Travel romance is one of the most powerful forces on Earth when honed correctly, and it’s why some of us travel to begin with. Relationships are what make our lives, and so the desire to cultivate more of them is human in every respect. The challenge becomes making sure that a solo romantic getaway yields results. You don’t want to travel to Romania to explore the sexual culture of Eastern Europe and return without any stories to tell.
After all, you’ve spent all that money on your flight, taken off work and possibly dipped into your savings to endeavor out. It’s perfectly natural if you want to assure yourself a sexual excursion along the way. Here are five secrets that have always worked for me, and will at the very least, lead you in the right direction.
SET YOURSELF UP FOR SUCCESS
You’re going to have a rough time meeting anyone holed up in a hotel room. It should be no surprise that I recommend beginning your quest at a hostel, but you might be wondering if a hostel is the right fit. If you’re a hostel-hopper then you are most likely aware of the array of options you have when it comes to choosing a hostel, but for those that have never traveled solo, or haven’t checked out the marketplace yet, here are some suggestions.
First, not all hostels are for young broke travelers and hippie backpackers. The average age at a ‘party hostel’ will, of course, be younger and with that comes less of an income, but I’ve met mom and daughter duos, middle-aged British bankers, adrenaline-addicted Nordic trekkers in their fifties, retired economists in their sixties and elder Canadians sleeping in the bunk right next to me. If there’s a bar in the hostel it’s a guarantee that you won’t be getting peaceful nights of sleep.
So, depending on what you’re looking for, different hostels will serve demographics. If you’re a young and horny European looking to get wasted with North American college graduates, a party hostel suits your needs. But if you want to enjoy a book and chamomile at night without compromising your chances of meeting people, just look for a hostel further away from the city center, without a bar.
Lastly, make sure that your hostel offers private rooms. When you meet someone, you’re going to want to make sure you have some privacy to switch from a shared room to a private. Once you’ve positioned yourself in the right environment, you’re ready to start your journey.
KNOW HOW TO MEET SOMEONE IN A DIFFERENT CITY
When you arrive, invite other solo travelers to join you on a mini-adventure or local tour. When you see someone that catches your eye, ask if they’d like to join you for a day excursion, or more specifically, ask if they’d like to join you on the local walking tour of the city. No matter what city you’re in, there is always a walking tour that people swear by, and the receptionist at your hostel can make this recommendation as soon as you check in.
Walking tours are something that every traveler does when they first arrive in a new town, so the trick is to invite your travel-fling-of-choice right away when they show up. The tours are usually free with a recommended tip to your guide at the end. It’s not only the perfect opener to meet someone, but there’s also no better way to get to know a city than by doing the local walking tour. Once you’ve positioned yourself strategically and begun inviting potential companions to join you for the day, you’re well on your way.
DON’T TAKE IT TOO SERIOUSLY
There’s a nonstop supply of new travelers every single day, so keep from getting discouraged when one doesn’t fall into place. The number one mistake we all make is confusing a potential travel fling for a delicate relationship that we’re terrified might slip away. It’s not a relationship, and if it slips away, let it slip. Invest in as many potential flings as you can, talk to everyone, ignore nobody and you’re sure to find reciprocation.
If you asked the three Parisian girls you just met in your room to venture out with you and they all told you in broken English “no fucking way”, great. Calm your ego because that’s the first step in getting a yes, hearing some no’s. Or if they all said yes, fantastic. Neither answer is better than the other since you’re going to eventually find a companion, and this usually happens within the first hour of arriving since everyone is looking to get their travel started.
I met a girl in Chile once and asked her if she wanted to bike ride through the Atacama Desert within moments of us finishing breakfast together. I had never talked to her before that day. Breakfast is always the best meal to make arrangements. When you’re solo, and you’re with someone else who’s solo, we all wake up without a clue of what to do with our day. Make a suggestion immediately before she heads back to her room to change.
Invite her somewhere, anywhere. For myself, on that particular day, it was a bike ride through the Atacama Desert. I moved fast. After about ten miles into the bike ride we got to a river. It was hot and so I asked if she wanted to get in the water with me. We got in our underwear and I asked for a kiss. Why wouldn’t I? All signs pointed to yes. But she said no in a really embarrassing type of way. Don’t stumble when this happens, because it will happen sometimes.
So just take whatever you get, respect the decision and continue having fun. But when you get back to the hostel, it’s time to look elsewhere. Sometimes people are misleading, cultures are very different, we fuck it up with something we do or say or it’s just hard to get a good read on the situation. Go for it anyways, always, and if you get rejected, it’s no reason to get butt-hurt and disrupt a fun bike-ride in the desert. Once you’ve got the hang of moving past fast rejections and quick yeses, it’s time to add another ingredient to the mix.
BE BOLD, ACT FAST
That girl in Chile said no, but if she had given me the thumbs up, like the French chick I met in Argentina, there’s no time to be shy. When I was coming back from the hot springs in Mendoza and met Chloe on the side of the road waiting for the bus to take her back to town, I made sure to sit right by her on the bus ride back. Bold move number one.
Before we returned to the bus terminal, I looked at her and said loudly, in front of many people in shitty Spanish (since she spoke no English and I spoke no French), that I’d like to join her later that evening. Bold move number two. She was delighted and told me she was going out dancing with her friends since it was her last night. She was clearly interested, but even after she told me yes and gave me directions to her hostel, I knew it wasn’t enough.
I opened my WhatsApp and handed her my phone. Bold move number three. She added her contact details and at midnight I sent her a note. We ended up dancing until five and eventually I told her that either I was going to hang out with her at the pool of her hostel or I was going home alone to my bed. It was five and I was tired. Bold move number four. She said she wanted me to come back to her hostel and that’s when she really threw me off balance.
When we got to her pool, she took off her clothes in front of the hostel staff and got in the water. The pressure was on. But don’t slow down when the opportunity arises. Always make bold moves, or else you’ll regret it. On that particular night, it was obvious that I had to follow her lead into the pool, even if people were watching. It was one of the greatest moments of my life.
Remember that traveling solo is like running through the sprinkler at midnight. The path is always hidden, and you’re either having a blast running wild or you start to thinking that you might crash. That’s when all of a sudden, the fun stops and you’re checking online flights to see how expensive an immediate flight home would cost. When those moments happen, pause. Do something familiar. Draw a picture, read a book, watch Netflix on your phone, write in your journal, cook a meal, exercise, call your family, but don’t shift your travel trail too much.
This is helpful to remember whether you’re having sexual encounters every three meters or you’ve embarrassed the living shit out of yourself twice in the last hour. Always trust the path you’re already on. You’re already doing more on your own than most of the world does all year. It’s also important not to discard your relationships after sex, although, sometimes that just happens whether you like it or not. But there’s so much more to a travel fling than sex, after all, this isn’t high school spring break. Create a memory that’ll last for decades to come, maybe do something you would never do alone.
There are so many adventures that I might have never taken without the companionship of another. Paragliding had never been on my bucket list, but when the Belgian girl I met asked if I wanted to join her in Medellin and jump off a cliff, it sounded like something I had wanted to do my whole life. Keep adventuring together until you’re thoroughly exhausted. Travel flings are like incredibly long weekends with someone who knows nothing about you, doesn’t give a shit where you’ve been, what you do or how you view life. They care only about right now, today. It’s quite easy to be in love when everyday life consists of new adventures and happy endings. Character faults rarely surface when exploring new terrain.
Bad habits are hidden in breathtaking places so under all these circumstances, love is easy to come by. Take that and eat it up, because it doesn’t happen all the time. When your fling is coming to an end, put in perspective what was really happening. That’s usually the best way to come down off a travel romance. You met someone you don’t really know in a beautiful place that you’ve never been. The setting was exotic, the person was foreign, the money was probably not an issue because you had already planned it out beforehand. You didn’t see any of your lover’s character defects because everyday life stresses weren’t present.
Political viewpoints, religion, raising children, previous relationship baggage, medical conditions, all of these real things that you would generally take into consideration if you had met each other in your hometown were disguised. So, you basically had sex with a stranger, even though you might think they know you better than anyone in your family. It’s important to remember that you will forget about each other. And I know what you’re thinking. NO! I DON’T WANT THEM TO FORGET ABOUT ME! I WANT TO REMEMBER THEM FOREVER! Yes, that too, maybe… But if you think there’s no replacing your Argentinian cowboy, just wait until you meet the Swiss bartender, or the Ethiopian poet walks into your dormitory.
The takeaway is that you can absolutely cultivate a fling while traveling with this precise strategy. Of course, you can also keep your travel fling alive after the trip is over, if you want. You can extend your stay, join them for the next few days and make plans to explore a new city together, you can add their hometown to your itinerary if it’s along your route, you can cook dinner together and discuss all the realistic possibilities the future holds and so forth.
But don’t let the sex you had on the third floor of your hostel trick you into buying a ticket to Berlin if the entire point of your trip was to visit Cambodia. Not every person you meet is worth rearranging your life for, but every now and then, one of them might be. My suggestion is to choose wisely amongst your travel flings, because they can be deceptive and there will be more than one. Once formed, travel flings usually begin with the genuine belief that the romantic encounter is anything but a fling, but that’s exactly what it is. It might feel as if everything up until that point in your life has happened only to bring you closer to that Danish chick unpacking her 50-liter backpack in Seville but sleep on it for a couple nights (no pun intended) before you revamp your life for someone you know nothing about.
No matter if it’s one night or it leads to marriage, there’s nothing better about travel than the romance that sparks along the way. Happy backpacking and make sure there’s a condom stashed throughout all of your belongings, cause when it happens, it’ll come out of nowhere.