We asked our favourite travel writers to woo us with romantic tales of finding love in far–flung places – and they delivered. From discovering soulmates and best–friends–for–life to making more surprising connections, their stories are a testament to the deep, lasting relationships that travel can lead to.
In 2004, I travelled to Australia for a study abroad stint at RMIT University in Melbourne. I was looking forward to surfing lessons, seeing fairy penguins and having the adventure of a lifetime, while enjoying a pass/fail semester. Who would have thought that, in between nights clubbing and weekends camping in the Grampians (with kangaroos!), I would befriend, and then fall in love with, a boy from Brampton, Ontario? So many years later, it’s still the one trip that feels like it happened yesterday. — Truc Nguyen (@trucnguyen)
Seven years ago, I hiked 14 hours over two days just to meet a guy. He lived deep in Uganda’s impenetrable forest: punishingly steep, slippery terrain shrouded in misty clouds and dense, ancient treetops. I hacked my way through thick tangles of vines in intense heat, listening for the sound of his voice. And on the second day, just as the sun was setting (almost at the point of delirium), he appeared. Kavuyo, a blackback mountain gorilla, crashed out of the trees and tumbled into my midst. His inky black eyes locked with mine, and then he disappeared. I haven’t stopped thinking about him since. — Laura Osborne (@hashtagosborned)
I had travelled to B.C.’s Great Bear Rainforest to meet guide Mike Willie, a hereditary chief who took me to explore his homeland, Kingcome Inlet. The day was still. Low clouds hung beside pine–covered mountains as we cruised glassy sedge–lined passageways looking for wildlife. We quickly bonded over wolves and our uncanny connections to the species. It was pure magic – a humpback breached, white–sided dolphins appeared, sea lions barked, eagles soared, curious seals circled and birdsong filled the air. I felt alive and connected to nature and my guide, a knowledgeable and engaging storyteller. Rain was drizzling as we headed back – when a sea wolf suddenly emerged from the forest to greet us. Our hearts swelled in unison, forever etching the moment and our friendship. — Jenn Smith Nelson (@jennsmithnelson)
I met my husband, Blake Ford, while backpacking around Europe in the summer of 1993. He was travelling from Italy to Greece; I was heading in the opposite direction. Our paths crossed on the Greek island of Corfu. We were both staying at the Pink Palace, a notorious backpackers’ accommodation more famous for of–the–moment hook–ups than lasting relationships. I noticed him sitting in the lobby one morning on my way to the dining hall. He was wearing Teva sandals (a sure sign he was from North America and spoke English), so I invited him to breakfast.
We spent the next two days together sunbathing and swimming in the Ionian Sea, talking about skiing in Banff and Colorado (he was a Canadian Rockies boy, I was a Colorado Rockies girl). When it came time for me to board the ferry to Brindisi, we exchanged actual addresses (this was pre–email!). I was determined to stay in touch – I figured that the fact I’d had to travel halfway around the world to meet someone who loved skiing as much as I did had to mean something. Letter writing turned into phone calls and, 10 months after we met, I flew from Denver to Calgary to visit him. We’ll be celebrating 23 years of marriage this August and it’s fair to say I fell in love with travel the same summer I fell for Blake. — Lisa Kadane (@lisakadane)
Like most modern love stories, B and I met on a dating app. I was visiting Los Angeles and while meaningful connections aren’t often found swiping right, I was lucky. It was like fireworks – until COVID–19 sent me packing. Blissfully unaware, we spent our last day together laughing while unusually heavy clouds formed over the L.A. skyline. This is the kind of love story that leaves us feeling like the plane landed before we could watch the end of the movie. I wasn’t expecting to meet someone with whom I’d share such a strong connection; it’s a feeling I hadn’t experienced in years. We still chat every day, but with the borders closed indefinitely and us living in different countries, I have no idea whether we will see each other again. We tell ourselves we’ll pick it up where we left off, but will we just end up forgetting? I’m asking for a friend. — Stephanie Mercier Voyer (@smvoyer)
My boyfriend and I had been dating for two years when we went on a round–the–world trip. Early in the journey, I directed us to the wrong airport for a flight (because who knew there are two airports in Bangkok?). As we stood in the terminal with the reality that we were likely missing our flight washing over us, he grabbed my hand and said “we’re going to make it” and we dashed outside to get a taxi. We’ve been married for four years this month. I don’t think either of us understood what love is – the kind that can make you stronger in times of stress – until we travelled together. — Jessica Huras (@waysofwanderers)
I met Rebecca on a high school study abroad program on a kibbutz in northern Israel. I was from Toronto and she was from the Washington, D.C. area, and if it wasn’t for this year–long travel opportunity, we would never have crossed paths. We bonded over Noblesse cigarettes and cheap vodka, sharing sagas of mutual teenage rebellion and unrequited love. She opened my eyes to Russian literature and Daniel Day–Lewis and I introduced her to eyebrow–plucking and bikinis. We have remained long–distance BFFs for the past 26 years and our relationship has seen us through many bad decisions, but also brought us so much joy. — Claire Sibonney (@ClaireSibonney)
I met Jess at a lunch meet–up in 2018 in Cuenca, Ecuador’s adorable el centro. I had arrived a few weeks prior with nothing but a backpack and notions of staying for a month. It would have shocked me to learn that I’d settle long–term and that Jess would become a new best friend. We instantly bonded over our love of running and the outdoors. We became friends, spending Sundays hiking in the mountains and weekdays meeting for cheeky glasses of vino. We climbed mountains and volcanoes, rode horses, and toed the start lines of races in Cuenca. Six months into our friendship, we discovered we even had matching birthdays: April 8th and 9th. Last year, we hiked to a waterfall. This year, we were separate in quarantine dreaming of our mountain adventures to come. — Sinead Mulhern (@SineadMulhern)
I went backpacking in Israel when I was 21. In Jerusalem, I stayed at a free hostel for Jewish girls and started attending various events, like, um, all–night (and all–female, of course) prayer sessions. I can’t remember exactly where I met David, a seriously cute, previously secular New Zealander who was considering entering a yeshiva. Within a couple of days we were widely considered a couple. We started getting invited to places together, like for Shabbat dinners at people’s homes. In a community known for mainly arranged marriages, being together for a couple of days was a leg–up on most of the other young couples about to be married. There was just one thing – he was torn between me and religion. In the end, I was dumped for God. I imagine he’s married with 10 children in Jerusalem now, but our first kiss remains in my top three (okay, five!) of best first kisses ever. — Leah Rumack (@leahrumack)
My favourite way to travel is to visit someone, and I’ve been lucky to know people living in all sorts of fun cities. Four years ago, one of my best friends, Pascale, was living in London, so my husband and I stayed with her in her apartment on busy Brick Lane. She was dating a new guy, Sean, who was just as blonde and adorable as she is, with a Londoner’s accent to boot. We immediately grew smitten with him and have since shared many evenings full of pints, delicious meals and dance floors. I’ve rarely adored someone so immediately, and I’m incredibly happy that he’s now Pascale’s husband. — Caitlin Stall–Paquet (@caitlinstallp)