How Travelers Say I Love You (Without Actually Saying It)

I LOVE YOU. Those three little words you should say often to your one-and-only to express how you feel.  But what if you’re just new to that particular person.  Some people (especially men) find it less comfortable using words to express emotions.  They’re not even sure that words alone convey how they feel.

In fact, non-verbal displays of affection are often a better way to show what’s inside. But do you think the travelers have a different way in showing it? They’ve met many people, they’ve been in different cultures, they’ve seen almost all.  They must have developed some ‘skill’ to break any formality that takes over too often in saying those magic words.

I’ve asked several traveler friends to find out, and the answers were showing that no matter how far they’ve gone or been into, they will always be a human that misses his/her home and loves doing simple things like other humans do, especially in expressing how much they love/care. It’s quite obvious that all the men’s answers tend to be action-oriented, while the women tend to include the feelings & emotions.

Here’s on how travelers say ‘I love you’ without actually saying it:

1. Take him/her for an activity together

If you have some time, just join a partner on an activity, even when you’re not so into.  If you have much time, go travel together.

My sweet Caroline, a German girl who has spent months traveling around Indonesia, says:

I’d take him traveling with me. My travel time is the most precious time to me and sharing it with somebody really means something. And only people I really love I want to be with 24 hours a day.


2. Make eye contact and body language

Eyes are the window to the soul. Just a simple eye contact, and then you know.  The rest is up to how smart you can read the sign of body language.  Here’s what my Spanish friend, Eviña, thinks:

I guess it depends on the relationship. You meet the traveler of your life, the perfect man… and what do you do? Well, if I feel he is the one, I don’t need any words, because I think my eyes, my expression, and my behavior will be speaking by themselves. But when it comes to speak, when it comes to say those lovely but scary words, a big hug and a whisper will do the rest 🙂

3. Close personal distance

This includes holding hands and making cafuné (leave it to Brazilians to create a word that means loosely “caressing a dear person’s hair”).  My friend, Gaia, tells me a thing about what most Brazilians do on this:

Brazilians are very musical. Music is always a nice way to say ‘I love you’ properly. So, going to a concert, enjoying a small show together holding hands, or even singing a tender song while making cafuné is something that happens in every Brazilian couple life. If flirting with a Brazilian on the road have in kind that music may be the ideal conversation starter. Dancing also helps.

But try do not get us wrong: Brazilians are very warm, smiling and easy to show affection, but that doesn’t always mean romantic interest.

4. The food is the mood

Say it with flowers? Nah, not really. Guess what my three male friends say it with?  Food!  On the other hand, Ladies, it also represents how easy you can please a man 😉

Emanuele, the Italian way:

In terms of food, I love everything that’s based on aubergines (egg plants in American English). Other things I love to have in Siracusa are Granita (gelato and latte di mandorla). So good! Oh, and of course grilled fish (mostly Tuna and Swordfish). And I cannot miss out on a great pizza!

Caponata & granita | Photo by Emanuele
Caponata & granita | Photo by Emanuele

James, the Hong Kong people way:

There’s a saying that the way to someone’s heart is through their stomach, and this is especially true in a city obsessed with food. Most Hong Kongers live in small apartments with equally tiny kitchens, so people here show their affection by taking loved ones out to restaurants (more than 11,000 at the last count!) and paying for the bill. It’s a subtle way to say ‘I love you’ in a culture that is not outwardly expressive.

One of my favorite places for local food is Hoi Fung, an informal restaurant just off the beach at Ham Tin Wan in Sai Kung. Only accessible via a two-hour hike or a boat ride, it serves Hong Kong’s best ‘Singapore noodles’ (stir-fried rice vermicelli with curry powder, egg, shrimp and other assorted ingredients) and sweet and sour fish.

Sweet & sour fish | Photo by James
Sweet & sour fish and Singapore noodles | Photo by James

Nelson, the Portuguese way:

Portuguese people say I love you through food. It is in our genes, a part of our culture and our way of life to present our affection to our loved one through food. It is not just the fact that any respected household will always cook its best delicacies for a visitor, it is the everyday passion and love that the Portuguese families embed into family dinners or even solo meals. If you ever meet a Portuguese traveller and ask him what he misses the most about Portugal, ‘Food’ will certainly be the top answer.  And most probably it’s for Portuguese seafood rice.

Portuguese seafood rice | Photo by Nelson
Portuguese seafood rice | Photo by Nelson


5. Share the secret: his/her favorite place

Don’t get surprised when someday you’re taken to someplace off the beaten path (the beach/the old barn/the small cafe/etc).  It might have been his/her favorite spot for along this time.  Or it could just be the usual place you just haven’t got a chance to visit yet.

Sicily’s Syracuse sea in the summer is becoming Caribbean style and there are a lot of nice, quiet spots to take a swim and snorkel | Photo by Emanuele
HK-Ham Tin Wan
This is James’ fave spot, one of the beach at Ham Tin Wan. And yes, who would’ve guessed that this is actually Hong Kong! | Photo by James


6. Back to the root

Nothing beats the family or the hometown. It’s some kind like a closed circle. And when you’ve got the trust to invite someone/to get invited by someone to this personal ring, then it clearly tells that you are/that someone is special.

Emanuele on his hometown in Syracuse, Sicily, Italy:

The magic happened when I invited her to a trip to my homeland in Sicily. The trip to Sicily, whereby I showed her the place where I was born and raised, where I used to hang out, where I went to school, the good food we eat, the people I love – all that, in combination, made some magic. At the end of the trip we realised we were in love and we wanted to spend our lives with each other.

This is Emanuel’s hometown in Syracuse, Sicily, Italy. It’s a UNESCO site, an ancient city, full of history, Greek ruins, Baroque architecture, and most importantly, overlooking the sea. The historical center is actually rounded by the sea, cause it’s an island (a tiny one, 3 km long on its longest axis) | Photo by Emanuele
Spain - Eva (2)b
Galicia, Spain, is Eviña’s homeland. She says: I would go for a sunset by the Atlantic Ocean, or have dinner in a seafood restaurant. Nowhere like my homeland for seafood and sunsets 🙂 | Photo by Eviña


How about you, my friends, do you have your own way(s) to say I love you without actually saying it? Don’t hesitate to share it with us… 🙂


Disgiovery yours!


ILU-headshot A very big thanks to our contributors (left to right):
CarolineEmanuele – EviñaGaiaJamesNelson


Next upcoming post related to this topic:
How INDONESIAN Travelers Say I Love You

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12 Responses
  1. Halim

    Nice share… Jadi kepingin pergi ke tempat indah di atas, terus merasakan makanan enak saat traveling. Tapi semacam kesalahan besar baca ini pas malem minggu… Gandengan mana gandengan >.<

  2. Thanks for getting in touch with me, Badai – I’m not surprised there were others who put down food as an important way to express affection! And this is such a beautiful post… it just goes to show that travellers make the best lovers. 😉

  3. BaRT

    Hmmm gimana ya, saya jarang nembak duluan sih.
    Pasti orang lain yang ngasih #kode lebih dulu? Hahahahaha 😀

    Tulisan yang bagus. Tapi personally, beberapa point itu lebih cocok diterapkan kalau “sudah resmi” jadi, daripada masih usaha.

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