Inspiring tales of couples’ travel pop up in the most unexpected places.
I was recently watching an American Masters on PBS, a dramatized biography of Louisa May Alcott. Alcott became famous in the late 1800s for writing the hugely profitable book Little Women.
She was an early feminist, and chose to never marry. However, she didn’t find financial success until she was 36 and her family was far from wealthy, so she spent many years hustling up a living any way she could.
One of her jobs took her to Switzerland as companion to a (deeply dull) young lady. Here, at 33, she had the occasion to befriend a young Polish gentleman about ten years her junior. Bored by her charge and desperate to travel and explore, she soon left her job and took off for the excitement of Paris — alone.
Not long after, her young Polish gentleman would join her.
In an era when society dictated that unmarried women of respectable breeding should be chaperoned at all times, it was surprising enough that she’d travel by herself. But meet up with a young man to whom she was neither engaged nor related? It was downright racy.
For two weeks, this young man showed her around Paris, a condensed version of a whirlwind romance. When Louisa began to run out of money, she had to head home to Massachusetts and say goodbye to her friend; while she would think of him often, their paths would never again cross.
Even in the context of her intellectually rich life full of fame, drama and glory, this small episode of romantic travel gives me a quiet thrill.
I know what it means to work hard, to be bored to tears by routine and to seek adventure. I also know what it means to be in love, to see the world through both my own and someone else’s eyes. When two people are willing to take a new journey together, even if it’s just for a little while, suddenly life feels wide open and full of possibility.
By all accounts, Louisa never forgot her trip to Paris, when the whole world felt like it belonged to just two people. And believe me, I get that. It keeps my husband and I roaming the globe together as often as possible.
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Melanie writes Travels With Two, the travel blog for couples. She and her husband Adam have traveled around 18 countries in small increments of vacation time in search of culture, adventure and romance. You can also follow her travels on Twitter @TravelswithTwo.