| January 20th, 2019 | 52 Comments

“How long have you two been together?”

We’ve been asked that question hundreds of times in the last five years. You see, everyone we meet assumes we are a couple. When we tell them we’re not “together” most people are surprised, and a bit confused. How did two people of the opposite sex, who aren’t in a relationship, decide to travel the world together? And how the hell did they manage to do so for four years?

Well… let’s start at the beginning.

If you are a single American, chances are you have tried online dating at least once.


An overwhelming majority of the 52 million or so singles living in the USA are using, or have used, an online dating site. Setting up strangers with strangers is a huge business, to the tune of 1.7 billion dollars annually. There is no price a lonely heart won’t pay.

Fifteen years ago online dating was something you hid from your friends and family. Today it’s pretty much how people meet one another.  Far from a secret, nowadays you are sort of weird if you are single and NOT looking for love online. Especially in a busy city like New York, where it seems online dating is the only form of dating left.

We met through a dating app, in New York City, in 2013. Neither of us knew exactly what we were looking for, and neither of us found an amazing head-in-the-clouds romance. What we did find, however, is exactly what we both needed.

Here is the story on how we met, told from each of our perspectives, and how our online date led to a four year (and counting!) around-the-world adventure.



I was laying in bed, in my Brooklyn apartment, on a lazy weekend afternoon. I decided, for probably the fifth time in as many months, to reactivate my online dating account and browse through the multitude of New York City men that were seeking…who knows what?

I didn’t really know what I was looking for either. I wasn’t looking for a serious relationship, I had just gotten out of a very long one. Nor was I searching for a gym buddy, or someone to go to the movies with. I had friends. Was I just looking for sex? Nah. What I do know is that I wasn’t looking for what I ended up finding.

As I scrolled through the images, tapping X, X, X over and over again, I came across one profile picture that made me take pause. The guy was good looking, but not really my type. Something caught my eye in his first picture so I continued on to the rest of them. Most were of travel. A stunning mountain landscape with him hiking in the foreground, one of him on a motorbike staring at himself in the mirror, and one of him walking down a street with Vietnamese flags waving in the background.

I continued to his profile description and it drew me in. I felt compelled and swiped right. Moments later a match message flashed on the screen and eventually (I remember it being a few minutes, Michael says it was at least 30) I got a message from this stranger.


He told me about the month long trip in Central America he had just returned from, about his dream of opening a hostel abroad, and how he planned to move to Colombia for a year. At the time I knew nothing of traveling on a budget so I didn’t really know what to make of these grand plans. In fact, my first thought was that he must have a lot of money, which kind of turned me off and made me wonder if we had anything in common. Nevertheless, we kept chatting and eventually met.

I found Michael to be interesting and charming, but most of all I enjoyed talking to him and hearing about his journeys. I had traveled a lot in the previous ten years but our styles were very different. He traveled for long periods of time on a budget, stayed in hostels, and had a totally DIY approach to travel in general. The stories he told when recounting his trips seemed far more vivid than anything I had encountered while traveling. I went on two week vacations, spent thousands of dollars at a time, stayed in expensive hotels, and always returned home feeling like I wanted more.

At one point, he emailed me a link to his personal blog, a collection of travel stories. I devoured it in a matter of days and felt the growing seed of wanderlust take root in me. I knew that this stranger had tapped into a lifestyle I wanted for myself.

We went out a few times over the course of the next couple of weeks. On the third date I started to sense that a romantic relationship was not in our future. Even though we had things in common and our conversations where engaging and exciting, whatever that thing is that makes two people decide to start an intimate relationship, it wasn’t there.

Despite that, we kept in touch. We ended up hanging out a few times, went canoeing, and even went skydiving once. After the experience of jumping out of a plane with Michael, I realized that he gave me a certain confidence I had not found in myself. He also motivated me to do more of the things that I loved, like hiking, sculpting, and exploring new places. I started to feel some sense of satisfaction for the first time in a very long time.

travel on a budget
Traveling with someone means that you often get to share smiles…and grumpy faces too.

Michael’s style of travel found its way into my thoughts more and more. I started toying with the idea of setting off on my own year-long adventure, possibly moving to Chile where a few friends were living. It seemed like an almost impossible plan though. I didn’t know if I had enough money to do anything even remotely close to what I envisioned. Plus, even if it was possible I didn’t know if I wanted to be in one place for an entire year. I felt a desire to explore but was also terrified. I didn’t know if it was safe for me to backpack alone, had never been to a hostel in my life, let alone knew how to find one, and didn’t know if I actually had the guts to ditch my life entirely to travel.

One night Michael and I were chatting and I asked him for his opinion about my travel ideas. We spoke for a long time and by the end of our conversation he invited me to travel with him. In what felt like an instinctive reaction, I said yes. In a matter of minutes my implausible dream became plausible.

A few months later, after saving money, subletting my apartment, and quitting my job, I was on a flight to Mexico with a person I had met only half a year before, a near stranger. I had an “oh shit, what am I doing” moment on the plane and hoped this wasn’t all some sort of extravagant plan for him to sell me into the sex slave trade. Thankfully that didn’t happen.

Deciding to respond to Michael’s first message, and subsequently deciding to travel with him, are quite possibly two of the best decisions I ever made.



Most single people have something in common these days. Somewhere, floating in cyberspace, they have an online dating profile. Some people are looking for love, maybe marriage, and a house with 2.5 kids. Some are hoping a random stranger comes along to interject a bit of temporary happiness into their lives. Others still are looking for friends, companions, sexual partners. Some have no idea what it is they are looking for exactly.

Five years ago, while living in Brooklyn, I was such a person. Checking my online dating messages was as commonplace as checking my email. I couldn’t tell you exactly what I was looking for online, but I knew I didn’t want to settle down and live out the rest of my days drawing out a predictable pattern in the same city I had spent the majority of my life.

photo (3)

You see, I had developed an acute case of wanderlust. I had it bad. There was only one cure for it, really. I had to travel, more. I could no longer take five week trips out of the country only to return to the same routine. I needed to get out on the road and stay there, for as long as possible. I wanted to undertake the challenge of leaving my known comfort zones, and walk the Earth like Caine. I wanted to experience everything, everywhere. I wanted to see how people lived in Laos, laughed in Latvia, smiled in South Africa, how they celebrated in Cyprus.

I figured I could manage the wide open road on my own, but a curiously substantial part of me wanted to share the experience with someone else. Meanwhile, most of my friends thought I was crazy. Not a one was down for such flights of fancy as selling 99 percent of their possessions traveling the globe for years. I couldn’t really blame them, I didn’t have much of a plan aside from squirreling away some money and hitting the road, hoping for good fortune.

full time travel
This is what we look like when we are trying to be serious in Mexico.

So I trolled Tinder with vague ideas of coming across a kindred spirit. Might as well randomly date, I thought, and see if there was anyone out there that was like me, that wanted the same thing I did. I didn’t place much faith in the possibility, but I figured I would give it a shot while planning my departure.

And you know what? The craziest thing happened. Ten months later I was discussing leaving New York City with a person who had only recently been a total stranger. Our first couple of dates had romantic potential but something far more interesting was brewing.

One summer afternoon in Long Island I found myself two miles up in the sky. I was in a tiny little airplane with eight people who were about to step out of a miraculous flying machine and plummet to the ground. I was terrified, truth be told, properly appalled at the thought of jumping. Skydiving simultaneously fascinated and sickened me, and here I was about to leave a perfectly functional airplane in mid-flight, because some girl I met on-line suggested that we do so. Somehow she had given me the courage to overcome one of my greatest fears.

As I fell through the sky I thought to myself “this is so fucking cool”.


Six months later I was on a flight to Mexico, with no plans of stepping out of the plane this time. I was sitting next to a person that was a stranger no more than six months prior, and who would soon become as close and dear to me as anyone I had ever known.

It was the first day of a journey that is yet to stop. Over four years now, and going strong. Randi is my partner in exploration, my partner in creation, my partner in liberation. We have done more, seen more, and explored more together than I ever thought I would do with another person. We have zero desire to stop anytime soon.

The journey is not always easy, and it took us both a long while to get used to one another’s quirks. We try to work on our communication skills every day, so that every argument or disagreement results in a better understanding of the other person. It takes a lot of work and energy to keep two people moving forward step-in-step for such a long period of time, and many relationships crumble and fail under that burden. Having identical goals certainly helps alleviate a good deal of the pressure, and I am beyond lucky to have randomly found a person that shares my dreams to the extent that Randi does.

We make friends where ever we go, but the only constant in the last four years of our lives has been each other.

The poetry of our story is not lost on me. Two strangers with a mirroring desire for adventure and exploration stumble into one another in the ethereal fog of cyberspace, forging forward to create a partnership that exceeded anything they thought was possible.

So when people ask me if they should try online dating I always tell them to absolutely do so. I may not have found the perfect romance, I say, but I found something far more important. I found the perfect partner to fulfill my dreams with, and if you are open to the possibility, you might as well.

Split Croatia Old Town
Photo Credit: Localgrapher.com

Everything You Need to Know to Visit Prague!

Prague Ebook - Local's Guide to Prague by Just a Pack

Written by Just a Pack


52 thoughts on “It’s a Match! Our Online Date Led to a Round-the-World Adventure

  1. This is an inspiring story – I think it’s great that you two found each other and romance or not, this makes for a great story as well as a great blessing

    1. Thank you Nam! Just goes to show, you never know when one decision can change your life for the better. I hate to think about how different my life would be if I didn’t come across Michael’s profile that day.

  2. I think this is fantastic! It’s so refreshing to see two people connecting on a platonic level and having the time of their lives 🙂 All the best with your continued travels!

    1. Thank you Flora! A lot of people didn’t think we could travel together long term since we weren’t in a romantic relationship. Good thing we are both so hard headed. Here’s to proving that you don’t have to live life by other people’s rules and expectations. 😉

  3. So glad you found each other! It’s a great story and a wonderful thing to find a kindred spirit. Happy travels! Tricia

  4. Randi & Michael,

    Great story guys!

    I hope we cross paths somewhere in the world. Maybe we’ll scuba together….or not.
    Talk on Twitter soon!

    Leslie : )

    1. Hey Leslie,

      Would love to! We have to learn how to dive first, but I think it’s about time to do just that…

  5. What a fantastic story! I think more and more people are turning to online dating as a way to find their partners, but not necessarily for friendships. Great for you guys to have found something that works for the two of you.

  6. Thanks, Randi and Michael, for sharing your beautiful story! I met the love of my life online and, while our story looks a bit different than yours, I’d say you guys found the love of your lives, too. I so enjoy reading and viewing glimpses of your adventures. Safe travels!

    1. Thanks Dave! Yeah, it’s not every day you come across a male/female-non-couple-travel-couple. 😉

  7. What a great story ; thanks for sharing, guys! It shows that opposite sexes can definitely travel together – for a long period of time – without having a serious romantic relationship. Safe and happy travels!

  8. You two are the best non couple ever!!! And this post reminds me of a moment in Montserrat, Spain, on a press trip when you revealed you two were not a couple, and I admitted my husband and I don’t live together even though we’re newlyweds, and then someone else mentioned she was engaged to someone who didn’t even live in the same country as she did – and then we said we have GOT to talk about this at dinner … and then we never did. Finally, FINALLY, I get the story. Love you guys!

    1. Thank you Carol! We enjoy being a great non couple, hahaha. I’m glad you didn’t really discuss this subject over dinner that day, I don’t think I had any energy, whatsoever, left after Tbex and the first day of the press trip.

  9. Sooo inspiring! I am beyond happy you followed me on Twitter S couple days back, as I mentioned the other day, to the call of divine timing. After reading your story, I believe that you both as well, have seen your fair share of that same magical timing in the last few years starting from that initial “look” that lured you into a life of living out your dreams Randi. And to Michael, take of her along the rest of the way, as it is evident that you do. I’m happy you have each other and are travelling this journey together. Randi, I believe your kindred spirit has arrived. ❤️ Stay blessed, and when you don’t have that camera, close your eyes and take a picture. The best advice I had ever received.

    1. Loredana, thank you for the kind words! We try to enjoy every single moment of our travels and understand just how lucky we are to do what we do and to have found a great travel partner to do it with! <3

  10. Such a beautiful story!!! You guys have definitely found something a lot better than romance. Happy travels to you two!

  11. wow! So cool, reminds me of Aristotle, we are all drifting around like zombies to find the perfect other half! But what’s amazing is the trust and friendship that u built!

    1. Rahul, true. It’s amazing how your life can be completely altered for the better by such a random event.

  12. That’s such a great story! I love that you are breaking stereotypes and screwing with people’s expectations. Who’s to say what is normal and what is possible?

    1. Totally! I’m very happy to live “outside the box” and not worry about what is considered “normal”.

  13. Hi, I love following both of you. It’s nice to know about your travel experiences..there can be nothing more satisfying than exploring the whole world with your sole-mate!!

  14. Great story. Finding the right travel companion can be hard, but it looks like you two have struck gold. Happy adventures to you both.

  15. What a beautiful story. And you are both smart to recognize that what you have is so much more important and solid than a fleeting romance. I am going to share and follow. I am also hosting a new link party (I don’t know if you do that sort of thing) and would love to have you join us. It runs Friaysa through Tuesdays and is called Sweet Inspiration. Btw, I found you through twitter. Good luck on your travels and having the guts to follow your dream.

  16. This is an amazing story! Wish I’d found a partner to travel with when I started traveling! 😉

  17. WOW! Excellent Story Randi & Michael. First time i am reaching to this blog and your story itself is awesome. Love to bookmark this site. Here is my website http://movingshoe.com/ which mostly covering destinations in Kerala, India . You are most welcome!

  18. What a wonderful story! I am glad you two found each other and kept each other through all this time- some of life’s best love stories aren’t romantic ones. :]

  19. Just read this story! Absolutely beautiful guys, you guys are a testament to your own dreams. Can’t wait to meet up with you again someday!

  20. I’ve just come across your blog, and I have fallen in love with it! This is such an amazing story, thank you for sharing it with us.

    I came out of a long-term relationship earlier this year, and at first I struggled with getting used to being single. However, in the past few months I have been giving a lot of thought to the different relationships in my life, and for the first time in my life (well, since being old enough to have romantic feelings), I am not obsessed with the idea of finding a romantic partner; instead, I am open to creating as many different and fulfilling relationships with people as I can.

    I’m currently preparing to go travelling in March, and I’m looking forward to meeting new people who are on the same wavelength and share the same dreams and goals as I do. I hope that one day, I have a friendship as special as you two!

    Thanks again x

    1. Laura,

      Thank you so much for your kind words! We hope your travels in March are filled with amazing sights and interesting people. Travelers all have at least one thing in common, and that one thing makes for a GREAT foundation for friendship. Make sure to drop us a line to let us know how your adventures are playing out!

      Safe travels, and hope to see you on the road!

  21. Why would 2 people not in a ‘relationship’ decide to travel for so long? It is natural for feelings to develop for such a long term partner. I’m surprised you haven’t found romance or love yet. Is that so? Any other ‘couple’ in your situation would have definitely married by now! Leaves me stumped and scratching my head…

  22. Two BEAUTIFUL souls doing what most people would consider but never attempt.
    Your story is both inspirational & mind-blowing to the average Joe.
    When you embarked on this journey nothing could stop you both, it’s a dream come true. Not your average life path,that is a realisation of your commitment to making sure your dream is no longer a DREAM but has become a way of life for you both, hats off to both of you.Thanl you for sharing your adventures & your day by day accounts.

    1. Thank you so much Glyn! So nice of you, and I hope our story and articles inspire you to see more of this beautiful planet we exist on!

  23. Your story is so very inspiring. The beautiful catch for me in your story is that at one point we all must realize and acknowledge what is the core ambition or “story” ones own life.

  24. Thanks a ton for this particular piece of writing. I will talk about it with people I know.

  25. Beautiful story! I can’t believe you two met on Tinder ❤ I’m curious what you think about travel-focused dating apps like Tourbar and Fairytrail?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.