In 2012, Vanessa and John met on a beach in Thailand. Or, more to the point, met drunkenly at a bar in the island of Koh Tao.
John was living on Koh Tao and Vanessa was a tourist. They met, fell in love and got married last year in Paris. As cliche as it sounds, these two are perfect together and it is awe-inspiring how fate works to bring two people from opposite sides of the world to randomly meet in a bar.
While travelling, I personally find it’s too easy to meet someone to connect with. There’s no responsibilities of the real world and no conflicts that cause relationship problem. Your biggest issue is choosing what bikini to wear or where to go to dinner, not how to afford rent or work conflicts. It all happens so quickly too; people meet, change travel plans or move in together for the sake of convenience or adventure. I once asked Vanessa, who is German, what the hardest thing was about being with John, a French man, and for her it was the language. They both speak their second language, English, to each other and Vanessa actually surprised John at the wedding by learning enough French to give a speech to his family. I can’t help but have a renewed love for how relationships can be based on more than a common language.
It’s not all happy endings though. More often than not these couples meet in never-never land and when they eventually decide to leave, there are big decisions to make. Whose country do you move to or do you decide instead to try a long distance relationship? While travelling, Matt, an American, met Ida, a Swedish girl. As Ida had not been home in years, the American government wouldn’t grant her a green card as her ties to home were not strong enough. In the end they moved to Bali and kept travelling. In more cases than one, I have spoken to friends who have considered marrying just for the sake of a visa, which reinforces the spontaneous, carefree lifestyle these people adopt. Matt himself said he considered it, but realised how unrealistic it was marrying someone he had only really known a year. Romantic, yes, but sensible?
People act different while travelling compared to being in a slightly more “civilised” society. There’s less drinking at 10am in the real world and more 7am starts. Andy, an Englishman, met his long term girlfriend in Vietnam and they spent two years traveling together before moving back to England. “You realise things about each other that you never realised while you were lying on a beach,” Andy told The Newsroom. “My girlfriend, who was from Norway, turned out to be really lazy in the real world and lacked drive, I felt terrible as she’d moved to be with me but she wouldn’t leave the apartment to find a job. In retrospect it must have been really hard for her but what was a two year relationship travelling became a two month relationship in the real world, and it really was crumbling from the day she moved.”
People tend not to change when they go home, it takes some time for some to come down from their holiday mind-state. For many, travelling is done because they don’t want to responsibilities of a job and when they go back, the responsibilities are real.
But why are relationships while travelling much more successful than in the real world? Andy tells The Newsroom, “You’re left with the core of a person while travelling. There’s no additional crap, just a pure self.”
Rachel Jones, a travel blogger, went to India and met a guy who, within a week, she knew was her soul mate. “Every single one of my friends who has travelled abroad has met a guy that was so special he changed their lives for the better. Actually, a handful of the travel bloggers I follow also met their significant other while abroad.”
Samesun Backpackers, hostel and budget accommodation in Canada and the USA say on their website that, “After 18 years in the backpacking industry & hosting millions of travellers every year, Samesun has seen many love stories develop between it’s walls (and possible on it’s floors too). Let’s be honest, that’s one of the reasons people love to stay in hostels – you get the chance to meet loads of people, all high on life ready to passionately celebrate… together.” They share a heartwarming tale on their Facebook about a couple that went the distance.
So the best advice Rachel can give is this, “if you like to travel and you’re not finding someone where you live… maybe you should start looking, I don’t know… half way across the world!?”
– Benedicte Earl
Top photo from Bradley Wells’ Flickr photostream.