Why We Fall For Travelers

Monday, March 03, 2014

"If travel is like love, it is, in the end, mostly because it's a heightened state of awareness, in which we are mindful, receptive, undimmed by familiarity and ready to be transformed. That is why the best trips, like the best love affairs, never really end."    ~Pico Iyer

I'm sitting outside a wooden hut overlooking the river. I hear nothing but the sound of running water. The sun is slowly sinking behind the mountains. Still there. Still there. And in the next moment, gone.

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I am alone. 

My thoughts drift back to 2013- the year I decided to be alone. I left the city for the sea to focus on my passions: travel and surfing. I spent a lot of time learning to love my own company. I became more conscious of my thoughts and paid more attention to my well-being. It was a chance to really look into myself and my journey and where I was headed. 

But in the middle of that year, it happened. I met someone.

Just when I was starting to feel comfortable being alone, someone made me feel less alone.

It started innocently like most exciting adventures: a night bus ride to the beach. The temperature was freezing and we lay huddled under our blankets, waiting, wondering, our shoulders touching in the dark.

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We surfed until our faces turned bright red. We rode in cramped tricycles. We trekked to a nearby waterfall. We swam in the ocean. Our time together was short but we did not even stop to think about how brief it really was. No one really begins something with the end in mind.

We barely had an entire day to ourselves. But one day was enough.

I took him to the bus station, braving a smile. I wanted his last image of me to be a happy one. We took a final photo and he was off. Off to another country, another life.

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It happens all the time. People falling for each other while traveling. It's inevitable.

You take a new place, 2 people coming from totally different backgrounds and they're bound to feel some kind of intimacy. As though they were the only people on earth who witnessed something so remarkable. And it could be as trivial as watching the rain fall while stranded in a temple in Bagan or getting lost in the maze of subways in downtown Manhattan. It could be riding a motorbike in the countryside of Pai or jumping off a cliff in Lombok.

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You experience something like love, or close to it- like coming alive. When you encounter something so novel and sublime, isn't the most human reaction the desire to share it? To reach out, grab someone's arm and say "Isn't that something else?".

When you meet people from other places, whether you are traveling or not, it always feels mysterious and special. There’s an element of escapism that you both share. Through that person, you are traveling somewhere new, experiencing a different culture and hearing fantastic stories. And just like any two-way transaction, you are both transported.

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Photo Credit: Michael Mariano

No one expects it to happen, but everyone wants it to happen to them.

Isn't the idea of sitting beside a handsome stranger  on a long haul flight on everyone's fantasy? And what about getting off a train with a beautiful woman to spend the night in a European town? Don't tell me it hasn't crossed your mind?

For those who are lucky, or unlucky enough to fall for a traveler, we all know it comes with a price.

We soon discover that airports are either the happiest or saddest places on earth. We become so important to some, but for most, we are just passing through. We become experts at departures and masters at the art of saying goodbye.

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There's good reason why travelers are always looking at the sunset. It's a bittersweet metaphor for something so blindingly beautiful, but lasts only for the briefest of moments. You blink and it's gone.

The nomadic life can force us to build walls to protect ourselves. Sometimes it's the only way to keep going, keep moving forward. We can't afford to get sidetracked from our journey by just one individual. We discover that we cannot be reckless with our hearts or that of others.

Call it cowardice. Call it independence. Call it self-preservation.

But why, despite the consequences, do we still find ourselves in tangled relationships that often entail 36-hour flights, costly international calls and buckets of rum?


Is it for the thrill? Are we so addicted to adrenaline? Or are we just masochists?

My thoughts are interrupted by the familiar sound of a motorcycle engine. It's already dark but I could hear his footsteps on the grass leading to our hut. His hair is tousled and he looked tired from the day's ride. But his eyes lit up as he flashed me a smile that says "I'm home".

Perhaps it's because everyone we have met along the way has somehow contributed to the person we have become. And it doesn't matter if we spent an hour with them or a small lifetime. They leave their mark on us and we are forever changed. There are people who come into our lives at a specific time and place and never stay. And there are others who come back and never want to leave.

My wish for you is that you stay open. That you allow yourself to follow your impulse, to be pulled into the unknown. That you let your solitude merge with another's.

I hope you find a love worth crossing oceans for.

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Have you ever fallen for a traveler? Share you story in the comments section!

Lois is the Editor-in-Chief of the female travel blog wearesolesisters.com. When she's not having adventures around the globe, she can be found surfing, surfing someone's couch or giving motivational workshops and retreats.

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13 sole trails

  1. So much feels and I love it! Beautifully written, Lois!

  2. so beautiful lois, I can still remember that feeling of rubbing shoulders... It is soooo similar to my experience, it started with a bus ride going to Bicol, rubbing shoulders.. hahahah and we just celebrated our 4 yrs. together yesterday. good luck Lois! :)

  3. You never know when love will strike, and is most likely when you least expect it. I really enjoyed reading this post, I felt as if you were taking word out of my mouth. Thanks for sharing. I recently have also posted about LOVE. "What are the chances of finding love abroad" A bit along your lines. Enjoy and love.


  4. Great post Lois! I met also someone just recently on an island in Thailand. We spent only a few days together but it was so special for both of us we keep in touch and hopefully are going to meet again soon :)

  5. Thanks for writing that thoughtful comment Upper! Coming from a writer such as yourself, that really means a lot to me.

  6. Hey Chatty! Long time! Thanks for sharing your story here. So nice to know yours had a happy ending. May your love always stay strong and may you have many wonderful adventures together!

  7. Hey there Aga, how are you hot toddies? Glad you could relate to this one. And thanks for sharing your post too! My favorite lines were:

    "Eventually though, when you travel enough, you might come across a different kind of buzz. When the radar is on and the frequencies align, you might attract someone alike. What do I mean by alike? Floating in the same boat. When the road is open, yet your speed is the same. When the direction is positive, seeking the same."

    You really said it like it is. Sometimes we meet someone who travels like us and make that move to align their journeys with ours. It doesn't easily happen. But one can always hope, right?

  8. I hope it works out for both of you Lubo! Would love to know how the story goes. Thanks for sharing!

  9. 'There's good reason why travelers are always looking at the sunset. It's a bittersweet metaphor for something so blindingly beautiful, but lasts only for the briefest of moments. You blink and it's gone.'

    As if like you just translate something strange in how i feel about sunet into something beautiful. Thanks for making my day.

  10. If you don't open yourself even to the idea of a summer love or a love that has an expiration date, how would you find that reclusive love? Or the love worth relocating for?

  11. love your blog and your style of writing. i hope i can make my blog like this in the future :)


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