Can You Find True Love on a Gap Year?


Travelling is the perfect time to sow your wild oats – you’re young, you’re beautiful, and when you’ve had your fun you can move on to another country and never see them again.

But can you meet the one, the love of your life, while you’re on the road? We have an office full of people who have travelled all over the world, and you might be surprised how many returned home with their future husband or wife. So we decided to ask them how travelling led to true romance.

Backpackers in love

Will Jones, Editor

A relationship was the last thing on my mind when I arrived in Australia to begin my year out, seven years ago. I was recently single, travelling solo and had zero commitments. The world was at my itchy feet. And then I met Gemma. I was checking into a hostel in Sydney when she called out my name. She knew my name because we had gone to school together back home in rural West Sussex, and now here we were on the other side of the planet staying in the same city on the same street in the same building. I’d always fancied Gemma but never had the courage to make a pass – she was the year below me and our friendship groups only slightly overlapped.

We went on our first date – a walk across Sydney Harbour Bridge – a couple of days later, and have been inseparable ever since. I guess love happened when I was busy making other plans. We lived together, we worked together, we travelled together. We drove 8000 miles in a campervan through the Outback, travelled through Vietnam on buses, and blundered through India on trains. We got home and moved to London, where we live together now in a house with two cats. We’re getting married later this year. She’s even convinced me selfie sticks aren’t a completely terrible idea. What a girl.

Will and Gemma Jones

Abi Hanks, StudentUniverse Marketing Assistant

When you return from travelling and swap stories you hear about so many near misses. There are so many “I went there, too!” or “Oh my god, I was in that place at the same time, we must have just missed each other!” But none of it really holds much significance – thousands of people go to the best places and you meet so many. The most interesting it usually gets is finding you have a random mutual friend with someone unexpected.

When I finished travelling and started working in the travel industry, everyone I met had great stories to swap and had been to so many of the same places as me. I met a guy that worked in a different part of the company, and I hadn’t really taken much notice of him until he moved into my part of the business. We swapped travel stories, and it turned out we had been to a few of the same places, and had both lived in New Zealand at the same time. He mainly stayed on the North Island and I mainly stayed on the South Island, all pretty normal.

Ferbergers burger place

It wasn’t until months later, when he was going through his travel photos, that he noticed something… a picture of me! Three years prior to us meeting and before we worked in the same place, he had taken a photo of me. Not on purpose – he had snapped a picture of a famous backpacker burger joint where I happened to work at the time, and caught me in shot.

Now he’s my boyfriend and I get to tell the story of how he stalked me for three years after spotting me from across the street. Sometimes travelling is about those near misses. Had I met him back then I doubt we would be together now. Since becoming an item we have continued to travel together and this Valentine’s Day we’ll be making our way across southern India.

Abi Hanks and Alex Butterfield

P.s he’s not an actual stalker.

Will Clapham, StudentUniverse Travel Consultant

The story goes something like this (I’m sure Lucy, my now girlfriend, has a very different opinion of how it all happened).

My sister was managing a chalet in Val D’isere, France, and while I was at university I went to visit her for a long weekend. During the trip I got to know many of her new friends, but one stuck out a little more than the rest – Lucy.

Travel mating rituals

Believe it or not, she resisted my killer dance moves (pictured). The following September I moved to Australia on a working holiday. Just before Christmas I got a phone call from Lucy, asking if she could come and stay at mine in Sydney for a couple of nights. Of course I said yes! After she arrived a couple of nights turned into a week, and a week turned into ten days. I “wooed” her with plenty of famous goon wine and by showing off my surfer skills on the beach. I think what sealed it was when I slipped off my T-shirt on Bondi Beach to reveal a golden brown tan – from that moment on she knew I was the one.

As the months passed we enjoyed what Australia had to offer, before moving to New Zealand later that year to spend the next twelve months living and working in Queenstown.

Will and Lucy in New Zealand

Sam Willan, StudentUniverse Marketing Manager

It was 2006, I was fresh out of uni, not ready to commit myself to the real world (or to anything or anyone for that matter) so I headed out to work a ski season as a holiday rep in France. Within days of starting a two week training course, I met Lauren. Like me she was there to ski, have fun and nothing more… strange how it happens, let’s call it fate. A season skiing in France was followed by a season skiing in New Zealand, living together in a trailer park, followed by two months travelling  Australia in a campervan, which was nothing more than a Transit van and a mattress (trust me, if you can stick together through that, you can get through most things), and one more season skiing in Austria for good measure.

Eventually the real world beckoned, but we continued to pack travelling into every bit of annual leave. I knew it was right that, when the time came to pop the question, we’d be travelling somewhere. The top of Mount Kilimanjaro, to be precise. I’d love to say I had it elaborately planned out, but the reality is it was completely spur of the moment, no ring, no parental permission and a healthy lack of oxygen.

Sam and Lauren

You see, it is possible to find true love on a gap year!

Check out these top travel experiences


Travel Laos & Cambodia

from £1

27 - 365 days

Cambodia, Laos, Thailand

Travel in a loop, with Bangkok as the start and finish point on this comprehensive trip around northern Thailand, Laos...

South Island Snow Safari

from £925

7 days

New Zealand

Welcome to NZ's ultimate guided ski and snowboard tour. We hit 6 different mountains over 7 days and our expert...

Eastern Highlights

from £539

8 days

Hungary, Romania

Their cobbled lanes are useless for cars, their castles have terrible insulation, and their Baroque buildings cost a fortune to...

7 Days Southern Voyager

from £639

7 days

New Zealand

Slalom through the South Island on a 7-day tour like never before. 7 days in our luxury vehicle soaking up...

Backpacking Tour of Japan

from £1599

13 days


Join our 13 day adventure, starting from Tokyo, and find out why travelers love Japanl! This affordable tour is carefully...

Far East Explorer

from £1325

32 days

China, Laos, Vietnam

Uncover the mysteries of the Far East! A group adventure tour through China, Laos and Vietnam, including some of the...

A Tuk Tuk Adventure in Thailand

from £1295

11 days


Join us on the Ultimate Tuk Tuk Adventure in Thailand - mountains, trekking, hill tribes and much much more!

Best Of Turkey By Gulet

from £428

12 days


This amazing tour offers you the choice to mix it up and relax in the crystal clear waters of the...

South Island Lick Tour

from £695

7 days

New Zealand

Be awed by stunning mountains, fantastic views, and the amazing Queenstown on this South Island trip where you'll experience unbeatable...

North Island Mountain Bike Tour

from £1075

7 days

New Zealand

Get amongst some of the finest mountain biking New Zealand has to offer. From the white-knuckle downhills of Rotorua and...


Discover Sri Lanka

from £1569

Become enchanted by Sri Lanka on an unforgettable 12-day journey. Explore Sigiriya Rock Fortress and refresh your spirit at the...

Kruger Encompassed

Explore the Greater Kruger area on this 7-day South African adventure with a perfect balance of wildlife, cuisine and culture....

Uluru Adventure – Original (French speaking Guide)

from £540

This 3 Day Uluru Adventure trip is the perfect short trip for those wanting to experience icons of the Australian...

Galapagos Voyager – Central Islands (Grand Queen Beatriz)

from £6970

Climb aboard the stylish Grand Queen Beatriz and experience a superb spread of Ecuador’s famous wildlife-filled islands. As well as...

Bruges Christmas

from £389

Fancy a festive break in medieval Bruges? This magical Belgian city, complete with cobblestone streets and charming canals, is a...

Hawaii Adventure – Oahu & Kauai

from £1999

Hawaii’s way more than just sitting on a beach. There’s natural beauty, welcoming locals, and, of course, world-famous waves to...

Australia South to North–Melbourne to Darwin

from £1439

On the water and on the road? Is there a better way to explore somewhere new than from a few...

Classic Galapagos – Central Southern Islands (Grand Queen Beatriz)

from £4965

There is nowhere quite like the Galapagos, and this adventure to the islands’ central southern realms will bring you up...

Timeless Vietnam

For those who want the complete experience but prefer a more comfortable option, this adventure explores the best of Vietnam’s...

Top End and Arnhem Land Adventure

from £855

Delve into the spectacularly diverse ecosystems of Australia's Northern Territory on this 5-day Outback adventure. The Top End is famed...

Find more articles about meeting people on the road

[contact-form-7 id="4" title="Contact form 1"]