Having a fling on the road can be one of the most exciting, thrilling, and downright eye-opening experiences of your life. Traveling allows people to open themselves and be vulnerable in a very short span of time. One day can seem like one month in the spectrum of time during travel. Combine this with reduced inhibitions, and you have a recipe for quick love.
However, these brief travel relationships can also be slightly cringe-worthy. The thing is, sometimes you really don’t know anything about the people you are spending your days with while traveling. This can be a magical, beautiful thing, but it naturally lends itself to some misunderstandings.
When it comes to dating/flings/relationships on the road, I have had quite a few. Some have been magical, some have been silly, and some have been downright weird and creepy. I’ll share three of the most memorable with you today.
(Mom, please just exit your browser now and click away.)
Flings and Mishaps on The Road
The Murphy’s Law Guy (Or The Fling That Went Bad)
I met this guy at a jazz bar in Phnom Penh. He was exactly my type- bearded, flannel-wearing, and passionate about travel. We ended up bonding that night over our mutual interests and desire to live abroad.
The three days we spent together were magical, and we ended up booking a hotel in advance for Songkran Festival in Thailand.
What could go wrong?
Well, first, I got food poisoning. The kind of epic, debilitating food poisoning that you never want anyone you are dating to see or hear.
Then, he got food poisoning.
At that point, it was obvious we both wanted some time alone, but we had already booked this damn hotel.
It seemed impossible for our luck to get any worse, but it did. We got stuck in a monsoon on a longtail boat and were trapped on the ocean for hours.
After that, I ended up sitting on my curling iron and severely burning my ass. Cut to it being 2 o’clock in the morning, me bawling, and him patiently bandaging up my ass, which had been entirely burned by my own stupidity. Read more on that lovely tale here.
We had to endure a 10 hour bus ride the next day so we could make it to Songkran, and by that time we were so sick of each other and fighting like an old married couple. When we finally arrived, I told him I really wanted some comfort food such as a bagel. He looked at me in utter disgust and was like “Really, Kaitlyn? We are in Asia. Why do you want a goddamn bagel?”
We ended up both losing our shit and pointing out everything about the other person that we didn’t like. It was like that episode of Black Mirror where they are finally so happy to speak the truth that they just screamed ‘FUCK YOU!’ while smiling their asses off.
Needless to say, we parted ways. Not my proudest moment.
The Dead Girlfriend Guy (The Mishap of Epic Proportions)
I’ll preface this one first. This was not an actual fling, much to this guys’ dismay. But, it’s too creepy not to include. I had just arrived in the small Cambodian town, Kampot. I was already feeling flustered, as our bus had broken down on the drive and I had spent the past 10 hours sweating on the side of the road waiting for the driver to fix the engine. When we arrived in Kampot, it was pretty late. I was so ready to have a shower and a relaxing night in.
However, the universe had other plans for me.
I asked a motorcycle driver to take me to Bodhi Villa, which was supposed to be a backpackers paradise. He claimed to not know where it was and took me took his friends guesthouse instead. I knew this was a scam, but I was so tired at that point I didn’t care. When we arrived at his friends (extremely rural) hostel, I was greeted by a short, skinny little Cambodian man who showed me to my room.
He was giving off slightly creepy vibes, but I ignored it and told him goodnight. About 10 minutes later, I heard a light tapping on my door. I wanted to claim ignorance and pretend I wasn’t there, but to my knowledge, I was the only other guest and I was obviously in the room.
I opened the door and saw him standing there with two beer bottles. He asked me if I would have a quick drink with him, and I didn’t want be rude, so I said yes.
Lesson Learned: Women need to stop giving a shit about appearing rude to men who are making them uncomfortable.
Our conversation started out innocently enough, but then he started asking me about if I had a boyfriend. I told him that I did (I didn’t), and then he asked my birthday. When I told him, he looked at me with this weird little grin and said,
“That’s my dead girlfriends birthday.”
When I asked him what happened, all he responded was, “Accident.”
I tried to act normal, but in my head I was envisioning my nearest escape route and thinking how I needed to get the hell out of there.
He kept going on and on, saying that I had his dead girlfriends ‘aura’, and how he knew from the minute I came in that there was something special about me.
Before I could say anything, he had a fistful of my hair and was stroking it, citing that my hair even felt like his dead girlfriends’ hair. I yanked my head away and nervously laughed, envisioning him wearing my hair as wig.
I finally managed to claim exhaustion and retire to my room. Before I left, he made me promise that I would come on his motorbike with him to the river in the morning.
Having no plans of ending up floating with the fish in the river, I set a booby trap on my door and stayed awake all night listening for the sounds of his creepy little footsteps.
I woke up at five in the morning, left some money on the end table, and ended up sneaking out the backdoor of the guesthouse. I was legit running to the nearest bus station, jumping over bushes with my giant pack like goddamn Rambo.
Thinking I was maybe being dramatic, I was still taking no chances.
Although I would like to say I was overreacting, but as the bus was pulling away, I see Dead Girlfriend guy running down the street looking for me. I managed to crouch down on the bus. My last sight of him was him kicking the curb angrily.
Creepy af, right??!
The First (The Romance)
They say your first love is always the most thrilling kind of love. The same goes for your first travel fling. I was nearing the end of my first backpacking trip, and was feeling slightly homesick. Having spent the past 2 days by myself, I was ready to be around people. It was off-season in Thailand and there weren’t many backpackers on the island I was on. I decided to hop over to a more touristy island, Koh Samui, and I checked myself into a hostel in the center of town.
From the moment I walked into the room and saw him sitting on my bunk bed, I knew I would fall for him. We ended up spending the next two weeks together, talking about things that I normally wouldn’t have told even my closest friends. We zipped around the island on motorbikes, laughed over street noodles, and curled up on long bus rides. It literally could have been a music video for a travel fling. Cue to us lying on the beach and listening to reggae, skinny dipping with phosphorescent plankton, and lounging around in our private bungalow.
It was the most magical ending to a trip I could think of, and I when I said goodbye I actually cried. It was time for me to fly home and for him to go to Laos, and when I got back to my hostel after I had left I realized he left me a sweet note under my door with a gift.
I still have that note, and I will remember that two weeks forever. It was the kind of fling that we both knew couldn’t last, but we both desperately wanted to. That’s part of the sadness and beauty of travel relationships, I suppose.
It’s all temporary.
But, isn’t everything?
There is a certain magic to the transient quality of travel relationships. You never get to the point where you’re annoyed with little shit the person does. You don’t start picking apart their bad habits (unless you both get food poisoning and end up hating each other).
It may be a haze of infatuation, and it may be entirely unrealistic.
However, that doesn’t make it any less incredible.
Or scary and terrible, depending on if the love is reciprocated or not.
Have you ever had a travel fling? Was it magical or downright terrible?