Anyone who has ever been on long traveling stints knows that romance and love can feature quite heavily in the experience. Whether you meet the love of your life while on the road, partied hard enjoying single life or traveled with your partner, it will always be an exciting venture. Traveling with a partner is generally considered to be wildly romantic as you have someone to smooch at sunset, hold hands while exploring temples and to rub your backpack-sore shoulders at the end of the day.

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Speaking from experience, sometimes romance and traveling can leave you bewildered and confused. Sometimes the person who you thought would cope exceptionally well in a foreign country flails and struggles without their western comforts, whereas an amazing individual you meet while traveling might turn out to be ridiculously useless in reality when you’re back in your home country/city. Finding the one, the person, the soul mate, who keeps that perfect balance of remaining the same person who you’ve known and loved no matter where in the world you are, is by far a special thing. Not to mention that going traveling with your partner will expose all aspects of your personalities and allow you to truly explore each other without everyday routines masking anything. You’ll soon know them inside and out and will get front seat viewing of all good and shit parts of their personality. Launching a relationship into a trip can be nerve-wracking in case it breaks you… but don’t forget it can definitely make you. An incredible adventure away with your partner can make you stronger and more in love than ever before! A power couple who can take on the world!
So with keeping all these points in mind, you’ll be in awe of this tale, but it is an inspiring testament to romance while being on the road. Clara Bensen and Jeff Wilson never thought that a dating site would bring them together, not just for a date, but for a unique and eccentric adventure!

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Back in June 2013, Clara and Jeff crossed paths on OkCupid.com, where Jeff’s intriguing profile captured Clara’s attention. They began chatting, seemed to get along alright, and then agreed to go on a date. Then Jeff thought outside the box and suggested a trip. And I don’t mean a-lovely-weekend-away-in-the-countryside-where-family-knows-where-you-are-and-will-save-you-if-he-turns-out-to-be-psycho. He suggested a three week trip that would see them explore eight countries.
Clara, being either incredibly brave or incredibly stupid, agreed to this expedition but there was one more thing to throw into this unique experience: why not factor out the luggage?

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I think we’re all in agreement that this is wild, daring and very crazy, but they did it and are still together 6 months on. They took only the clothes on their back (not even extra underwear) and got a flight from their home city of Austin, Texas, into Istanbul and a return flight departing from London 21 days later. They hit eight different countries with no itinerary or any booked hotels. They had unexpected experiences, slept mostly on lawns and floors, kept no structure to their plans and luckily discovered that they were perfectly compatible. Clara knew that there was no surer way to find out whether you like someone than to travel with them. Prior to their three week trip, she knew it would either be “the best idea ever or the beginning of a brutal, three-week long demise.”

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“I was pretty nervous about how we’d get along but it turns out we’re incredibly lucky as we’re compatible on multiple levels: physical, emotional, and spiritual. I knew we were lucky” says Clara. Their personality differences turned out to complement each other and their passion for the unexpected, the experimental and the subtly disruptive made it all work.
So it’s a success that they get on real well and neither of them are psycho murderers, but they’re not denying that it was tough. Traveling without luggage felt like traveling without a limb. You always head straight to the baggage claim after disembarking planes or hesitate after getting out of your last ride, but nope, there’s nothing more than just what is in your handbag! It didn’t detract from having a meaningful travel experience… but I could imagine us Travelettes would need to be packing a pair of heels somewhere on their person.

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A side from the epically romantic notion of the trip, the hygiene and style factors pop to mind. The thought of having to navigate needs in real time and travel without backpacks stuffed with guidebooks and coordinated outfits was intimidating to Clara. She snuck some make-up and deodorant with her, but found the experience liberating. The trip wasn’t designed to make them suffer, just challenge them to enjoy a trip without material trappings or uninteresting organized transits.
So 6 months on and it proves that it was clearly an eccentric, but a brave move to embrace the unexpected in the world. And the result has also equated to a fantastic and original story!

But I bet the question on everyone’s lips is how on earth did Clara manage to choose a single outfit for those 21 days??

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Read more on their adventure on Salon.com

all photos by Clara Benson

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