Broken roads to open hearts

Backpacking across Europe is perhaps a right of passage. Maybe I’m a bit behind the times? Australia is the new Europe when it comes to a popular destination for young backpackers: a plane ticket, a printout of your hostel booking info, your backpack, and, if you’re lucky, a friend by your side.

You’re off to see some amazing cities and meet some interesting worldly people. That’s the expected. The unexpected: inclement weather, becoming violently ill, getting mugged or, on a lighter — yet devastating — note, a broken heart.

It can work both ways. Partners travelling together easily underestimate the frustrations that can come with being with each other all the time and finding compromise in their decisions when one wants to do something completely different from what the other wants to do. Don’t forget, you’re meeting a lot of new people and temptations can weasel their way into a holiday. Especially when travelling multiple continents for months at a time.

The second way it can work is going it alone, meeting someone new from a completely different country and culture, and it turns out to be a little more than a one-night fling at the hostel.

Falling in love can happen anywhere and in the strangest ways. I’m a firm believer in love at first sight; it’s all in the eyes.

It’s not uncommon to know someone who went travelling, met another traveller, they fell in love, one relocated to be with the other and they lived happily ever after.

You’re both globetrotting for the same reason of experience something new and having some fun. In the meantime, your shared adventure is changing both your lives, together.

The ugly side to this sought-after lifestyle is when it’s home time. The calendar draws closer to the departure date on your ticket and both you and your newfound love know the end is inevitable. Many long hugs and goodbye kisses in foreign airports only prolong the heartache. It’s a long lonely walk back to the car from the airport. Believe me, I know. I’ve been there.

You both promised you’d keep in touch through Skype or Facebook, but it’s not the same. There’s even promises to come visit each other’s country, but when you get home life soon gets in the way. Old routines begin to creep back and “real” plans start to dictate your life. You meet new people.

Goodbyes were never meant to be easy. I find them especially hard. You can beat yourself up thinking about the other couple who met abroad and made their relationship work, so why couldn’t yours? It’s no use.

Look over your pictures, remember the events and the places you both experienced together, and look back over your trip and this person as a happy time in your life. Who knows, you might meet up a year or two down the road and circumstances may be different and be favourable to continue building on a relationship.

Immigrating to a new country by means of marriage or long-term relationship is an arduous process. The flood of paper work, long wait times and financial commitment is enough to get anyone discouraged. Canadian immigration laws are no exception to this headache.

So maybe we are better off just having fun and not getting too serious with a fellow traveller? We’d save ourselves much tears and pain.

After the healing effects of time and looking at the big picture, we realize it’s all part of the journey and the experience. It’s the soul-touching and heartbreaking moments that make the experience what it is. It’s these instances that confirm for us that we’re alive.

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