Discovering The Role That Travel Plays  

In a new survey from Exodus Travels, the company found that international vacations can play a significant role in launching and building relationships of all kinds.

According to the survey (commissioned through OnePoll), a full seventy-seven percent of Americans questioned have made lifelong friendships when traveling, while 23% met their spouse on a trip, one third (33%) reported a “vacation romance,” and a quarter (25%) currently claims a best friend encountered on the road. Some didn’t even need to make it to their destination to find romance—three in 10 have dated someone they met on a plane.

While the vast majority of respondents believe travel can strengthen existing bonds (71%), and that the right travel companion can make or break a trip (69%)—perhaps encouraging them to opt for travel with friends and family—49% also report having taken a “life-changing” solo trip in the past (with 20% noting they find it easier to meet people when they’re traveling solo and 71% sharing that they’ve met someone on a trip who gave them a new perspective or has since changed their lives).

Robin Brooks, Marketing Director at Exodus Travels, observed: “What makes a trip unforgettable? The unexpected appreciation from locals when you traveled so far because you want to know their them and their culture. And the tales of family, history, and dreams unearthed by strangers-turned-newfound-friends over a shared meal—so often it’s these moments that conjure lasting memories, whether we are building a ‘just for now’ or new forever-relationship, or sowing the seeds of cross-cultural understanding that will impact our personal worldview for years to come.”

The survey results also make it clear there’s no “right” way to travel. But it is also evident travel can be a great way to expand one’s social circles. So, what is the best approach for those ready to socialize?

Several suggestions appear at the top of the survey list: participation in a variety of activities (31% argue this strategy works); followed by participation in group tours or hotel events (tied at 28%); engagement in sports, active hobbies, and other physical activities (27%); or even just time at a bar or restaurant (26% say this has led to new friendships).

Brooks said that: “In our experience, it’s the intimate moments when our shared humanity is distilled down into an exchange of simple smiles, laughter, and casual conversation (with or without creative hand gestures or Google Translate!) that provide true depth, color, and perspective to all we see and experience while on the road. So, it’s important to participate in activities that allow one to meet new people while traveling.”

Notably, respondents acknowledge a subset of all-new travel relationships may eventually evolve into “social media friendships” or “vacation-only friendships” after a trip has ended. However, the vast majority do not see this “fizzling down” as a negative. Rather, a whopping 79% believe new travel friends make their experiences better (even if they lose touch afterward) and recount gaining on average four new friendships and 12 new social media followers on past trips. Plus, there’s the very real possibility a lifelong relationship will have been captured in that mix, with 77% reporting friendships continuing well after their return home.

If establishing new friendships or a romance is high on one’s to-do list, the evidence shows it may be time to start trip planning. But why?

Brooks notes that “small group travel offers us a chance to bring a refreshed version of ourselves to the ‘vacation table,’ leaving our day-to-day worries behind while reconnecting and reinvigorating parts of ourselves that may have been waning in the shadows of our everyday responsibilities at home—all whether or not we already have pre-established travel partners in our back pockets.”

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