WAITING TO EXHALE? Don’t Hold Your Breath

By Gretchen Kelly

Couple on a romantic vacationIt’s many women’s fantasy and the subject of the book and film, Waiting to Exhale. You arrive in an exotic destination and are instantly swept off your feet by a dashing local. He’s got a six pack of abs you could bounce your worthless US change off of, he’s great in bed and loves real curvy women, not anorectic washboards. You’re head over heels and it’s not just the pina coladas. Yes, it can and does happen but smart single travelers should keep their feet firmly on the ground while their heads (and other parts) are in the clouds.

I recently heard this true story about a vacation time romance in Scotland. A rich American widow, no doubt with copies of “Dragonfly in Amber” in her luggage and DVDs of Braveheart on her PC fell in love with a local Scottish bag piper. After a whirlwind romance she married him and whisked him back to her NYC penthouse where all was well…for about a month. The poor laddie returned, a little the worse for the wear and the widow put up a Craigslist personal that read, “No pipers need apply.”

Finding a lover on a solo journey is not an impossible dream, but spinning it out into a lifetime of non-singleness might be. It’s important to keep this in mind when a solo escape suddenly turns tandem. Places like Jamaica, Morocco and Bali are famous for their date-seeking beach boys (they are called Kuta cowboys in Bali from the name of the beach they made their headquarters). These are men who are like heat seeking missiles for sexy single travelers. While not exactly sex-for-sale, there’s a tacit agreement that both parties are out for a good time. When relationship talk gets serious too suddenly, the smart single traveler knows, “caveat emptor,” let the buyer beware.

Here are some tried and true tips to finding love on the run but coming back with your dignity, your health and your checking account intact:

  • Always, always use condoms. Bring your own and get a Hepatitis shot before you go.
  • If you decide to have sex, limit your sexual activity to condom protected sex. Do not practice anal intercourse even with a condom.
  • Never give personal details like credit card numbers, bank account information or even passport number to overseas lovers. Be careful about giving out addresses, phone number, etc. as they can be used to claim you as a “sponsor” for a visa out of the country.
  • If you are drinking with a stranger, do not EVER leave your drink unattended. If you have to go to the ladies room take your drink with you or order a new one. Do not get drunk with a stranger.
  • Don’t go to “his” place. Stay on your hotel premises and let others know where you are.
  • If you feel uncomfortable with a potential lover, get out of the situation. Call a taxi. Tell him you’re sick to your stomach (vomiting is not hot). Get back to your hotel immediately and tell the desk clerk the man’s name and description and that he is not to be admitted to the hotel under any circumstances.
  • Don’t believe everything you hear. He might tell you he wants to marry you, that he’s fallen hard. Time will tell. You should not give money or gifts unless you are comfortable with the fact that you might never see him again and that he probably does this with a lot of women on a regular basis. (Rent the movie “Shirley Valentine” for more hints on this behavior). Don’t expect to hear from him again once you get home and if you do, be wary of what he tells you. If you get the feeling he’s angling for a marriage of convenience he probably is.
  • Be especially wary of shipboard romances. Most cruise lines have rules that prevent this kind of passenger fraternization and most of them include being fired for the offence. If he’s foolhardy enough to put his job on the line for a fling, is he relationship material?

More SMW Travel features

Rome Alone: Sex and the Italian City

Ibiza: A Single Woman’s Paradise

Rainforest Romps: On the Road to Nowhere

Key West Fantasy Fest