Money can’t buy love, but it can buy a plane ticket. In a recent study, HSBC found that one in 50 people find love on a plane. Could this mean that we here at Skyscanner are also matchmakers by proxy? We’ve caught up with travellers from all around the world to learn about how they found love while travelling.
Thaim for love
As a travel writer, on-air host, and television producer, you’ll have a better chance of crossing paths with Olivia in a little-known destination than at the entrance of her own home. On a trip to Thailand, Olivia island hopped with a set of snorkelling gear in tow.
Olivia once worked for a matchmaking company and would tell her clients, “There is no such thing as love at first sight, it has to develop organically and slowly.” She believed it.
“In a moment of horrible (and in retrospect, fantastic) luck, a wave pushed me into a bed of sea urchins while in Koh Lipe. The local advice was to pee on the massive string and then push the needles further into my infected toe with a dirty flip-flop. Needless to say, that advice didn’t work very well and within a week I was hightailing it to Bangkok for a professional surgery to remove the spikes.”
In a post-op haze, Olivia tended to her wounds with a few layers of tape and a cold beer at a local bar on Khao San Road—a road known for debauchery. She sported a look complete with $5 elephant pants and tousled hair. When Olivia motioned for the check, the staff told her that her beer had already been paid for by a tall and handsome Dane sitting at a nearby table. Their eyes met and they exchanged smiles.
“From the moment our eyes locked, I knew. My head spun, my heart started palpitating. I had thought I had become immune to feelings that aren’t fleeting, having been hurt one too many times before. But in that moment, not to be a total cornball, I believed again. Sure, he is stunningly attractive, with blue almond shaped eyes that twinkle right before he makes a joke and a Northern European jawline reminiscent of Prince Charming. But it was his dual boldness and sincerity, sprinkled with a twinkle of adventure in those baby blues, that instantly trapped my heart,” Olivia recounts.
When Jonathan heard the name of the hotel that Olivia was staying in, he raved about its breakfast buffet.
Olivia says, “I thought he was using some coy one-liner to get an invite back—in retrospect I learned he’s a total foodie and really did his research on best places to grabs some eggs in the morning. Most ironic aspect of it all? We never made it to that breakfast buffet. Instead, we laid in bed, planning our next few weeks of adventure around Southeast Asia together. And from that moment, we were never apart.”
Since that one night in Bangkok, Olivia and Jonathan have gone on safari in South Africa, cruised through the Middle East, have explored a swath of the U.S., and Olivia eventually moved to Copenhagen, Denmark, so that the two could stay together in between trips.
Olivia admits that travelling as a couple isn’t always picture-perfect. “We are often figuring out nitty gritty finances and logistics like an old married couple in a setting where neither of us speak the local tongue. But they say that you don’t fully know your partner (and certainly shouldn’t marry them) until you have spent time traveling together—that’s when the real compatibility is tested. Good news is from day one, we have been passing that test with flying colors.”
When a tuk tuk driver asked if the couple was on their honeymoon, Jonathan answered, “Not yet—but one day soon we will be.”
Olivia B., follow Olivia’s adventures on Instagram
Love at 3,072 metres
With an injured ankle, Amanda went against doctor’s orders and embarked on a grueling last-minute trek to the summit of Mount Whitney, the tallest mountain in the contiguous U.S. Arriving at the trailhead at 2:45 p.m.—long after most of the other trekkers started their journey, Amanda pushed through her injury, determined to beat the sunset and catch up with the rest of her hiking group at a campground.
Amanda says, “There was something pulling me up there, which at that point, felt like the intense draw I had—and have—to be in the mountains.”
Amanda made it to the summit of Mount Whitney, 3,072 metres above sea level. Her friends celebrated with pictures, high fives, and a few cheeky sips of beer that had been worth their weight up the mountain. With a dash of serendipity, Amanda chose the same weekend as a childhood friend of hers to trek Mount Whitney. Amanda’s childhood friend had hiked to the top with a trail mate named Nathan.
Having a penchant for heights, Nathan dangled his legs off a steep ledge. Amanda couldn’t help notice his good looks and went over to say hello. “I approached him and offered him a sip of beer. He obliged. Celebration continued, until it was time for my group to set off down the mountain. I spotted him again as he passed me on the infamous 99 switchbacks. We smiled at each other, exchanged pleasantries. I smiled for a long time after that. I had to figure out his story.”
Though Amanda didn’t see her childhood friend—and Nathan—again that day, she connected with Nathan through social media. Nathan invited Amanda on a backpacking trip to Big Sur, California, and the rest is history.
Amanda says, “We have the most intense version of love I’ve experienced, are making plans for the future and have a relationship that is so full of support, sharing, respect and love, I can hardly believe it’s true sometimes. We continue to share a love of hiking, backpacking, camping, beaching, boating, sailing, traveling – and partake in these at every chance we get.”
Amanda P., Follow Amanda on Instagram
A breakfast date in the Big Easy
Madeline and a group of friends flew from Canada to New Orleans for a hen party.
Madeline says, “It was certainly the last place I ever expected to meet anyone.” At around two in the morning at a bar on Frenchman Street, Madeline met Sebastian, a Swedish traveller who’d embarked on a solo journey through the United States. Neither remember who said “hi” first. The pair instantly hit it off and bar hopped until five in the morning.
Sebastian asked Madeline to meet again over breakfast after sunrise, before Madeline’s flight back to Canada. With the help of his charm—and perhaps a little influence from a few drinks—Madeline agreed.
In the morning, Madeline questioned her last-night self’s agreement for brekkie with a Swedish stranger and thought, “I almost certainly will never see this guy again.”
She met him anyway. Their breakfast date turned into an all-day event as they walked through New Orleans and dodged thunderstorms together.
Madeline did see Sebastian again after that breakfast. The couple crossed the Atlantic seven times to see one another until Madeleine packed her belongings (and cat) and moved to Sweden. Today, the couple is busy travelling the world (they’ve been to more than 15 countries together) and planning their wedding.
Madeline, follow Madeline’s adventures on her travel blog, Madeline Rae Away
A trip with no end date
Saying goodbye to his home in Australia, Ben flew to Prague, Czech Republic to join a bus tour through Eastern Europe. Ben met a fellow traveller on the tour and they got to know one another over the course of nine days, venturing through five countries together. At the end of the bus tour, they hit the road as friends making memories through Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Slovenia.
The duo then travelled solo for a month before reconnecting with one another in Spain. By then, their travel friendship had evolved into a romantic partnership. Unfortunately, their trip came to an end and Ben’s partner flew home to Canada. Ben threw aside his plans of living in the U.K. and booked a one-way ticket to Canada as well.
“Six years on, and the winters don’t really get any easier to deal with, but I’m glad I took the chance to come and visit nonetheless.”
Ben M., follow Ben’s adventures on his travel blog, Horizon Unknown
The Greek unknown
Lauren quit her job in New York City to start a business in Mykonos Greece called Sweat Vacay, a service that helps people find fitness classes in Greece. Not speaking Greek and often getting lost in translation, Lauren focused on finding her entrepreneurial footing.
“The last thing I was looking for was love,” she says.
Lauren went to a public art office to enquire about hanging posters for her business. There, she met a Greek man named Nikos with “coke-bottle glasses and giant cartoon eyes.” They exchanged Facebook information and planned a get-together at a nearby beach later that week.
“It was a big treat for both of us,” Lauren explains. “Despite the fact that we both lived on an island, we both worked too much to go to the beach very often.”
Lauren’s work schedule finally eased up. She and Nikos spent more time together as the weeks ticked on, connecting over shared interests and island hopping around the Mediterranean. On one trip, they spent a week fishing of the coast of Antiparos and cooked their keep inside of a quaint farmhouse. Shortly after, Nikos invited Lauren to Northern Greece to meet his family.
At the time of publishing, Lauren and Nikos are on a cross-country trip to the United States to introduce Nikos to Lauren’s family.