Finding Love Abroad: This Traveler's Story
It’s 3am. Our eyes are weary yet our heads are light at this unusual time as we wander the long silent hallways together. In only a few hours’ time I have to disembark from the ship and Jonathan has to get up for work. It’s time to say goodnight. We exchange a kiss and a hug and agree to see each other in the morning before I leave, but due to circumstances outside of our control this never happens.
We’ve only known each other 10 days, yet the thought of being apart seems wildly absurd. However, the reality of the situation is this: my vacation has come to an end and I need to return home while Jonathan has to stay on the ship for the next few months to complete his work contract.
So, with a heavy heart we part ways not knowing if we’ll ever see each other again.
What happens over the next few months is a flurry of WhatsApp messages and Skype calls at all times of the day and night. There was no relationship outline for us to follow; no instructions for how to love someone half a world away whom you barely knew. Technology and the circumstances often proved difficult – dropped calls, ridiculously poor audio, and bleary-eyed video chats at 2am because of our two wildly different time zones... regardless, it just felt right.
After six months of long distance and thousands of messages later, we finally reconnected in Quebec City for three short but wonderful days, and only four weeks later I flew to Mexico to spend a month with Jonathan traveling around his home country.
We explored the cobblestone streets in San Miguel de Allende, jumped into bio-luminescent lagoons at midnight in Oaxaca, braved a nasty bought of food poisoning (me), weaved our way through the endless traffic of Mexico City, went on a traditional callejoneada, and stared into the blank eyes of naturally mummified bodies in Guanajuato.
After a month together in Mexico, Jonathan returned with me to Canada to spend four weeks backpacking around British Columbia. Our travels brought us out to the far west coast of Vancouver Island where we visited the little surfing town of Tofino, cheered on the Canucks in Vancouver, went cross-country skiing in the snowy Okanagan Valley, and spent a few days relaxing in the most amazing spa resort.
After eight weeks of not only traveling together, but building an unbreakable trust and routine between the two of us, it was almost impossible to say goodbye again. While Jonathan went back home to Mexico for minor surgery, I moved away from Vancouver back to where I spent my childhood, the Okanagan Valley.
Marked by our international travels, three cultures (German, Mexican, and Canadian), and two languages, you could say our relationship has been anything but traditional and we'd both be the first to tell you that's exactly the way we like it.
By the spring of 2017, Jonathan moved to Canada to live with me, and by April of the same year we semi-eloped (our families and close friends knew)! Now, as we settle into a new life together, we often both wonder what circumstances had to align in order for a Canadian woman and a Mexican man to meet on a cruise ship full of thousands of other people in the midst of the Caribbean.
We might not have the answers, but one thing is certain: our relationship has been, and hopefully will continue to be, shaped by our travels together.
Tips for traveling with your significant other
Between delayed flights, foreign languages, vacation budgets, and bouts of food poisoning, travel can be a wholly stressful and overwhelming experience. To avoid tempers fraying, the concept truly is simple: communicate, communicate, and communicate.
Traveling as Two, Time for One
Although it completely goes against the idea of traveling together, I’ve found spending time apart is actually the key to a harmonious relationship on the road. Unless you’re one of those couples who is constantly attached at the hip (no judgement), you’re most likely used to spending several hours or more apart when you’re at home due to your job or other commitments.
By no means am I saying you should spend 8 hours a day away from each other while you’re traveling, just devote a little bit of time to doing what you want to do on your own time, whether that’s reading a book for 15 minutes before you sleep or going for a solo walk on the beach where you can simply be in your own head.
Perhaps you want to wake up super early to beat the crowds at popular Mayan ruins while your partner dreads the idea of waking up before dawn. Traveling together is all about give and take. No two people are built exactly the same so it’s essential that you find some kind of middle ground when it comes to deciding how, when, and where you will spend your vacation time.
Small acts of kindness towards your significant other can go a long way, especially when you’re abroad. When my husband and I were traveling in Mexico City last year he was ever watchful over my belongings on one especially packed subway to ensure that nothing went missing because he knew I would be overwhelmed by the crowds.
I tried to repay the favor by keeping track of where important items were located that we needed to use every day, such as our passports and other documentation. Play to your strengths.