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A Guide to International Travel and Meeting Your Match

After you’ve gotten to know your match and you’re ready to meet in person for the first time, we strongly recommend that you to travel to her country. You could also suggest meeting in a vacation destination you both have an interest in visiting – ask her if she prefers that you go to her country or wants to travel. If she is from Eastern Europe, you could suggest Spain, Italy or France, or a more budget friendly country like Turkey or Morocco. If she is from Asia or Latin America, pick a place that is similarly geographically convenient. If you’ve never visited a foreign country, this can be an exciting experience you both can share!

Here we provide several tips and resources to help ensure an enjoyable experience during your trip to meet your match for the first time:

Discuss if and how you will share expenses before you leave

Before you start planning a trip, have a conversation about expectations around expenses. If your match can afford to contribute, clarify who will pay for what. If she cannot afford it, decide whether you’re OK with paying her way.

Passport, visa and legal requirements

Be sure all your documents are in order before you leave the country. You’ll need a valid passport and will have to check if a visa is required to enter the country you are traveling to. Check official websites to find out about security alerts or legal issues. If you are traveling from the U.S., your best resource is the U.S. Department of State’s site for International Travel information. If you’re from the U.K., consult the Foreign & Commonwealth Office’s Travel & Living Abroad site. Other countries have similar websites for citizens traveling abroad.

Learn about your destination

Learning about the country you’ll be visiting in advance is part of the fun! The best resource for research is wikitravel.org – it provides information about the climate, public transportation, culture, cities and regions, tourist attractions and more. Another useful site is tripprep.com, which has information on embassies, recommended vaccinations and crime statistics for over 209 countries. You can also look at frommers.com for reviews and travel guides for more than 4,300 destinations.

Booking plane tickets

If you’re a do-it-yourselfer shopping for a deal on plane tickets, there are many sites available for comparing prices. With farecompare.com, expedia.com and kayak.com you can compare airfare for over 500 airlines all on one site and book it when you find something that suits your itinerary and budget. If you don’t have the time to book plane tickets or prefer some help, you can always use a travel agent.

Booking hotels

Most of the sites for booking plane tickets can be used to book hotels as well, but booking.com and hotels.com have the most up-to-date information about availability. Latestays.com has great deals in Asia that may not be available on other sites. TripAdvisor.com features information and user reviews and ratings, which reveal pros and cons about hotels that can be very useful in helping you select one. Sometimes people post their own photos, which often provide a different perspective from the photos posted by the hotel. Please note: some hotels with high ratings are also reasonably priced.

Plan your time

To get the most out of your time in a foreign country (and to impress your match!), we suggest making an itinerary of things you both want to see and do while you’re there. Before you leave, ask your match to also look at wikitravel.org and frommers.com and let you know what interests her and compare notes. The itinerary could also serve as a “backup plan” to ensure a worthwhile trip even if the connection doesn’t work out.

Learn how to get around

Again, wikitravel.org has the most up-to-date and user-friendly tool for finding out how to get around in the country you are visiting. If there is public transportation, the site can help you learn how to use it. It also provides information about taxi fares and how to tell if the driver is charging you a fair rate. For rental cars we recommend carrentals.com; you can also check farecompare.com, expedia.com and kayak.com for cars. All these sites provide quotes from local and major companies that operate worldwide such as Avis and Hertz.

Staying safe

Whenever you travel, there are always things you can do to help ensure things go smoothly. Make an extra copy of your travel documents and keep them in a secure place. If you are a U.S. citizen, sign up for the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) so the Department of State can better assist you in an emergency. The service also enables Americans abroad to get routine information from the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. Most Western countries have services similar to STEP to help keep you safe while traveling.

Also, be sure to tell a friend or family member at home where you are going and give them details of your itinerary as well as information about whom you plan to meet. Let your contact person know that you have arrived safely at your destination and check in periodically during your trip.

Be Optimistic but Realistic

Anyone who meets people through online dating, whether at home or abroad, is likely to agree that sometimes the in-person experience is different from the online relationship. So we encourage our members to be optimistic but realistic and to be prepared to work a bit on the chemistry when you finally meet in person. Try to relax, be honest and take things slowly. Remember, you’ve taken a big step by traveling so far to meet your match, and staying calm and collected can help build in-person chemistry. If your meeting turns out well and you can start to see a future together, be sure to take lots of photos and videos and retain all receipts for supporting documentation for the immigration application.

Avoiding in-person scams

In-person scams are less common than online scams, but they do exist. If you are traveling to meet a woman for the first time, this assumes you have developed enough trust to do so. But sometimes a person’s willingness to trust can make him vulnerable to scams. Pay attention to these signs that may indicate a problem:

  • She seeks expensive gifts and getaways. Gifts such as jewelry, money and a trip to an expensive hotel or resort are common requests from in-person scammers. An honest woman might offer to help with expenses and contribute what she can.
  • She seems preoccupied with money, not you. If she seems overly interested in what is in your wallet or bank account instead of finding out more about you, this is a red flag.
  • She handles bookings and pays. If your match offers to book arrangements, it’s easy for her to say something cost more than it did. For example, she may say the hotel room cost $250 a night when it was only $50 and keep the extra money. Until you are sure she is trustworthy, you should handle all bookings, especially if you are the one who is paying.
  • She talks about having financial troubles and asks for help. If your match starts talking about financial hardships and implies she might need help, don’t give in. Common stories include a family emergency or saying that to buy her ticket to meet you she had to pawn valuable items like her grandmother’s jewelry or her late mother’s wedding ring – stories that will tug at your heartstrings. If this happens, show sympathy in case she is being honest, but explain that you aren’t in a position to help her financially. After you’ve said no, her behavior over the next few days should reveal if she is a scammer.

Above all, focus on avoiding scams and enjoying the experience in a foreign country. If the connection works out, consider it a bonus and continue building the relationship.

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