Ah, good old travel romance. Whether it’s a two-week break or a two-month adventure, no vacation seems complete without a little element of romance. The likes of Eat Pray Love, Before Sunrise, Vicky Cristina Barcelona and just about any movie set in Paris revolves around the elusive vacation romance. But are there any truths to these film fantasies?
Well, it turns out that venturing into unfamiliar territory does make one more susceptible to love. According to a 2014 survey, at least 10 per cent of travellers are falling in love while on vacation. Now, this isn’t exactly complicated; you’re on holiday, you’re going on these grand life adventures and you meet a handsome stranger. Love inexplicably blossoms. Sounds simple, right? Well…
There’s more science to travel romance than you think
Packing a bag, turning on the automatic email response for work, and flying over to a new territory puts the body into a state of ‘positive stress’. This type of stress raises your adrenaline levels, and from a research conducted in McKendree University in Illinois, people with higher levels of adrenaline are more likely to find people more attractive. Besides, being away from your normal environment and the people who may constrain your behaviour also gives you a new kind of freedom that makes you, in turn, seem more confident and attractive to others as well.
Dr. Holly Parker, a Harvard psychology lecturer who teaches The Psychology Of Close Relationships believes that travel can allow for people to be more receptive to love as it offers experiences that boost the odds of attraction and connection. Imagine anxiously waiting around for your flight or being lost in a new city. These all contribute to finding intimate connections with the people that you do meet and happen to have conversations and/or drinks with. Speaking of drinks…
Two friends travelling together for the first time. What does fate have in store for them? Find out:
Falling in love is literally like being drunk
Scientists at the University of Birmingham tested subjects and found that the effects of drinking alcohol are similar to those of oxytocin – the body’s love hormone. What does that have to do with travel, you ask? Well, considering that almost a third of travellers tend to inbibe while en route to a holiday we’ll say that the lines are easily blurred. That sense of adventure, excitement and pro-possibilities mindset coupled with the proverbial brakes being ripped from your social inhibitors (contributed by alcohol consumption) can feel a lot like falling in love.
But wait a minute; does this make a fleeting connection less real?
Not necessarily. A CheapFlights’s 2016 survey found that up to 10 per cent of travel flings turn into long-term relationships. But it is important to remind yourself that what you see may not be what you get. That same survey concluded that over 11 per cent of people have pretended to be single while travelling, and there are no shortage of shady characters working towards exploiting an apparent ‘romance’.
But… what if I’m already in a relationship?
If you’re already in one, you’ll be glad to know that a study conducted by the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology backs up the idea that travel will strengthen your relationship. Experiences like travel gives a boost to couples and can prevent a relationship decline following what the kids nowadays call ‘the honeymoon stage.’
Another independent study that researched the link between travel and love found that the positive and uplifting feeling people experience while travelling with their partners are associated to a higher level of contentment. So if you really want to secure (or even test) your relationship; plan your great escape together and look out for pressure points.