Love can hit you when you least expect it — or where you least expect it.
In this golden age of technology and social media, it’s become easier and more convenient to plan a date while you’re traveling to different parts of the world. And while the idea of travel flings doesn’t sit well with other people, it isn’t at all a strange or unfamiliar territory. In fact, we’ve seen hundreds of movies that feature romance blossoming while on vacation that we might not have noticed actually revolve around just that (e.g. Before Sunrise, Chocolat, Lost in Translation).
But like in all things, a real life short-term romance isn’t always as peachy and heartwarming as Hollywood depicts it. Sometimes, all that people are after is a more exhilarating one night stand. Others just like meeting up with strangers to be able to explore the city from the perspective of a local. And a few do end up with a blockbuster-type romance that either ends in a happily ever after or a teary-eyed flight back home.
I’ve asked some people what their perspective on travel flings were—whether they’ve ever experienced it or discourage people from doing so—and I’ve gathered interesting stories to tell.
For Carla, a travel fling (or any kind thereof) was something she never imagined herself to have.
“My initial reaction towards [Tinder] was this: booty call. I learned a lot about it through a friend who reached over a hundred matches on Tinder and had enough stories to make me believe that it was a gross app and was meant for just hookups and nothing more.”
But when she had to fly to the US to experience the app for an article she had been tasked to write (while also hoping to heal a broken heart), her view on dating via the notorious app changed.
“I was meeting people I never would have if I didn’t try the app! I met lawyers, struggling actors, models, entrepreneurs, med students and all sorts. Most of them had the same intentions as my friend back home, but a lot of them, I realized, were just as lonely as I was. They weren’t killers, psychos or weirdos; they were just ordinary people, like you and me, wanting to be heard, and radically so, loved.”
Serville, who had spent a year in the US for his internship, has this touching story to tell:
“I once met a guy who loved to travel as much as I did. That time, we were both carefree and unbelievably driven by our constant craving for an adrenaline rush. Just like a lot of other love stories, it felt too good to be true. With fingers intertwined, we walked the streets of DC ’til we found ourselves smashing crabs in Maryland and euphorically running around drunk in Times Square. Went on a road trip all over California, chased the sunset in Bali, and even woke up to booked flights to Bangkok. Every skyline was a victory and every airport felt like home. We were everywhere, pretending the world was a theme park and we had to try every ride. It was fun. It was crazy. Crazier than I ever thought things could ever be. The craziest I’ve ever done in my 22 years of existence.
But of course, it had to end. This kind of relationship requires a certain level of maturity neither of us had. It was a gamble we both knew we would lose but we still kept playing. Told each other our forever exists but deep inside, we knew it didn’t; it rarely does. And that’s okay. We couldn’t escape the inevitable truth — that after all the adventures, we both had to continue living our lives and chasing our dreams 7,000 miles apart.
I wouldn’t say it was a mistake, or that I would want to experience it again, but I definitely learned a lot. Seeing the world through each other’s eyes helped us both grow into the people we aspired to be. More than anything else, I discovered a side of me that made me love myself so much more and I thank the universe for that. I wanted a Disney movie ending but I got La La Land‘s—which is not so bad at all. No regrets, just love…and a million stories to tell, I guess.”
There are those who like the idea of meeting up with strangers abroad—even without romance or sex involved—to be able to experience the place as a local would rather than as a tourist. Bea, who had gone on an exchange program while in college, says:
“It’s a good idea when you think of having someone to roam around with you in his/her turf. You get tips straight from a local, and more!”
Meanwhile, Mark, a member of the silent few who isn’t afraid to talk about his hookups abroad, believes everyone should try it out at least once.
“It’s exciting more than it is frightening. How can you live when you’re always stuck within your comfort zone? You learn a lot and gain a lot from spending a night or two with a foreigner. People have no right to judge because [we’re the ones who have] all the interesting stories and unique experiences to tell. Besides, life’s too short to not take the risk!”
But there are those who discourage the idea. Bea gave a follow-up to her earlier statement, saying:
“I don’t think it’s a good idea if you’re looking for something [romantic] long-term.”
Erik, a university professor, and Paolo, a student, both admit that it’s always better to stay on the safe side especially when you’re on foreign land.
“Put it in finance terms: high risk, high return. But pretty much a very low batting average. Or maybe [it’s just] me being old school and saying that this is a bad idea,” Erik said.
“[It’s a] bad idea…they’re on home ground; [you] can’t be aware [if ever you get into a bad situation],” Paolo added.
But at the end, it all boils down on what you want to do during your travel. You just have to make sure you take the necessary precautions and understand the hooking-up culture (if there is any) of the place you’re going to.
Roanne gave this advice from her experience dating a foreigner while on a student exchange program in Japan:
“My stand is: go for it, but with caution. If you’re single, I don’t see why you shouldn’t explore a connection with someone while abroad.
You just have to be on the same page with the other person — on whether it’s going to be a fling, or if it’s something you both want to pursue long term. If it’s a long term romance, you have to be realistic if you don’t want to get hurt.
LDR is not advisable unless the other person is really really special and you can handle the loss of physical intimacy for extended periods of time! But that’s already talking about the aftermath… While you’re there, regardless of how it ends, romance-wise and travel-wise, it’ll give you a lot of good memories.
Also, if you’re dating abroad, it’s important to know basics on the local culture’s stand on things like PDA and try to respect that. Also take lots of pictures on your dates!!! With the person you date, but also without. So you get to have pictures to show to other people even if the fling [or] relationship ends.”
Where do you stand on this debate on travel hook-ups? Share with us your opinions and past experiences below!