By Kelsey Miller
On his third date with Carolyn, Prashant made a bold move. “Hey,” he began. “I know we just met, and I know it’s short notice, but…”
Would she like to go to Hawaii with him?
Prashant and Carolyn matched in November 2016, and from the start travel was a key element in their relationship. Though both were based in Seattle, Prashant noticed Carolyn’s profile included photos of her in various cities across the U.S. Due to her consulting job at the time, she was on the road several days a week, which presented challenges when it came to maintaining relationships. Though she was always on the lookout for a long-term romantic partner, she knew they’d have to be “someone who understood” her lifestyle. Prashant’s photos caught her eye, too: “He had this picture of him at a wedding, and he just had this big smile,” she recalls. “When you see someone truly laughing in a photo, that really stands out.”
Prashant, an urgent care doctor, was a big traveler too, as she soon learned. He had just moved to the area and didn’t know many folks, so he went out of town most weekends to see people. “I could tell that he was someone who loved to travel and had a lot of friends,” she says. “And I think those are two great traits to have.”
After a few months of chatting on Bumble (and a lot of calendar coordination), they found an evening to meet up at a local sushi spot. Prashant showed up in a pair of bright red pants, which struck Carolyn as an unusual fashion choice for a first date (and downright weird amongst “earthy toned” Seattleites, she says). “That was very different,” she recalls, laughing. But a good kind of different. They instantly fell into conversation and wound up spending the whole night chatting and walking as Carolyn showed him around the city. Having matched right around the 2016 presidential election, it was impossible to avoid discussing the political and social turmoil in the country. From their first conversations, “We were talking about our values as people, and where we stood,” says Carolyn. “We really bonded over that.” They stayed out until almost 2am—“and it was a work night,” adds Prashant.
A home-run of a first date, certainly. But Carolyn wasn’t planning to hop on a plane and fly to an island three thousand miles away with him anytime soon. So when Prashant asked her to do just that only two weeks later, she said she’d have to think about it. “I wasn’t expecting her to say yes,” admits Prashant. He was planning on going regardless, and just thought it would be worth a shot to ask her to join. But the next day, Carolyn surprised him by agreeing to the trip.
“I just had a gut feeling that this could be a really good thing,” she explains. So they booked flights, found a rental property, told their (understandably concerned) friends about their big fourth date plans, and headed off for Maui. A week later, they came home as a couple. There was no formal discussion, but every day they grew closer, sharing the kind of intimacies that come with traveling with someone—both the romantic (Prashant taking Carolyn’s hand as they snorkeled side by side) and the awkward (Carolyn lurching over, carsick in the rental car, as they flew down the sharp turns of Haleakalā volcano). Both agree it was one of the best, most romantic trips of their lives.
The romance endured, well beyond the rush of that first, impulsive getaway. Carolyn and Prashant have remained one another’s traveling companions, and to date have visited fifteen countries (and counting) together, and even started a travel blog. At home, they’ve taken on other adventures together as well: both have been studying for business degrees for the last two years, and they’re now the doting pet parents of their dog, Jimmy Chew, who joins them on trips whenever possible.
In late 2019, Prashant slowly started moving into Carolyn’s house—another major relationship stage they entered into with no real discussion (“It just sort of happened!” says Prashant). A couple months later, of course, COVID-19 hit, making the move-in “official.” The years since have been challenging, particularly for Prashant, who’s still treating COVID patients daily, as he’s been since the pandemic began. And though life, and traveling, is more complicated than it was before, some things remain steadfast. Travel is still their primary passion, and the bond they forged on that whirlwind trip has remained the strong foundation of their relationship. “There’s a level of partnership that we have, that I appreciate so much,” says Carolyn. If anything, they say, the pressure of the past two years has strengthened their communication skills and taught them the importance of proactive support. “It’s put us to the test,” says Prashant. “And I think we both passed.”