10 Things Travel Taught Me About Dating

Travel is pretty much a standard way of life for me. As someone who’s been on the road pretty much constantly since the age of 16, I’ve experienced the ups and downs of nomadic lifestyle and learned a lot — especially about dating and relationships.

  1. Looks seriously don’t matter. This may seem like a no-brainer, but we pay a ridiculous amount of attention to people’s appearance and totally forget to look at what’s underneath. All the guys I’ve met through common interests have been only moderately “attractive” at best, but that’s never stopped me from going out and having a fantastic time. Plus, when I travel for a long period of time, I have to be open to dating people from different backgrounds who have different cultural standards which affect their physical appearance. It’s such a waste to immediately brush off someone just because he or she doesn’t represent society’s ideal image. I’ve learned to go for what’s real.
  2. There are at least a dozen “The One”s. We put this ridiculous amount of pressure on ourselves to find “The One,” but guess what — I’m 24 and so far, I’ve found three partners who have been pretty much perfect for me. The world has seven billion people in total. Even when we speak strictly in terms of statistics, it’s clear that we have really good chances of finding a compatible partner. In fact, the real trouble is to decide which partner to choose with all these options. This is kind of like trying to pick only one type of sushi at the buffet — it’s almost impossible.
  3. You can’t stop traveling just because you fall in love. I tend to be a loner, so I get extremely excited when I find someone I like who reciprocates my feelings. My passion for travel, however, is stronger than my desire to feel grounded with a partner. I tend to put my relationships through the travel test. If he really likes me, he’ll come with me on the road or he’ll be okay to wait for my return. I won’t let my passion for another human being put a damper on my passion for travel or for another meaningful activity in my life.
  4. Strong connections don’t require years to develop. In fact, sometimes they happen instantly. Once, I met someone in Boston I immediately felt attracted to. We went out for a little while and had a great time. I cared about this guy more than I cared about an ex-boyfriend I’d dated for an entire year. Finding someone compatible is like finding a missing part of a puzzle. We shouldn’t worry about not knowing someone for ages — if we feel an immediate connection, that’s an amazing gift we should be grateful for.
  5. If we travel well together, we should probably get married. We should at least agree to whatever binding pact we can agree on because this means we’re super compatible. When we travel, we see each other’s worst side. We miss flights, we get robbed, we get way too drunk, you name it. Being flexible when things don’t go as planned is key. If we can still tolerate each other after a month of island hopping in Thailand, we can withstand most things.
  6. It’s important to live in the present. The downside of seeing the world is that I have to keep going and inevitably leave people behind. Travel taught me that I have to enjoy relationships in the moment and not make a huge deal out of leaving. After all, if we keep dwelling on the past or constantly trying to outrun our present, can we ever be happy? iI try to take my relationships day by day.
  7. It’s a terrible idea to travel to forget an ex. I went to Spain one summer and spent the whole time trying to forget my ex. It was miserable. Spain has an incredible nightlife culture and I couldn’t enjoy any of it. Every time a cute guy would talk to me at the bar, I’d think about my ex and do one of two stupid things: I’d either run away and cry or have sex with the guy to convince myself I was over my ex, then run away and cry. I should always travel because I love it. If I can’t get over my ex, seeing a therapist or talking it out with a close friend is a much better solution than an expensive ticket abroad.
  8. It’s possible to travel without cheating. I travel because I love seeing different places and people. I don’t do it to get laid. If I’m faithful to my guy back home, I expect he can manage the same back home. Travel isn’t an excuse to cheat. It also shouldn’t be assumed that the partner who travels will screw everyone they meet. Women who travel are extremely laid-back and mature, so we’ll be the best girlfriends anyone could ask for.
  9. Travel changes you in so many ways. There are two types of trips — casual vacations and meaningful adventures. I’ve traveled all over Europe on assignments and returned the same person. I’ve also gone from the US to Asia and come back an entirely different person. The things we see and stories we hear can change us profoundly. Keeping this in mind before jetting off somewhere for a long period of time is vital. I have to be honest with my partner, so he can either accept me or end it.
  10. You don’t have to talk to your guy 24/7. Being on the road often keeps me disconnected from the world for days at a time. This is why travel has taught me to look for someone mature enough to not flip out the minute I have WiFi. Dating is like committing to an invisible agreement that we both will spend time and share emotions with each other. Location is irrelevant. If my S.O. needs me at his beck and call all around the clock, perhaps it’s time to move on.
Dayana is a passionate traveler who's been navigating foreign lands and confusing relationships since she was 16. You can read more of her work on Matador Network and her blog, Dee Across The Sea.