Backpack relationships

Holiday relationships. So many of us have had them right? But does the significance of them change when the holiday isn’t a holiday, but a backpack trip?

I wrote this post a day before learning that a man whom I’d had a very short backpack ‘fling’ had died, only a few days before. After returning from the trip on which I met him, we kept in touch for over a year. This June he was supposed to visit me as an add on to a family trip. A month before, he cancelled. Turns out he knew about his illness but was too stubborn to tell anyone. I dedicate this post to this man, who created memories for me that I’ll never forget…

My experience of love whilst backpacking vs holidaying couldn’t be more different. For me, holidays bring a romance you can pick up and put down. You see that person when you/they want, knowing that each individual has the option to withdraw to their own space whenever the mood may take them.
I’ve had three ‘loves’ whilst travelling. The first, a dysfunctional three weeks with an emotionally unavailable European, who I knew would inevitably lose interest as soon as our intense time was over. It did, but our friendship remained intense. Five years down the line, I’m able to count on that person for a light (or heavy) chat at the drop of a hat. It’s almost impossible to remove someone from your life after relying on them so heavily whilst travelling.
The second, possibly my soulmate? Seriously. My best friend for two years. Someone I never got tired of, despite our arguing and struggles for money, living in a tourist location during low season. The most valuable backpack experience I ever had, opening my mind to a relationship and culture I never thought I’d be interested in, and teaching me patience and unconditional love.
The third, an beautifully intense road trip with a man I met in South America for just 6 hours. These 6 hours turned into 2 years of following each others lives before the universe drew us back together. A much more spiritual and connecting trip, teaching me how precious your short time with someone can be.
hug love
Big trips saw us live out of each other’s pockets day in and day out. Using each other for body heat in cheap hostels creates an instant bond that no ‘spoon’ on the beach can compare to.
You take great comfort in knowing that, by day two, this person wants to be around you regardless of your dirty crushed ‘backpack’ clothes and lack of make up maintenance.
My weakness for backpack romance most definitely comes from a need for the ‘real me’ to be accepted unconditionally. He’s attracted to my unkempt self. He’s interested in my world outside my stifled work life. I know instantly that he enjoys ‘life on the road’ in the same way that I do.
But all trips (and great things) eventually end, right? And with that end (in my experience) comes a pain way greater than any holiday romance I encountered in my pre-backpack days.
When I took my first solo trip, I left to escape shoddy relationships, telling myself that (under no circumstances) would I let a man interfere with my trip.
Day 4 of 730 introduced me to man number one!!! My advice is to embrace it with more vigour than you’ve ever done. These ‘relationships’ have been some of the most important of my life., ringing me someone that I’d never have met in my ‘normal’ world. I met a lot of people on the road who told me they’d deliberately left places after feeling like they were getting too close to someone. Far be it for me to make a call/judgement on the decision making of their lives, but it always made me sad. The most important lesson I learned? Love is the most wonderful thing in the world. And it’s free!
All three of my ‘loves’ ended.
The romantic in me didn’t want any of them to ever stop. The first one, I know now, was for the best. The second, taught me that sometimes your culture is ingrained so deep that your lives will never fully slot together. The third, I’m still waiting for the meaning for….
Have you ever experienced love on your travels? Did you find any difficulties with relationships whilst on the road? Did travel bring you a relationship opportunity you’d never thought you’d come by? I’d love to hear your stories???

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