What is it like to be falling in love?
This is a question I’ve gotten a lot over the years, and as a person of many words, it was surprising that I always found myself struggling to formulate the right words for a satisfactory answer. Could I pinpoint a specific moment? Was there something he said? Was it a time when he was next to me or a time when we were apart?
Falling in love for me wasn’t defined by just one thing or one specific moment in time; it was the culmination of many things, countless moments both big and small. (Now the questions have evolved to, how did you know he was the one? But we’ll save that for another time.)
Traveling has a lot of parallels to falling in love. When you’re on the journey, you typically start off with the really big things, right? Think about it. What you look for when you meet someone new? Maybe it’s certain physical traits, their religious beliefs, if there are common interests, the type of lifestyle they live, their career. Perhaps these things are non-negotiables, the things you need to check off your list to know if the relationship is even worth pursuing. But after you’ve decided the fundamental things align with yours, at least enough to move forward, you begin to dig a bit deeper. What are their dreams? What kind of life do they envision for themselves? What are their habits, both good and bad? What is important to them?
And if it’s the right person, the deeper you get, the more you become infatuated. You feel like the time spent together is never enough, and saying goodbye gets more difficult. When you’re with them, your smile is a little bigger, your heart is a little fuller, and you just know your life is so much better because they are in it. You may never have realized a piece of you was missing, until you know you don’t want to go back to living life without it.
This philosophy perfectly describes what it’s like to travel. When you meet a city for the first time, you probably already have either a physical a list of musts, or at least an idea in your head of the top things you must see (otherwise you didn’t really travel there). For example, if you’ve landed in London, you know you’re not exploring anything else until you’ve seen Big Ben, Buckingham Palace and the London Eye. Once you’ve checked the city’s fundamentals off the list, you’ll take the experience a little deeper. Maybe it’s exploring London’s somewhat dark history at Tower of London or reveling in a collection of the world’s most famous paintings at the National Gallery. You start to understand the city’s culture and lifestyle. Perhaps you catch a musical in the West End or take a ride on the tube.
But as you spend more time, you start learning the quirks of the city, the things that make it truly unique (aside from the drivers on the opposite side of the road and red telephone booths on its streets). Maybe it’s sitting with strangers at a local bar in Shoreditch or drinking in delicious tea and people watching at a quirky cafe like The Attendant (which was once a public restroom, the remnants of which you can see from the wall to wall tiles and porcelain urinals on the counter.) And when it’s all over and you’re headed home, you know it’s not really over because you’re just counting down the days ’til the next adventure, the next moment in which you’ll feel fully fulfilled. You can’t imagine a life without it.
Traveling is like falling in love. It’s the culmination of so many moments both big and small when you’re visiting a new place. And if you want to take traveling to a whole new level, travel with the person you’re falling in love with. You’ll find the feelings are infinitely multiplied with memories that will last a lifetime.