Photo: William Perugini/Shutterstock

Hostel Love: Why Relationships on the Road Never Last

by Adena Harford Nov 16, 2007

Traveling opens us; opens our eyes, our minds, our hearts and our souls. When on the road, we want every experience to jump inside us, and perhaps even change us. This is one of the most addicting aspects of travel.

It becomes very easy to meet other people who are just as open and excited about the world as you are. This openness easily facilitates very genuine, romantic relationships to form between travelers.

I began my year of traveling just out of a three-year relationship, not looking for love by any means. As it always seems to happen, love finds you, no matter the corner of the earth you fly to. Love for this American girl came in a 6’4″ Australian-accented package. I came into the relationship with no expectations or judgments (the best way to look at life, if I may say so).

This hostel fling actually turned into a series of ‘convenient’ meetings for about eight months, and across two continents. Elizabeth Gilbert, eat your heart out.

Dating while traveling should be a prerequisite for marriage. Close connections are created more quickly and it’s easier to become quite intimate when you spend 24/7 with someone.

You learn about a person in a different style than when dating. In two weeks, you have most likely seen this person naked, and how they brush their teeth, cry, fart, argue, and (in my experience, I mean we’re talking India here) converse about bowel movements. And most likely they have seen the same of you.

Yet loneliness often comes hand in hand with the title ‘traveler.’

Love and Loss?

As anticipated, we went our separate ways. Though we were good at keeping in touch, and lucky to be in similar countries/regions so we could meet up and share more travels with one another, after a while I realized how impossible it is to convey genuine feelings through email. Besides the digital facts, love has a hard time with distance.

Distance: perhaps something we travelers have a love affair with in itself. But what to do with these love affairs we have on the road, out there?

To return from whence we came is usually unavoidable. Being passionate people, just because we have experiences away from our ‘real home,’ it doesn’t make them any less real. Just like the souvenirs for our little brothers and CD-R’s full of digital photographs, we want to bring what we can back with us.

If you can get beyond the sheer romantic implications of love on the road, is it possible to incorporate this person into your life at home?

It’s an avoidance of a certain post-partum depression.

If you can get beyond the sheer romantic implications of love on the road and perhaps convince some best friends or family members of it’s genuine-ness, is it possible to incorporate this person into your life at home?

While out there, sometimes it’s hard to imagine you are on the same earth that you left behind. Upon returning, there is an even stronger desire to connect with where you have released so much energy in the past few months; to share everything about your home with this other person.

Sending emails every few days, pictures of your home and friends, isn’t the same as cuddling in a beach shack in Goa. To keep the flame alive you have to continually live inside memories. When this happens, your energy is not centered, and reality can become confusing when there is too much attachment.

Learning to Let Go

The experiences you take from your on-the-road love affairs can help you take yourself a bit less seriously. Openness and detachment is always the best recipe.

Once you start denying yourself experiences at home, that’s when it’s time to realize maybe expending that energy isn’t worth it. Most likely, the other person wouldn’t want you to hindering yourself either, because that’s just not a traveling personality.

Perhaps we really need to learn the lesson that life is situational. By no means do I belittle these kind of relationships; I think they are some of the best ways to learn about yourself, and the nature of humans and love.

And truthfully, who knows? If I’ve learned anything from our unpredictable world, it’s to never count out any possibility. We are only in control of so much, like how many plane tickets we can purchase, and how many emotional emails we can send.

The only solution is to stop worrying and truly leave some decisions in the hands of the fates. I met my lover in Darjeeling, Goa, Italy and London…there’s always Bali.

Adena Harford is a freelance writer currently living in Brooklyn, NY. She spent the last year traveling throughout India and Europe, so she has acquired a deep well of stories. During her free time she practices yoga, writes poetry, and dreams about being on the road again.

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