Traveling for Love

August 16, 2014

Now, this I understood. You meet someone, they end up on the other side of the planet, you go follow them. It’s called stalking, and sometimes it works.
Headhunters on my Doorstep, J. Maarten Troost

Watch the video below and tell me what you think, for the reaction can vary from traveler to traveler. It seems romantic at face value: a young couple frustrated at being separated by the entire planet, a guy willing to book a plane ticket and surprise her, well received, kissing, happy ending, yadda yadda yadda.

I haven’t really discussed this – because it’s actually a sore point for me – but I have never had people other than family visit me in all my travels. No friends. No lovers. I’m pretty bitter about it; I’m the kind of person who would do the same for them if it seemed like they wanted a visitor. And I definitely want company now that I’m a little burnt out on solo travel.

I’m traveling through Canada at the moment, and enjoying some much needed time in the nature of the Canadian Rockies. However, when I passed through Calgary, I ran into a friend who happened to meet someone at a festival down in Nelson, then followed her back to Calgary… he’s even considering staying to pursue the relationship. Now, I don’t know her feelings on the matter, but the fact he was even received to stay with her is unknown territory for me.

Lake Louise

Dating travelers isn’t always easy, but I had assumed I would be with people who understood that crossing a border or taking a long bus ride, even a plane, wouldn’t be a grand gesture indicating a desire for marriage or necessarily something serious. Rather, it would just be me going about my business and wanting to spend more time in an area where I could get to better know someone special.

And yet, that’s never been the case. I meet people in my travels and we hit things off, but once the high is over and I suggest visiting her in her home country or even another US state, a wall goes up and I sense I’m crossing a line she doesn’t want me to cross.

Fair enough, maybe it was just a travel hookup and she doesn’t see anything else happening. That’s reasonable, but you’d think with all the people I’ve come across, at least a few would be willing to have me fly in on my own dime. This has happened only twice, but those experiences were more like blind dates; talking to people online who had read my blog and offering to visit. The reverse – meeting someone in person and then suggesting we jet off somewhere or I make plans to visit – has never happened.

In some cases, this is probably for the best. I met an awesome Canadian in Austin as she was on a travel high from New Zealand. We hit things off, and then she had to fly back to Ontario. As luck would have it, I had already planned a trip to Toronto and asked if she’d like to meet again when I passed through in a few weeks. There were excuses, which threw me off. Why, after a few days together, would you not want to get to know each other better on your home turf? Still, things happen, and I kept in touch with her for two years, suggesting visits and gradually receiving fewer and fewer replies to my Facebook messages, until this trip, which would take me right through her town en route to Vancouver.

More excuses, and essentially renouncing everything that had happened between us in Austin. I wish things could have gone better, but it’s good to know I no longer have to put in any effort to stay in touch with someone who really isn’t worth my time.

Maybe, despite my traveler’s mentality, I simply don’t attract free spirits like my Calgary friend. Maybe they’re the ones who wouldn’t think twice about hopping on a jet for a hookup or just a drink to catch up. Maybe I’ve just had bad luck in the dating world. Maybe the more time I spend with people, the more repelled they are. I have no idea.

Traveling for love, or even like, shouldn’t be considered a big deal in this modern era. Even if it is a first date between online friends or an opportunity to reconnect with someone across the globe. You’re an American traveling in Thailand. You meet an Australian at the full moon party. Fun times happen, but then the vacation comes to an end. You friend her on Facebook, get her email and Skype info. Maybe most of these experiences are travel hookups and unlikely to lead anywhere, and the exchange of contact information is just a perfunctory gesture that will result in less communication.

Though we have the means to see each other as we talk and even virtually kiss (thank you Japanese engineers), pursuing love means being there through the mundane parts of your partner’s life. Cashing in some points just to have a little more time with someone doesn’t mean you have to rush into a relationship; it means you have another opportunity to choose if this is someone with whom you want to spend your time. So please, on behalf of this writer, accept those invitations, book your own flights, and find someone who makes you happy.

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