My first travel romance was short but sweet. I fell in love when I was 11 years old with Guillaume, a French boy with floppy hair and cute dimples I met when we were staying in a campsite one hot summer. I took his photo on a disposable camera and cherished the grainy slightly blurred print for weeks after. But life moves on, we never spoke again and it wasn’t until years later did I discover that he was gay. But even with the odds stacked against our young (one sided) love I still think fondly of that time. Of the butterflies I felt when he scrawled me a letter in badly written English and the utter sadness as we said our goodbyes and I made my way back to the car ferry totally heartbroken.
The older I’ve got and the more I’ve travelled I think I’ve wised up to the realities of a destination ‘relationship’. It doesn’t mean listening to Say You’ll Be There by the Spice Girls on repeat wishing I was fluent in French and kicking myself for giving away my prized Tamagotchi to a boy I’d never see again. Some lessons in life are hard ones to learn.
Travel romances have always had a bad rap for being a fleeting fling based on the powerful cocktail of sun, sand, sea and *ahem* sangria. But do they ever work? Can you build up a bond with someone in such a short and intense time? Can you really get to know them when you’re both in foreign lands experiencing a life far removed from your normal routines?
You can be who you want when you travel. You can create a whole new identity away from the life you lead back home but others can do the same which means that you only get to see the positive side of someone usually in the most flattering of light. You don’t experience the mundane weekly food shop, the inevitable bickering over money or who hogs the TV remote. You get to experience the best bits of someone set against a wonderful exotic backdrop.
However, there are downsides to meeting someone when you travel. If it doesn’t work out then you’ll be kicking yourself that you should have spent less time exploring each other and more time exploring the place you were in. The memories of your trip could be tinged by what did or didn’t happen with your new found crush and he or she will most likely be in a lot of your travel snaps. There is also the temptation to scrap your plans in order to be spend more time together which could lead to some major awkward moments if they turn out to be not who you thought they were. These romances usually have an expiry date before one or both of you is on the move again and discovering new places and the new bunch of single people that come with it.
However, it’s not to say your travel romance won’t or can’t last. Finding love when you travel and keeping it is rare but not impossible. Being a hopeless romantic at heart I’m a sucker for stories of couples who met whilst on the road, sitting next to each other on a long haul flight or sharing a camp whilst scaling Everest and keeping that spark in the long term happy relationship that followed.
You already have travel in common with this complete stranger who has chosen to take the same route as you. Finding someone who understands the need to be out there exploring, someone like you who says yes to things and someone who gets that pull that travel has on you is a huge turn on for many backpackers and something that Tinder simply cannot compete with.
You never know what is around the corner, you never know who is waiting in the wings to jump into your life and you never know when or where you will fall in love. So enjoy the rush of luscious emotions and their company for however long it lasts knowing that if it doesn’t work out you can mark it down as a good story, as after all isn’t that what travelling is all about? Especially as for many, travel is our first love and it takes a very special person to come between this unbreakable bond.
Katy Colins is the author of the Lonely Hearts Travel Club series following the travel adventures of a jilted bride who goes from lost to wanderlust in Thailand, India and Chile and is available to buy on all good e-retailer sites now. Find out more about her travels find her at @notwedordead or www.notwedordead.com.