Travel tips: Why you should avoid holiday romances

It was my first ever holiday romance, and her name was Tamsin. 

Actually, it might not have been Tamsin – this was a long time ago and I have a history of getting people's names wrong after a while. Plus we only knew each other a few days. But anyway.

Tamsin was a teenage boy's fantasy, a tall, slim girl with sandy blonde hair that always looked like it was fresh out of the ocean. She was wearing a bikini pretty much every time I saw her. She was from Sydney, the Northern Beaches, which at that point in my life made her the most exotic, sophisticated thing I had ever seen.

Even her name. Tamsin. Where I was from she would have been called Tammy, or something equally bland. But she was far too chic to be a Tammy.

I met Tamsin at a campsite somewhere in Queensland, I can't even remember where. She was on holiday with her parents. She was 16, fun and funny. I was 13, awkward and uncool. 

It was a whirlwind romance that I talked about for weeks and probably months afterwards, a time of games and laughs and time spent sneaking away from our parents.

There was only one small problem with that beautiful, innocent fling, and that's that Tamsin was completely oblivious to the fact that it was even happening. See, the thing was that in the rush of young love and the fog of stumbling, awkward teenage lust, I never actually got around to telling Tamsin how I felt.

She was, after all, about as far out of my league as it's possible to be. She was a 16-year-old supermodel from the Northern Beaches. I was a 13-year-old dork from Central Queensland. The deck was stacked against me. Better to be blissfully unsure than heartbrokenly certain.

And so Tamsin and I had a completely unrequited love affair for three or four days, and then went our separate ways. A little sad, but thrilling nonetheless – which, unfortunately, would turn out to be a pretty accurate description of all of my holiday love affairs from that point on.

I haven't exactly had amazing success. People always say you'll meet the love of your life while you're travelling, and that has definitely been the case for me – probably five or six times now, which gives you a good idea of how each of those affairs has panned out. 

After Tamsin, there was Alison, a girl I met while on a working holiday in Scotland, another dream beauty far out of my league, although this romance was at least consummated thanks to the unfair advantage of my Australian accent. Alison was unbelievably attractive and fairly reasonably ended up dumping me for a rich German guy called Daniel who drove a Ferrari. 

(Alison, in case you're interested, is now a presenter on the BBC. I've changed her name though, as I have with all of the girls in this story except for Tamsin, because that's probably not what her name was anyway.)

After that there was Sarah, a Kiwi girl I met while on a working holiday in the USA. This was another one of those unrequited things. I had a huge crush on Sarah for weeks, until I realised she was actually in a couple with her female roommate – who, come to think of it, wasn't so much her roommate as her girlfriend. Fair enough.

A few years later I was living in Europe when I met an Australian girl called Shannon. Shannon was funny and cute and a little bit crazy – basically, exactly my type. She was also, unfortunately, based in Australia, which led to a feverish text-message-based romance that had sadly petered out by the time I made it back to Australia a few months later to meet up with her. 

But I wasn't deterred. A few years later I met Kat on a tour in Peru. I was never really that interested in Kat until she decided she'd had enough of my lack of enthusiasm and hooked up with another guy on the tour, and by then it was far too late to do anything about the fact that I actually quite liked her. 

Some time after that I met Kelly in south-east Asia. The Kelly thing was extremely exciting, and then fairly complicated, and then it ended with an unspectacular fizzle, mostly due to the tyranny of distance and the fact that I'm not very good at knowing the right time to take a chance. 

And so finally, after all of those bumbled attempts, I pretty much gave up on holiday romances and decided to just go home to Sydney and get on Tinder. Because you never know who you might meet on the internet. Maybe the love of your life. Or Tamsin.

b.groundwater@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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