Having a travel romance can be something that makes a trip somewhere that little bit extra special and more memorable. However, it is also something that can be quite heartbreaking if and when you have to say goodbye.
When you travel and you are cast into the throngs of the unknown, things always seem more exotic, mysterious, and exhilarating anyway. Wherever you go, you find that you are constantly meeting new people from across the globe.
So, it makes sense that sooner or later you will meet someone who ignites a certain spark within you, and to who you feel a strong sense of attraction. Time seems to move differently in a foreign environment too. You may have only known someone for a matter of weeks or days but you feel like you have a strong connection to them and that you have known them far longer.
But is a travel romance built to last? Undoubtedly, there are plenty of couples who can recall romantic tales of how they met while travelling in Bhutan or some other off-beat locale. But for every success story, there are far more examples of travel romances that have failed.
Travel Romance: Does Love Always Have to Last Forever?
When it comes to modern dating, it can often feel as though romance is dead. This is particularly the case if you are from a large city in a western society where it feels like everyone is on every dating app that exists and nobody is willing to settle.
A lot of people schedule dates with different people on each night of the week. Even when they meet someone that shares common interests and who they find attractive, there is always the lure of the unknown.
What if there is a better option? Is someone more suitable?
Even from that point, when people find someone that they can see themselves with, they often take weeks and months to commit to being exclusive with each other or to define the relationship. This dating style can be fun for a while if you are just looking to date and meet different people.
But if you want a long-term, serious relationship and you are looking to settle, it can be tough and disheartening. So, in a world where romance often seems dead and everything feels transient, if you meet someone that ignites the fire within you, you should hold on to them, right?
Sadly, despite people’s best wishes and intentions, that isn’t always possible. A travel romance can be a lesson in learning that relationships can still fail, even if the two people love and care about each other.
What if the other person is leaving soon? What if you are from other sides of the world?
Making things work is not an impossibility but it requires a lot of compromise on both sides. More often than not, at least one person needs to consider relocating or changing their lives in some way.
Should you date someone if there is a guaranteed expiration date?
Knowing the potential heartache and upsetting goodbyes that may come with a travel romance, should you even bother going into one at all? Yes.
If you go through life avoiding situations because you don’t ever want to be hurt or upset, you will miss out on a lot of beautiful things. Truthfully, you never know what may happen in the future or what may eventually come of your travel romance.
The important thing is to keep your emotions in check. If you really like someone and you know it won’t work, try and manage your feelings in the situation.
Similarly, make sure that you communicate with the other person so that they too don’t wind up hurt. From the onset, let them know what you are looking for, how long you will be in town, etc.
If you communicate how you feel early on and then find yourself catching deeper feelings, communicate this too. Keep your partner updated on how you are doing and your feelings so that you can conquer the challenges together. There is almost always a way if people are willing and able to adapt.
Dating outside your culture can be fun
Dating outside your culture can come with a lot of challenges but it can also be a lot of fun. When you date people while you are travelling, you might find yourself meeting a lot of interesting people that come from countries that you have never been to, or from cultural backgrounds that you know little about.
The initial stages of getting to know someone you really like are always exciting. But all of that increases tenfold when it is someone from a completely different background to your own.
You can teach each other about customs, traditions, and religion in your respective countries. You can also take it in turn cooking each other traditional recipes.
Dating a Mexican man? Perfect! They can show you how to make authentic tortillas, tacos, and sopa con puree de tomate.
Dating a Greek guy? Great! They can show you all the best off the beaten path and quiet Greek islands that the tourists don’t go to.
Obviously, dating someone from a completely different background can be challenging sometimes if your relationship becomes long-term. For instance, you will need to ascertain what the other person’s outlook is on things like gender roles, if you want children and if so, how you want them to be raised, etc.
Everything can be more beautiful through a temporary lens
When your time together is limited, you’re committed to making the most of the short period you have. Every conversation, every touch, and every kiss is more special because they are in limited supply.
There’s no time for arguing, petty disagreements, or suspicion. You just want to make every moment count.
Your travel romance will never hurt you
Okay, so you may never have the opportunity to go riding off into the sunset to live happily ever after with your foreign love. But at least you parted ways while still feeling strongly about each other, and will remember the relationship for all that was beautiful about it.
Chances are, you’ll remember the encounter fondly forever. You will never experience any heartaches from infidelity, cultural clashes, or explosive rows.
You will only remember the good times. Maybe things could work out differently if you were together for years on end or maybe they could have become disastrous.
Maybe everything happens for a reason? Perhaps you’ll never know.
However, the memory of saying goodbye at the airport, still very much obsessed with each other is far better than remembering a relationship ending with tears and fighting. Your travel romance will be filed away in a folder in your mind as another one of your wonderful travel stories that you can look back on fondly later.
You lose some of your inhibitions
When your relationship is something of an emotional ticking time bomb, you don’t worry about the silly little things that normally clutter up our dating lives. You know, like “when should I text him?”
“Is it too soon to be thinking about X,Y,Z?” You realise that worrying is a wasted effort that eats away at your precious and limited time together and instead you just go with how you are feeling at that moment.
It definitely hurts to say goodbye. It hurts to know that there will be a time when you will turn around and they are not sleeping beside you. I
t hurts to think that there will be a time when you see something that you want to tell them about, but they are not there to tell. Though maybe there is some comfort in knowing that this kind of love is possible, even if in this specific circumstance life had different plans in mind for you and your beau.
There is some comfort in being able to look back during your darkest hours and remember that there was someone, somewhere out there in the world that loved you wholeheartedly – at least for a little while. You have seen a magical kind of love and you have the boundaries and self-esteem to never settle for anything less in the future.
Permanence is not the only marker of a successful relationship
A travel romance can help us to look at what constitutes a successful relationship in a different way. The general, traditional view is that a relationship is only successful if it ends in marriage and being together with the other person until the very end.
That is all well and good but it isn’t always realistic, particularly not in international dating scenarios. Sometimes relocating internationally and drastically changing your lifestyle isn’t always possible.
That doesn’t mean that you don’t love or care about the person. If you love someone a lot but you both feel that you belong on different sides of the world, and have different desires in terms of starting a family, etc, it may make sense to part ways.
It is a mature kind of love if you love someone deeply but you are willing to let them go and you are okay if they are happy with someone else, somewhere else, as long as they are happy. You can look back on the situation fondly every time you remember it and know that for a period, they came into your life for a reason.
For all of those who remain, hopelessly romantic despite the challenges that long-term travel presents. Have you ever had a travel romance abroad?
What was the final outcome? Did you stay together or if not, did you still keep in touch as friends?
Safe travels around the world! Melissa xo