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Long live travel romances: open up and live in the moment

In English | 14/02/24 | Atualizado em 16/02/24 | Deixe um comentário

I arrived at the hostel in Budapest late at night, sweaty and messy-haired after hours waiting for a late bus under an overpass, a few more hours trying to sleep in a tiny bus seat and a long walk from the metro station carrying two heavy backpacks. Basically, one of the least attractive people in the universe.

After dropping off my backpacks, I went to meet the people I would volunteer with for the next two weeks. After a few hours of late-night conversation with one of them, a cute guy from India, I texted my best friend back in Brazil: “I just met someone who will either become a great friend or something more”.

The next morning, I jumped on a train with that guy whose name I had barely memorized for a day trip to two nearby towns. He had planned it with another friend, but she changed her mind and I decided to join last-minute, without even knowing where we were going.

trip from budapest

That day was so much more fun than I had expected. We were from distant countries, none of them in the continent where we met. We had different professions, and there were many cultural differences. Despite that, we both felt a connection that we hadn’t felt in a long time. From childhood adventures to inner struggles, we had so much in common it seemed like we’ve known each other for a long time.

We quickly became friends, and then it became the “something more” I had mentioned to my BFF back home. We went all around Budapest together, and even got on a bus together to spend a few days together in Slovenia. When it came the time to say goodbye, we were both sad, but also grateful for those unforgettable couple of weeks.


I honestly thought we might never meet again, and after exchanging romantic messages for a few months we decided to stay friends. Life went on, and a couple of years later, he came to my home country, Brazil. I was working like crazy and was short on money, so he traveled alone for most of the time, and we still saw each other as friends.

But as we managed to travel together to the Amazon, and on a boat ride where we spent hours crossing an impressive river while gazing a sky filled with stars, we realized there was still a spark. He then came visit me in my hometown and got to meet my friends. But his return home was quickly approaching, and after another tearful goodbye, we thought that was it.

one of my travel romances

But it turns out… it wasn’t. A few months later, I got to spend two months in India. For most of that time, we traveled together, and it was amazing to get to know such an interesting country with a local. Unfortunately, though, this last goodbye was even harder than the previous ones.

After spending a few weeks apart because I wanted to have the experience of traveling solo in India, we reunited in beautiful McLeod Ganj. It took us a whole day to get there, combining different means of transportation, and we arrived under cold and rain. The next day, we marveled at the view from our window (on the photo below), and I was super happy.


That was until I reached for my phone and read the news: the World Health Organization had just declared a global pandemic. Airports in France, where I was supposed to catch a connection flight 10 days later, were closing. In a few hours time I called the airline, paid an expensive fee, and booked a flight home for the next day.

We only had time to walk around town and have lunch, and I needed to go back to Delhi. I came back to Brazil feeling equally sad for the goodbye and happy that I was able to have so much fun before the whole pandemic nightmare begun.

Since then, so much has happened. We’re still close friends and he’s one of my favorite people in the world, and I’m glad that our connection goes far beyond any romantic involvement. Imagine if we hadn’t given ourselves the chance to live in the moment back then?

Long live travel romances

Almost everyone who travels often has their share of “travel romances”. Among my friends, there are plenty of stories. There’s the Brazilian guy who changed his route to meet an Argentinian woman who had crossed his path a few days before in Peru. The girl who went to the Atacama Desert to look for work at the suggestion of an old and ended up dating that friend and opening up their own travel agency there.

There was also the Brazilian who met a Spaniard from Bilbao while studying English in Brighton, when they both didn’t have any language in common, and ended up moving to Barcelona with him. They’re now married and she recently gave birth to a gorgeous girl.

There were many couples who stayed together until now, others who never saw each other again, some who met again and realized they had no future and others who kept in touch and became great friends.

travel romances

Of course I know that when we’re traveling everything tends to feel a bit more “magical”, the little problems of “real life” are more easily forgotten and it’s much easier to see beauty. It is also a fact that the beginning of any romance involves a lot of illusion. So this enchantment that happens on the road is often doomed to end there, finding no place in the mess of everyday life.

Still, I love how people tend to forge connections more easily when they’re traveling. Both in terms of romance and friendships – who hasn’t shared their entire life with someone they met in a hostel half an hour before?

Time is short, we’re more open to the unknown, the (metaphorical) baggage of each person is far away. Mix all this with a special connection, let it boil for a few minutes and the result can be a delicious story (yes, I’m going to use a cheap culinary metaphor).

Here comes my suggestion for an everyday menu: why not adapt this recipe to life back home as well? After all, you can very well replace the games, insecurity, and indifference that often show up when we’re dating with a handful of vulnerability and courage to give our best even if we have no guarantees.

You can throw in the trash the “I’m not going to ask you out because last time I was the one who asked you”, the “let’s not go out together for three days in a row because it looks too serious” and the “I’m going to pretend I don’t care, so I don’t look like I’m falling in love.” In return, you can add a few handfuls of eagerness, honesty and – why not? – intensity.

You can leave out useless ingredients such as the type of clothing, makeup, or lack thereof, the neighborhood where they live or their profession, and focus on what they have to share. You may not wait for ideal conditions and improvise with what is available right then and there.

Yes, there is always a chance that the recipe will go wrong, but you know what? If it works out, one night (or a handful of them) could be worth a lifetime.

Of course, everyone has their own traumas and priorities, as well as the freedom to decide when and to what extent to get involved. But any recipe easily turns sour if it is tempered by fear, attachment to the comfort zone, or external judgments.

And once again, this also applies to friendships: that person you just met at a party may seem weird if they invite you traveling to another town the next day, but what if you said yes? Or you might think someone is crazy if they start talking about life, the universe and everything else while waiting in line at the pharmacy, but what if the conversation is interesting?

What if you weren’t so busy with your same old routine to give serendipity a chance?

When we’re traveling, we usually know when we’re going back home or when our paths will separate from someone else’s, so we tend to become more aware of the importance of living in the moment. In everyday life, it is easy to fool yourself into thinking that life is infinite and that being vulnerable is shameful. Spoiler: both conceptions are wrong.

So, long live travel romances. And a hurray for those who have the courage to go all in when their heart says it might be worth it.

travel romances

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Disclosure: This isn’t a sponsored post, but I’m part of SafetyWing’s Ambassador program, which gives content creators that believe in their product some incentives to talk about the company. If you do sign up using the links on this article, I’ll get a small commission that helps me keep this blog up and running and you won’t pay anything extra. Thank you!

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