Five years ago when I went on a working holiday to New Zealand I never thought I would fall in love with a charming and irreverent Englishman and end up following him back to deepest darkest Lancashire.
Even after we met, while working as tour guides in a creepy old prison, I never thought that our backpacker fling would evolve into a long term relationship. I took a risk on a travel relationship and it ended up being the absolute best decision I have ever made.
When you take the plunge, quit your job, pack your bag and jet off around the world in search of adventures it’s not hard to fall in love. You are at your bravest and most passionate and your heart is open to new experiences and to the people you meet. You are eager, excited and curious as you explore your destination and that sparkling energy is incredibly sexy and attractive. You will probably be in hostels surrounded by a lot of other similarly minded people who understand why you have this urge to wander. Sooner or later you are very likely to meet a kindred soul, perhaps in the form of that adorable blonde Dutch girl or the Aussie guy with the sexy accent and the tattoos. When you set off into the world to travel, be prepared for the possibility of falling in love.
Looking for Someone Who Shares Your Travel Dreams? You’ll Find Them on the Road
If you dream of meeting someone who shares your passion for travel, finding them on the road is your best bet. I’ve heard a lot of people say that they are waiting to meet that special someone before they go backpacking, so that they will have a partner to travel with. If this is your dream my advice to you is – don’t be afraid to start on your own without them. If your future partner loves traveling as much as you do, you are much more likely to find them on the journey. They will be in the hostel bunk across from you, or waiting at the same bus terminal, or drinking local beers in the same beachside bar. Just set off already, you’ll find them.
What Happens Next? Don’t Worry Too Much
And when you do meet someone amazing on your travels – what should you do? The temptation is to overthink things. They are likely from a country halfway around the world from yours and you both only have a few months left until you have to go to your respective homes. What does your future hold? How can you make it work?
When Lee and I first got together I used to overthink things a lot. I would stress myself out wondering what would happen in a few months when I had to go back to Canada and he went back to England. I would try to project the future of our relationship in my mind – and it drove me crazy. If I could go back now and live it again I would stop worrying and just enjoy falling in love.
Yes, your future together is uncertain – such as it is in any relationship even if you live in the same hometown. You never really know what is going to happen, so just enjoy the crazy, obsessive, adrenaline rush of falling in love with someone. You are lucky enough to be in a travel romance and even if it doesn’t work out it will be a memory that you look back on fondly when you are old and grey.
Enjoy the way that you stop breathing for a minute when you see them walk by in your peripheral vision. Enjoy the rush of blood to your cheeks every time they smile at you. Savour those nights when you stay up until 3am, pouring your hearts out about everything and nothing. Embrace the fact that you are walking down a tropical beach or a mountain trail or a cobblestone laneway with such a fascinating and gorgeous person. Revel in the sweet slow build-up of tension between the two of you, until you finally kiss for the first time and it feels like your every nerve ending becomes a tiny lightning bolt.
Falling in love makes everything in this ordinary world feel so much more poetic and beautiful – so don’t numb yourself to it by thinking about the future. Fall hard and fall completely – trust your future self to make the right decision when the time comes.
The Decision Making Point
Eventually, your time will start to run out. Visas, flights and other arrangements will loom closer on the horizon. There will come a decision making point where you and your travel lover will need to make a choice – do we change our plans to keep the relationship going, or do we say goodbye and go our separate ways?
Now, it’s important to note here that there is nothing wrong with ending your travel romance here and carrying on with your separate plans. Let’s face it, you are likely from different countries and being together will mean that at least one of you makes a big international move and leaves life as they know it behind. Your love affair may be passionate and wonderful, but if neither of you wants to make the significant life changes it would take to continue – that’s up to you. You can appreciate your travel romance for what it was – whether it was a week, a month or a year.
On the other hand, you might decide that it is worth turning your life upside down to see if you can make it in the long run. When we were living in a cheap student flat in Christchurch Lee and I had only been together for three or four months before it was time for him to go back to England. I said, “That sucks, because I really like you.” He said, “Well, you could come with me if you want?”
“Why the hell not?” I said. It might have seemed like a crazy decision from the outside, but for me it was the only decision that made sense. I knew that I wanted to be with Lee and I had no specific plans for my future – other than to keep travelling and exploring. I knew that he was special and that we had something great and if I didn’t take a chance on it I would always regret it.
I remember talking about it with a good friend called Elena from Sweden who had also worked at the hostel with Lee and me. I described to her that going travelling and meeting Lee felt like being Neo in the Matrix because I had a choice of taking the blue pill (going back to Canada and following a somewhat “normal” life trajectory) or taking the red pill (moving to England with Lee, continuing to travel, seeing what the uncertain future held). In her infinite wisdom Elena just laughed at me. “You already know you want to take the red pill,” she said. She was right. I wanted so badly to “see how far the rabbit hole goes” – so I did. And so far it has been awesome.
When Solo Travellers Become a Duo
Making the commitment to come to England was a big step in our relationship. We were no longer just casually dating anymore, we were a couple. I was applying for a work visa for the UK and preparing to meet his family. Two feisty independent travellers became a unit, working together to get me successfully into the UK and gainfully employed.
But we didn’t stop there. You see, something amazing happens when you meet someone extraordinary and you decide to change your life’s direction to team up with them. Call it synergy or call it what you like, but you can absolutely accomplish more than you ever could on your own when you work together.
Lee and I had brainstorming sessions that lasted late into the night where we talked and talked about what we wanted to do and how we wanted to live. We craved freedom, flexibility and the ability to take our time and really see the world. We wanted to travel long term – we just had to figure out how to make it work.
Putting our heads together resulted in starting Global Goose and building up my career as a freelance writer. 14 months after I followed Lee to the UK we packed up and left again to become digital nomads. That was over three years ago and our lives have been an incredible adventure ever since. Together we have explored more than 30 countries, seen some of the world’s most amazing sights and had unforgettable experiences. Every day I am so grateful for this travel romance that turned into something more.
Your Mileage May Vary
This is our story – your travel love affair will be different, of course. But I hope it helps you to know that just because you met on the road that doesn’t mean your love can’t last longer than the expiration date on your visa if you want it to. There is the little pesky matter of changing countries and possibly even going through an emigration process but when you meet the right person it’s worth it. If it feels right and you both feel like it isn’t over yet – don’t be afraid to change those plans and reschedule those flights. After all, what have you got to lose?
Have you ever fallen in love on the road? Share your travel romance stories in the comments below.