Love and Travel Intertwined

I recently read an article about a honeymoon gone awry. Two newlyweds began a three month honeymoon/backpacking trip through South America and after only a few weeks into their trip, they decided to travel separately. Although they had been together for four years before tying the knot, it had only taken a few weeks in another continent to unravel the thread holding them together.

The couple met up for the last weekend and then flew home to begin their married lives. Surprisingly, once they settled back into their normal environment their marriage has continued to last. While reading this article, everything seemed so twisted around. I’ve always heard stories of people meeting abroad, falling in love and then going their separate ways. This story was completely the opposite, which led me to contemplate the role travel plays in romance.

I started looking back on my travels and remembering some of my own experiences. Literally the first night I was in London for my semester abroad I met a local Brit who I dated for about two months. He was 25 and had already traveled to more countries than I could count and I was a bright-eyed 21 year old who had never ventured outside of the U.S. I remember breaking up with him on Valentine’s Day. I know it sounds harsh, but I needed to be honest with myself and at that point in my life I just wanted to be selfish. I wanted to travel and be carefree and he obviously wanted something a little more serious. Now that I’m a few months shy of my 25th birthday, I can understand his perspective.

Then there was Francisco from Portugal. After stumbling off the plane and dropping off my luggage at a local hostel, I decided to explore the essentially desolate city of Faro. Looking and feeling disheveled, I made my way to a church that was one of the main tourist attractions in the area. There I met Riccardo and Francisco, who looked at me as though I was a ghost of some sort. I assumed it was because I had just come off the plane but they said it was because I had really light eyes, which in America is pretty normal. They then let me in for free and after I checked out the view of the harbour, they had decided that I was to be their new friend. Ignoring all the other tourists, they spent the entire afternoon with me getting cappuccinos, exploring the city, introducing me to their friends and teaching me Portuguese curse words. It was one of the best local experiences I ever had and it was completely unexpected.

Then it happened. Francisco confessed his love for me and his confusion about having a girlfriend and how to tell her it was over. I was probably the most confused in the situation, seeing as I had just met the man but I tried to play it off as a sweet gesture. Then he took my hand and started stroking the inside of it. Again, I didn’t know what that meant at the time and thought it was some sort of handshake that maybe was common in Portugal. It wasn’t. I suppose I could have had a little love affair with Francisco but it wasn’t in the cards for me. I kissed him on the cheek and continued on my journey, making it to Sevilla the next day.

After realizing that I am often viewed as exotic when I travel, I wasn’t surprised when my Machu Picchu guide developed a slight crush on me. I forget his name but I remember him literally running up Wayna Picchu in his bright red poncho to search for an item I had lost along the way. It sort of reminded me of that scene in The Emperor’s New Groove when the llama sprints up the mountain. Anyway, about an hour later he came back with my bag in hand and completely soaked from the rain. Before heading to Bolivia, he invited my friend and I to stay with him or at least visit his house in the future. It was a nice gesture but I knew it probably wouldn’t happen.

So from these different experiences I find myself wondering if there is a deeper meaning to be found from romances abroad. I think meeting people from different countries is all part of the growing process. There’s an element of escapism in both parties. You are traveling somewhere new, experiencing a different culture and meeting people that are exotic to you and vice versa. Not to say that romances abroad can’t last, because some certainly do, but I find that they are often short lived.

I’ve started to believe that timing plays a huge role in who we are attracted to and who we ultimately end up with. For me, travel is all about self-discovery and challenging the way you view the world. Everyone I have met along the way has in some way contributed to a higher sense of awareness within myself, and for that I am grateful. Perhaps there are people you are destined to know forever and others who cross your path at a specific time and place, however random these occurrences may seem.

Falling in love when you travel abroad

Image via procsilas‘ flickr stream

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  1. Olga Maria Vargas July 18, 2011  4:51 pm Reply

    I love this... I have experienced this when I traveled too...

  2. Nomadic Samuel July 29, 2011  6:59 pm Reply

    I've experienced similar situation when travelling. Sometimes I feel as though relationships I've had overseas are disposable and other times I can't get the person out of my head.

  3. alex October 4, 2011  8:57 pm Reply

    so far i'm still living out my travel romance a year and half later :-)

  4. Abby October 18, 2011  12:17 pm Reply

    I love looking back at all the romance I've had on the road! I wish I could bottle up the carefree-ness I have while traveling and bring THAT home with me as the souvenir. Sigh. Enjoy!

  5. Christy @ Ordinary Traveler October 19, 2011  12:55 am Reply

    Love on the road is fun. When I was younger, I often got too attached to people though and had a hard time forgetting about them after I got home.

  6. yTravelBlog November 12, 2011  9:45 pm Reply

    I've loved those fleeting love moments with other people. You are so right, each one has contributed to my own sense of self awareness. Every person you meet is there to teach you something

  7. Michele Peterson December 6, 2011  8:46 am Reply

    Both of my daughter fell in love with Greek boys on our trip to Mykonos. Lots of tears when we left Greece.

    • Megan Eileen McDonough December 6, 2011  5:59 pm Reply

      Reminds me of the movie, Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants! One of them falls in love with a Greek boy. I had a similar experience with just about every Italian boy in Rome haha

  8. JL February 14, 2012  9:55 am Reply

    Absolutely. Timing is everything - even when you're travelling. My wife and I met as avid travellers but now we've settled down in Colombia. We have a video about it all, too:

  9. Bang@Australia Study July 10, 2012  1:49 am Reply

    Just love your story.

    I haven't had this experience but I love the way you said "Everyone I have met along the way has in some way contributed to a higher sense of awareness within myself". It's just so true.
    Bang@Australia Study recently posted..Student Travel: Manly BeachMy Profile

    • Megan July 10, 2012  7:25 am Reply

      Thanks so much! I think many people have similar stories from traveling so it's always interested to hear feedback from others.
      Megan recently posted..Circus Hostel BerlinMy Profile

  10. Emma July 25, 2012  1:32 am Reply

    I am currently in a situation like this. I leave Indonesia to go back to England in 2 months, and have been seeing a local for 2 months...I can feel the pain approaching just around the corner. I hope that he will 'contribute to a higher sense of awareness within me' and that I'm doing the right thing by leaving.

    But, I have to be realistic: different religions, different cultures, different continents. Gaahh!

  11. T September 6, 2012  11:59 pm Reply

    What is the article you read that inspired you to write this? I'd be interested in seeing it. Thanks!

  12. T September 11, 2012  10:37 pm Reply

    Found it (i think...)!

  13. Nesh October 29, 2012  2:13 pm Reply

    absolutely stunning read. met my own match for the first time, well, haha it didnt work out.

    but there's definitely a thrill to it, a novelty even, that draws you in.

    there are days where i'd hoped i havent met that person, but i couldnt have imagined that place without that particular person. he made the country, what the country means to me.


  14. Atia September 17, 2013  5:07 pm Reply

    I drove 1000miles just to even meet my future spouse for the first time. We had been talking, but never met in person. One day I decided to take the trip and boom! Now we are happily married!

  15. Wilfy @ March 10, 2014  2:51 am Reply

    It's very possible! I too found love while backpacking!!!
    I also married her :)

  16. theElliottQuest September 7, 2014  5:52 am Reply

    "I'm not dating when I travel" ... My famous last words. lol check out my take on falling in love while travelling

  17. Free dating sites in the world - October 2, 2014  2:54 am Reply

    I agree that while travelling a different sort of a character comes into the picture, at times it can be romantic to the core and at times it can make things difficult in a relationship, I had met my wife on MeetOutside, which is a free dating site and when we travelled to Goa for the first time had some tough times on the first day, but later on things went on smoothly and we realized that travelling makes our love grow stronger.

    • Megan Eileen McDonough October 3, 2014  8:50 am Reply

      Thanks for sharing! It's so true that travel really helps you to better know a person. Glad it worked out!

  18. Pingback : Dear Katie: A letter to my younger, less travelled self | Travel Eggs App – Your Digital Tour Guide

  19. Lifesunfair September 6, 2015  8:14 pm Reply

    Sigh* I met a guy while traveling once and he completely blew me away. He took me places and hung out with me the entire weekend I spent there, I knew from the moment we met that I would fall for him. If there was one word to describe the way I felt it would be 'Magic!' I miss him so much still 💔 . I'm so glad I came across your blog. 😊

  20. Rose May 22, 2016  7:47 am Reply

    I just travelled to The Middle East.Met an amazing guy there..sensitive, caring, funny..very helpful..and married, with less !We got along so well together..the emotional connect was so astounding. I was and still am, very attracted to him. For a while, I think he felt the same intensity, and then life came calling..
    We are still in touch, exchanging anecdotes , photos and indulging in nostalgia.
    It is so hard to let go, especially when you connect with this person. It's tiring, being hurt

    • Megan Eileen McDonough May 22, 2016  7:40 pm Reply

      Hi Rose, I feel your pain! I actually had a similar experience while in the Middle East (and one I have not written about.) Time has a way of giving us clarity and, at least for me, I'm happy I moved on. All the best. :)

      • Rose May 26, 2016  6:49 pm Reply

        Hi Megan,
        I am trying, truly..and it is hard.. It's a slow reality leak into the vacation bubble and finding a man you like in it..
        We text, he calls ,or I do on occasion..and I find myself struggling to ease the heart bruise..decently black and blue at this point.
        He calls me his "dearest buddy"...and I have come to realise that this is his caveat..and gives him complete deniability..while I wear my heart on my sleeve..
        It was Hubris ,after all..I had such complete confidence in the fact that no way, no way would I meet a person who could spark my connect batteries in any way, especially in that part of the world..
        The Gods must be laughing up there!


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