In a new environment, the ordinary turns extraordinary: the sights, the sounds and more than anything else, the people.
The bonds you form with others abroad are especially potent, and it can be as easy to fall for a foreigner as it is to fall for the country they come from. However, no experience you undergo leaves you entirely unscathed. Just as you are changed by a place you’ve visited long after you’ve left it, you can be helped or hurt by the relationships you form on the road.
A short lived affair can do long term damage, and there are certain things a wise woman keeps in mind when she mixes romance with travel.
When it comes to how far you want a relationship to go, only you can decide what you want and what you’ll regret. Just as you shouldn’t feel pressured to hold back by the tut-tutting of those around you, neither should you feel obligated to let anything go further than you’re absolutely comfortable with.
In both cases, however, it is very important to keep at the forefront of your mind how little you know about the people you meet in transit. While mystery is the biggest part of the heady excitement, it is also the biggest danger.
Don’t take unnecessary risks. Always use protection, even if you’re on birth control – remember that you are probably not the first woman to have met the beautiful stranger you are now talking to.
Always have someone you know close by, and always keep an eye on your drink and your wallet.
Don’t mistake excitement for emotion. A few nights of flirting does not a relationship make, and for every against-the-odds travel love story, there are innumerable broken hearts.
Keep in mind cultural differences – clichés are often rooted in truth. The Spanish and Italians are extravagant with their words, the British famously conservative and practical with their feelings and Americans are often friendlier than most people are used to.
Before you jump to conclusions on the intensity (or lack thereof) of your partner, be sure to take into account the norms of your respective homelands. Different things mean different things to different people, and it is important to be aware of what those are before becoming too invested.
Last but not least, have fun. Let your partner teach you things and be open to new experiences. Even if it’s not a long term thing, doesn’t mean it can’t have long term value.
None of this advice is to discount the notion of finding love in the most unexpected of places, which does indeed happen. It is important, however, to remember that that is the exception rather than the rule, and to keep your head on equal level with your heart. With that done, hey, there’s really no harm in striking up a conversation with your good-looking tour guide…