I´ve met dozens of solo traveling ladies during my adventures and every single one of them has an impressive story to tell about a nomadic love affair. In fact, running into someone you really click with while living out of a backpack has become a kind of rite of passage for solo travelers.
These bands of star crossed lovers tend to unite over a shared passion: Exciting new things.
As enchanting and impactful as they are, sadly, a lot of these mercurial relationships crack beneath the weight of regular life once the wandering ends and every day responsibilities resume.
So the question is: Can a travel fling become a real relationship?
The surprising answer is yes!
I know how crazy that must sound, given the abysmally low success rate of relationships in general, but I can tell you for a fact that it´s possible for a travel romance to last.
Because I´m married to mine.
I met my (now) husband during a 1.5 year backpacking trip around South America. At the time, I was volunteering in a charming little mountain town in Bolivia when our paths crossed in what can only be described as a beautiful stroke of fate. We met while salsa dancing (he was an instructor, one of his jobs while finishing university). A few magical dates and great conversations later and we were officially dating.
It was the classic “too good to be true” travel romance and none of my friends hesitated to tell me as much.
After I left Bolivia and spent 4 months traveling in Chile and Argentina, we did the long-distance dating thing. Then one day he asked me if I wanted to get serious. We´d fallen for each other and he asked me to be his “legit” girlfriend. So I flew back to that small town in Bolivia where we´d met to start a life together while he finished law school.
Which was not an easy decision for me to make.
I´d been a full-time wanderer for over a year and had deliberately avoided relationship hassles up to that point. I´d been thouroughly enjoying my freedom from the stationary life and work I´d left behind. I´d literally become the girl who preferred to catch flights vs. feelings.
Like most women in the modern world who reach their 30s, I´d already had a number of major life disappointments under my belt: Corporate jobs, divorce and some considerable health problems to name a few. Not to mention the absolutely mind numbing lack of excitement that goes with the standard adulthood package.
So when I fell in love rather unexpectedly on my South American journey, I really had to dust off the ol´relationship manual and do some soul searching. Regular relationships have their challenges, but turning a travel romance into something stable and dependable can be nothing short of alchemy.
And like most scientific marvels, there´s a formula for success.
It really comes down to what I call the “4 Cs” in a relationship:
It may seem obvious, but based on the many failures I´ve witnessed not only in my own experiences, but those of my contemporaries as well, a successful union really comes down to those four things.
Relationship corner stones, if you will.
Though truth be told, the “4 Cs” are hard enough to accomodate when 2 people are from the same city or country. What about when there are cultural or language barriers? What happens when you share all the same interests with a person while traveling, but realize you have a number of key differences that manifest once things become settled or serious?
Let´s be real here: Most of us are different people on the road then we are “back home”. Without the responsibilities or limitations of regular life, we morph into the ideal version of ourselves.
Which is easy to do when we take out the not-so-fun, mundane aspects of life.
These are the things that must be addressed after the sun sets on your travel fling and things get real.
And by real I mean regular AF.
The bottom line is: Relationships are straight up work and always will be. The rose glass filter on your travel romance won´t be enough to save it from the same challenges normal relationships face. Loving someone for the long haul doesn´t get easier with time. Relationships aren´t always fun, romantic, interesting or exciting. In fact, the longer you spend with someone, the more you´ll have to work to keep those initial sparks of excitement burning.
What´s worse, after all that work there´s still no guarantee of success.
This kind of grunt work certainly isn´t for everyone and there´s nothing wrong with that. However, if you decide to jump into these churning waters and take your travel romance to the next level; just know it´s 100% possible to have a long term, rewarding union with your nomadic soulmate.
Never stop communicating, even when it´s hard. Always be considerate of your partner´s feelings and be ready to make healthy compromises.
Which is inevitable if you´re from opposite sides of the earth.
If you find someone worth that much work, then hold on tight and never let em´ go! That´s exactly what I did.
Until next time, keep wandering folks.
(Professional photo credit: Kristina Diaz, follow her work @visualstoriesbyk on Instagram)