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

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

Last Updated on February 14, 2022

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 updates their status to ‘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.

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?.


Sunday 14th of February 2016

Great article.. I enjoyed it


Friday 3rd of April 2015

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


Tuesday 7th of April 2015

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!


Saturday 3rd of August 2013

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!

Ian [EagerExistence]

Tuesday 1st of January 2013

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 ;)

Leanne Pittsford

Saturday 3rd of November 2012

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. ;-)