Quasar Malik and Atreya Sahu met for the first time in Manali. The unemployed 20-year-olds poured all their puny savings into a “holidate” that started on the last day of 2020. “We didn’t even have any money to get a heater in the peak of winter. But I guess that worked in our favour,” says Atreya, the corner of her lips crinkling into a mischievous grin as she recalls her 10-day jaunt in the hills with Quasar—a blissful blur of camping, hitchhiking and stargazing.
Quasar is from Mumbai and Atreya is from Odisha. They met on Tinder—thanks to its premium feature Passport which allowed users to change their geographical location and connect with singles anywhere in the world. “I thought Bombay had a much better crowd, so I randomly started searching matches there to kill time,” says Atreya. “That’s where I ran into Quasar. Our energies and interests matched. We even saw films together online. And then we decided we had to meet.”
This one picture-perfect trip led to several others later, squished between lockdowns and virus flare-ups. The duo managed to pack in their best selves between beaches and mountains. No banalities of day-to-day living or time-managing study-life balance. No room for romantic misery and frustration till the holiday lasted. It was not until their third trip that Quasar and Atreya realised they were in a ‘vacationship’.
“It is not possible for us to have a conventional relationship because we don’t live in the same city. But there is definitely a case for being a holiday couple. Life then seems like an endless beach,” says Quasar, laughing. “At some point, if we decide to stop, that will also be during a trip,” chimes in a giggling Atreya.
There are several descriptions for this seasonal relationship, spawned by an ecosystem of apps, solo traveller hostels and sunny romcoms. Holiday hookups, vacation dating, “long-distance with a four-day foundation” or just “What happens in Vegas, etc”.
There are ways to do it right between consenting adults. They need to choose a place that both agree is an exciting holiday destination. Booking arrangements—boutique hotel or a budget Airbnb—need to be made in advance. Convenient add-ons: An itinerary of planned and unplanned pursuits, and emergency funds if the vacation-date turns out to be killjoy.
The best course of action is to refrain from judging the local cuisine, says Ranchi-based Pooja Prasad, who often travels alone and strikes a date with people on the go. “The best way to explore a place is through the eyes of a local,” she says. “Once I met this cop in Bhutan when I reached the top of the Tiger’s Nest monastery. I was ravenously hungry and he offered me food in a place where one couldn’t have found any shops. We hit it off and decided to explore the place together. He took leave to be with me all through the next two days.” She fondly remembers her date from Bhutan, although she does not know if she will visit the country again.
The 35-year-old language teacher is on her way to Spain this year. “Dating can be very complicated,” she says. “Vacationship opens up possibilities of companionship without losing your freedom. Although it is short-lived, it still can be fulfilling as a romantic experience. The idea of exploring new things with someone new is thrilling.”