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Hugging on the bus

our relationship on the road

My first post on this blog, I briefly talked about how Joe and I were bringing our worlds together. A question we often get asked is ‘how do you guys do it?’ How do we have this beautiful, amazing, trusting, soul-mate relationship when we live such vastly different lives. Full time traveler meets full time Mom! This entire 20 months (holy shit, it’s been almost TWO years!) it’s been such an interesting learning experience within us and it’s also been so good for our relationship. We discovered early on, when we first met and were just starting to become friends, that we work very well together. We just clicked. As we fell in love and decided that we wanted to experience the rest of our lives together, we had to be practical and start really talking about how it would all work.

We finally found each other and we’re not letting a simple thing like distance get in the way!


Joe loves his life on the road and I love having a home base for my girls. Those were two things that we needed and wanted to keep and maintain. As we talked more and more, we realized that it wasn’t going to be that difficult to figure out how to do it in the physical sense, but as time has progressed, we’ve found that the balance of the back and forth has its emotional hurdles that we didn’t quite expect. For us both. I struggle a bit with the acclimation of living two very different lifestyles in many different locations and Joe struggles with the acclimation of traveling alone vs. traveling with a partner. Add to that, the fact that we have to adjust and readjust every two weeks. By the time we get settled and adjusted, it’s time to switch it up again!

Nik and Joe hand holding at Two Gunz KOA
KOA portrait

How our world works: the inside scoop

Joe lives full time on the road in our converted school bus, traveling across the entire United States and I live part-time with him and part-time in Portland, Oregon. Every two weeks, I jump on an airplane and fly to whichever airport he’s closest to at that time. He picks me up and we travel and explore life together for two’ish weeks. The next two weeks, Joe continues traveling and working from the road, he’s a professional photographer and takes jobs in various cities, and I fly back to Portland. I maintain a loft space in Portland because my girls and their father live there. Aaron and I share custody 50/50 and trade every two weeks. I’m very fortunate that he is so flexible and very thankful that the girls prefer the two week schedule too. I also have my job in Portland. I’m a CNA/EMT and I work mostly with the elderly community in Memory Care. I absolutely love my job and again, I’m very fortunate that my company is flexible and allows me to work a schedule of 2 weeks on/2 weeks off.

Nikki and the triplets

the biggest juggle: finances

Along with the physical and emotional hurdles, we also have the financial aspect of how we’re living in our worlds, together and apart. In Portland, I have the usual life expenses; food, rent, animals, personal bills and kids. Joe has his own expenses on the road; gas money, food, bus maintenance and personal bills. So plane tickets are an additional expense for both our budgets (we split the cost of these) and buying them every two weeks definitely starts to add up. We’ve gotten very good at watching ticket prices and somewhat planning our travels around the cheapest airports to fly in and out of. We use a lot as they give price alerts and that’s really nice. For awhile, due to Covid, we were paying about $70 round trip for airfare! As time goes on and Covid is getting more under control, prices have been going up. With one continuous exception. Las Vegas, Nevada. Plane tickets in and out of Vegas regularly cost about $25/each way. Fortunately for us, we spend many months traveling throughout the desert so Vegas is usually a good option.

Our (not so secret) secret

Our relationship takes patience, trust, understanding and very, very good communication. And as much as we love each other and miss each other when we’re apart, we know that we don’t need to spend every single minute together. Time for us each to do our own thing is important to us both. We feel that that takes confidence within our own worlds that we have apart from each other. When we’re not physically together, we talk on the phone most every night and stay connected in our daily lives through texts, phone calls, and social media. We both feel that this communication is a very important part of living apart half the time.

Mini Polaroid of Nik and I
Mini Photo Polaroid of us

A mantra that Joe and I have been trying really hard to practice daily in life is ”it’s as simple as you make it”

life: as simple as you make it

I would never tell someone that what we do, how we do things and that being in a committed full-time-partial-long-distance relationship ‘is easy’ because it’s not. It’s not easy, but it’s also not hard. It is what you make it, really. Don’t sweat the things you can’t change, and be able to have understanding and flexibility within both worlds. The juggle of life, whatever you’re doing, always has certain challenges, and new things will come up each month. A mantra that Joe and I have been trying really hard to practice daily in life is ”it’s as simple as you make it” and it helps to hear that in the back of my mind when a challenge presents itself, such as me not being able to find animal care, or outrageously priced airfare. And there have been months where those challenges made it too difficult for me to travel to Joe. While that sucks a LOT and I miss him and our travels, it gives me time to work extra shifts, explore my little neck of the PNW and work on my writing.

It all really is as simple as you make it and it’s all beautiful in its own sense.

Because life.

It all really is as simple as you make it and it’s all beautiful in its own sense.

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