“What we find in a soulmate is not something wild to tame,
but something wild to run with.”
– Robert Brault
It’s no wonder so many people take romantic vacations. Travel is close to the very essence of romance. What better way to ignite passion, or to celebrate it, than to run away together?
When a couple is swept away by wild romance, it follows naturally that they want to go off together to some romantic setting, such as Rio, Paris, Tahiti, Hawaii, or … you fill in the blank.
What are the most romantic destinations? Rome? London? New York? San Francisco? How about the Taj Mahal, built by Shah Jahan in memory of his wife Mumtaz Mahal, who died giving birth to their 14th child? What greater monument to love could there be?
How about a great natural wonder, like Victoria Falls, a truly awesome force of nature?
Romance is adaptable. Any soul-stirring, mind-expanding destination can be romantic if one is so inclined. And we know there are so many of those in this wonderful world.
But I do know that I love you,
And I know that if you love me too,
What a wonderful world this would be *
Travel is inherently romantic. Even on a business trip alone, I find romance in going off to distant places. When I travel, I can’t help but imagine myself as a character in a movie shot in an exotic place. For me, even passing through the airport is an experience teeming with romance.
If you feel a yen to dial up the romance factor in your life, travel is the most obvious, accessible and effective way to do that. I challenge anyone to name anything better.
Travel and romance are so closely linked that when I hear the phrase “romantic travel” I stop a moment and wonder if I’m hearing a redundancy. Though not quite synonymous, the words “travel” and “romance” overlap. They feed from the same well. Love is one of life’s greatest adventures. When coupled with travel, it is even greater.
How does a man woo his intended? “I will take you away to the most exotic places!”
Come away with me and we’ll kiss on a mountaintop
Come away with me and I’ll never stop loving you… **
Ask the Experts
The affinity between travel and romance can be found in the very definition of the word “romance.”
The Oxford English Dictionary gives two definitions:
1. “a feeling of excitement and mystery associated with love” or
2. “a quality or feeling of mystery, excitement, and remoteness from everyday life.”
There it is: “remoteness from everyday life.” We might as well be talking about travel.
Different Kinds of Love
Doesn’t the “excitement and mystery associated with love” apply to travel? How often do you say, “I love Paris,” or “I love [fill in the blank]” about some place you experienced traveling, and really mean it, actually, literally. You fell in love with that place, with its people, its culture, its landscape. There are many levels to love.
The love of Paris is not exactly the same as the love that binds a couple together for the better part of a lifetime. But it is love, nonetheless. The love of the world that you experience when you travel feeds the other kind of love. Romance is transmutable. Travel injects romance into a relationship because travel is romance.
“Mystery, excitement, and remoteness from everyday life” … isn’t that exactly what people are looking for when they travel?
Hand in Hand
Travel and romance go hand in hand. When people are in the sway of the first fine careless raptures of love, what do they envision for themselves? A great adventure, a great journey. “Let’s go off to Rio together!” How romantic!
A romantic experience will be unforgettable, etched into your soul for a lifetime. And creating strong, lasting memories is one of the main goals of travel.
Charles Schulz, the real life human being who portrayed the existential conundrums of Charlie Brown in “Peanuts”, said, “In life, it’s not where you go, it’s who you travel with.”
There is something to that.
Love’s In Need of Love
Love is an adventure, but it needs adventure. It needs open space, freedom, inspiration. When confinement and routine lead to boredom in one’s daily life, of course it will put a damper on romance. It’s as simple as one plus one equals two. Or one minus one equals zero.
Everyone who experiences the joy of love wants to hold onto it, to preserve it. What does it take to make love last? What is the difference between marriages that last and those that don’t?
According to the American Psychological Association, “Experts recommend breaking out of the routine and trying new things – whether that’s going dancing, taking a class together or packing an afternoon picnic.”
Trying new things. Take a trip! We don’t really need a psychologist to tell us that one way to help keep love alive is to spice up life by trying new things, keeping things fresh. Romance and boredom do not make a good couple. Romance and adventure certainly do.
The connection between romance and travel is not a secret. The Travel Industry Association of America (TIA) says that in the last 12 months 61 million Americans took a romantic getaway (“a trip with a spouse or other love interest to rekindle romantic feelings”). The average traveler took 2.5 romantic trips in the past year.
It should be no surprise that romantic travel is a huge industry. Weddings are enormous expenditures. When it comes to getting married, people seem to put aside their customary restraint and frugality. They spend more on their weddings than on practically anything else.
According to TripSavvy, a travel website, there are 2.4 million weddings annually in America, costing more than $35,000 on average. A total of $72 billion is spent on weddings annually in the U.S. Twenty-four percent of weddings are destination weddings. There are 1.4 million honeymoons a year in America. Couples spend an average of $4,466 on a honeymoon, three times as much as on the average vacation.
But as travel has become increasingly easy and accessible, many couples have come to realize that they might have more fun with their money if they spend it on travel.
Once on safari in Africa I found myself on a game drive with a young couple on their honeymoon. They said they had looked at how much they were going to have to spend to have a fancy wedding, and they decided instead to have a simple, inexpensive ceremony and spend their money on a great adventure that they will remember for the rest of their lives.
Good idea! They seemed like the smartest young people I had met in a long time. Instead of some glitzy, overpriced assembly line event, they were surrounded with the beauty, adventure and romance of the African wilderness.
Obviously they are not alone in that. With so many great travel options available today, more people are choosing to forego an assembly line wedding in favor of an unforgettable trip.
Love is adventure. And love gets cabin fever too, and needs to open its horizons. It needs to feel the freedom of the open road.
Happy travels… and Happy Valentine’s Day!
Your humble reporter,
A. Colin Treadwell
* “Wonderful World” by Lou Adler and Herb Alpert
** “Come Away with Me” by Norah Jones