Why Your Holiday Fling Isn’t Doomed to Fail
When you fall for someone while travelling, there are a hundred reasons why the relationship won’t work. One hundred and one, if you count the unlikelihood of success when bringing two people together under the terms of monogamy, honest communication and emotional support. So, this is a shout out to everyone (including the self- appointed relationship expert from the bar in Vientiane who said it would never last) that with lots of patience, money and dedication, your travel romance just might stand a chance.
Mine started with all the trappings of a classic modern-day love story. Two people meet in the common area of a hostel, get blackout drunk, share a bed in a dorm room and wake up with plans to never see each other again. Unfortunately for me, the idiot I met missed his morning bus and we ended up spending the entirety of the following day together.
And what a difference that day made – I was given the opportunity to learn I actually liked this person. He told me he was embarrassed for us to spend the night in his dorm bed because he hadn’t made it up, but was relieved when he saw I hadn’t made mine either. He thought watching Letters from Iwo Jima for the sake of staying cultural while hung over in Japan was acceptable. He let me pick all of our meals. When he managed to make his bus at the end of the day, I didn’t want it to be the end of our knowing each other.
We made plans to meet up in Vietnam in two weeks’ time. A reunion that resulted in us booking a hotel room in Ho Chi Minh together and me walking barefoot to the hostel I had originally booked the next morning because someone had stolen my shoes. This night led to months of traveling and getting to know each other at an accelerated rate. Still, when we parted ways, me to California and him to England, I was realistic about the situation and figured that that was the end of it.
Our everyday Skype sessions eventually wore me down and I made the decision to fully engage in the relationship. I booked a flight to England and we began to make monthly trips back and forth. For obvious reasons, this wasn’t sustainable, and we started looking into him moving to California, followed by me moving to England (I was not passionate about this because I can’t imagine living in a place where it rains 90 per cent of the year), hitting multiple dead ends.
Unless you’re a highly skilled worker in a desired industry or plan to wed, your hopes of getting a work visa in either country are nearly impossible. The only real option seemed to be getting married, and at six months in, neither of us were ready for this.
After some deliberation, we decided to move to Melbourne, Australia, a place where English was the word and you can easily get a work visa (so long as you’re from a predominantly white nation). I also had a friend living there who offered to help us get on our feet.
Even with this working in our favour though, our time there got off to a rough start. Straight off the bat, an acquaintance told me no one would like me the second I started speaking because people hated Americans (which needed no pointing out, as I’m well aware of the reputation Americans have on the rest of the world).
This made me self-conscious about every social interaction I took part in. I applied for job after job and heard nothing back. I fumed internally from the couch I was affixed to anytime I saw a friend back home advancing their career. There were months at a time when sweatpants were my main choice of wardrobe, as I barely left the apartment – Australia didn’t even have Netflix then, so what a way to add to my misery. On top of everything, I blamed my partner for putting me in this situation and our relationship suffered along with my perspective on life.
Thankfully for everyone involved, this rough patch passed and Melbourne started to feel like home. We built genuine relationships with friends and I got a job I enjoyed. Our fighting decreased to a reasonable amount and we started to appreciate each other’s company again.
We stuck around for three years, before making the decision to jump in and get married so we could move to California. With lots of visa business behind us and still more to look forward to in the upcoming year, we arrived in my home town, where we currently reside today.
I’m not going to lie: this relationship has been challenging. Being with someone from a different country comes with a magnitude of immigration considerations, plus an added pressure on every move you make. But let’s face it, all relationships have their challenges. So, while you may be hesitant to give it a proper go with the random person you hooked up with in Barcelona (Santorini, Tel Aviv, Paris), this is my story about a relationship that two people have managed to make work this far, when no one, including me, thought it would.
Cover by Tord Sollie