When traveling is your calling, the feeling of loneliness, the need for companionship, and the thought of settling isn’t too far behind.
By Niccolo Serratt
I’m 25, and I’m torn. Torn between the need for an affectionate partner and the unsurpassable desire to see the world and travel to its most remote corners, often the bleakest ones. Such as Transnistria, a landlocked post-Soviet separatist state in Eastern Moldova. Not precisely Paris, and certainly not somewhere you would go on a romantic getaway.
Not all can relate to this internal division between need and want. It’s a feeling that, more often than not, flight attendants, pilots, full-time travelers, and any similar profession are accustomed to.
I want to travel the world. It’s my calling. Eat street food in Vietnam. Then, hike Table Mountain in South Africa and, as most would end the week, have a coffee in a Parisian-styled café in Uzbekistan while writing about my adventures.
However, from time to time, the adrenaline wears off. And I find myself in another hotel room watching yet another romcom starring Vanessa Hudgens marrying a prince of a fictional country.
In moments like these, I can’t help but wonder what it would be like to share these experiences with someone else. Someone more than a fellow crew member, a digital nomad that I met in a hostel in India or a stranger with which I share a brief interaction.
I’ve been traveling full-time for almost ten years, and I don’t know what normal feels like. Normal to others, that is. Being on multiple planes a week is my normal.
I know, not only by assumption but from experience, that most are not ready to welcome my normalcy into theirs.
I go on dates. Naturally, our scope in this universe—or better off—what pays the bills is one of the first questions we are quizzed about. Sometimes for lifestyle compatibility, other times out of genuine interest.
When asked, I generally respond that I’m jolly. Sometimes a flight attendant, occasionally a freelance writer, and other times a lost traveller.
What still not clear to me is which is the want and what is the need? Do I want to travel but feel the need for an affectionate partner? Or do I want a partner but need to travel?
People like to hear my stories about the places I’ve been to, the cultures I have encountered and the people I’ve met. They are fascinated when I tell them I’m a flight attendant. They always have a series of questions ready such as, “Have you ever joined the mile high club?” The answer is, no, toilets are dirty. Would you have sex in a McDonalds toilette? Don’t answer.
The date goes well, and we go on a second, a third, and so on. Before you know it, it’s their birthday. “Sorry, I can’t make it,” I say. “I’m in Pakistan.”
Then Christmas and again, “Sorry, I know your mom wants to meet me and probably thinks I’m a ghost, but I can’t make it. I’m in Chile, exploring the Andes.”
It’s a never-ending story. I’m not trying to be the victim, but I did tell them on date number one that I tend to travel copiously. To which they often reply, “That’s so cool; I’ve always wanted to date a flight attendant.”
Fast forward a month, and I’m again in a hotel room. Hugging a pillow and watching another romantic comedy. I ponder, is it my lifestyle that’s not compatible with those of others? Or is it the other way around? Or both?
Do I have to give up one want to fulfill the other need? Of course compromises are a part of life especially in relationships.
But, what still not clear to me is which is the want and what is the need?
Do I want to travel but feel the need for an affectionate partner?
Or do I want a partner but need to travel?
Which one is escapism, and which one is settling down? Do I even want to settle down?
And if it were the other way around, how would I feel if my partner were to always be traveling?
Either way, I don’t have the answers, but as most things do in life, they tend to make themselves clear eventually.
Maybe I am destined to find someone and share these experiences with and create a story of our own.
Perhaps, my purpose is to roam and tell the stories of others.
Niccolo Serratt is a Barcelona-based freelance writer, and flight attendant for British Airways, who embodies the spirit of curiosity and adventure. When he’s not immersed in the vibrant streets of Barcelona, Niccolo’s insatiable wanderlust takes him to far-flung corners of the world, seeking out untrodden paths and hidden treasures. He is a dedicated LGBTQ+ activist that strives to make a positive impact and empower marginalized communities through his thought-provoking articles. You can learn more about Niccolo here, and explore this and his other essays here.