The Love Tap

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The Love Tap

Words by Dalene Heck / Photography by Pete Heck

You wanna know how I know that this life of travel is the best thing for our marriage?

Because whenever we embark on a new trip, whether it means just a quick weekend getaway or a long plane journey over oceans – Pete gets cuter.

Irresistibly, in fact. The thrill of a new adventure automatically brings us closer, and I instinctively become glued to Pete’s side. His scruffy face is suddenly less itchy when I kiss him. His relaxed smile has me reaching to hold his hand, to rest my head on his shoulder.

(This is especially true if he also happens to be carrying my bag for me).

We are undoubtedly happiest when we are on the road, and so both automatically feel compelled to show it. Which is great, right? To be married for so long and want to show off our love to the world makes us both feel very fortunate.

We are undoubtedly happiest when we are on the road, and so both automatically feel compelled to show it.


But now we find ourselves in a country where public displays of affection are simply not done and in fact can be seen as disrespectful. While I expect that we would never be admonished for such things (being in less-conservative western Turkey), we would undoubtedly stick out like a sore thumb, and maybe even make some people uncomfortable.

That is the last thing we want to do, as we always try to be completely respectful of local culture.

But damnitall! Sometimes…

“I want to smooch you right now,” I said to Pete as we waited to board our bus from Izmir to Bodrum. We were standing on a long platform with hundreds of people slowly milling around us. His dusty hat was sitting slightly crooked, his wrinkled shirt was tucked into his pants on one side. I think he even had a small remnant of lunch stuck in his teeth. But that perma-grin he wore, the one that beams whenever we are off on a new adventure, made him endlessly attractive and charming.

“I know,” he said smiling and looking down at his sneakers. After pondering them for a second, he reached out with his sneaker and tapped the top of my simple black shoes. “Hey,” he said, “whenever you want to kiss me, just tap my shoe instead. Then I’ll know what you’re thinking of.”

An ingeniously simple solution to a cultural discrepancy. And romantic to boot.


An ingeniously simple solution to a cultural discrepancy. And romantic to boot.

There was a lot of toe tapping in the few days that followed. And once I stopped getting angry that he was totally scuffing up my shoes (forgetting the first few times that it was actually an intimate secret code), I rejoiced in having this simple little custom in place to continuously show our affections. It was just another reminder that no matter where we are in the world, we know that what we are doing is right for us, and completely right for our marriage. We can secretly smooch our way around any problem.

It just means our shoes are going to get a little dirty.

P.S. After I let Pete read this post, he said: “Does this mean I don’t have to shave anymore?” Always looking for a way out, that one. My work here is not done.

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  1. I get as far as holding hands with my hubby and from there, have learned to control myself!! I think because both of you are foreigners, that in the coastal resorts and holiday areas, they will not bat an eyelid if you want a quick peck.

  2. So cute! I love hearing how romantic you still are at 10 years… No PDA sounds interesting though, after coming from Brazil where handshakes are replaced by kisses from strangers, and couples take it forward from there… ha ha.

    1. I LOVE how affectionate people in South America are. I tried bringing back the kisses to/from strangers when I returned to Canada and I creeped many people out! Haha!

  3. Really sweet! As a member of the NBSB Community (No Boyfriend Since Birth LOL), i often wondered how it feels like to do some PDA in the sweetest backdrops. Must marry a sweet traveler <3

  4. Very cute! Hubby and I are in Greece at the moment and find that we’re often the only ones holding hands and giving smooches, but it doesn’t seem to be as taboo here thankfully, nor in Italy where we are heading next. But, if we find ourselves somewhere we have to show a little restraint, I’ll remember your idea. It’s totally sweet and romantic.

    I really enjoy reading about your adventures, keep them coming. I’ll be releasing my book soon about travelling Europe and will mention how your blog got us started in housesitting and made it all possible. Thanks!!

      1. Thanks Dalene. By the way, we’re Canucks too. We left Canada a year ago May and have been in Europe since. We were living in Kelowna, BC. Thanks for the toe tap and sending one back. Enjoy the travels!

  5. I love this post so much. So cute and adorable! Wishing you both more places to travel, more shoes to tap and a marriage of forever! πŸ˜€

  6. You two are so incredibly cute! Chris and I are the same way (although I don’t receive any toe taps) in that we get closer with every adventure we embark on. Isn’t it fun traveling with a friend and lover? πŸ˜‰

  7. My husband would come out with that final wisecrack as well! (not the romantic shoe tapping idea though). Keep travelling..

  8. Very cute story guys, but Pete…I have great news for you! Hockey playoffs start tomorrow. No shaving until your team is eliminated! You’re off the hook!

    Oh wait…you guys are from Alberta aren’t you? Never mind. Another year of the clean shaven look.

    1. Cheap shot, Steve. Cheap shot. πŸ™‚

      I might have to cut you off from reading this blog. Your comments always somehow manage to give Pete some bad ideas…

  9. Aww, so cute, you two! Rodolfo and I are very cuddly – that whole Latin influence – so I think we’d have to come up with something like this in a culture where PDA was disrespectful. He’s headed to Turkey next week actually, but hopefully this won’t be an issue for him while traveling with three guy friends!

  10. I second what Laurence said about the exploding kittens and unicorns. This may be the most Awwww-inducing post I’ve ever read. I think Mary and I are probably the same way– sweeter and more relaxed when we travel– and I can’t imagine having to hide that. But Pete’s solution is brilliant!

  11. Cuteness overload! It’s a damn good thing you didn’t include photos of baby kittens, or I might have imploded. Can we steal your shoe-scuffing idea? We’re not nearly cute enough to come up with something like that on our own. πŸ˜‰

    1. Today the shoe thing didn’t quite work out because our shoes were so muddy. So, maybe something else? But we will still take full credit for it. πŸ™‚

  12. Adorable. It is nice to know love still exists in the world and travel does the opposite of drive couples crazy.

    1. Funny – I have some friends that said they would surely split up within two weeks of travelling alone together! And I no longer think we could go two weeks without each other!

  13. Great idea. After 25 years of marriage we may start using it. It would have come in handy in Dubai where PDA is really really frowned upon. Turkey seemed quite touchy-feely in comparison.


    Larissa and Michael

    1. Oh yes, Dubai would be a good place to use it for sure! And there are parts of Turkey that I’m sure we could get away with it in, but in the remote part where we are, we would stick out for sure!

  14. Love this! Looking forward to growing even closer with my hubs when we hit the skys… Keep toe tapping πŸ˜‰

  15. My wife and I can identify with your post…

    We just had our one year anniversary of traveling…and…we’re about to celebrate our five year wedding anniversary next month.

    Traveling has definitely enhanced the quality and level of excitement in our relationship.

    There’s nothing like having a long-term travel lifestyle that’s a full-time adventure to keep the ‘ole flame of passion and attraction burning.

    Congrats to both of you!

  16. It’s so cute that you guys do that, too. Nudging toes instead of displaying affection overtly is something we’ve been doing for a long time, since a lot of the places we travel are not that friendly to a couple like us.

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