Couple Counts Miles Traveled Instead of Anniversaries

Trading traditional dates for adventurous trips helped this couple get to know one another

Elizabeth VanMetre

Heading to Yellowstone National Park and exhausted from road tripping

Elizabeth VanMetre—As human beings we are naturally inclined to attach significance to dates and periods of time. But when it comes to my relationship, I refuse to “count” it in anything except for miles. 

Let me back up a little. Just three years ago I was in college and engaged to my boyfriend of a two and a half years. We counted all the milestones. We celebrated our anniversary each month and counted each additional month as an achievement. He popped the question after 30 months because that is what people did. 

Eight months later we realized that we really didn’t know each other, that we had just gone through the motions. We called off the engagement and he and I went our separate ways.

Then I met David. We were acquaintances first and ended up kissing at my roommate’s birthday party. After a friendly post-kiss brunch we both realized we were looking for adventure and the perfect partner to do it with.

We didn’t know much about one another, but on a whim we decided to go to the airport together and take the first flight out of New York.

We used the app GTFO (recommended to us from a person at the airport) to help us decide. The app posts last minute flight deals leaving within 24 hours. 

Our trip turned out to be six days round trip to New Orleans, putting us in “The Big Easy” for New Years.

Sitting on the flight, feeling adventurous that we made such a bold move with a near-stranger, we made a deal that as long as we dated we would travel to a new place every month.  

At the time I didn’t realize how different it is to travel with someone for dates compared to just going to dinner or drinks.

I never had the opportunity to make him think my hair was always in perfect curls or that I wore heels all the time.

After stuffing our faces with creole food there was no hiding bodily functions in our small hotel room or any of our weird habits. David takes four showers a day. He can’t even get a little dirty. I am extremely messy. When I walk into a room when we are traveling my suitcase explodes the moment I get into a hotel. Pretending like I’m extremely organized with my things was not a fib I could maintain for long. 

Related: We Met on a Boat in the Pacific Ocean

When you have a long night out of drinking on Bourbon St. there was no hiding how lack of sleep effects your mood the next morning. Traveling together is like standing there naked and saying “this is me…..what do you think?!”

Although we quickly got to see the bad and ugly, those bits were outnumbered by the amazing memories we gathered during our six-day first date.

We danced to live jazz music in Jackson Square and stuffed ourselves with beignet’s at Cafe Du Monde. David collected pounds of beads after flashing everyone as we walked down Bourbon Street on New Year’s.

After a trip like that saying we had only been dating for a week felt crazy. I knew more about him than anyone else by the time we returned back from our trip.

Car and plane rides had given us an opportunity to talk about what we were looking for in a partner and long dinners led to sharing details of our childhood and families.

Saying we had been dating 1,300 miles made more sense.

The first trip was the beginning of many more adventures for us. 

Stopping by Jim Beam while attempting to complete the Kentucky Bourbon Trail. (Photo: Elizabeth VanMetre)

Instead of weekly movie dates we’ve saved our money up to watch the stars while camping at Yellowstone National Park. Rather than grabbing drinks after work we opted to save up vacation days for a cross-country road trip which included sipping sweet cocktails on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail. 

One of the most memorable adventures was a trip we took to Vermont.  What was supposed to be a tour of some local cheese factories and a search for a moose quickly changed when we got snowed into our bed and breakfast.

Snuggled in our cozy room with big glasses of hot chocolate David and I finally admitted that we loved each other at 6,589 miles.

David and I snowmobiling in Vermont. (Photo: Elizabeth VanMetre)

I decided that 9,000 miles was a good time for him to meet my parents in Oklahoma. We decided to fly into Dallas and explore Austin before driving over together.

Related: I Met My Fiance While Motorbiking in Laos

After our most recent travels through Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Kentucky, Ohio, Tennessee, Arkansas and Mississippi we realized we’ve done over 17,000 miles side by side, which seemed to us like a good opportunity to take the next step in our relationship.

Related: How One Woman Took Her Work on the Road

In February we are not only moving in together, but we are actually moving to Thailand, where we plan to add many more miles and memories to our relationship.

I’m not sure if this whirlwind romance will last for a year or a hundred, but I’m looking forward to many more miles traveled together.

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Check out our original adventure travel series A Broad Abroad

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