If you watch The Bachelor for the sheer love of travel alone (or even if that's a convenient story you tell your friends), you couldn't be blamed: The long-running dating show takes participants around the globe to some truly epic and romantic destinations that can provide travel inspo for jet-setters the world over... no matter how the dates turn out in the end.
Last year, for instance, Ben Higgins and crew inspired me — long-time viewer and big fan (don't judge!) — to finally visit Mexico City. And in true Bachelorstyle, I flew on a hot air balloon as a morning date. Sure, my date and I had had to sign our lives away on a Spanish liability form — but hey, I'm all about chasing that reality-show-style, romantic, over-the-top experience.
Traveling in the style of The Bachelor and The Bachelorette does come with its risks — or at least jitters. We've seen countless pairs of husband-and-wife hopefuls being whisked away on helicopter rides, for instance. Previously, some went bungee jumping in a foreign location or did a free-fall in tandem from a city skyscraper (insert OMG emoji here).
This season, Nick Viall already had the ladies performing with the Backstreet Boys, checked out a haunted house and, even tried weightlessness. At one point, Nick and Vanessa try out anti-gravity for a once-in-a-lifetime date; she was nauseous, but they made out after anyway. Basically, the message in all this is: #YOLO, so try everything once. Go everywhere — especially outside your comfort zone.
I take other travel- and love-related lessons from the show too, or at least it provokes some questions. Does a bigger adventure make for a stronger budding romance? (Consider just how little romance potential there really is in those daytime OKCupid dates to Starbucks.)Does doing something super exciting together as a newish couple in a new location bode well for the relationship? What's better than overcoming your fears with a new love?
Lauren Hazzouri, licensed psychologist and founder of Hey Lauren, says all of this travel and adventure and risk taking "is no mistake on the part of producers. Having contestants of a reality romance show engage in thrill-seeking activities on dates is brilliant! They’re capitalizing on brain chemistry." According to Dr. Lauren, these kinds of experiential, risky dates can signal the nervous system and get the brain chemicals start to brew to mimic the adrenaline and dopamine like falling in love. Experiencing this sensational cocktail surge "has the potential to foster connection in the form of attachment but not necessarily deeper connection that leads to satisfying relationships." (Ahem, does anyone remember Jake and Vienna?!)
Still, Dr. Hazzouri adds maintaining that bond takes more effort than just the physical — of course — including having common interests, like travel. And I'm all about that: Personally, I love trying to plan more itineraries with the boyfriend, or talk it out and share insight on some vulnerable or exciting aspects about the next item on my bucket list alongside discussions about the next step of our relationship. Planning for (and doing!) fun, out-of-the-box activities makes for some great memories all while it tricks the brain to delve deeper into matters of the heart.
In short, I'm stamping up my passport and learning every day about love. And I'm not ashamed to say I got some of those learnings from TV. Here's my top takeaway from The Bachelor: Be brave by leaving your comfort zone to open your heart. That's what I'm doing as I wait for my final rose!
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