Couple holding hands in Austin, TX

Love And Exit Stamps

I believe in love at first sight. My extensive travel the past several years has galvanized my views on this matter, to the point where you might say I believe in no other kind of love.

When I know my time with someone is limited — and when I travel, my time with any one person is always limited — I allow myself to be vulnerable from the get-go. For a time, I am madly in love with a person I barely know; and, if I’m lucky, he is madly in love with me.

However madly in love I fall, I never hesitate to leave on schedule. But I often wonder: What would happen if, just one time, I decided to stay?

Read even more tales of romance on the road.

Metered Affection

I met Will in front of the romantic “Shopping Center 3″ on São Paulo’s Avenida Paulista, with the express intent of checking into a nearby sex motel. In Brazil, motels especially designed to facilitate casual sex between strangers are commonplace.

We paid for our three-hour stay as if we were children buying bubble gum at a gas station; We wasted no time getting down to business once were inside the room. To say that fireworks went off is like saying a car bomb exploded in Hiroshima in 1945.

Initially, I wondered whether I had unwittingly hired a prostitute — how else could a man I barely knew make love like this? I wouldn’t realize until the following night that he was making love because he actually loved me.

Although we also spent our second night together in a sex motel, our intentions were more pure. We clutched each other tightly as the clamor of Avenida Paulista grew louder with the rising sun; that the room service menu consisted of dildos and flavored lubes was a moot point.

I can still remember the sweaty smoothness of his skin as I held his hand in mine, the third and final time I saw him. I briefly weighed the possibility of not boarding my bus to Rio the next afternoon, but by then my mind had taken already taken over — the beach was beckoning!

Israeli Defense Mechanism

When I made his acquaintance online, Liron had offered me but a single sleep on the floor of his Tel Aviv apartment. Within moments of my knocking on his door at 4 a.m., however, our bodies were locked together like ionically-bonded atoms.

“Stay as long as you want,” he said. “Or as little as you want. But please, stay.” In my mind, I planned to remain in Tel Aviv just a few days, having wanted to explore the rest of Israel before moving on to Egypt. I should leave soon, I thought. I will leave soon.

But Liron was taking care of me. He cooked breakfast, lunch and dinner for me. He would call me out when I said something inhibitive or self-deprecating. He would hold me at night, even the night I came home at 6 a.m. from a party where I made out with no less than a dozen other guys.

When I look back, I realize that my behavior was some sort of sick defense mechanism. I’m in the most hedonistic city in the Middle East, I would tell myself, surrounded by the most beautiful men in the world. And they all want to have sex with me.

But Liron, I would realize as I headed westward across North Africa, had wanted to do more than have sex with me. I imagined his lanky arm around me as I lay freezing in my tent, alone under the stars of Moroccan Sahara weeks later. I felt comforted; but I also felt foolish.

Precious Cargo

Björn was a German grad student living in Amsterdam’s Western suburbs, in a building made of used oversea cargo containers that had been painted bright colors. He was hanging out his makeshift window smoking a cigarette when I walked up.

You know the drill by now: We kissed; we got hot and bothered; we went all the way. But I was lovestruck as he rode me back to my Warmoestraat hostel on his bike the next morning.

He rode me home on his bike — who does that? I thought. What a casanova. He was a human horse-drawn carriage.

I hadn’t actually planned to see him the next day; I had an afternoon flight to Libson to catch. But I ended up back in his tiny cargo crate anyway, savoring the friction between our hairy bodies until the last possible moment.

“If it wasn’t about to be winter,” I said as he rode me back to the city center one last time. “I would stay.”

“You should stay anyway,” he said as we approached Amsterdam’s Centraal station. “I’ll keep you warm, in my shipping container.”

Over the Border

Like I always do, however, I shipped myself home and said “yes” to the first Austin hipster who asked me on a date. Par with the course, I lusted after him for a while, then ended up disappointed. Why, I always think, don’t any of these guys do anything? Why don’t they want anything?

Without fail, I get restless and before I know it, I’m off on my next trip. Yet ironically, when I happen upon the next handsome stranger who wants something — namely, a chance to treat me exactly how I want and need to be treated — I write it off as lust.

He didn’t really love me anyway, I always think upon leaving, even as I daydream about what it might have been like to stay in his city, to share his bed every night, to learn his language and teach him mine.

It’s never until I’m over the border that I hear the faint whisper of truth. “Yes, he did.”

About The Author

is the author of 1088 posts on Leave Your Daily Hell. Robert founded Leave Your Daily Hell in 2010 so that other travelers would have an entertaining, reliable source of information, advice and inspiration at their fingertips. Want to travel more often? Subscribe to email updates today!


informs, inspires, entertains and empowers travelers like you. My name is Robert and I'm happy you're here!


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Jeremy May 17, 2012 at 8:11 am

Great post, I also ask myself, what if I just stay?

Robert Schrader May 17, 2012 at 8:44 am

Jeremy recently posted..Top 3 Ways to Meet Girls While Traveling LOL

Leigh Shulman May 17, 2012 at 10:24 am

I can definitely relate. I feel this way about people and cities, too. I also feel it when travelers come to stay with me for a day, a week, sometimes longer.

What if I just stayed? Or what if they stayed with me?

Thing is, when I do stay, things always become more complicated. As you said, it’s harder to really let go and be present when I know there’s a future.

And let’s be honest, it’s impossible to maintain that level of intensity for extended periods of time the intensity we feel when first meeting and really connecting with someone. There are ups and downs, forwards and backs. There’s also a lot of little boring life details and bad moods that are so much easier to overlook when you’re with someone for only short time.

I think this post strikes me now particularly as I’m accepting that I’m living in one place and will be for a while. There are many very good reasons I’m here, but I badly miss that intensity without consequences. There’s nothing quite like it, really.

As for your question, does he love you? I say the answer is yes. It may not be the same love as someone who wakes up with you when you’re pissed off and feeling like shit, but it’s just as real.

Robert Schrader May 17, 2012 at 10:42 am

Thanks for the detailed response, Leigh! It’s interesting to consider the idea of long-term sustainability — maybe the reason relationships like these are so intense because they are doomed to be short in length? I do have to say it is difficult for me not to go rushing back to any particular man, just as difficult as it is not to stay in the first place. The most awful part, however, is that by the time I finally come around, it’s usually too late.

What are you doing in Salta?

Joseph May 17, 2012 at 5:41 pm

Hello everyone!

I’m a psychologist and from my point of view… Love at first sight is not entirely “love” it’s mainly attraction, and if this attraction is responded by the other perso and is followed by some kind of relationship it has all the potential to become love. That said, attraction must not be look like superficiality, just the opposite, is very important when your trying to have a love with passion. Love without attraction exists and it can become very special, but when there’s both attraction and love in a relationship…. The passion is more elevated in the couple. That’s why, one has to be very careful when having a one night stand, because you can never know if that can mean more than that to both of the people involved.

Talon May 17, 2012 at 10:53 pm

Wow, what an honest and well-written post. Thanks so much for writing it.

Robert Schrader May 18, 2012 at 7:06 am

Thanks for responding, Talon — and please share with your friends!

Des Baxter May 18, 2012 at 8:51 am

Great article Rob, hope you find the ‘one’ when you’re ready to pursue love. 🙂

flipnomad May 18, 2012 at 1:02 pm

wow… speechless with the post… just curious… why didnt you stay?

Robert Schrader May 18, 2012 at 5:51 pm

To be honest, it was always because I wanted to travel more!

Jessie Jones September 28, 2012 at 1:35 pm

Such a heartbreaker, rawr.

Ana April 1, 2013 at 4:02 pm

To love and to be loved, two truly amazing things to be grateful for in this life. <3

Lisa E April 2, 2013 at 12:07 am

I like the way you wrote this. Really engaged me. Excellent ending. Thanks for the great read!

Robert Schrader April 2, 2013 at 11:26 am


Robert Schrader April 2, 2013 at 11:27 am

No problem, Lisa! I hope you read more.

Anon April 11, 2013 at 4:17 am


Rashad Pharaon October 24, 2013 at 7:39 pm

We just might be kindred spirits, Robert – I always feel like “they didn’t really love me” but when I look back on the situation, it’s ME who always leaves. Hmmmm….I understand the itch to leave too. I’m 6 months into a relationship and Copenhagen is calling…I fantasize that the answer is finding someone to travel with, someone who would always want to go exactly where you wanted to go. (:

Robert Schrader October 25, 2013 at 12:59 pm

Thanks for reading, Rashad, and for being able to understand my perspective. I hope my next essay about love is more positive in outcome!

Jenny January 26, 2014 at 7:34 pm

I met a cute boy on a flight from China to Australia and we spent ten hours just talking and watching movies and he slept on my shoulder and when I had to leave for a transit flight I wanted to stay so bad…

Robert Schrader January 28, 2014 at 9:42 am

Are you guys still in contact?

disqus_fui2M3CvKp February 23, 2014 at 8:33 am

In Italy I met a Turk. Only got to spend time with him twice but I wish we had more time together.

Robert Schrader February 26, 2014 at 2:25 am

Aw, I hope you cherish your time together!

Sherwy D March 12, 2014 at 10:27 pm

This song all day every day reading this site <3

Robert Schrader March 13, 2014 at 9:33 am

Interesting choice!

Gabriel March 31, 2014 at 3:27 pm

Touching! I hosted a guy from New Zealand when I was in London. At first, he was supposed to stay just for 2 nights, but we ended up spending a whole week together. I do miss him and secretly fell in love with him… Seeing him in New Zealand next year!

Robert Schrader April 2, 2014 at 3:35 pm

I hope things work out well between y’all!

Lucy April 10, 2014 at 10:05 am

This was beautiful. Candid, truthful, touching. Thank you.

Robert Schrader April 11, 2014 at 7:15 am

Thank you for reading!

Joseph Otter April 23, 2014 at 5:54 am

Gay men have it so good. If only women would just get right down to business after meeting you on the internet without the charade. Some do but not very often. I’ve been in Deyang for a month now and haven’t hooked up since I left Beijing. If I wasn’t borrowing money from my boss right now I’d have already visited a “hair salon”. A few of the girls I work with are after me but my number one rule is “Never get your meat where you get your bread.”. Learned that lesson the hard way.

Robert Schrader April 23, 2014 at 2:56 pm

Well, we have it good in some places, i.e. where it isn’t illegal. Also, sex is “easy” (sometimes – there are puritans among us as well!), but finding something more can be difficult, if not impossible.

Marcelo Solís August 27, 2014 at 7:20 am

This was a great post Mr. Schrader! I just found out your site and have had a lovely time reading it. I guess I have a lot of catching up to do. Keep up the excellent work.

Robert Schrader August 31, 2014 at 12:56 pm

Yes, you do indeed have a lot of catching up to do.

Veronica October 27, 2014 at 3:29 pm

Quite the catch, aren’t you Robert? 😉

oslodad October 27, 2014 at 6:18 pm

Well, my dear Robert! We gay international travelers have always made the most of it – from one bed in Amsterdam to another one i Istanbul or Roma or Berlin or NYC or whatever! But we seldom say “I love you” – lust is a pleasure to endure!

Sab | October 28, 2014 at 9:11 am

Thank you Robert, I love this post! I believe in love at first sight, too. Too many times I wondered what would happen if I’d stay with him? What would happen if I’m not getting on that flight? But I always left. Until I met this guy in Istanbul. For the first time I decided to give it a chance. I missed my flight and stayed. For one and a half years I lived with him in Turkey. Then I took him to Asia. Showed him my world. We’ve been almost 3 years together now and living in Thailand. And I’m so glad that this one time I decided to stay and not run away like I used to do. <3

marine February 27, 2016 at 7:37 pm

Beautiful article, just happened to me, best feeling in the world but when you come down, when you both continue your own path, how do you let go?

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