Loving Abroad: How The International Factor Changes The Game
Traveling is one of the best opportunities around for making great friends, testing the romantic waters, and growing your personal relationship with yourself. Be it a week long adventure to the Caribbean or a 3 month trek into Southeast Asia, the potential for life changing material is already there—you’ve just got to help it along. But more than that, you’ve got to take the chance.
It’s okay to go abroad for love.
There are some people who will tell you you’re crazy for picking up your life and getting out of your comfort zone just to find someone to date. But it’s not as crazy as people will make you feel for it—it’s actually a great reason to go out and travel.
When you leave your home, your comfort zone, you come out of your shell. It’s inevitable that you lose a little bit of your inhibitions and branch out a little bit. Maybe you go one a couple of dates, playing the field, and don’t commit to a person like you’re used to. Or maybe you do the opposite of that and you get to a new town, a new culture, a new dating pool and no matter how hard you try, you can’t get that one person you met at the market out of your mind and out of your vacation schedule. That’s okay! That’s alright! Everything is not going to break down because you’re making changes—and every single time that change is going to lead you down a path to somewhere new. It might not be the path you want, but onward you will go, and that’s definitely worth the risk!
Not great at conversation? Travel solves that.
I know that I’m not the best at striking up a conversation cold turkey—I much prefer to be in a group setting where I already know at least one person. It’s my tactic for bringing out the best of myself because I’ve already broken the ice with one person and it makes me feel confident I can do it again.
But in a travel setting, I feel more free to talk to strangers that I wouldn’t necessarily do at home. I don’t know if it’s the klobasa or something in the South African air, but as soon as I lift off, so do my conversation skills and it’s easy to figure out why: travel is easy to talk about. Either people have been nowhere or they’ve been everywhere, and that leaves you plenty of material to get started. Share your dream destinations, where you’re headed next, what you read about Nicaragua—not only will you peak interest but you might learn something awe inspiring as well! Or if you’re lucky, meet your next great travel buddy.
Still think you’re a little camera shy about striking a conversation with someone who speaks a different language? It’s true, things can get lost in translation, but here’s the truth: making friends, or even falling in love, is always a walk out on a limb. So you can do it along the river Seine or in the Tibetan mountains or in a Marrakech souk or you can do it at home. Either way, you’re going to know if the girl is into you, because ultimately, people are all the same and just the scenery changes.
Friendships are easy to make, and they’ll last forever.
I meet people everyday who never make friends on the road—this could be one of the worst things you could ever do. As I pointed out in #2, making friends on the road is easier than ever because travel is a great conversation starter. So if you’ve got the building blocks...what’s next?
Traveling exposes you to new things, makes you think quickly on your toes, and forces you to rely on yourself and others—and those others are very important. When you’re stranded on the road in a monsoon with your backpack in the mud and only your best travel buddy, sure the situation sucks, but it’s way better than doing all of that alone. And I promise, be it 5 minutes or 5 years from now, you’ll both be able to laugh about it later. The more life you share, the more you’ll enjoy it, and this totally applies to friendships. So while solo travel is awesome and I love it, it doesn’t beat making friends. Almost never.
Want to take a chance? Do it.
There’s a million reasons why you shouldn’t go catch the sunrise over the Mediterranean from the Sardinia coast—including wanting to stay in the bed while or just not thinking it will be all that great. For me, it’s always worth it. Same goes for taking a chance on a relationship.
I have had many instances on the road where it’s been a terrible idea to fall for someone, whether it's a time limit or a language barrier. But that never once stopped me from going down that road, and it shouldn’t for you either. As long as you’re being safe and are listening to your body and heart, all should be well. Some relationships are meant to be fleeting, and some are meant to be more. You just don't know about any of them unless you jump—the jump is the most important part.
Fall in love with a new you.
The best relationship you can grow while traveling, no matter what I’ve said before this, is first and foremost the one you have with yourself. Travel is how we test our ability to handle situations, how we learn exactly how much we need our space or how little we need our phone, what it’s like to meet new things for the first time, and what to do when we miss home most of all. Travel is the great way to grow and change and test your ability to handle your freedom and independence, or even to taste both of those thing for the first time. And ultimately, at the end of the day, the thing that will make you love travel is the way it makes you feel, and falling in love with yourself is the greatest accomplishment of all.
Connection, friendship, even love, are the kinds of things people live for, so make no excuses not to go out and chase them. Not many people look at their lives and wish they had learned more about how to master Excel, but the world could fill up it’s cities with people who never once saw the Aurora Borealis from Alaska. Our world is big, but more tangible than you think, different from one step to the next, but the same as well, and above all, far better in person than any book, movie, or picture could ever capture. So grab your heart and hold it close, everything you could imagine is out there waiting for you to discover it.
Until next time...bon voyage!