It first happened when I was eight years old. An all-inclusive holiday in Mexico, the best two weeks of my life, thus far. My grandparents were there, I had my first taste of something called grenadine, then many more tastes and there followed my first ever hangover. Wild! But the other more important first was my first ever Holiday Romance.
Perhaps ‘romance’ is a little strong, but when you’re eight the world and everything in it is a lot bigger than you realise.
He was a dark haired boy from Spain who spoke English with an American accent, called me ‘Babe’ and wore smart crisp white button down shirts. He was quite grown up for a nine year old and promptly asked me out on a date. A dinner date no less: The all you could eat hotel buffet with his family (of course). It was very romantic; I sat between him and his mother. Then at the end of the meal we were allowed to have dessert on a separate table. Unfortunately his flight home came a little before the end of my holiday and a few days later I waved off his coach as it left for the airport, with a heavy heart, and the beginnings of sunstroke or possibly another pre-teen hangover.
Then there was the boy in the kid’s club when I was 13. It was my first sailing holiday with my parents and the summer I realised I was both a huge fan of Kerrang and eyeliner, but also deeply ashamed of being middle class.
He was tall and skinny and swore magnificently. He knew all the words to Wannabe by The Offspring and bought me bubble gum and sweets every afternoon. Ultimately it didn’t work out, which I put down to me being predominantly flat chested and buck toothed, and him being a teenage boy. So at 13 I suffered my first bout of unrequited love. Or, at the very least, unrequited holiday romance.
At 14 on yet another sailing holiday it was the 35-year-old flotilla skipper who stole my heart. I followed him around like a puppy and one night he bought me a beer then held my hair while I threw up over his shoes. Looking back, it was obviously a ridiculous crush, he was a sailor without a port, he couldn’t be tamed and actually he was possibly gay. Also he was 35 and I was 14.
Next came a gorgeous rugby player when I was 16. A holiday in Croatia where I made the best friends I had ever made. There were eight of us, a mix of boys and girls from middle class families, into drinking in secret and making up unbelievably cool names for our gang. In the end we settled on “The Two-Syllable Silence Crew”. I told you, unbelievably cool or unable to believe we were cool...
The Rugby Guy and I were the resident couple in the group which gave us absolutely tantalizing power over the others when it came to deciding on which restaurant to go to. Which shop to try and buy vodka from and whether or not jumping off the dock in all our clothes was a good idea. (It was.)
Although we quickly moved our holiday fling into a long distance romance via the wonders of MSN and Facebook naturally it fizzled out. We’d never even kissed…
Then there was the sunrise kiss. I was 18 now and it was my last night on a Greek island. I met him in a nightclub with his Surrey non-accent, blonde hair and blue eyes. It was the first time I’d drank abroad and legally and I guess its fair to say I hadn’t yet learned my limits. As per I’d scurried together a little group of friends. We were taking shots of tequila and dancing on the bar. I kicked off my heels. I was coyote ugly, I was Leo, ‘King of the World’ and singing and oh so drunk and totally unaware of all the broken glass on the bar top.
When I finally jumped down, exhausted, I slunk into a corner to a send an ‘I’m Alive’ text to my parents, enjoying a far more civilised, less bar top dancing fuelled evening somewhere else.
That’s when I met him.
“You’re bleeding!” He shouted at close range to my eardrum.
“No I’m not!” I shouted back, thinking of course I would know if I were bleeding, how dare he come up to me and shout in my ear like that.
When I looked down I did however notice I had stepped in a puddle of something sticky. Gross! I needed to find my shoes. I started to try to walk away and shake the gross puddle from my foot. But for some reason the gross puddle just seemed to flick out more and more grossness the more I shook my foot.
“I’m bleeding!” I shouted and grabbed the blonde haired ear shouter by the scruff of his collar. The room tilted and the next thing I knew I was flying through the air in the arms of someone strong who smelt good. A tea towel was wound lamely around my foot and I was plonked on the back of a motorcycle. I barely remember the ride just the feeling of seasickness and going really fast.
I was in a hospital and the blonde haired boy was next to me.
“I’m your brother” he said. I’d luckily come round a little more sober and realised I shouldn’t argue. I was scared and didn’t want to be alone.
He helped me back down to the harbour where I was staying with my family who must have been pretty panic-stricken by then. It was around 5am and I must have still been a little drunk. “I’ve never been on a motorcycle before! Or had stiches!” was pretty much all I could say.
He made me drink coffee and I learnt that he was in his 20s, at university, and as I saw it, extremely sophisticated. He kissed me on the harbour wall. Me balancing on one leg, the smell of rotting fish in the air and the mild taste of tequila still on both of our tongues. Then we watched the sunrise. Sure, we kept in touch but it wasn’t the same without the drama or the holiday.
What is it then about a holiday that makes us so susceptible and ready for love? As you can see I’ve had a pretty on point game since an early age, but I’m not nearly so lucrative in meeting these Prince Charmings in the real world.
Is it that our minds are freer to notice the object of our affections when we’re lounging in the sun? Could it simply be that we have nothing better to do?
A friend of mine suggested that perhaps it’s down to a sudden feeling of being alone. Isolated. Sure that makes your average two week get away sound more like a horror film, but it is true that when faced with a foreign country and without the comforts we’re all dependent on from home, we can feel a little lonely. Especially when we’re single. Adrenaline levels are heighted as we’re aware of our alien status in a new place and so when we meet that someone they’re more likely to become someone special. Faster, harder and all the sweeter, because, they’re a holiday romance and your saviour.
I found myself in New York and alone last year. February, freezing cold and starved of any human contact whom wasn’t asking if I wanted to see the dessert menu or if they could get me another drink.
It’s true that I had gone seeking adventure and a little solitude but of course I turned to Tinder when four days in my social status of loaner started to feel all too bleak.
Mere hours after my first ‘right swipe’ I found myself on a date with a local. A few days later I found myself in his bed.
Yes I certainly had my ‘New York Moment’ but the question of whether or not I was safe has plagued me ever since.
I didn’t know him, the area, and since I couldn’t afford the oppressing data charges on my phone no one knew where I was.
So when I heard that there was a company offering a safe, pre-vetted, ‘Travel Dating’ service, well, as an adventurous single I was excited.
My two favourite things, like chocolate and peanut butter, were being put together for the first time. Travel and Dating.
The magical company behind it?
Singles, meet TourBar. (waves nervously)
TourBar was created in 2014 to meet the needs of single travellers who wanted to explore but didn’t feel quite so intrepid going it alone.
“Instead of historical sites crowded with tourists, overpriced shops and restaurants, you may want to actually experience what your destination is about. If only you could find a travel buddy and cool new friends to hang out with so that they show you all the great spots and help avoid tourist traps.”
I always want to get to the heart of where I’m travelling to and find the real experience. I’m the same with people, so what better way to do that, than by teaming up with a like-minded single. Someone eager to show you the real sights or experience them for the first time along with you.
Users on TourBar sign up very much like a regular dating site except for one thing. You can also upload destinations you’re hoping to travel to, when you want to go and even if you’re happy to fund a travel buddy or if you’d like someone to treat you.
You can find locals to be your guide or inquisitive travellers like yourself looking to get the most out of a country with a buddy or a date.
I know, the whole thing sounds a little daunting, which is why I’m checking it out for you...
...TourBar have asked me to do a little travel dating. Sure I said! Dating is my thing! Except now I’m trying to find the right guy to accompany me.
So, over the next few weeks I’ll be searching TourBar’s database of eligible men. One date to accompany me here in London, where I’ll do my best to avoid Leicester Square, the Eye, the Mall and any other place you can think of which makes you break out in cold sweats on a bank holiday or Easter Sunday. Oh and Oxford Street!
Then I’ll be meeting someone in the always buzzing, cultural pulse of the Netherlands, Amsterdam. There I’ll not only find the most romantic and fun date spots the Dutch have to offer, but I’ll also report back on what an organised holiday romance is really like.
So follow my TourBar Holiday Romance. I’ll be posting my progress leading up to each date and tweeting (no doubt constantly) with the hashtag #TBHolidayRomance. Then I’ll give you the full report on the guys, the locations and TourBar. Let’s see if I can find another sweet Rugby Guy or sunrise kiss.
Find out more about TourBar Here
Let the adventure begin!
Drop me a comment bellow! Would you ever consider picking a stranger as a travel companion? Are you single and find it hard to schedule trips with busy friends? Or have you had a holiday romance? Tell Me Tell ME!