Americas

Becoming “That Girl” Abroad

It's hard to avoid Skype when your sole purpose is to teach Computer classes.

I’ve come across the “girl who can’t get off her cell phone”-type in my travels about as much as anyone else. Whether in San Francisco, Lisbon, Port-au-Prince, Prague or anywhere, there is always that traveler who misses her special someone back home. She’s constantly squeezing every minute out of her calling card, typing away fervently on her computer, writing love notes and special entries in her journal. She’s online late at night on Skype disturbing everyone in the hostel room. We all know the name of her significant other pretty much upon meeting her. Et cetera.

I have often regarded these girls with a slightly bad taste in my mouth. Why can’t they let go? Why are they so dependent? Why does her boyfriend/girlfriend call so much?

But lately I have come to realize that I have become one of these girls.

Being on the “dark side” is surprisingly unique for me. In most of my relationships, I left the boyfriend before getting on the plane, so there was never anyone waiting while I was away. A lone ranger, I was free to flirt and stay out late, make new friends and perhaps write to family and friends only once in a while to let them know I was still alive. Each day took me where it took me, and if I was far from any form of communication, so be it.

It's hard to avoid Skype when your sole purpose is to teach Computer classes.

Now, there is a boyfriend missing me while I’m gone, and it’s unbearably uncomfortable to know that while I am out in the world, someone is at home being my “stay girl”. It’s also unbearably uncomfortable to be away from a technological device, whether a phone, Internet hook-up, whatever. It’s made me less tough; more tender. I don’t take as many risks as I once did. And nothing is worse than knowing that the man I live with is lonely and worried.

This is why I have become “that girl”, picking up the phone, dialing on Skype, connecting my Netbook with every flicker of a wifi signal. One could argue that it’s for me and that I miss him, like the other girls that huddle in a corner at night while everyone else has fun, yapping away with the only person that matters. Though like many independent traveling women, I now understand that it’s not always like that. Sometimes you just feel absolutely terrible that you have left your partner alone.

I now understand much more clearly the reason why so many couples travel together nowadays. When you find a person you want to spend every minute of your life with, and when you’re a travel buff like me, you just can’t be happy without both of these things together. What an amazing opportunity to be able to merge your loves into one incredible experience.

I mean, it definitely saves on calling cards.

Beth Santos
Founder and CEO of Wanderful, creator of the Women in Travel Summit, enthusiastic lover of ice cream, picnics and art.

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