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As I packed for my most recent five month trip to Southeast Asia, my fourth such journey in as many years, I vowed that my next flight abroad would be to a new region of the world. I felt certain that the next time I put down my passport, it would be somewhere in Latin America.

Then I got to Gili Trawangan.

Sunset at Gili Trawangan

I haven’t even started blogging about this portion of my trip yet (the problem with perpetual travel is that I’m always behind in covering my adventures!), but those of you who read my Photo of the Week series or follow me on Instagram watched in real-time as I slipped into a blissful routine on this little spit of sand. I could tell you all about the fantastic underwater world I encountered while I did my Divemaster course, the peaceful bike rides I took around the island’s five-mile circumference at sunset, the little yellow room with a balcony that I rented for my stay. But that’s not really what you want to hear about, right?

You want to hear about how I met someone.

Dating on the RoadI feel obligated to point out that this is a costume.

The entire concept of dating when you live out of a backpack is so fascinating, I truly could write a book on it. Any rule you’ve ever played by, mused over or heard about goes out the window. There’s not much “should I text or will he?” agony when at best one of you has a disposable Nokia cell phone, and you tend not to worry so much about long term compatibility or other practical matters when you’ll both be in different countries by the end of the week.

It’s the same with any relationship on the road, romantic or not. One day you’re strangers, and soon after you spend every waking moment together without a thought to what the repercussions might be. Can you image going on a date with the same guy more or less every single day for six weeks straight, since the day you met him, in New York? Or moving in with a new friend after a few days of knowing each other? And then boom, one of you takes a different trajectory and that little chapter in your life is over with the purchase of a plane ticket.

So all of this is my long winded way of saying that when I started spending every waking moment with one of the dive instructors at the dive shop I was doing my course at, I didn’t really think much of it. I figured we’d have a little holiday romance, we’d part ways with a kiss and a smile, and maybe someday we’d be lucky and our paths might cross again.

But then could I really help it that this guy had an adorable Danish accent, and a ridiculously charming smile, and that he used both when he looked at me and spoke to me using my full name, all four syllables? Al-ex-an-dra. Or that he knew exactly how to comfort me when I felt anxious, and just what to say when I was having a bought of the crazies, and most importantly brought me breakfast in bed when I was hungover? And that he made me laugh every day, and that he looked really good in a wetsuit? And did I mention that Danish accent? I AM NOT MADE OF STONE, PEOPLE.

Relationships on the Road

As time ticked on and my departure became nearer on the calendar than my arrival, I actually started to dread that inevitable goodbye. And it wasn’t just him. I had made amazing friends, I loved the diving, and I enjoyed the return to small-island life. I wasn’t ready for my Gili Trawangan chapter to end.

So then, one day, the manager of my dive shop mentioned she could use a little extra help around the high season. And she pointed out that a little Divemaster experience would look great on my underwater videography resume. And I consulted my calendar and found a six week window. And then I looked at plane ticket prices and I fainted.

I’ve had my hesitations. Those of you who have been reading for a while know that my last real relationship ended brutally, and it took me a long time to feel like myself again. I’ve dated since, but I’ve backed away when things started to get serious. And I’ve grown to so cherish my independence, it’s hard to imagine sharing the reins of my life with someone else again. But as a new, wise friend recently said to me — “YOLO, and not in the way that kids use to justify doing stupid shit.” Rather, as in, You Only Live Once — and so recognize when something rare and good is happening to you.

On July 1st, I fly back to Indonesia for six weeks. I have no idea what the future holds beyond my return flight. But in the meantime, this is Anders. You’ll be seeing a lot of him around here.

Dating on the road

Anyone else want to share their romance on the road stories in the comments?

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94 Comments...
  • Sam
    June 14 2013

    Yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes and YES ! xxxxxxx
    Sam recently posted..Orange Yogurt Syrup Cake with Roasted Cherries

    • Alex
      June 14 2013

      Ha ha, thank you Sam πŸ™‚

  • Steffi
    June 14 2013

    Im confused…what happened to MM?

    • Alex
      June 14 2013

      We parted ways back in Thailand when I left for the Philippines! I mentioned it in one of my Railay posts… and I guess as well when I say, “I’ve dated since, but I’ve backed away when things started to get serious.” πŸ™‚

  • memographer
    June 14 2013

    A beautiful story and kinda sad at the same time.
    And, yes, Alex, he is handsome πŸ˜‰
    memographer recently posted..Panoramas of South America

    • Alex
      June 14 2013

      I’m not sure what the sad part is, but I’m not going to fight you on your last point!

  • Eeeeeek how exciting!!!!!!!!! I wish you and him (the double A team) nothing but the best. πŸ™‚
    Andi of My Beautiful Adventures recently posted..Turks And Caicos: Day 3 (Part 1)

    • Alex
      June 14 2013

      Thanks Andi! Ha, I like that, double A team…

  • Dani
    June 14 2013

    You two make such a good looking couple! Totally understand that you’re heading back to Indonesia next month πŸ™‚
    Dani recently posted..Polaroid Of The Week: 5 Pointz, New York City’s Street Art Mecca

    • Alex
      June 14 2013

      Thanks Dani! We actually have about 15 inches of height between us so we get some funny comments when we walk down the street. At least now I know how to say “tall and short” in Indonesian!

  • Melanie Fontaine
    June 14 2013

    That’s really exciting! I’m sure it was the right decision – just like the time you chose to stay in Thailand a bit longer! Nothing’s as important as listening to your heart! πŸ™‚ Good luck!
    Melanie Fontaine recently posted..Scotland: Snapshots from Edinburgh

    • Alex
      June 14 2013

      I almost linked to that exact post! I’ve definitely found that following my heart is the way to go πŸ™‚

  • Nathan
    June 14 2013

    It seems you may have a weakness for gorgeous dive instructors!

    • Alex
      June 14 2013

      Ha, I guess when you spend all your time in the dive world…. you tend to date other divers! Hazard of the job πŸ™‚

  • faint!! so happy for you!
    meghan hochgesang premuda recently posted..life: kortlen; huntingburg indiana family photographer

    • Alex
      June 14 2013

      Ha, thank you Meghan!

  • Breanna
    June 14 2013

    This post made me smile so much. I’m super happy for you and Anders. Some recent experiences of my own have made me realize that YOLO is a great saying when used appropriately and this is highly appropriate. Have fun in Indonesia. I can not wait to read more about it!

    • Alex
      June 14 2013

      Thank you so much Breanna! Funny enough Anders just read this post and was like… “What is this YOLO!?” So appearantly the saying has not yet reached Indonesia. Ha.

  • Ashley
    June 14 2013

    Oh those Scandinavian men. Beautiful!
    Ashley recently posted..There Is A Castle On A Cloud: Toronto’s Casa Loma

    • Alex
      June 14 2013

      I know, right? It’s almost unfair.

  • Coco
    June 14 2013

    Hi Alex
    Really enjoy reading your blogs ..
    It inspires me to travel
    Still hoping to do Vietnam /Laos w stopover in Dubai in January

    • Alex
      June 14 2013

      Thank you Coco! Good luck with your trip!

  • Annie of TravelShus
    June 14 2013

    congrats. regardless what it becomes, it awesome.

    also, im super uber jealous you are going back. Gili M is my personal heaven. I would LOVE to go back, just for one day. to walk around the island to my deserted palapa….maybe one day soon…
    Annie of TravelShus recently posted..Impressions of a New Country: Nicaragua

    • Alex
      June 14 2013

      Annie I have GOT to make it to the other Gilis this time! No excuses!

  • Steve McKee
    June 14 2013

    “The entire concept of dating when you live out of a backpack is so fascinating, I truly could write a book on it.”
    THEN WHY DON’T YOU?

    • Alex
      June 15 2013

      I mean… I said I could write a book, not that anyone would want to read or publish it πŸ™‚

  • Andrea
    June 14 2013

    So glad you are living in the moment. I met my husband while travelling in a totally random situation. We had the foresight to seize the day and almost nine years later are happier than ever! Enjoy =)
    Andrea recently posted..Settling In

    • Alex
      June 15 2013

      Wow, what an inspiring story! It’s rare to hear of people turning these kind of relationships into something long term. Kudos to you!

  • Erika
    June 14 2013

    OOOOh!! How wonderful and exciting!!! I love the way he’s looking at you in the second photo — the way you are looking at each other. πŸ™‚ YAY! YOLO, haha!
    Erika recently posted..Needing Permission

    • Alex
      June 15 2013

      Thanks Erika πŸ™‚ I like it too!

  • Alana - Paper Planes
    June 14 2013

    The travel and meet an exotic stranger story everyone hopes for – never a dull moment – enjoy it!
    Alana – Paper Planes recently posted..>> Moment at: a Forest Temple >>

    • Alex
      June 15 2013

      Yeah, I can’t say I’m disappointed with how things have turned out πŸ™‚ Thanks Alana!

  • Caroline
    June 14 2013

    I’m happy for you Alex! πŸ™‚ Hope you have a great time in Indonesia!

    • Alex
      June 15 2013

      Thank you Caroline! I can’t wait to return.

  • Hi, where do I sign up for the shops with hot dive instructors? Roatan is not in that competition, apparently πŸ™‚
    Rika | Cubicle Throwdown recently posted..You live in Honduras and don’t speak Spanish? Que??

    • Alex
      June 15 2013

      Ha, you crack me up. Well first of all, head to Roctopus on Koh Tao…. the Tripadvisor reviews that go on and on about the hotness of the instructors there are a fun read πŸ™‚ But really, Southeast Asia is kind of a hotbed for them (PUN INTENDED).

  • Alexandra
    June 15 2013

    This is so ridiculously exciting, and I feel like totally know what you’re talking about. Not many people get it. I travelled with Dane for two weeks in Vietnam and we spent nearly six months apart before I moved to Sydney to see where this would all take us. I’m still here 13 months later. Your friend gave you some really good advice. Take whatever comes your way and embrace it, which you’re doing and you’re inspiring others to do the same. At the end of the day, no one knows what the future will hold, but you’re brave enough to follow your heart and give things a shot. This will be the experience of a lifetime no matter what. Lots of alexandra love x
    Alexandra recently posted..Backpacking goals and travel blogging goals

    • Alex
      June 15 2013

      WOW! I think you’ve told me that story via email in the past but I forgot that it was six months apart. That is some marathon long distance right there. In my past relationship we did a three month stretch apart at the beginning, and then agreed we could never do it again. Ha! Kudos to you girl.

  • Sarah Somewhere
    June 15 2013

    Umm.. yep, totally get the decision! He is gorgeous and you two are gorgeous together! (as long as he knows that if he is mean to you he has 11, 000 of us to answer to, we’re sweet.) πŸ™‚ Happy for you!
    Sarah Somewhere recently posted..Lessons from the Rain

    • Alex
      June 17 2013

      Oh Sarah you are very sweet. Number one reaction to this post from my family and friends was… “Did he know you were going to write this?!” And I said yes… but I don’t know if he realized how many people are going to read it! Ha!

  • Katherine
    June 15 2013

    What a cute little post!!! And I mean, really, YOLO!!! So true! Good luck with everything Alex, and I can’t wait to hear more of your stories when you’re back in Gili!

    • Alex
      June 17 2013

      Thanks so much! I look forward to having time to really explore Gili on this round and share a bit of what I find beyond the diving! πŸ™‚

  • Um… hottie Mchottie! Looks like we have crossed past each other, I have just left Gili T! Enjoy, what an exciting chapter in your life x
    Michelle | Lights Camera Travel recently posted..A Little Blood, Soaked in Sweat and Some Tears on Gunung Rinjani

    • Alex
      June 17 2013

      I actually left about a month ago… whoah, has it been that long?! And wow, I am impressed you conquered Rinjani! I really have that on my list for this trip, but we’ll see if I have time.

  • Amy
    June 16 2013

    You guys look so cute! We literally just left Gili T today; we spent a couple of weeks hopping between the islands and loved it – I can see why you want to return!
    Amy recently posted..Video: Five Weeks in Australia

    • Alex
      June 17 2013

      I still haven’t set foot on Gili Air or Gili Meno! I MUST get to one or the other on this trip!

  • Charlie
    June 16 2013

    Wow, you guys make a great looking couple that’s for sure! Happy to read you’re seizing the moment and going for it. Enjoy Indonesia!
    Charlie recently posted..Our Round the World Budget

    • Alex
      June 17 2013

      Thanks Charlie! I can’t believe I’m heading back two weeks from today! Time is going fast…

  • Wes
    June 16 2013

    Can he cook?

    • Alex
      June 17 2013

      He better, cause you know I sure don’t. (Instant oatmeal excluded).

  • Camels & Chocolate
    June 17 2013

    Well done, you =)

    And stick around till the holidays, will ya, as I’m trying my hardest to get out to Indo to visit my hometown bestie.
    Camels & Chocolate recently posted..The Beginning of the Rest of Your Life

    • Alex
      June 18 2013

      I’m back in the good old USA for the month of September but then will likely be back out in the world in the holidays. Who knows where?!

  • Dad
    June 18 2013

    This post seems to have generated a lot of comments. So when are you going to bring him home to ‘meet the parents’?.

    • Alex
      June 18 2013

      Well, I’m meeting his pretty soon! So it will be his turn next…

  • Congrats Alex! So happy for you, or should I say Anders? He’s a lucky guy!
    Sebastian @ Off-The-Path.com recently posted..Roadtrip in Deutschland: 6 Stops in 5 Tagen, Norddeutschland Entdecken!

    • Alex
      June 18 2013

      Ha, you are reminding me of this lovely older couple we met in Bali who we kept running into. They would just go on and on… “I don’t know who is luckier!” Haha, I loved them!

  • Ayngelina
    June 18 2013

    Ooh airing your personal life online, you are far more brave than me. But he is so cute it’s worth it.
    Ayngelina recently posted..My Galapagos Casa

    • Alex
      June 18 2013

      Ha, one of my friends called me when she read this and said, “So basically you’re just bragging?” What can I say, I’m a classic oversharer!

  • Cat
    June 19 2013

    Yay, love this post, makes me smile for you! πŸ™‚

    • Alex
      June 19 2013

      πŸ™‚ Thanks Cat! It makes me smile too!

  • Well hello Anders! Does he have a brother? πŸ™‚
    Raymond @ Man On The Lam recently posted..5 Quirky Things to Do in London, Ontario (the Vintage Edition)

    • Alex
      June 21 2013

      Actually he has two! But I think they are taken πŸ™‚

  • Hannah
    June 20 2013

    Could you two be any more gorgeous together?! So great to hear things are going well for you. I am seriously excited to hang out with you on GT soon xxx
    Hannah recently posted..An adventure by any other name