“Love and marriage, love and marriage…” apparently they go together like a horse and carriage. What about love and travel, though? They don’t seem to go together at all. As the majority of solo travellers are single and more than ready to mingle, this presents a bit of a conundrum when it comes to relationships on the road. Many questions crop up: I know it’s only going to last a couple of days, so is it worth it? Would we work together in the ‘real’ world? If we weren’t in such a beautiful setting would he/she be half as beautiful? Am I/are they just sleeping their way around the world?
However, much as I have discovered that it is possible to form meaningful and lifelong friendships on the road, I believe the same can be true of romance. Although I’m scoffed at for believing if it’s meant to be it will be, that’s still a mantra I live my life by. So, if you are lucky enough to meet someone special on the road and it’s ‘meant to be’, you’ll surely find a way to be together despite the odds.
Usually, though, it’s more a case of short-lived flings and unfinished couplings. Here’s my guide to the complicated world of love and travel:
The Island Fling
You’re on an island. Sun, sea, sand and… sex? You’re practically naked most of the time anyway in your swimmers – it’s not a great leap after a few local beers to go from practically to definitely naked. There’s a party every night in some beach bar or other, the alcohol is flowing and the boys and girls are gleaming with tans. You’ll cuddle in the sea, dance all night on the sand and dodge stray dogs and mopeds as you stumble back to your beach hut. Repeat until bored.
A beach bungalow; a campervan; a private room in a hostel; maybe if you’re really lucky a fancy hotel. When you meet someone cute on the road it occasionally seems a good idea to move in together for a night or so. Hey – it’s a great money saver and budgeting is important! This could go one of two ways. They could turn out to be a ‘what if?’ boy or girl (see below). Or, more likely, you realise you have absolutely nothing in common with this person (besides travel) and exhausted all conversation on the first night you met them. Once you both move on to your next destinations you’ll probably never speak again.
Dating a Local Part 1
To you he’s the cute-accented local boy who intrigues you with his totally different way of life. To him you’re the cute-accented foreign girl who’s visiting his home and needs looking after. You’re culturally worlds apart but physically close. It’d be rude not to let him show you the sights, right? Except soon it feels like he’s more into the idea of you as a sweet English girl with a quaint upbringing in the countryside (which is how you were brought up, but still), rather than the slightly travel-worn reality of you. And vice-versa – once the novelty of the accent wears off is he much more to you than interesting-cause-he’s-different? This situation can get tricky, so it’s perhaps best left in the fling-zone.
Dating a Local Part 2
When you are in one place for a while, say on a working visa, you almost become one of the locals. I say almost because you’re not a local and never will be. Thus arises one of the most dangerous love/travel scenarios. The traveller can meet someone awesome, date them for a while and even be their boyfriend or girlfriend during the months they live in the same town. But the inevitable happens – you have to leave and they have to stay. Unless one of you is prepared to move to the other side of the world and give up their home nation, it’s just not gonna work out.
This sort of happened to me in Australia. There was a boy, a kind of awesome one. We were smart, though – we didn’t get close to each other at all… Except it’s not that simple. Even when you’re trying extremely hard to keep one another at arm’s length you’re still forming a bond. I couldn’t ask for more than he gave me, either – I was the temporary citizen who was moving on in a few months, why should he invest his time and emotions in me? Therein lies the danger – meet someone great and break each others’ hearts when you leave, or keep it casual but risk missing out on a meaningful relationship. Or just stay away from the locals entirely…
The ‘What If?’ One
Ahh, the ‘What If?’ one. You can’t plan for this one I’m afraid, they’ll come out of nowhere and leave you feeling completely lost when you/they move on. After all the mediocre hook-ups, fun flings and short-lived attractions all of a sudden you remember how it feels to really like someone. And it feels pretty damn awesome. But, alas, it cannot last. Just as quickly as your feelings start your beau is vanishing into the sunset as fast as daylight.
You know you were going somewhere together, but now you’ll never find out where. Which leaves you with that awful, heart-wrenching feeling of ‘what if?’. What if they stuck around and we saw where this is heading? What if we were supposed to fall in love, get married and have babies together? What if a month down the line we would have got bored of each other and called it off, anyway? The frustration of never knowing the answers to these questions can drive a girl crazy. I suggest putting the ‘what if’ one in a box which is only to be opened should you and the lover in question cross paths again.
As a fairly seasoned traveller I too have my ‘what if?’ boy and I must admit, I find it tricky to keep the box firmly closed at times (mainly after consuming alcohol). We’re sort of in touch and who knows what the future holds. I try to stay cool about it but I can’t help daydreaming sometimes about what if. What if…