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June 06, 2015

Hooking Up with Fellow Travelers

Is it safe to hook up with a fellow traveler? Seasoned globe trekker R.L. shares her wisdom to those looking for romance while traveling.

by R.L.

Dear R.L.,
What's your take on hooking up with fellow travelers?
Thanks :)
Dear M,

If you're looking for love, remember, for every Elizabeth Gilbert (came home with a stud, as told in Eat Pray Love, now married), there's Terry McMillan (came home with a stud, as told in How Stella Got Her Groove Back, then found out stud was gay). I have a friend who ends up marrying someone she met on a trip, and another who ended up brokenhearted, alone in a Makassar airport when her "love", whom she met in Toraja, stood her up. 
When one is on holiday, one tends to be less guarded, more open to new things and experience. Maybe it's the nice landscape, the cool mountain air, the sweaty, swarthy bodies on the beach, maybe it's the one too many cocktails, maybe because you're surrounded by people who talk in different accents, maybe it's that Before Sunrise movie, goddammit!
Hooking up when traveling is a big industry. Singles cruises, singles-only resorts. It really boils down to what you're looking for. If you expect a long-term romance that would eventually lead to marriage, it's a very long shot. Is it worth the trouble? Maybe. If you're just expecting a short-term holiday romance, dive in with a clear head. Know that realistically speaking, the "relationship" would peter out after that flight/train ride home (even before that, in some cases).
Someone you find attractive on holiday can have a "no" tattooed on his forehead back home. If it develops into something more, good for you. If not, move on.
Should you alter your itinerary so you could travel together with your new bf? Up to you. If it's still within your budget, why not? If it's an already expensive holiday, something you might not be able to repeat anytime soon or anytime ever, you probably already have some bucket list of things to do and see in the place, so you might regret altering your itinerary for a guy.
Always be very careful, though. Just because he's a fellow traveler, doesn't mean he's not a grifter. Protect yourself. I'm not just talking about STDs. Identity theft is a huge problem these days. Don't give out too much private information. Have a separate email account for travel, which you give out to people you meet along the way. Some people I know even have a separate social media account.
Protect your valuables, passwords, credit cards, PIN, and ID. Beware of the long con. A guy once hooked up with a girl and they traveled together for a couple of weeks when he finally showed his true colors and took all her belongings when she went to the bathroom of a cafe. Careful when lending out your laptop/smartphone, or when using his laptop/smartphone (always log out in this case!). Never have unprotected sex and make sure you know where to go when something goes wrong. Better safe than sorry. And please, please, if you have to have sex, don't do it in a dorm room. Not cool. 
Follow R.L.’s adventures through her Instagram account @stelivena.
Send your travel-related questions -- in English or Bahasa Indonesia -- to [email protected] with the subject 'The Ahasuerus Files' or tweet us @the_magdalene.