No one goes travelling to look for love – we go abroad for more complex reasons. Some want to find themselves, discover how to get more out of life, or simply experience this beautiful world with the limited time we have on it. And after our travels, we may be recognisable from the outside, but under the tan lines, dirty feet and messy hair, dwells a transformed inner self. If we travel long enough and pay attention, somewhere along the way between the motorbike ride, hidden beaches and starry nights, we change. And when we do return home, we bring with us with new values, perspectives and standards. And more often than not, what has changed most is the heart.
Falling for someone whilst on the road is as common as Pad Thai in Bangkok. But dating abroad is different from how it ever was at home. The normal things don’t matter here. You can’t measure success by achievement of the traditional goals such as a having a steady job, house, car, diamond ring or 2.5 kids. We don’t fall for each other whilst discussing the university we went to, what kind of family we came from or what job we had before buying that plane ticket. Chances are good that we aren’t from the same time zone, let alone country. We don’t need to know each other for years, meet the parents and friends back home or speak the same language to fall head over heels.
“Falling for someone whilst on the road is as common as Pad Thai in Bangkok.”
Falling in love in another country is fast, intense and completely terrifying. We dream big, go on adventures, shirk responsibility, flirt with danger and enjoy the rush of the unknown. We only get closer while hopelessly lost, and feel a deep sense of satisfaction and pride when we find our way back again. We become masters at living in the moment, feeling the wind whip through our hair, the sun bake our skin, not knowing what tomorrow, next week, next month or next year will bring. And for a time, that’s ok. After all, we didn’t come here looking for love.
But the greatest risk of being abroad is not whether or not you will find love, rather what you are willing to do once you’ve found it. It will make you feel crazy for suddenly wanting to learn another language, taking more selfies than necessary and keep odd hours clinging to a screen. It will make you dream of quitting a career that once held meaning and purpose to explore this great big world together. It will force you to explain over and over again to confused friends and family how and why it doesn’t matter what happens in the future because all you know is that you are insanely happy now.
Perhaps best of all, sharing your heart on the road makes you realise how lucky we are to live in a world with truly endless possibilities. Loving abroad is one of the most optimistic things we can ever do.