Dating abroad – whether you’re on a week-long vacation or living in a new country as a digital nomad, it’s exciting. New people! New dating customs! Hot accents! It’s a sexy time.
Maybe you’ve seen it in the movies – Julia Roberts flirting with Javier Bardem in Bali (idk I could not get through more than 15 minutes of that movie). But what’s dating while traveling really like, and what do you need to know about it? Here are the pros and cons of digital nomad dating and dating while traveling solo.
Somehow, every sensation is heightened when you’re traveling or living abroad. Colors are brighter and the air is softer, you have a brighter glow in your cheeks and a little sway in your walk, and all those accents – mmm. You might be a little more friendly than at home – I always found that pretty much everyone is nicer and more flirtatious than Bostonians, and men in the US in general are not very skilled at flirting.
So lean into it! Smile a little longer at that cute waiter, and play up how bold and exotic you are. Go out for a drink alone, wearing your nicest and/or only dress and red lipstick and just people-watch instead of staring at your phone. Strike up a chat with the person next to you at the coworking space and ask if they want to grab coffee with you.
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It’s Often Easier
Back in the routine of daily life at home, you mostly see the same people over and over again. Colleagues at work, neighbors, friends of friends, the regulars at the bar you always go to on Friday night.
But when you’re traveling or living abroad, you’re encountering new people all the time so the dating pool is wider. And you already have something in common with everyone around you – the city/town where you’re living.
Plus, if you’re out at a bar full of expats or a meetup, you have about five automatic icebreakers to start up a chat. Nothing makes dating for the shy easier.
It’s Still A Time For Safety
Even at home, I always had a safety protocol with my friends when I went out with someone from a dating app for the first time – a check in time via text, a way of tracking my location, and a general safety awareness.
I did the same thing abroad and you’d be wise to as well – tell someone where you are so they’re looking out for you, don’t drink too much wine even if you’re at a sexy dimly-lit Athenian bar (oops), and bonus points if you get their full name and/or social media profiles just in case.
Let’s be real, dating for women involves an element of danger no matter where in the world you are, and so most of us are used to keeping ourselves safe anywhere. Don’t let those protocols slip just because you’re in a new place, but you also probably already know the basics of digital nomad dating safely. All my fellow digital nomad women are pretty experienced at this!
Related: Being a Solo Female Digital Nomad
It Can Be A Learning Experience
Dating someone from a different culture is guaranteed to teach you something – about their culture and about your own. I’m extremely curious so I tend to ask lots of questions about what dating is like back in the home country of whoever I’m with. It’s like a mini cultural immersion.
Plus, you’ll learn a whole lot about how dating in your own culture works as you date someone who doesn’t share that background. Questions like who pays for a date, how soon someone assumes you’re exclusive, attitudes about casual dating and sex, and more vary so widely that it’s fascinating! And of course, people don’t always adhere to the dating philosophies of their home country either, and it’s interesting to find out why.
It’s all a cultural exploration but also a personal one – and a chance to learn a little bit of a different language if you play your cards right too.
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It Can Be Lonely
So you’ve done it – you’ve met a handsome foreign guy, you’ve had a glass of wine and maybe a pizza (not a traditionally sexy food but damn it’s good) and you’re connected. It’s beautiful, it’s sexy, it’s a great story to tell your grandkids one day. (Or not, because talking about your sex life to children seems weird.)
But hey, it’s great. Honestly I kind of want to make an app that you can check out how many people from foreign countries you’ve seduced – it would be a hit.
Anyways, it can be really intimate really fast – you get into deeper talk faster, I find, with dates or platonic friends on the road. But then one of you leaves, as travelers do, and suddenly that connection is gone. Sure, you have Instagram to keep in touch, but it’s not the same and suddenly you’re separated by countries or even continents.
That initial high of connection is replaced with a low of new loneliness, and maybe some daydreams of a reunion in Greece or Thailand or somewhere else beautiful and exotic. This is one of the biggest challenges of digital nomad life, whether you’re meeting friends or lovers.
It Can Be Life-Affirming
You’re probably traveling alone or living abroad for many reasons, but maybe part of it is dissatisfaction with your life back home. The dating scene in Boston was pretty dire – tech bros in hoodies who just calculated the amount of time they had to spend with you before you’d hook up with them, bros in cargo shorts who would spend their weekends in bland sports bars and got legitimately offended if I dissed the sentient Ken Doll that is Tom Brady.
So finding men abroad who are handsome and interesting and don’t dress like actual trolls and know how to flirt – it’s fucking refreshing. Heal your heartbreak, find new interests, explore a little – the briefness can be freeing in digital nomad dating.
Also for the very shy (hi, that’s me), you don’t have to worry about an unreciprocated flirtation being a long-term embarrassment like asking out your cute neighborhood barista and being rejected (I have never done this, I am too shy, but I have pictured the awkward aftermath).
My Top Digital Nomad Dating Tips
These apply to my solo female travelers as well! You can take all the same tips for dating on vacation as living abroad – you just have a shorter timeline.
Pick one dating app
Different countries use different dating apps – most of the smaller apps in the US aren’t really used anywhere else. Tinder is the one that’s most universal, but how people use it really, really varies. It’s always pretty successful for meeting fellow expats or vacationers, though. There’s the new Facebook dating too which seems ok, though I haven’t used it much.
Join Facebook groups
If you’re a digital nomad or just on a trip, you can find Facebook groups for the city you’re heading to ahead of time that are for fellow nomads or expats. These are good for arranging meetups with people who might be interesting, and also for finding local events where you can meet people to date or just befriend.
Pick a coworking space
I am really not a big dating app user – I just like meeting people in person! One really easy place to meet fellow digital nomads is in coworking spaces. You already have something to discuss and share a space – it’s all easy from there.
Live a little, feel alive in a new way, stay safe and have fun!
More Digital Nomad Resources
- Making Friends and Finding a Digital Nomad Community
- Taxes, Housing, Insurance, Phone Plans, and More Digital Nomad Basics
- What I Bring With Me As a Digital Nomad
- Challenges of the Digital Nomad Life
- What Life as a Female Digital Nomad is Like