Are relationships and very frequent travel compatible?

Mark Peacock of Travel Commons recently saw “Up in the Air” (which I have yet to see), and wrote a very interesting review. More interesting than the recap of the movie itself, which I’ve read dozens of, is how he relates it to real life frequent flyers:

“Most young frequent travelers enjoy this freedom for 3-5 years — flying to, say, Amsterdam for the weekend instead of their empty apartment — but eventually settle into relationships and a more settled way of life.  I do know a number of guys, though, (and they are all men) who never make that transition.  They continue to live their lives in the air, using business dinners and client meetings as substitutes for more meaningful relationships.  Their biggest fear is Bingham’s — that one day the music will stop, the travel will end, and that they’ll be in stuck in an empty apartment with no way out.”
“The melancholy air that pervades the movie is real.  It’s the same sense of melancholy that rules airports late on a Friday night when the real-world Binghams walking off their planes, looking forward to nothing more than their Monday morning flights out.”

While I have plenty of experience in the flying department, most would argue I don’t have all that much experience in the meaningful relationship department, so I’ll refrain from too much commentary.

But I have to wonder, is this really true? Now Ryan Bingham might be an extreme case, but isn’t it possible to travel 300,000+ miles/year and be gone 150+ nights/year and still be in a meaningful relationship? I’m thinking it’s possible either if you can travel with your spouse for the most part or if for no other reason than too much of a good thing (being with someone 24/7) being a bad thing. My dogs don’t seem to appreciate me very much when I’m just sitting around at home, while they get more and more excited to see me the longer I’m away from home. Are relationships any different? 😉

Filed Under: Travel
  1. While it is definitely true that absence does make the heart grow fonder, extended absences can also wear on a relationship. Ultimately it depends on the personalities and needs of the two involved parties.

  2. When you’re gone that much how do you even meet anyone? Not to mention someone who can handle the traveling….

  3. I’m not sure comparing your dogs & your girlfriend is a good example, I mean, unlike Tiger Woods, no matter how long you are away, they will be always faithful to you as long as you feed them.

  4. BEN,
    I didn’t know you have a dog? AREN’T you suppose to be in IAD right now I bet you will score a ton of vouchers and free hotel nights.I’m up for it if you are 🙂


  5. I think there’s a couple from flyertalk who met each other on the plane and both are 300+ BIS miles travelers.

    To BEN,

    Are relationships and very frequent travel compatible?


  6. Relationships and frequent flying MAY be compatible, given the right match. However, frequent flying and KIDS are NOT compatible – at least not until they are much older (trust me on ths – you won’t want to travel as much).

  7. Frequent flying and MR are relationship killer. Unless you can find yourself a girlfriend who enjoys as much as you do.

    The problem is not with the traveling, after all, who would hate traveling. The problem is fly from point A to point B and immediately back at point A. Most people I know could not understand such a meaningless and money wasting act.

  8. I agree with Eric – kids really change the equation, especially young ones. I’m at abut 125 travel days this year (according to Tripit) with 3 and 1 year-old girls at home. The only way this works is that I am very careful to coordinate with my wife when I do and don’t travel, which I’m lucky to be able to do in my business.

    My brother-in-law has been on the road 3 days a week, every week, for several years and I’ve seen it take a very heavy toll on his marriage, again since his kids were born. It’s just a lot to ask for the non-traveling parent to do everything they need to do AND take care of the kids.

    I know some families that have a stay-at-home parent and a traveling parent, and that seems to be a little easier.

  9. My ex boyfriend was terrified to fly. The only traveling he liked to do was either cruises or vacation in Hawaii. He would have happily vacationed in Hawaii the same week of every year for the rest of his life. To me, that would be so boring! His theory was he knew he liked Hawaii, he didn’t know if he’d like anywhere else.

    My work travel was always a bone of contention for him even though I invited him repeatedly and tried to arrange long weekends. He never joined me once. MRs were seen as wasteful since why would I travel somewhere for no reason – instead of stay home with him?

    It wasn’t a leading factor in our breakup but it was a big component.

    Perhaps we need to start a “love connection” thread on FT for all the single flyers. Ha ha!

  10. I’ve never hit those mileage numbers, but I have kept that pace up for long periods of time (gone 3 nights/week). It isn’t too bad being gone Monday
    morning thru Thursday evening – at 28 w/ no kids – hell, it’s the only way to get the gf to be excited to see me and cook dinner! The 3 day weekend works well. It makes you apreciqte one another. Change any of that and it doesn’t work – kids, more time apart, less ff benefits.

  11. Depends on where the S/O resides. If on the opposite coast, it’s a great opportunity for MRs for both. 😀 Did that in my younger days, although at the time it wasn’t for the EQMs.

  12. Ben,

    You ask, “…isn’t it possible to travel 300,000+ miles/year and be gone 150+ nights/year and still be in a meaningful relationship?” I’d say it depends on the reason. If you have to, maybe. If you want to, no way.

  13. My wife doesn’t mind it so much when I’m away, but it’s really tough on the kids (3 and 5). Which is why I don’t MR, and I try to keep my work trips as short as possible, with perhaps one day for free travel if I’m going to a far away place that I might not visit again. I would happily tack on a weekend for sightseeing and visiting friends whenever I go to the opposite coast, but I don’t because of the kids.

  14. Dear Anonymous,

    I didn’t quite get quote…?
    best score ever of what… I should ask.

    well all I know is that Lucky is pretty charming and hoping his love one would enjoy doing MR as much as he does.

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