A good boyfriend is hard to find, am I right? It doesn’t even stop there. You may think you’ve got the perfect man – smart, well-mannered, witty, sexy, generous, but ask yourself: is he a good travel companion?
In the summer of 2013 I found myself in such situation, stuffed in a bus on the bumpy road from Sofia, Bulgaria to Istanbul, Turkey. The man: a newly graduated senior from my college who I had started dating as a freshman. Istanbul had always been at the top of his bucket list, as a Muslim who wanted to visit Hagia Sofia, one of the world’s most beautiful mosques. Me, getting excited about a travel opportunity like a puppy wags its tail and does tricks for a bone, immediately suggested that he come to Bulgaria where I would be spending the summer and that the both of us take a trip to Istanbul with one of Bulgaria’s dirt cheap tour agencies. Said and done.
A few days after his graduation ceremony, my boy joined me at my apartment in Bulgaria and soon we embarked on what should have been the highest point of our relationship yet. The trip began fairly well, besides the fact that our bus going from Sofia to Istanbul, a grand total of 552 km (343 miles) had no air conditioning and bathroom stops were not as frequent as my bladder would have liked them to be. Besides the 35 degree weather (Celcius, 90 Fahrenheit) making us more irritable than usual, a series of petty fights began unfolding by the minute. From him wanting me to ditch vegetarianism to enjoy Turkey’s delights, aka lamb doner, to me wanting to take a nap instead of go see Kapali Carsi in the middle of the day.
Suddenly, his thick black hair and brilliant smile no longer made me feel any desire. He restlessly paced back and forth, hands crossed over his chest as we argued in our hotel room for a half an hour as to what we should do on a Saturday night. He wanted to go clubbing at Taksim Square, while I, having partied plenty in my life, wanted to go for a stroll along the Bosphorus. Our wishes collided. Our travel styles were two polar opposites. We loved each other, but our relationship failed miserably to the test of travel. So I asked myself:
Can you date someone if you can’t stand traveling with him?
The truth was obvious. We’ve got to prioritize in life. Nothing lights my fire like the feeling of freedom on the back of a cruise boat crossing from Europe to Asia. I refuse to let a man tell me to completely change my eating habits or not to rest when I’m tired. Travel to me is about fun. I understand the jam packed schedule of photographing ancient monuments, bargaining for handmade scarves at the charshi and lusting after the sultan’s treasure, but I’ll be damned if I run around like a lunatic to fit all the guide book “should do’s.” My style is a lot more relaxed. I like to sip on strong tea and watch the sunrise on my hotel’s balcony. I like to jog by the river as though I live in the city and am going about my daily business, and if I’ve decided to go vegetarian in one spot of the world, then sure as hell I’ll follow through wherever the wind blows
me away to. So finally, over pistachio baklava and coffee, my man and I decided to take a break. Not from travel, but from “us.”
Whatever you do and wherever you go, you’ve got to stay true to yourself. Travel is about pleasure, fulfilling curiosity and enriching your life. If your Prince Charming shares the same style as you then JACKPOT! If he doesn’t, don’t waste time. Keep on going and adventure will eventually reward you with the right person.