts. Even though you feel like your friends back home might have forgotten you, it is great that a couple came to visit you in South America TWICE! That’s more than we can say 😉 It’s sad though that your dad didn’t even come for your wedding, and it makes us think if our parents would come if we got married somewhere (they would probably NOT.)

  27. I think the people you have left behind feel “abandoned” and have had to cope with it, primarily by moving on. When you are friends with someone you are making an ongoing investment. I like to see it as the kind of investment you make in a plant you like. The deal is: you take care of it, and the plant does its bit: it is there, thrives, brings beauty to your life, maybe even fruit.

    You can only have so many friends, you only have so many leisure hours per week, so many weekends to share, so whether you realise it or not you are always managing your social capital. How do I prioritise requests for social interaction? Who amongst my acquaintances could grow into a closer friend if the right opportunity came up? Etc etc.

    Your friends spent some of their social capital in you, because they liked you IN their life PHYSICALLY, not as an abstract graphic energy that delivers updates now and again. And now you are gone. You have left a gap in their social life architecture. You have changed the terms and conditions! And, quite legitimately, they don’t want to keep those two chairs empty around the table mourning you; they like to have people around that they can touch, hug and smell. They will not replace you, at least deliberately, but probably they all will be happy to re-populate the social and emotional slots in which you once were. And when this process gets going normally their energies are focused on what is yet to come, not on someone they perceive as belonging mostly to their past.

    I don’t think they no longer care about you, but their lives are finite, and they are human: whomever they have around takes priority, and if they have a limited social capital to invest (very little time, lots of obligations, etc), then they don’t have enough for the less-priority people further down the list – you.

    1. Wow, Raf, you definitely have given that quite a bit of thought. You’re absolutely spot on with what you say about social capital and a finite amount of energy available within everyone to give to others or have others in their lives. Emotionally it was quite difficult only because we didn’t expect it, but as time goes on, we are more and more used to it. I think had we read your very scientific breakdown of relationships a few months ago it may have been hard to take, but now we both understand exactly what you’re talking about. Thanks for taking the time to share and comment here!

  28. Hello Ladies.
    Found your website when searching for house sitting links. So pleased to have discovered it and you girls!
    We have been on the road recently ourselves (in Western OZ), so this is the first chance we have had to write/comment. We have only read a few of your posts but find them all equally interesting and all your tips and advice extremely useful. We hope to follow your travels in earnest from now on!
    The website details we have included are for our “business” but we have others which catalogue our travels – you can find the links and us on Facebook.
    2006 was the year we decided to travel and, free of any real responsibilities that’s what we did and have been doing for the past 6 years. We came across pet and house sitting in the early days and have had the good fortune to travel, worldwide, house and pet sitting on a reciprocol basis. We are also now able to offer our services in the UK and France for a nominal fee.
    However, we have been well and truly bitten by the travel bug and whilst business is good we want to regain a balance that sees us on the road for at least 6 months of the year…..we cannot emphasise enough how much this post about being forgettable struck a chord with us. In short, the folk we thought would be interested in our travel tales and keep in touch, didn’t and those we did not expect to hear much from follow our blog(s) and email regularly! You just never can tell. It is bizarre though that we can relate only too well to most of the comments here about keeping in touch – like you, we have found it upsetting at times but like one of your other followers has said, we continue to send messages. Skype etc etc leaving it up to our friends and family to respond if they wish – it must be said though that amongst the many, many positives about living our dream and adopting a more nomadic lifestyle one of the very welcome and pleasant surprises has been the sheer number of new and interesting people we have met and continue to meet along the way! We sincerely hope to add you ladies to that list!! Sorry if this comment has turned into a ramble (-;

    1. Hi Tracy & Della, thanks so much for your comment!! So good to know that other long-term travelers feel the same way. Isn’t it surprising to see who actually cares about what you’re doing and who doesn’t get in touch at all? Still surprised sometimes. We’d be happy to make your list of interesting people you meet along the way – let’s definitely stay in touch and try to meet up somewhere along the way!

  29. I’ve been trying to grapple with these travel-related feeling by attaching it to things I find it in art and other analogies. There is a scene at the end of the ‘Hurt Locker’ (2008) where the lead after returning home from his tour of duty recounts tense war stories to his loving wife whilst she’s doing mundane tasks in the kitchen.
    The scene captures what we’re describing here, the lack of connection doesn’t come from a place of malice its just a difficult thing to wrap one’s head around. Its like trying to explain a dream, “you kinda had to be there”.

    1. That scene really does exemplify the feelings, except, of course, our situation is not as tragic. Ours is chosen, which might make others feel even more like we have left them on purpose. But after awhile you get back into your routine and things get normal again, don’t worry. Our problem is that, as a bi-national couple, no matter where we ‘settle’, one of us at least is always away from those we love. 🙁

  30. I don’t do much traveling, but I do live abroad, pretty much on the opposite side of the globe from where I’m from. It’s true that you lose touch with a lot of your friends and family at home, and I think there are two reasons for this. First off, there are two kinds of people in the world, those who have been around and those who never really left the place they are from. As time goes by, these two groups have less and less in common and eventually lose touch. Secondly, I think some people are jealous of those who are out in the world traveling, and instead of being constantly reminded of something that they don’t have, they will lose contact with that individual. Of course this doesn’t apply to everyone and are just from my personal experiences.

    1. Couldn’t agree with you more about most of this. I don’t know about jealousy – some people probably are, but I know that lots of my friends just wouldn’t want to do it, what we do…I think we know so much of this intellectually, emotionally the hard part for me is knowing that this is a choice – I make the choice to be away from the people who love me. But I’d go crazy just living and working in one place…

  31. I can relate to your feeling of family rarely mentioning your website, ditto here. I find friends follow it more. I have a mixed bag on those who stay in touch, some are great, others…not so.

    1. Hi Lisa – total mixed bag. People you wouldn’t think follow you, others you would expect have no idea what you’re writing about…

  32. great article girls – I feel the same a lot of the time. I barely speak to a lot of people at home anymore, most of the people I chat with are those I met on the road or other bloggers.

    But to be honest I do tend to use Facebook to make everyone jealous!hahaha!

    Keep living the dream – those who are your true friends will be waiting for you when you return…

    1. Thanks Chris! It has been really helpful to see that this is the same for most of the nomads out there, just sort of an occupational hazard, no matter how hard on the heart it’s been…

  33. Hi Laides – Great post. Leah and I can definitely relate to your post (as it seems many of us can). What I would add is that friendship is often based on one of the following: shared experiences/interests, fulfilling a need/void or convenience. And in any friendship the need or the value has to outweigh the cost. As we’ve entered our 30’s we’ve noticed that more and more of our friends need less from people because their needs are already being met. They have a partner, a job and friends to grab brunch with on the weekends. Also, an interesting observation is how it seems so much easier to schedule time with people when you’re in town versus Skype. Even though it’s actually much easier to hop on Skype. And we think it’s because there’s urgency in the fact that you will only be in town for a certain period of time and Skype isn’t really in people’s everyday habits like texting and talking on the phone.
    I could go on, perhaps I should write my own blog post about this. 😉

  34. I also had this problem over the year I travelled. Made so many new friends, but it was the old friends at home who barely kept in touch.

    Did you ever figure it out? I did.

    I came home after a year without telling anyone, and I just went round to all the regular hangouts and surprised people. Once word got out that I was back, the parties and events started piling up. Everyone wanted to be involved and hear about the years worth of adventure. I often said mid-story, if you were following along on facebook/twitter/blog you would have noticed that… and continued.

    They told me all the gossip and events that happened at home. And I asked a few of them why they didn’t respond to my postcards, letters, emails, etc. Some of the things that happened were big news, and I would have been quite concerned had I known. They said they didn’t tell me because I was off having an adventure, and they didn’t want to make me feel regret/home-sick, or burden me with the happenings of home. They knew we would catch up on my return.

    I agree with Leanne too, that friendships are based on shared experiences — It is the fastest way to create a bond and strengthen a friendship. So when you are no longer sharing experiences, there is less in-common to talk about.

    Even when I’m at home, and not travelling, I have trouble rounding up my old friends for something as simple as a monthly dinner. But when someone from out-of-town comes home, they drop everything and get-together at a moments notice. There is definitely an urgency with a limited return home.

    I guess the only advice I can offer is “don’t worry about it”. Cherish the friendships at home for the memories they make. When you eventually return, schedule in time with everyone, and maybe make it seem like you’re not back for long… that way they will drop everything 😉

  35. Glad to know we are not alone. We often talk about how little we hear from our friends back home. I know some of them read the blog, but I feel like we have so little direct contact. Recently, my husband said he has been disappointed how little support we receive from family and friends – perhaps that is taking things a bit too far. We have made wonderful new friends, and also don’t regret living this lifestyle, but sometimes it is hard not to take things like this personally!

  36. I’m so glad I stumbled across this article as I’m feeling the same and I thought it was just me. I travelled around Asia, OZ, NZ and the states for a year then loved OZ so much I moved there for 2 years now with the money saved there I am travelling South America. I’ve been feeling really distant from all my close friends from back home although we have had great catch ups on my visits back. I was thinking yesterday how odd it is that although everyone likes my facebook photos no one really asks any questions about where I am. When I was in OZ my friend from my old job in the uk suddenly died and no one even told me, I had to find out about it through facebook. Anyway reading this makes me feel normal and I’m going to continue loving travelling! Thanks x x

    1. Carrie – the lack of interest in my travels is the worst thing. I can’t believe that barely anyone asks me any questions about my travels when I visit family and friends!

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