One of the best things about traveling is the people you meet. But most of the time we don’t consider dating people we meet on the road. We have flings that end the minute we board our flights back home; we’re headed back to our real lives, which don’t involve each other.
But in an age where the digital nomad lifestyle is increasingly sought after and travel is becoming more affordable, more trans-globe relationships will likely bloom—if we’re open to them and realize their potential. Who says you have to leave your travel fling at the airport?
Here are five good reasons why that same ‘fling’ may be the perfect opportunity for real, long-lasting love:
1. Shared qualities
Travel requires curiosity, independence, an open mind, and an adventurous spirit. All of these are great qualities to share with a partner you can keep exploring the world with.
You already have something in common with all the other travelers you meet: you’re both from somewhere else. This simple fact opens up dozens of conversation topics. What’s it like where you’re from? How is it different than where they’re from? What do you each think of the place you’re in? How did you end up there?
These conversations can reveal deeper truths about who you are and how you see the world, which is essentially a shortcut to connecting with people who are on the same wavelength as you.
2. You’re the best version of you
When we’re in a new place, it seems like parts of our brains that are normally dormant get switched on. We notice sights, smells, and sounds with a heightened awareness and a strong curiosity that’s absent when we’re at home. We notice people, too—both travelers and locals. If you’re a natural introvert like me, it’s not really your thing to approach strangers and start conversations.
But besides ratcheting up your curiosity, being in a new place also allows you to shed the restrictions you normally put on yourself. So you hit on that cute dude and he wasn’t interested- so what? You’ll never see him again.
Traveling makes us extra-motivated to meet people and make new friends, so we push ourselves to find connections that may not be so obvious. Love, as they say, often shows up in the most unexpected places.
3. The ultimate tests: distance and time
When you date someone who lives in the same city as you, it’s easy to see each other as often as you want and to start to blending your lives together. When you meet someone from a different city or country, it’s harder to keep in touch and make love blossom.
Some would call this a major disadvantage—and they’d be right—but the tests of distance and time are also great indicators of a relationship’s potential. How interested is each person in the other, and how strong was the connection? You’ll figure it out pretty quickly if you’re both taking the time to communicate regularly and plan visits.
I know a couple who met while traveling in Thailand. A month after their trips ended, he was on a plane from California to Sweden to see her. Another couple I know met in New York, where she was living and he was on vacation from Australia. They spent just three days together, but their connection was so strong that he was back in New York to visit her not three months later, distance and expense be damned. Both couples are now happily married, and probably had a strong feeling from the beginning that they’d end up that way.
It’s worth a few months or even years of long-distance if the result is a lifetime adventure partner.
Skype. Facetime. Snapchat. Whatsapp. Thanks to modern technology and smartphones, the list of communication methods has never been longer. No matter where you are in the world, you can message, talk to, and even ‘see’ your partner every day if you want to—for free.
It’s of course not the same as being there in person, and being there in person is still so much better. But technology has made time spent apart far more bearable than the days of telegrams and expensive long-distance calls.
Travel itself has gotten more affordable, too, if you know where to look. You can often rent a short-term room on Airbnb for less than a bed at a hostel (and it’ll be more comfortable). Google Flights or SkyScanner let you plan your travel around the lowest-cost dates. Apps like Blabla Car, Lyft line, and Turo have made ground transit easier and cheaper than ever.
5. It’s romantic
I’m a sucker for a good story—and what makes a better story than falling in love in an exotic foreign place? Whether it’s a picturesque bridge over the Seine in Paris or a pho stand with plastic stools in Hanoi, the novelty and mystery of new places give them automatic romantic status.
In an age where more and more connections are determined by a left or right swipe, you can even cross off the above four reasons to date while you’re traveling—a romantic, love-bridges-great-distances story you can tell your friends, kids, and grandkids seems to me like reason enough.