Destination Relationships: A Traveler’s Bittersweet Souvenir

While studying in Barcelona, Richard lent Kelly a pen, not knowing that two weeks later he would be moving to Tokyo with his future wife. Her leather jacket got stolen later that night and from her careless shoulder shrug, Richard thought, “Look at how she deals with stress, that’s the girl for me.”

The romantic story of how my aunt and uncle met abroad and continued to travel, learn, and live together was satisfaction for the inner hopeless romantic in me as I grew up.

I then drew inspiration from the story of self-discovery told by author Elizabeth Gilbert in her novel Eat, Pray, Love. Felipe was a Brazilian-born Australian that Elizabeth became smitten with while traveling in Bali, Indonesia — an experience she wrote about in her book.

These “destination relationships,” a term coined by blogger Nomadic Matt, prevail to be the highest form of romanticism in my mind. What could be more romantic than getting swept off of your feet while traveling in a foreign place?

Gilbert says she longs for a fairy-tale beginning, while many others are enraptured by quintessential Disney fairy-tale endings.

In an interview, Gilbert said, “I think it’s wonderful when a love story begins with a great deal of romance and affection, passion and excitement, that’s how it should be.”

It seems logical that the aforementioned romance, passion and excitement are likely to be found whilst traveling for pleasure.

Since over 3 in 4 Canadian adults spend at least one night out of town on a trip for pleasure or vacation, the odds of meeting someone abroad seem that much higher.

The common vacation mentality is to escape the everyday. Your walls fall down, stress melts away, and suddenly you become more vulnerable to your surroundings.

While in your blissed-out travel state, you seem to be more susceptible to new and exciting things that stumble in your path.

Statistics Canada reported that about 28% of people think that discovery and learning are highly important while traveling. Discovery could mean trying a local dish, or finding someone you are compatible with in an unexpected place.

This summer I made my own discovery while studying in Buenos Aires, Argentina. I met a smart and kindhearted American at my Spanish language school, and spent my final days in Argentina exploring and unearthing all sorts of wonderful feelings I hadn’t experienced in a long time.

About a week ago, he came to visit me in Toronto, from his home in Miami, Florida.

I get a lot of questions about where we stand in our relationship, how it will move forward, or if it will work out.

“Will you do long distance?”

“Who is going to move where?”

The thing about “destination relationships” I have become so familiar with is that they are born at a time when your worries and concerns are temporarily at a standstill. I admit, I wasn’t thinking about the long-term while it was happening. The answers to those questions unfold with time, patience, and plane tickets.

I think of a certain Roland Gau quote when people wonder out loud what happens to these kinds of relationships: ‎”If at some point you don’t ask yourself, ‘What have I gotten myself into?’ then you’re not doing it right.”

Aimee O’Connor is currently a handling editor and fact checker for a Toronto-based magazine and hopes to continue to write for lifestyle magazines. Her blog, On Tourism, focuses on funny observations witnessed while working in the tourism industry and traveling around the world.

Image(s): iStock