Can Travel Make You Fall in Love?


Finding true love in a far-away land, reclaiming a bit of joie de vivre through a holiday romance. These are such commonly woven yarns that they border on cliché. Eat Pray Love taught us we may find our soulmate in Bali on vacation. Midnight in Paris (and just about every movie set in Paris, it seems) taught us we could very well fall in love while walking the streets of the City of Light. And how did Stella get her groove back? On a trip to Jamaica. But is there some truth to this trope? Can travel make us more open to love?

“I believe travel could allow people to be more receptive to falling in love because it offers certain experiences that can boost the odds of attraction and connection, opening the door for love to take root,” says Dr. Holly Parker, a leading researcher on love who currently teaches a course at Harvard University titled The Psychology of Close Relationships. “First, traveling to another destination and culture can bring uncertainty—you’re out of your home territory and a sense of adventure and excitement, which is arguably physiologically arousing for your body. Given that physically activating experiences can heighten attraction toward someone, the physical arousal that travel may bring could also set the stage for attraction abroad.

Another way of looking at it: Don’t be afraid to try something new. Bonds are formed when travelers are in unfamiliar situations and looking for ways to engage with a foreign culture and place. “When people are focused on seeking out pleasurable, rewarding experiences, which is arguably true for people who are traveling, they’re also more drawn toward individuals who they believe will help them grow,” says Dr. Parker. “And individuals who possess different perspectives lived experiences, and knowledge than we do, such as people from other cultures, may powerfully offer chances to grow.”

And while the excitement that comes with newness is important, don’t go way too far outside of your comfort zone. Dr. Parker says falling in love with a place may affect how we fall in love with a person. “When we travel to a place and a culture we’ve been waiting to see, it’s engaging and brightening, which brings up pleasurable emotions. These cheerful, pleasant feelings are linked with feeling more connected to another.” Translation: If you hate the outdoors, being angry on a weeklong camping trip might not be fertile ground for romance.

Ever notice how the minute you turn on your “out of office” message on vacation, you feel a bit lighter, happier, a bit more focused on your needs? That feeling can also make you more receptive to new relationships. During his doctoral research on “transformational travel,” Michael Bennett, cofounder of the Transformational Travel Collaborative, found that while traveling, individuals are at the closest point of alignment with their truest selves, much more so than when at home. “When we are more aligned, more integrated with our values and passions and purpose in life, we are vibrating at an entirely different level of consciousness, one that attracts those who are similar to us, who share the same values and perspectives and dreams, and people were more likely to fall in love with,” says Bennett.

Bennett’s research mirrors the Abraham-Hicks law of attraction: If we are looking for love but not comfortable with who we are, we’re going to have a difficult time finding love. The opposite proves true, too. “Traveling gives us the opportunity to get into alignment with our values and to get back into integrity with who we are,” says Bennett. “Once we do that, we are significantly more likely to find love.”

Already in a relationship and looking to fall even more in love? Take a trip. A study conducted by the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology backs this up: Intriguing, lively experiences like travel boost happy couples and can help combat boredom and relationship decline following the euphoric honeymoon stage. And an independent study that researched the direct link between travel and love found the uplifting, enjoyable feelings people experience while traveling with their partner are linked to contentment in relationships.


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