Traveling solo is an amazing experience; you get to go where you want, do what you want, and you have no responsibility for anyone else. However there are also times where it can get incredibly lonely; times when things go wrong, or something great happens, and you want someone special to share it with.
Travelling long term without a real ‘home’ makes it difficult to maintain any kind of relationship, let alone a boyfriend or a girlfriend. You are constantly in transit, usually unsure of how long you will be staying in a certain place; it makes it almost impossible, but it can also mean you get incredibly close with people quickly.
Travelling and meeting a partner along the way, you can be pushed to fast-forward the relationship, but you also get an extended ‘honey moon’ period. It is like you are on a ‘relationship holiday’ if you are backpacking – in the sense that you both have no responsibilities, you can just go off together and explore and have fun. This in turn can be difficult, that little voice in the back of your head is always there; ‘would we work in the real world’, ‘am I just falling for this person because of the beautiful sunset we are watching?’
Unfortunately for me, my ‘love on the road’ hasn’t really worked out too well so far! Even though I have had a few relationships and short term flings along the way, nothing has really become of them, and in the end travel has won over love. If you are travelling longterm, it is inevitable that you will have to compromise something, whether that means staying where you are for a while, or doing long distance, in-between trips. However some couples do manage to make it work and fall in love while travelling. So if you are on the road reading this now, maybe Mr right is just around the next hostel door.
Dara and Sherif. www.thetravellerscookbook.com
I had been travelling for about two years straight when I first met Sherif on a street corner in Cairo. A few friends and I were driving around, picking up other friends to go to a party that night outside of Cairo. Sherif was one of those people we picked up.
When I first met him, I hated him. He wasn’t like all of the other Egyptians I had been meeting. They were all welcoming, engaging, and friendly. Sherif was withdrawn, quiet, and never smiled. I decided pretty quickly that I didn’t like him.
So it was only natural that we would eventually get in a relationship, after a trip to the beach in the South Sinai and many night-talks in Cairo. The more we began to open up to each other, the closer we got. But we had something looming in front of us: within three months I would be moving to South Sudan for my job.
So Sherif and I continued timidly. We spent weekends together and shyly discussed the possibility of me returning to Cairo after my six months in South Sudan. Slowly, I began to dread going there: I was no longer interested in a career in development and I was desperately ready to stay put in one place after a few years on the road. And, Sherif.
But Egyptian men do not have a good reputation. Relations between Egyptians and foreigners are often riddled with cultural misunderstandings, jealously, and eventually contempt. I knew in my heart that I was going to South Sudan out of fear of “not being that girl”. Not because I actually wanted to go there and continue my career.
With less than a month to go before I moved to South Sudan, Sherif and I went to the beach for a long weekend, a goodbye of sorts. We talked and drank. I drank a lot and broke down: I didn’t want to go, I told him. I wanted to stay. The next morning we took a bus to Cairo and I quit my job on the spot. We returned to Dahab for two months before moving back to Cairo, where we are still based.
I put my travels on pause and changed my career for life and love in Cairo. A year later, I know I made the right decision and I couldn’t be happier. Currently, I am a Kindergarten Teacher during the day, and a freelance writer by night. I have never regretted my decision to not go to South Sudan. It took half the world to find you, but I am so happy to see the rest of it with you by my side.
You can follow Dara’s travels through her Twitter.
Karen and Jacob. www.wanderlustingk.com
I first met my Jacob in graduate school and we instantly bonded over our love of travel. We made plans (as friends) to meet up and travel together in Italy, where he was moving for the summer and I was visiting the upcoming summer. In the course of planning this trip, we emailed every day (3 pages!) and I had a little inkling that he felt the same way, but chose not to mention it. Once we were in Venice, we had so much fun getting lost in the maze of streets and getting to know each other very intensely that we ended up discussing our apparently mutual crush after a great dinner with our host. However, we were both uncertain if this thing existed outside of the vacuum of our fantastic time together while abroad, but we did the best to enjoy our time together and wait to see what would happen when we were both back in our real lives after he returned from Italy. Both of us were unsure, but after spending the rest of the fall together, it was clear that this relationship was real.
Less than a year after we began dating, Jacob went on the job market around the same time that I was also getting ready for the job market elsewhere. He got an offer for a fantastic opportunity in Amsterdam. He accepted it and asked me if I would come with him. It was a hard decision (laid out in one of my posts) as it would mean moving abroad with no solid job prospects lined up and a cat. As I was just getting on the job market, I was preparing for a cross-country move to Chicago, Seattle, or San Francisco to find a good job for myself, but I wondered what would happen to our relationship if I didn’t go.
This was almost seven months ago and now we live in Amsterdam with our cat (note the emphasis). I was very lucky in finding a job that was a fantastic fit for me in terms of my skills, but I admit, I was terrified about the possibility of us breaking up, not liking expat life, and not being able to find anything suited to me in Amsterdam for a long while. I’m admittedly a worrier who enjoys being independent, but it’s been almost two years since that first trip to Venice. Since then, we’ve had misadventures together in Iceland, Israel, Jordan, Spain, Italy (again!), Belgium, and the Netherlands with many more trips planned together.
In sum, was it worth the leap? Hell yes, but choosing love, travel, and uncertainty over the comfort of finding a steady job in the United States was not an easy decision for someone who is planner at heart. As any expat can tell you, moving abroad is really difficult as you lose your core network, ability to see your family/friends in person, but it is rewarding in a very different way.
If these ladies are anything to go by, you can have love and travel. It is hard to put yourself out there and let your guard down for a relationship, especially if it means changing your plans; but is it worse to always wonder what if? Sometimes you just have to go for it and jump right in. Buy a plane ticket, get a tan, fall in love and never return.