Travel Blogging: A Love Story

My friends always joked that I was going to meet some guy on my travels who would sweep me off my feet. I laughed and said I hoped it would be an Australian.

Even still, I think we were all a little bit surprised when that’s exactly what happened.

Jared and I met in Bruges, Belgium back in 2008. We were both traveling on Busabout – he had just quit his Australian Government job to travel, and I was on an internship as Busabout’s summer blogger.

I’d initially proposed an itinerary that took me around Europe counterclockwise, starting in Paris. The Busabout bosses decided that I should go clockwise, which is why I went to Bruges, a city I hadn’t even heard of before.

The rest, as they say, was history.

Chemistry in Bruges
Our first self-pic, out in Bruges.

Jared and I met at the Snuffel Hostel in Bruges. I noticed that he was wearing a Notre Dame t-shirt and got over-excited.

“Hey, Notre Dame! That’s in Indiana! I’m from Indiana! Have you ever been there?”

No, he hadn’t been to Indiana. His brother had brought the t-shirt back for him.

But the floodgates were open, and we talked all night between watching some crazy local dance moves in a Bruges bar.

We couldn’t stop talking the whole way to Amsterdam, either.

“I wanted to kill you guys,” his friend, Chris, told me later. “Jared’s voice was so loud and all I wanted to do was sleep.”

We continued on to Berlin, met up again in Vienna, then had to say goodbye weeks later in Munich.

But plans are made to be broken, so I wiggled out of my Eastern Trekker tour a day early and shot from Salzburg back to Vienna, where Jared had landed a job as a pub crawl guide. Several months later I went back again, then Jared came to stay with me in London.

Then we traveled through Turkey, Egypt, Portugal, Ireland & the UK before moving to Australia for a year. Now we’re teaching in Korea.

They (the infamous ‘they’) say that ‘when you know, you know’.

I was always a little bit skeptical of this phrase, but as the months rolled by with Jared, I realized what it meant.

You do just know.

I can list endless reasons why I fell in love with Jared – we had instant chemistry. We both love to travel. He learned American Sign Language so he can communicate with my parents. He makes me laugh. He makes me think.

I won’t get too sappy on you here, but at the end of the day, I just knew. He was the mythical ‘One’ for me.

So last Friday afternoon, when he pulled a diamond ring out of his pocket and asked me to marry him, I said yes.

If you read the blog often, you know that we’re in the midst of an epic family vacation – my parents, his parents, my sisters, and one boyfriend. We spent six days in Oahu, where we stayed in Hau’ula, a tiny town within driving distance of the North Shore.

Even though I vowed to give up the guide book, I’m not ready to part with it totally. I read up on La’ie Point, a lookout near our rental house that is the site of a Hawaiian legend.

We stopped there on Thursday to check it out.

La'ie point
It was a little windy, but super-scenic.

It was pretty beautiful and scenic, so when Jared suggested we stop there again the next day, I didn’t think much of it. I’d already had an excellent day – standing up in the surf and eating a delicious chocolate cream pie from Ted’s bakery. As far as I was concerned, the day couldn’t get any better.

In fact, I spent the first several minutes spouting off my guidebook knowledge of the legend of the lizard.

“So this point apparently looks like a giant lizard, and it started eating the people,” I explained. “The king and his son killed it to protect the queen, and they hacked off its head, cut it into five pieces, and tossed it into the ocean. Those five islands are thought to be the five pieces of its head.”

I am so romantic.

We were sitting side-by-side in a little cove created by the rock, and I noticed that Jared was waiting patiently for me to finish. Finally, I stopped talking about bludgeoned lizards.

“Do you remember a conversation we had when we first met,” he asked, “about how when you know, you know?”

“Yes,” I said. “Why?” What did this have to do with lizards?ย 

“Well,” he said, pulling a little box out of his pocket, “I know that I want to spend the rest of my life with you. Will you marry me?”

I cried a little.

And said yes.

The next challenge was corralling our families together so we could make the announcement.

Jared had asked my father for his blessing that morning, when they were playing golf together.

“I can’t play golf after this,” my dad told him. “I have too many questions.”

When we told my family to meet us & Jared’s parents at the beach in Hale’iwa right around sunset, my dad thought for sure that the proposal was going to happen there.

“I wondered why he was driving so fast,” my mother told me later.

“I didn’t want to miss it,” he said.

Disappointed when he pulled into the car park and saw nothing happening, my dad turned off the motor and parked the car.

As predicted, everyone started taking photos of the sunset while I anxiously fingered the ring in my pocket. Finally, all five of the ‘kids’ were lined up as the parents took pictures.

“I’m going to put it on,” I said to Jared. He nodded.

Showing the engagement ring.
Dropping the bombshell, then waiting until everyone figured it out.

I had to wave my hand around for a while, but they finally got it. Our dads seemed relieved – they were the only two who knew Jared was going to propose, and now they could finally talk about it.

Our mothers were shocked and excited, and Alex, Megan & Kate were confused, thinking I’d been wearing the ring the whole time and wondering how the heck they missed it.

Announcing our enagement
Thank you, Bruges and Busabout!

Of course, the questions started trickling in after that, like where we’d get married (Australia or America?), and when, but I think my Uncle Bob in Illinois asked the best one:

“Question is: How will you two define “settling down”?

I think we’ll find a way to re-define it.

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  1. This is beautiful Lauren! I am so happy for you two! Congrats, and the best of luck for your future together and “settling down”! x

  2. Oh wow, Congratulations & Best wishes to you both!!!!

    Like Susan, I sooo love love love stories!!! This is just so schweet… aaawwww… ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. What a beautiful story! Congratulations to a fabulous couple. I am so happy for you both. Looking forward to hearing more of your future plans.

  4. What a beautiful story. I actually remember the night that you guys met. Thanks for letting me follow your journey. May the travel gods bring you all the love and happiness in the world. ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Thanks, Karen! Yes, you are in a bunch of the pictures from that first night. Who knew it would be so monumental for us? Thanks for reading & for your warm wishes.

  5. I’m brand new to your site – just came across this post through a Re-Tweet. But just had to stop and say congratulations. This is a wonderful story (and gives me a little glimmer of hope as I start off on my RTW trip!). Best wishes!

    1. Hi, welcome & thanks! Glad you enjoyed our story. It just goes to show that you never know who you might meet as you travel the world. Good luck on your trip, I’ll be checking it out on your blog!

  6. Smooth moves Holmesy! Congratulations, you guys are so good together. But some questions remain unanswered.
    Where? When? Bachelor party?

    BTW: the whole bus wanted you guys to shut up ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Yeah, smooth as ever… Crunchy peanut butter.

      Where: Yet to be decided, but will give plenty of notice if travel is required.

      When: I think it will be next year sometime.

      Bachelor Party: Committee + Rebel Alliance + Milo/Alvin and some other characters = Unstoppable force

    2. They probably did. I specifically remember that the bus was pretty much silent except for our voices! Though I also remember hearing you guys (ok, Jared) on the bus from Paris before I ever met you – Jared was laughing at an episode of the Simpsons and I thought, “Well that guy’s irritating.” I guess loud voices = love.

  7. Congratulations again guys, we’ll buy you a drink at the freaky ship in Gangneung next time you’re over this way to celebrate.

    1. Thank you! It was an unexpected travel bonus – thought I was taking a little jaunt around Europe and now Australia is a permanent part of my life! Just make sure you fall for a foreigner from a country you like, makes things much easier.

  8. congratulations! I’m also teaching in South korea and just happened to read your blog. I came here straight after getting my BA and I’m also a believer in working-travelism. It’s really true; you have to go where you have to go to meet the people you need to meet. Best wishes to you both!

    1. Thank you! Sometimes I trace the path that brought us together and I can’t quite believe it – just a series of small decisions that changed the course of my life. Hope you’re enjoying Korea!

  9. Congratulations! I love hearing about travel romances that work out. I have a similar story, met my fiance when we were both expats in Singapore; I was expecting (and wanted) to stay single for at least a few years when I moved abroad, but you’re so right — when you know, you know! Looks like it was an absolutely beautiful place to get engaged ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Thank you! It was absolutely the last thing I expected, but I have no complaints, of course. The best thing is that neither of us has had to compromise our wanderlust – I don’t think I could ever be with someone who wasn’t a traveler. Saying yes in Hawaii was one of the easiest and most ‘right’ things I’ve ever done! And congratulations to you & your fiance as well!

  10. Beautiful story! I particularly loved the bit about bludgeoned lizards. I could see myself doing the same thing! I also joke with my friends that I’ll meet a man on my travels – and the Aussie accent has always been a favourite of mine. Perhaps history will repeat itself…fingers crossed!

    1. Thanks! Before I ever went to Australia, I was enamored with the Aussie accent (had a particular thing for Heath Ledger!) but never actually thought I’d wind up with one. Now I forget he has an accent most times! Good luck to you, anything can happen!

    1. You actually commented on this one year to the day from when we got engaged, so thanks and great timing! Despite the hurdles and irritations that come with the logistics of being an American-Aussie couple, it’s all worth it. Especially because of the accent!! Always good to hear from someone who knows where I’m coming from.

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