The Travel Romance is just one part of the 7 Worst Guys an Expat Can Date. I have been avoiding writing this section for the better part of 3 years because the first one really and truly shook me to my core. While I’ve moved on, I still haven’t quite recovered. I’ve realized, however, that there’s a difference between a Travel Romance and Travel Love. Travel Love has potential. It makes you want to work for, nay, fight for something intangible. It sweeps you off your feet and keeps you dangling – waiting for the other shoe (er – you, in this case) to be dropped.
This one shouldn’t be avoided altogether, but you must know upon entry that your risk of heartbreak is about 90%. Meeting in vacation mode gives you the opportunity to live without the stress of work and other responsibilities at home. You are at your peak around one another. You’re consumed by the bliss of being in a new place with exciting adventures at every turn. Give in to the Travel Love, just don’t give away your heart completely. It will fly away to the other side of the planet to taunt you with ransom letters every time your time-zones allow you to connect.
Travel Romance, on the other hand, is fleeting. It’s a fling on the road never designed to be permanent. It has a mutually communicated date of expiration. Feelings might evolve, but you have perspective. It’s a paragraph; not a chapter.
I genuinely don’t understand the mating rituals of singles in Toronto. On vacation, with just a lingering gaze and a tentative wave, you’ve got the opening to conversation which could lead to a night of passion or following your newfound bliss across the country. Here in Canada, even at a designated “meet market”, all you’ll find are raggedy men glued to their phones or yelling about real estate.
My first Travel Romance after starting The Toronto Seoulcialite was in Shanghai back in 2015. It was my first truly solo trip, and I was shaking in my boots waiting for take-off. When I approached the hostel (with a printed out map and walking instructions – no SIM card), I was tired and nervous and wasn’t sure if I should venture out or wait until daylight broke. As I walked to the lobby a voice called out; “We’ve been waiting for you!”
It turns out he was from California, was staying at my hostel, had spent the last 5 years learning Mandarin, and had had a series of seizures in Beijing. He wasn’t sure if his health was up to finishing his months-long trip and hadn’t made any plans for Shanghai. I, on the other hand, had planned my trip down to the minute. We met up the next day and ventured around the city. It was nice to have a flirty new friend with whom to wander. People assumed we were married, and we didn’t correct them.
The charade was all too pleasant. We walked all over for two days and the extent of our physical relationship was a bit of hand-holding and a tender kiss on my forehead. It was better than traveling solo. Better still than traveling with certain women. An intense flicker of chemistry with a well-established expiration. I was hooked.
After my little taste of Travel Romance I dove well into the deep-end with Adonis. After him, I thought I’d never fully let my heart go again. Then, I met an American (ex-Co-P) who confirmed it. I’ve never been as happy with anyone as I was when we were wandering through the dusty back roads of Phuket with a snaggle-tooth pup in tow. Since ex-Co-P, there’s been the Gentle Brummie in Seoul, the Tazzie with Trust Issues in Bali, Mr. Non-Monogamy in Toronto (who I met when home felt like a real trip), and the Dutchman in Hoi An. He cooked for me and I reworked his resume. We’re still talking, but that’s just for fun. That’s the key to a successful Travel Romance: make it all about fun in the moment.