In this blog post, I will share some tips for dating on vacation or solo travel from my perspective as a GROWN AF 50+-year-old woman.
I am happily single and over 50. I relocated from the United States last year and I live in Mexico as my home base and I solo travel on a regular basis.
While I am not looking for or interested in marriage, I am open to a partnership with the right person.
But I haven’t met him yet so as a single girl, I am out here dating and I do not let solo travel or living abroad, i.e. outside of the United States, stop me from meeting new people and living my best dating life.
My friends and follower often ask me questions about dating in Mexico, where I live as well as dating while I am on solo trips.
I am a Black heterosexual 50+-year-old woman, so this post is written from that perspective. But I suspect much of the tips and advice I will share may be applicable regardless of sexual orientation, preference, or age. Apply them as you see fit. These are tips and hacks that work for me. They may not work for you and that is ok.
If you have not already, also check out The Skinny on Dating while on Solo travel and/or Living Abroad, a free-wheeling chat with a couple of my Fly 40+ gal pals where we talk about dating in Mexico and while on solo travel. It was a fun conversation, so definitely watch, like, comment, and subscribe.
Before I we get started a couple of last caveats, my approach to dating might be different because my objectives may be different.
For example, I do not limit my dating options by race or age. I date whoever I want. I have dated men 20 years younger than me and I have dated almost every ethnicity as well. Some of these things I do may not work for you if you are, for example, looking for a husband. So, the first thing to do is be clear and honest with yourself about what you want, and what your dating objectives are. Men are not mindreaders; nobody is. So being honest with yourself and the people you meet while dating will better position to get what you want, whatever it is.
Here is my approach to not only dating while living abroad and traveling solo but dating generally.
1. Put yourself out there and put your best face forward
You can’t win the game if you won’t play. You have to be in the game to win it. Mr. Right or Mr. Right-now is not going to find you at home in your bed unless he’s the Amazon delivery man, so you are likely going to have to put yourself out there in some way.
While I think Black Love is a beautiful concept, I do not limit my dating options to only dating Black men. I date anyone that I find physically attractive and with whom I also feel an intellectual and spiritual connection. This allows me to have lots of diverse experiences while on travel as well as just dating in general.
I find the easiest way to meet new men is through online dating. Yes, it can feel like a cesspool filled with crap, but it’s a big wide pool filled with opportunities as well so pull on your tall wading boots and get in there!
There are MANY online dating apps and I have used them all. But I have had the most success with Tinder, OkCupid, and Facebook Dating. Frankly, I am very busy and do not have time to check multiple apps but other options include Bumble, Hinge Plenty of Fish and many others. I currently use Facebook Dating and Tinder the most because I feel they have a large pool and are easy to use regardless of my location. The reality is that men are visual creatures so the pictures you use are most important in attracting swipe rights. Put up pictures where you felt and looked your best. Your photographs matter most. Make sure they are clear, sexy and recent. Sexy doesn’t mean half naked but it does mean a picture where you are not scowling and dressed in a baggy sweatsuit zipped up to your throat as that may not get many likes.
Put up pictures that show you in your best but most realistic light and get to swiping.
Your essay matters less because most of them won’t read it. I do generally direct men who message me to read my profile before I bother to talk to them as I am very clear about my dealbreakers.
These are MY dealbreakers. They aren’t open to debate. I also clearly state my disinterest in unsolicited D**k pics (Emphasis on the word “unsolicited”) and older men. Yep, I don’t date men older than me, I prefer men my age or younger. Again, my preference. I am honest and upfront about those preferences. Now does that mean I don’t get an unsolicited D*&k pic from time to time? No. But, I rarely get them.
I have Tinder Platinum (a paid membership subscription). It allows me to see who has viewed me and to swipe backward (in case I skip someone by accident). One of the thing I like about Tinder Gold and Platinum is that you can set your location to the country where you are visiting and then be matched with people in that location. It’s called Tinder Passport. If you are using the free version of Tinder you will likely have less optimal matching than I do for solo travel purposes. For that reason, waiting until you’ve arrived in country may be a better option for you.
Another way to get the same result as Tinder Passport is to use a VPN on your phone and switch your location when you are on Tinder. Not as optimal though. Because I have a paid subscription on Tinder, it is the app I usually use to set up dates while I am on solo travel. I use Tinder and Facebook Dating for local dating in Mexico.
I personally don’t see Tinder as a great place to meet a long-term partner but it is a great place to meet friends and it’s a really great place to meet people who can show you around a new city and tell you things about a new city that you might not otherwise learn as a tourist and a visitor.
Dating While Living Abroad Side note 1:
I have honestly found the caliber of the interactions I have with men in Mexico on dating apps to be different and better than in the United States. Less unsolicited sex talk and D&^k pics and more genuine interest in me as a person. I have found Mexican men to be incredibly chivalrous, affectionate, and fun. They are true gentlemen and very respectful of women. The biggest barrier I have found to date in Mexico is economic disparities and language. Language is the biggest barrier so far for obvious reasons. Because of where I live in Mexico, I have more access to professional men with similar educational backgrounds to mine than other ex-pat women in other parts of the country. Many of the men I meet speak fluent English as well as Spanish but many of them do not and sometimes the economics don’t always match despite our having similar professional and educational backgrounds. I explain some of this on the YouTube conversation on this subject so make sure you check it out HERE. I am not yet a fluent Spanish speaker and that is something I am working on. I expect my dating options in Mexico will be even wider as my Español improves.
So, you’ve swiped and made some matches, and now the fun truly begins.
2. Treat Dating like a social activity instead of a partner or husband search.
Approach it the way you approach meeting any new person for the first time. If you are using Tinder or any dating app with a Global Location option, put your location to the place where you were going at least two weeks before arrival and start chatting with local people. Be open about the fact that you are just visiting and for how long.
“Hey, I am visiting for a couple of days, or weeks but would love to make new friends while I’m there.”
“I’m visiting your city for the first time and I’m very interested in checking out places that are not necessarily tourist traps or spots. What’s your favorite thing to do in your city?”
“I am visiting your city for the first time and one of my favorite things is eating a great dessert. Do you like dessert? And if so what’s your favorite dessert and where do you get it?”
You can substitute the word dessert for anything that’s of interest of to you like wine, coffee, food.
If you are not interested in anything physical don’t be afraid to make that clear upfront. Unfortunately, or fortunately (depending on your perspective), in many countries American women, and specifically Black Women, are sometimes viewed as being “easy” and “loose” when it comes to sex. So be clear in your communications about what you want and do not want.
Communicate with multiple people and make plans with those with whom you vibe most.
If a person crosses a line in any way, use the Block button. Do not be too quick to give your phone number for WhatsApp or Signal. I usually stay on Tinder at least a week or more before I give up the digits unless I really connect with someone, which is VERY rare. And remember the block button works on WhatsApp too.
Ask the questions that you want to be answered. If you want to know whether they’re married or have a girlfriend – ask. Just as is the case in America, many men feel perfectly comfortable seeing other women while they are in “committed” relationships if this is something that makes you uncomfortable then it’s your responsibility to ask the questions. Many of them will still lie but at least you will have asked. But many of them will actually tell you the truth if you ask but not if you don’t. So again ASK, because don’t nobody have time for a crazy girlfriend or wife running up on them at a café or bar!
A man who is attracted to you will still try to get the cookies, but honesty is the best policy all the same. Note I did not say that you should say you are traveling solo, I will talk more about safety in the next section. I think it’s smart to let a potential date know you’re just visiting but would love to make a new friend. Ask for advice about great places to eat, and important cultural sights to see. I have found that local people always turn me onto some of the best restaurants off the beaten path. I like to start connecting and chatting at least 2-3 weeks before my arrival in a country as it allows me to vet people through my questions to them and also get intel and info about the country I’m visiting that I might not otherwise receive. I always ask questions about places for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Places for great pictures, historical places of significance, and nightlife.
Dating While Living Abroad Side note 2:
I am less upfront about myself when dating locally. I do not share information about what I do or where I specifically live immediately. I ask a lot of questions about a man’s life (marital status, what he does for a living, his family, pets, social interest, etc). I do engage them about things to do in the city and have been turned into really great restaurants as a result. But I share a lot less initially because frankly, I have more time to learn about a person if they live in the same town or vicinity as where I live in Mexico. I tend to be more open about what I do and where I live (ie Mexico) when meeting someone online ahead of a solo travel trip because I know if I do meet them and spend time with them, it won’t be very long. But I NEVER tell them I am traveling to their city alone nor specifically where I will be staying in their city (more on that below).
3. Be Smart and Safe
One of my favorite sayings relevant to love is “follow your heart but take your brain with you.”
That goes double for dating on solo trips.
Here is a couple of my safety do’s and don’ts while dating on solo travel:
First Meet-Up Rules. Do not allow a person you’ve never met to pick where you will meet for the first meet-up. If you meet them and you hit it off and you feel comfortable then you can do that the second time you meet up.
Ensure your first meeting is in a public place of your choosing. Do not be afraid to say “since we are meeting for the first time, I prefer to meet in a public place, how about X at X time and date?”
If they choose the place (which I don’t recommend), make sure it is a public place and arrive at least 15 minutes early. If you get a bad vibe – LEAVE.
My rule is what I call breakfast, lunch, then dinner.
You don’t have to meet for a meal or drink or coffee. Instead, you can pick a place that you’re interested in visiting and have them meet you there. For example, a zoo, a museum, a famous railway station or Plaza and then do a walk and talk.
What’s a Walk and Talk? One of the nicest things to do on a first date or first meeting is meet in a spot of your choosing like a zoo or museum and you just walk and chat. Some of the best first dates I’ve had in my life started with a walk and talk! You get to see a place you’re visiting in a different light with a local person on a walk. You can also grab a coffee to go for example in a famous plaza and then just walk and talk while you’re drinking it.
Dating While Living Abroad Side note 3:
If for any reason you choose to meet up for the first time in the evening, make it early evening before the sun goes down. Pick a place that you feel comfortable rather than a place that they select. Again, I do not recommend this for a first-time meeting.
End of the Date. If you don’t feel completely at ease don’t let your date walk you back to your place. Whether you’re staying at a hotel or an Airbnb it’s not necessarily smart for a person you just met to know where you are staying. Be thoughtful about how much you share and when you share it. Even if you really like them but just aren’t ready for them to come back to your place, you can have them walk you to somewhere that’s close by and then say good night and go on your own the rest of the way via taxi or Uber.
Remember you call the shots and you set the tone and the pace of how and where things go. So, if you want to take him home with you, do it but just be sure (and have your own condoms!).
Use Your Check-in Buddy. If you’ve been following my Travel safety tips and posts you should know what a Check-in Buddy is.
Make sure somebody knows where you are at all times and if you’re going out on a date with someone you met whether online or otherwise make sure someone knows about it and has a picture of the person and their phone number and any other pertinent information you think they should have.
If you are solo traveling anywhere you should be checking in with someone every day at least twice per day. Before you meet up on any date, make sure you send a picture of the person and their phone number to your check-in buddy. When you return to your hotel room or Airbnb make sure you send your check-in buddy a quick message so they know you got back ok.
4. Stay in the Driver’s Seat
Finally, stay in the driver’s seat. You are going on dates, not looking for marriage or your next great-grand romance.
If you are simply dating for fun as I do, then use your conversations with potential dates to get the information you want. Don’t divulge more than you want to, and only be available if and when you want to be.
Depending on the length of time you will be in town, you may not even have time to actually meet up for an actual date but chatting helps you make connections that could serve you when you return to that destination at a later date. Regardless of whether there is a whirlwind romance or just a friendly connection. Good connections and friendships are valuable. Remember that.
Listen to your intuition at all times. If the person feels wrong, they are wrong. Do not meet up with them, do not go out with them. I don’t care how handsome their picture is or how charming they are.
Solo Travel Date Side Note: In many cultures, someone may invite you to a family event or to go out with a friend after just meeting you for the first time. While it may be harmless on their part if you don’t feel comfortable with it decline politely. Tell them that you would feel more comfortable meeting them for coffee. If they insist pull the plug. Why? if they’re not respecting your wishes that’s not a good way to start any friendship
By following all these steps, you are setting boundaries from the very beginning.
People generally, and men specifically, will treat you how you teach them to treat you. Anyone who pushes back on any of your boundaries is NOT someone you should meet I don’t care how cute, handsome or sexy they may be.
Remember: you are no safer with a person you randomly meet at a hotel restaurant or hotel bar, gym, or supermarket, than a person you meet online. Use the same level of situation awareness. Use the same level of discretion. Check out the BaldGirlWillTravel: A Guide to Travel Safety and Security for Solo Female Travelers, my Guide to travel safety for solo women travelers and to learn more about situational awareness and how important it is.
Dating should be fun. Not anxiety-inducing or stressful.
Don’t approach dating with desperation. it’s not attractive. Men are like buses there is always another one coming so if you don’t like one, you may like the next one, just keep swiping.
If things go well on a first or second meet-up, let nature takes its course but be SAFE, bring your own condoms and check those expiration dates before packing them!
Happy Dating while Solo Traveling, Living Abroad, or wherever you are!
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