With the winter holidays fast approaching, many of us are planning vacations. We have all been there at one time or another: you meet someone on vacation, romance ensues, followed by the exciting vacation hook-up and then the all-too-painful goodbye, complete with facile promises to ‘stay in touch’.

Who says, though, that your vacation hook-up can’t be something real instead of some meaningless fling? Whether we’re talking real in the moment real or just plain real, it can be done.

In 1995, Richard Linklater released an incredible film called Before Sunrise, where the audience is given a window into the beginning of a holiday infatuation-turned-romance between actors Ethan Hawke and Julie Delphy. The pair meet on a train and spend one evening together in Vienna, convinced it’ll be their only night together.  Spoiler alert: Before Sunrise spawned two sequels, each one released and set nine years apart, allowing us to see something real blossom from a purely serendipitous meeting in a foreign country.

What if we could take a chapter out of Linklater’s masterpiece and build a real relationship from our little holiday flings? It is possible, and could be much more than a hopelessly romantic pursuit that only works in movies. Here are six ways to turn your vacation hook-up into something real:

1. Let the time limitations motivate you to make every moment count

Whether your holiday fling is a local or a tourist like you, help them understand that your time together will be limited. Knowing each other’s presence is finite helps build appreciation and will make each moment all the more precious.

In a sense, we become hypervigilant when we’re aware of a time limitation. This creates the difference between the ordinary moments we often have with hook-ups at home, compared to the extraordinary moments we have with someone on vacation.

You’ll be surprised at how candid, open and honest you can be with someone, knowing that your vacation hook-up may soon disappear into a faint memory. This doesn’t necessarily mean laying out your hopes and expectations, but knowing where the finish line is helps you focus on the present moment together.

2. Communication after the vacation opens up the possibility to visit each other again

Being honest about how you feel could make all the difference when it comes to turning your vacation hook-up into something more real. If the two of you really manage to keep in touch, possibilities open up for visiting each other or meeting in a different city and having another whirlwind romance together. Relationship experts and marriage counselors throw this word “communication” around relentlessly, but for good reason: The more you can open up to one another, and the more consistently you communicate, the better chance you have to test real compatibility with someone.

In this era of mobility and connectivity, you can always stay in touch with your fling after you head back home. Even though some might say that the long distance thing is a perilous pursuit, it’s one that can work with the right person – especially if you had a real connection with your vacation hook-up.

3. Remind yourself that no matter where you are in the world, a real connection can’t be faked

A real connection is a real connection – no matter what foreign land you’re on. Chemistry and emotional compatibility cannot be faked, so it’s important to remember that it might not be the warm sun and cocktails telling you you’re smitten – it may actually be that something amazing is fostering with your fling.

If you’re single, who’s to say that you can’t meet ‘the one’ during a vacation? Remain open-minded, relax, and let yourself take it all in.

4. Envelope yourself entirely within your vacation fling

Just in case your vacation fling is only ever going to be a short fling and nothing more, you might as well make the most of it and make it as real and wonderful as possible. Have you got friends that suddenly disappear off the face of the earth as soon as they enter into a new relationship? It can seem pretty deplorable, but it is understandable considering how beautiful the early stages of a relationship can be.

When you’re enjoying a holiday hook-up, it is totally forgivable to envelope yourself entirely within it the same way. It’s your vacation and you deserve to soak up every minute of happiness you can get out of it. Also, by immersing yourself within the relationship, you’re able to better reflect and appreciate it if the whole thing comes to an end, and cherish the memory.

5. The Grand Gesture

Making balls-out massive gestures is another way to test compatibility and see whether the relationship is worth pursuing post-holiday. The grand gesture could be anything: Inviting him or her with you to your next destination, confessing your feelings, or doing something ultra-romantic for them before you leave.

If your gesture fails or weirds them out, you never have to see that person again, and you’ve gained some valuable insight that can be brought back home. Remember, you are out of your comfort zone, which should be licence to step outside of your regular habits and do something bold.

 6. Believe that everything happens for a reason

Perhaps you were meant to share something real with someone abroad – but only for a short term. Saying, ‘I’ll come back soon’, can lead to further heartbreak unless you sincerely intend on returning. Making plans is a dangerous path riddled with false hope and frustration. Cherish what you share together, remain in touch, if only sporadically, but don’t go making plans that you know deep down are not feasible nor realistic.

You can make a real go out of a vacation hook-up, but planning to doesn’t necessarily help; sometimes you just have to leave it to the whims of fate.

The Babe Report’s founder is also the author of Aren’t You Glad You Read This? The Complete How-To Guide for Singles with a History of Failed Relationships Who Want their Next Relationship to Succeed, available for only $4.99 on Amazon and on iBooks here.

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