Much like falling in love for the first time, feeling those wheels land in a new country is a surprising, exhilarating feeling. No matter if you barely caught a second of sleep on a redeye or you’re exhausted from a multicountry expedition, seeing a foreign city and immersing yourself in the culture has a way of opening your perspective and touching your soul.
Though it might seem only possible in a romantic comedy in which two strangers brush against one another in a European midsummer dream, many couples have formed long-lasting bonds, thanks to their serendipitous meet-cutes abroad. Here, 11 twosomes share their tales of how a thirst for adventure helped them find one another in this big, big world.
Jenn & Sean
Freelance writer, Jenn Rice, and her friend decided to take a trip to Barcelona on a whim in 2009. It was so spontaneous that they didn’t bother to book a hotel and quickly found themselves following two random guys down a popular street, La Rambla, hoping they would lead them to a spot with a vacancy. Unfortunately (or fortunately), they were surprised to find out the guys were in the same predicament. “The hotel was only able to find one room and the four of us ended up splitting it for 48 hours,” Jenn shared. That’s how Jenn met her now-husband, Sean Tippetts.
After parting ways after their Spanish exploration, Jenn to New York and Sean to Salt Lake City, the two kept in contact via Facebook. But with an ever-growing connection, eventually, Jenn decided to make a move for love, heading out west to join her serendipitous partner. In 2013, during Jenn’s first canyon hike, Sean asked her to be his forever-travel buddy, and in 2014, they wed outside of Jackson Hole. In true nomadic fashion, they made their honeymoon last: traveling to Buenos Aires right after their I do’s, followed by a Hawaii trip five months later, and then a trek to Mexico City and Valparaiso, Chile, at the end of the year.
Now married three years, they don’t have plans of stopping anytime soon: "Traveling fuels both of us and keeps us young," said Jenn. "As soon as one trip is over, we’re immediately scheming on the next—whether abroad or a local Wyoming fishing spot."
Kristin & Scott
In 2005, Kristin Luna and Scott van Velsor were two of the four Americans taking a year-long international journalism course in Holland. Not only did Kristin hail from Tennessee and Scott from California, but the pair were nine years apart, making it unlikely that the now-happy couple would have crossed paths if a desire to see the world—and report on it—hadn’t brought them together.
Even so, it definitely wasn’t love at first stroopwafel: “We immediately dismissed each other; he thought I was just some Southern sorority girl with no depth, I thought him a bit boring,” she explained. However, when a trip to concentration camps in Germany and Holland encouraged them both to discuss serious, important topics, they realized how much they actually shared in common. They spent the rest of the program traveling through Europe together, but when the year ended, Scott went back to San Francisco, and Kristin took a job in New York.
The separation didn’t last long, though; Scott invited her to be his date to his cousin’s wedding, at which they decided to give long distance a shot. In 2008, Kristin moved to California and in 2009, they had a secret courthouse wedding, followed by a big affair in 2010. Their jobs have grown, as well as their love of travel (and one another) over the years, allowing them to explore frequently.
“For years, I primarily worked in magazine journalism and guidebooks, so I was often traveling solo, though Scott tagged along on my assignments when he could get off work," said Kristin. "But now we own a small media agency that specializes in custom content for destinations, travel brands, and tourism boards, so we get to travel together—far and often—for a living!" She added, "It's the dream, really. I've visited all 50 states and more than 120 countries, and we've probably traveled through at least 50 of those as a couple."
Antonia & Andrei
In 2012, Antonia Hornung and Andrei Mocanu were both looking for something different—something exciting, something that opened up their careers—and their minds—to the world. That’s when they both applied to the only residential mega-yacht, the World. After going to hospitality school in Switzerland, Antonia scored a spot in their management trainee program, while Andrei took the opportunity to work as the yacht’s front-office manager.
Though Antonia had small talk with Andrei at orientation, she found him to be a bit full of himself and initially wrote him off. Even so, their commonalities—both coincidental and seemingly sealed with fate—kept coming up: “We were both born in Romania, went to hotel management school in Switzerland, and spoke several languages. He tried to impress me by telling me that he speaks four languages, but I quickly topped it with six,” she shared. Throughout the four months aboard the ship, they secretly fell in love, and then continued their journey as a couple, taking a long vacation to Mexico to really get to know one another.
It was after this trip that they decided to move in together in Edmonton, Alberta. They spent 2013 exploring the Canadian Rockies and then booked a family vacation with Andrei’s parents to Los Cabos, where a little over a year after they met, he asked her to marry him. After a long engagement, the couple plans to marry in September 2017 in Mykonos, Greece. As for their passports? They're getting plenty of exercise.
“Ever since we met, traveling has been an integral part of our relationship, whether it was for fun or for work," Antonia said. "Our jobs in hospitality require us to constantly move to different places for new assignments," which have included Canada, Bermuda, and now Guana Island in the British Virgin Islands, where they currently live. They've also been to Playa del Carmen and Tulum in Mexico, Eleuthera in the Bahamas, St.Barth's, St.Martin, St. Thomas, Jost Van Dyke, Virgin Gorda, Madrid, Ibiza, and Barcelona. "The magic starts with the process of choosing a new destination together, planning all aspects of it, sharing the anticipation of an upcoming trip, and ultimately living the experience together,” she shared. A couple of weeks ago, they just decided to go to Cuba, which, Antonia said, "was an unforgettable trip by far and very spontaneous."
Amanda & Jonathan
In 2012, Amanda Walkins decided it was time for a big change, so she quit her job and set out to backpack throughout Honduras and Guatemala for six weeks. To begin her journey, she stopped by the island of Roatan to soak up the sunshine before the grueling (yet wonderful) process of country-hopping. On her first day on the island, she took to the beach with a local girl she was staying with when a good-looking guy stopped by.
Amanda was intrigued, but it wasn’t until a few days later when their paths crossed again: “After a series of quick chats between his scuba dives, he asked me to meet up later for live music. But as it turned out, there was no live music and he and I ended up talking alone for seven hours, closing down the bar,” she shared. Two days later, she was meant to leave on the ferry, but this attractive, charming man, Jonathan Clarkin, asked her not to go on the Thursday night before her departure. On Sunday, she moved into his apartment. On Monday, they picked up a stray dog.
Three years later, Amanda had to return to Boston for a friend’s wedding, and since Jonathan wasn’t able to attend thanks to a busy work schedule, he missed her dearly. “He set up a candlelit dinner on our dock and, once we'd finished, sent our dog over to me and told me to check her collar. She had a ring that he had made while I was away. He got down on one knee and asked if we could share all our adventures together forever. With the Milky Way galaxy overhead and shooting stars galore, it was a beautiful night,” she said.
A while later, the couple moved to Scotland, where Jonathan grew up, to be closer to family and to try a European adventure. They officially tied the knot in Edinburgh in January of 2016. Today, they live in Malta and continue to go on adventures.
“A huge part of what made me fall in love with Jonathan was his interest in the world. He had already traveled extensively, had worked in various parts of the world, and showed interest and appreciation for other places and other cultures. That drew me to him right away,” Amanda explained. “I never really pursued any relationships when I lived in the states because I knew I wanted to travel and live overseas. I didn't want an anchor," she admits. "Jonathan is anything but an anchor to me—he's a driving force to continue exploring more! We have no plans to stop traveling...ever.”
Natalie and Johnny
Since Natalie DiScala, the editor of the travel and style blog Oh! Travelissima, and Johnny Jet from JohnnyJet.com shared a common passion of travel writing, it wasn’t a surprise that they ended up on the same press trip to Delray Beach, Florida in November of 2006 for the opening of a new hotel, the Delray Beach Marriott. What they didn’t expect, though, was for their work trip to escape the cold weather to bring them both love. Their connection was instant and they continued a long-term dating affair, until Johnny proposed to Natalie in Clearwater, Florida, in 2012.
“I was completely unsuspecting because we are fortunate to travel frequently, so I had no reason to think that this trip was any different. We had the most romantic dinner in a private beach house, and halfway through, I recalled that Johnny had posted a photo on Facebook when we arrived, with a caption that said something about ‘the sun setting at a very special hotel.’ I hadn't given it any thought at the time, but during dinner, I asked him why he had said that this was a ‘special’ hotel. Before I knew it, he was down on one knee, with a ring he'd had blessed by our priest, saying the nicest things anyone has ever said to me, and asking if we could spend the rest of our lives together. In a blur of tears, I said ‘yes,’” she shared.
The twosome said their "I do's" in Natalie’s hometown outside of Toronto, followed by three weeks in Bali. Four years later, in 2016, they welcome their first child. Throughout their 11-year relationship, they’ve been to 65 countries together and they credit adventuring to making their connection stronger. “When we were dating, traveling together was the perfect way to really get to know one another, to see how compatible we were and to see how each of us handled stress. I think you can really get to know someone by how they react when things go wrong. Johnny always says that couples should take their honeymoon before the wedding,” she shared. “Now that we have a son, we are excited to travel with him and see the world all over again through his eyes.”
Lola & Julio
While living in Madrid, travel writer Lola Mendez started swiping on Tinder. Though she connected to Julio Llamas Chavarria quickly, it took four months for them to actually meet face to face. In March of 2016, she was about to leave town, when she suggested a glass of vino before she took off to her next adventure. He said yes—and it was love at first laugh.
“He had this intoxicating laugh and a fervor for life. I headed off for my two-week voyage and never expected to see him again. But he kept up with my itinerary and gave me recommendations and secret clues for things to discover in each city I visited,” she shared. Their long-distance connection kept its fever, even through Lola’s three-month gig in Florence, where they met up for romantic weekends in Bologna and in Venice. A few months later, they met in Morocco for her birthday and it cemented their relationship: “We haven't looked back since. I spent the holidays with him in Madrid in December before going to India for six months. He visited me twice in Asia, first in India in March, then in Nepal in May,” she said.
Now, Julio has joined Lola on her nomadic life, where they are spending the rest of the year traveling through Southeast Asia. Their plans? Simple: “From there we will go wherever our hearts desire, as long as we are together,” Lola says.
Natasha & Cameron
In 2013, Natasha Alden only had one week left before she was taking off on a trip around the world. Randomly, she had a last-minute first date with Cameron Seagle and realized she liked him enough to ask him to join her. But, she never thought he’d say ‘yes’—because, who would? They parted their separate ways and she adjusted to the fact that she’d likely never see him again. Fate had a different course in mind: “I was two weeks into my trip and hanging out in Norway for a few days when he texted me from London. ‘I'll be in Oslo in five hours,’ he told me,” she said. “That was where we started our life of travel together.”
They’ve been traveling for the past four years, including a yearlong road trip through Africa, where they started in South Africa and drove all the way up to Kenya, hitting as many national parks as they could along the way. This fall, they’re planning a trip to Scotland, Ireland, France, and Finland, followed by a trek through Asia. Natasha says that because she and Cameron travel full-time together, traveling is their relationship. "Now we have traveled to over 60 countries together and make a living off our travel blog! I don't think we will ever stop traveling,” she said.
Sonal and Sandro
On what was supposed to be a fun, celebratory New Year’s Eve 2014 in Koh Tao, Thailand, travel blogger, Sonal Kwatra Paladini, found herself in the corner of a music festival, crying because she received news that one of her friends in India had passed away. When she looked up, she met the eyes of German-born Sandro, who had noticed how upset she was and started to comfort her.
“Our lighthearted conversation distracted my mind and I felt better. We spent the most of the night and the next day together talking and exchanging travel stories. We exchanged a little kiss and soon it was time to say goodbye to him and Thailand,” she said. But while she didn’t intend on seeing him again, when she returned to India, he messaged her to say he wanted to book a ticket to come visit her. A month later, he proposed in New Delhi, and a year later, they wed on February 15, 2015.
A year after they got married in India, they quit their full-time jobs to lead a nomadic life. Since then, they have traveled together to Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Philippines, Croatia, Hungary, Netherlands, Spain, Portugal, India, and Germany. “We love traveling around the world for music festivals and have attended around 10 of them in different countries within the last 12 months," said Sonal. "As of April 2017, we are in Germany and we're thinking of living here for at least a year."
Annie & Ryan
It’s often a "me too!" moment that brings couples together, and for Annie Erling Gofus and Ryan Gofus, their birthdays being just one day apart was enough to get them to raise an eyebrow at one another. Though at the time Annie was a college student in North Dakota and Ryan was at a university in Washington, D.C., they both found themselves at a birreria in the Navigli district in Milan, on October 16, 2008. “We got to talking and realized our birthdays were one day after the other—mine is October 17th and his is October 18th. To celebrate this happy coincidence, we had a joint birthday party two days after we met,” she said.
Two weeks later, they decided to travel to Paris together, stepping out of their comfort zones, thanks to their instant connection. “Everything around you is foreign, you might not speak the local language, and your time is limited so you make connections quickly. In my ‘normal’ life, I would never go on an international vacation with someone I had known for only two weeks! But traveling inspires spontaneity,” she points out. After enjoying—and falling in love—in Italy, they tried their hand at long distance for six months until Annie graduated from college and relocated to Washington. Just over a year later on Halloween, Ryan carved "marry me?" into a pumpkin, and in July of 2010, they said "I do" in Bismarck, North Dakota.
Today, the couple prioritizes travel as a key component of their relationship, their careers, and their happiness. “We have made deliberate choices in our careers to find positions that allow us the freedom to travel," Annie said. Recently, she lived in Slovakia for a year on a Fulbright grant, and she and Ryan took full advantage of the cheap European airfares and traveled all over Europe. “We don’t always have the time or money to spend a week in Spain, so we plan lots of short weekend trips, like a recent trip to the eastern shore of Maryland with our dog, Rocky," she added. "Planning adventures and traveling together is almost like couples’ counseling for us! It’s our time to unplug, relax, and focus on each other.” Their next trip is to Thailand for Ryan’s 30th birthday—in October, of course.
Jill & Ryan
In 2002, Jill Provost was working as a "love & lifestyle guru" for CollegeClub.com. Ryan McDonough was a TV host on the College Television Network. Though they had never met, they both found themselves on a press junket for Axe deodorant body spray in Ibiza, Spain, where the brand was celebrating their U.S. launch. Given Axe’s focus on being "irresistible to women," the weekend was a crazy time of club hopping, Jill recalled.
Though the pair hit it off from the start—flirting and dancing at the airport—they were both in relationships with other people, so they kept it professional, exchanged business cards, and parted, Jill to San Diego and Ryan to Brooklyn. Three years later, though, Jill was freshly single and making the big move to New York, and reconnected to Ryan via Friendster. That’s when fate stepped in again: “Turns out, I was moving to the same neighborhood in Brooklyn where he lived. We went on our first date to Halcyon, a cool record store/beer and wine bar. And the rest is history,” she shared.
Four years later they got engaged in their Brooklyn apartment the day the ring came in from Paris because Ryan couldn’t wait any longer, and they wed in Boston in 2010, their pup serving as ring bearer. Their honeymoon to Hawaii reminded them of their love for nature, inspiring them to relocate to California, where they currently call home. In 2014, they welcomed their son, Wylie, who is now an added travel buddy in their adventures.
Most recently, the couple took their three-year-old to Coachella this past April. "It's important as parents to get out of your comfort zone and do the things you love," said Jill. "Usually your kid will surprise you in how he rises to the occasion—and festival-goers were equally cool. We got a lot of high-fives and requests for photos!"