The millennial age of Tinder has made romantic encounters while travelling the world much simpler, creating a pool of endless dating opportunities. But the quest for true love on the go has not become any easier.
So is it even possible for travellers to form lasting relationships beyond holiday romances and fall in love? One American psychologist believes so and might have found the most efficient way to establish a deep connection with anyone, wherever you are in the world, in just under an hour.
Dr Arthur Aron, research professor at New York's Stony Brook University, has been exploring the mysteries behind love and human interaction for around 50 years after he fell in love with his wife (fellow psychologist and researcher Dr Elaine Aron) in 1968.
But one of his most famed studies in recent years has become one looking at "interpersonal closeness", which may be the key to forming meaningful connections with strangers.
His study, published in 1997, entailed strangers asking each other a set of 36 questions designed to make them feel closer and more deeply connected.
"We wanted to create a way in the lab for two randomly assigned people with different backgrounds and histories to feel close to each other in a short space of time. These 36 questions are centred around personal disclosure going both ways," Dr Aron told Telegraph Travel.
The study looked at hormonal levels and MRI brain scans showing how the participant's brain reacts to pictures of the person they've answered these questions with, as well asking the participants about how close they feel to this person and how much time they'd like to spend with this person after the experiment.
"There's a part of the brain known as the dopamine reward circuit which reacts a certain way when you're in love. It's the same part of the brain that reacts to cocaine - it responds to the potential for great reward," explains Dr Aron.
The resulting level of closeness from answering these 36 questions has been very high and consistent across our various subjects and incarnations of the study, he adds.
How do we fall in love?
"You can fall in love with anyone, even non-humans as in the case with pets, but generally we fall in love with people who are of the appropriate gender preference, age, social class, speak the same language etc."
"If the person you're with is reasonably appropriate for you (in terms of the aforementioned social variables), reasonably desirable and attractive to you, and this person does something that indicates that they like you, that's often the prime for people to fall in love. And this can take place in many different ways," he said.
The 36 questions - designed to be answered within 45 minutes - are meant to gradually bring two people closer together. Divided into three sections, they get more personal in nature with each consecutive set of 12 questions. In an earlier stage of the study, the couples were asked to also make sustained eye contact for around three or four minutes after answering the questions to foster more closeness.
The questions aren't necessarily meant to make people fall in love, but rather create closeness between two strangers, explains Dr Aron.
"So if you're sitting on a plane and you're hetereosexual, and you decide to do these questions with a stranger next to you who is of the same sex, you may just establish a deep and close friendship.
"But feeling closer to someone does indeed make it easier to fall in love with that person," he adds.
Why do we fall in love more easily while abroad?
There is so much excitement around travelling, in seeing new things and experiencing new cultures, and Dr Aron's earlier research has shown that physiological stimulation - which is different from sexual stimulation - can create strong initial romantic attraction. So the lines between romantic attraction and being physiologically stirred could easily be blurred on our travels.
"Many years ago, we did a study that showed if you were to meet someone on a scary suspension bridge, you were more likely to have an attraction to that person than if you were to meet that same person on a safer, less scarier bridge," said Dr Aron.
So if you're physically stirred up in some way, as in the case of the bridge experiment which was caused by fear, and you're in the presence of someone who is reasonably attractive, you could potentially misinterpret this as love or romantic attraction. And this plays out when you're travelling with someone or you meet someone on your travels because you're likely to be in an environment that provokes excitement, he explains.
"In some cases, it could be obvious that you're stirred by the circumstances. But if there is any level of ambiguity, such as when you're travelling with someone, and that person is reasonably appropriate and attractive to you, you could also misattribute this romantic attraction," he notes.
Are holidays the answer to relationship problems?
While couples who have been going abroad together for awhile might not realise it, travelling has many positive effects on their relationship.
"That sense of novelty, excitement and challenge is associated with the person you're around and doing these new activities with, so it strengthens your relationship. It's almost like recreating the excitement of first falling in love when you both first met each other," Dr Aron notes.
"Travelling, or doing anything new and exciting, together is one of the best things you can do when your relationship starts to feel stagnant or boring. Myself and others have done many studies around this which showed the results were quite strong. And if you could have that new experience abroad, all the better.
But it must be noted that the new activity you're doing with your partner has to be a challenge you both can handle and overcome together. If you go beyond that threshold, it can have a reverse effect.
"In the case of travelling, which can come with lots of hassle at times, you might experience flight delays and other constraints that can be detrimental to the relationship. You may start to associate your partner with the negative sides of travelling, rather than the positives," Dr Aron says.
But it's all about having a balance. "If you're supporting each other through the crisis that you come across while travelling, that also offsets any negative bumps you've had along the way," he adds.
Dr Aron's 36 questions study has also been tested among couples who don't know each other. Couples were randomly paired (so four people answered these questions together) and not only did the two couples feel closer to each other, but it also increased their passionate love for their own partner.
And for this reason, there's been lots of other studies showing that having couple friendships can be very good for your relationship.
Is it possible to find true love on your travels?
Dating apps have come in handy for jet-setters looking for romantic connections on their travels. But there is ongoing debate and conflicting results from studies on whether online dating is a better way to meet and fall in love than other more traditional methods.
"The companies behind these dating apps etc won't release the algorithms they use to match various people, because of course that's how they make money, so it's hard for us to know what the contributing factors are and how that measures against other ways of dating and finding love," said Dr Aron.
"But what we know is that whether you can find genuine love and a good relationship has more to do with you than the other person involved. If you're anxious or depressed or insecure, you won't be able to have a good relationship with almost anybody. It's possible, but much harder," he adds.
The Telegraph, London