Couples the world over can find it hard to maintain their relationship while embarking on a life of travel. However, one couple has found that travel is a way of strengthening their bond.
Juno Kim is a photographer and writer at Runaway Juno Media and the founder of the annual Asian Women’s Empowerment conference. It wasn’t that long ago that she quit her engineering job to pursue a life of travel and became the visual storyteller that she is, documenting cultures and traditions around the world.
Stephen Bugno, editor of GoMad Nomad Travel Mag, a small group tour leader and travel blogger at Bohemiantraveler.com, is also always on the move, roaming the globe in search of inspiration and the next tour destination.
With travel being such a big part of their independent lives, any other couple would have called it quits. However, Juno and Stephen found ways to bond and allow their love to blossom –they have just celebrated their marriage in Seoul after four years together.
So how did this couple allow distance to fuel to their relationship?
How did you first meet?
Juno: I was living in Seoul and one afternoon my travel blogging friend from New York City tweeted me that I should meet her friend who was in town. I didn’t know much about him, but I’m always up for meeting someone interesting.
We met by Anguk Station and went out for dinner. After our first meeting, we went back to our separate lives but kept in touch through Twitter and Skype. Eventually we started travelling together when I left my cubicle life at the engineering company I was working for.
Was is love at first sight?
Stephen: I wouldn’t say it was ‘love’ at first sight, but I could tell immediately that Juno was a good person and somebody that I wanted to get to know better. Of course I thought she was cute, but I also knew that she was intelligent and had a good spirit.
I actually don’t think love at first sight is a good thing. I interpret that as infatuation. Infatuation and lust burn out and die quickly and it’s not sustainable. I look for sustainability in a long-term relationship.
With your busy schedules, how often do you actually get to meet? What sort of planning do you do to make sure you are both somewhere at the same time?
Stephen: In the beginning, we spent a lot of time apart, but were actually able to spend more time together once we started travelling. There were times when we had to spend months apart, such as when we visited our home countries or because of a particular job (touring, for example, or press trips). But we always look at our calendars and try to minimise the time away from each other.
The challenge was that we never had a ‘normal’ dating period. We were either apart or together all the time. We went through a lot of adjustment on how to manage the appropriate distance.
Juno, many people would give up on the long-distance relationship thing. What is it about Stephen that made you think you definitely wanted to give it a try?
Juno: Because it made sense to me. It was definitely hard to maintain a relationship while not being together. But convenience isn’t everything if it’s right. Our relationship has always been like a partnership. We discuss important decisions while having lots of fun together.
Stephen, have you found it hard being in different places and not being able to see Juno often?
Stephen: Of course it’s difficult to be apart for extended periods. But I try to make the best of the situation and stay positive until we’re together again.
As far as travelling, I do enjoy it with Juno, but I also enjoy travelling alone. Travelling solo is important to me because it challenges me as a traveller. People in the countries I visit will react differently to me when I’m alone.
What keeps your relationship alive?
Stephen: A common vision for the future keeps our relationship alive. We both want similar things and share values in life. Love and treating each other well is the best way to keep a relationship healthy. Commitment is easy because without it you lose everything. I appreciate what we have together and I’m grateful for my loving and caring partner and I want to preserve that.
What’s next? Are you going to continue to travel or has marriage brought along new plans for both of you?
We have plans until September, including the next Asian Women’s Empowerment conference in Indonesia. After six months of vigorous travelling, we’ll be happy to settle in somewhere. As much as we’re excited about our travels, we’re quite happy to start looking for somewhere that we can potentially settle.