I was familiar with the trip relationship concept long before one of my fellow travelers told me about his “bus girlfriend,” or the girl he hooked up with while on BusAbout‘s Eastern Trekker tour. It made perfect sense: enjoy each others’ company for a week or two, then at the end of the trip, promise to add him or her on Facebook and say your goodbyes. No muss, no fuss. Although “relationship” doesn’t seem to be the right term for it. It’s not quite that serious, but not quite as casual as just a hookup. So what happens when you just can’t say goodbye? I’ve been reading a lot of blog posts about this topic lately (see the bottom of the post for the full listing), mostly about not taking them too seriously, but I want to know what to do if you want to make the transition from trip to real world, living, breathing relationship. I don’t know the answer myself and trying to figure out such a transition, so I asked some of my fellow bloggers for advice.
I first sought out the advice of Andi Perullo of My Beautiful Adventures, who I knew had traveled extensively and met a man or two along the way. When I sat down with her, I already knew the answer to the questions I would ask her. She was smiling brighter than her gorgeous engagement ring, which she received from a special someone she met while traveling in Argentina. Obviously, she is on the success story side of the spectrum. Along with the basics of long distance relationships, her best advice was to make visits as close to reality as possible. This means being domestic, cooking dinner, doing laundry, so that you have a better idea of what real life with this person would be like, rather than what it was like to travel with them. There’s nothing worse than that moment you realize your routine as a couple on the road doesn’t prepare you for the less exciting chores of everyday life.
Kristin Luna of Camels and Chocolate is another example of a travel love gone true love. She and her fellow globetrotting hubby met while studying in The Netherlands before beginning their on and off relationship.
Of course, it’s not all rainbows and smiley faces, amazing sunsets on a Makarska beach and strolling arm and arm down the cobblestones. There’s still that large percentage that doesn’t work.
Stephanie of 20-Something Travel met a cute Brit when working in London, who she dated for her six-month stay there and through trips throughout Europe and the US before deciding that neither wanted to do the long-distance relationship thing. But that hasn’t kept her from believing that trip relationships can work. Her advice to making it last is the same of any relationship: realistic expectations and good communication.
So we can’t all be Elizabeth Gilbert. Maybe traveling won’t lead us to our great love (or a convenient ending to our novels). But even if it doesn’t, there’s no harm in finding out while we’re still young and stupid.
For further reading:
- “6 Things You Should and Shouldn’t Do During a Backpacking Romance,” Art of Backpacking- Teresa Gotay said something really important in this article: “Just because your real homes may be continents away doesn’t mean you should shut down the opportunity at a potential future.”
- “Love and Romance on the Road,” Nomadic Matt- Matt takes the approach that trip relationships are inevitable, but you shouldn’t have too many expectations about them. He says he has met couples who met on the road and got married and others that fizzled out, but it’s like the famous line from He’s Just Not That Into You: “They’re the exceptions, not the rules.”
- “A How-To on International Relations,” Drifting Focus- This one is a guest post by Sonja Enghahl, but is on the success story side of it. What do you do once it works out and you now have to deal with your cultural differences? Sonja tells you to learn to love soccer, among other things.
- “Love in the Time of Matador: The Easy Answer That’s Hard to Accept,” Matador Network- Contributor Gabriela Garcia unpacks what to do when you and your partner’s lives are literally headed in different directions.
- “International Relationships: Does Someone Always Lose?” Brooke vs. The World- Brooke knows first hand the allure of Aussies. She dropped everything to move in with her trip boyfriend and has had to adapt to the cultural differences, as well as the pain-in-the-ass visa process.
- “Seven Reasons to Have a Foreign Fling,” by Terry Ward on Worldhum- She makes some valid points. My favorite was that you’re forced to communicate more clearly and fairly.