Generally speaking, blind dates are no one’s idea of a good time. It’s always a little odd having never met someone, then being forced to be interested in that person’s life and hobbies for a few hours. Sure, plenty of good can come of them, but more often than not they’re a recipe for awkwardness.
Now, imagine being on a blind date and unable to go home because you’re in a whole other state. That’s the deal when you sign up with MissTravel.com, a dating service that hooks people up with travel companions with the hope of a possible love connection. The idea is equal parts exciting and horrifying — as you balance the relatively reasonable hope that the other person is fun, charming, and attractive, with a less likely but still valid fear that they’ll be psychotic.
Still, the idea of finding love while traveling seemed interesting enough, so I threw caution to the wind, sent in my bio along with some of the cuter photos of myself, and waited to be paired with someone who might be my future husband (no pressure).
It took no time at all for me to receive a list of men who might be a potential match, and it took even less time for me to forward that list to my future bridesmaids (is that weird?) to see which gents they approved of. Answers ranged from “Oh, he’s an ‘aspiring’ professional?’ That means he’s unemployed,” to “I’m just rooting for everybody black,” to “Nah. Start all over” — so I did my best job discerning for myself who I would want to spend a couple days with, and decided on a doctor who seemed very well-traveled.
Since our date was being hosted for this article, we had the option of choosing between Washington, D.C. and Mexico. If it had been a real MissTravel date, we would have found one another through the site, like any other dating site and decided on a way to split the expenses of the trip (the impression left by visiting the site is that women are most often being treated by men).
Initially, I was hyped on Mexico, but because of travel warnings, our trip was decided for us: We would hit the nation’s capital.
Josh and I texted from the time we were matched up until the day before the trip, and then got ready to see if we were a match in real life. I packed all the warmest clothing I could in a duffle bag to meet the airline requirements and headed to the airport, praying that the snow in the forecast was wrong. After an easy flight, a driver picked me up from the airport and I headed to the Kimpton Donovan in Downtown D.C. — where we’d planned to eat at the in-house restaurant, Zentan.
Josh and I met outside the hotel on our first night for dinner, me wearing my best super long, stretchy, black dress, and he, looking just like his photo (thank goodness) in a jacket and slacks. He was white boy cute — complete with the fresh-out-of-the-shower man bun — and tall, which was nice because I had on the high boots I wear when I’m trying to get chose.
After wasting no time introducing ourselves, we headed inside the restaurant. Right away, it was clear that we shared a governing philosophy for the night: When someone is comping the meal, you eat five dinners. *heart eyes*
We asked the waiter what the best things on the menu were and ordered all of it. Food. Just. Kept. Coming. And we just kept eating, not making too much conversation because we were more interested in stuffing our faces for the first little while. The best thing we had was surprisingly a crispy veggie dish with brussels sprouts, fresh chickpeas, shiso-mustard vinaigrette, garlic chips. Delish.
Even though we didn’t speak much, I got the idea that Josh and his doctor buddies party a whole lot. I’m sure after being in school for almost a decade you have a lot of pent-up energy, and he has definitely expended a lot of it. We talked about loving to travel, travel writing, and my longing to visit Thailand. Josh explained to me that, when I get there, a pong show definitely has nothing to do with table tennis. That story was a lot to handle upon first meeting, but it was a good segue to heading out, so we called our Uber to get going to our showing of Black Panther…in 3D!
Josh got all the noms for the movie and really impressed me with his Marvel knowledge, not moving after the ending credits to catch those extra scenes, and cheering when Stan Lee showed up on the screen. He also survived my Hmmphs and I know THAT’S right!-s throughout the movie, and got major cool points for a pretty woke conversation about the possibility of an uncolonized Africa as we spoiled the movie for the Uber driver on the way back to the hotel.
I was glad to hear from the trip’s organizers that we were not in the same room, but it was a little off-putting to get to the hotel and realize our rooms were right next to each other. It was pretty dope of Josh to not be a murderer or rapist, or maybe be too tired to do anything terrible to me, so shoutout to him for that… (I kid, I kid, but these are the things that go through women’s minds, believe it.)
Later, I had to ask the folks at MissTravel about the implication because the nature of the service lends itself to hyper-rich wannabe sugar daddies thinking they can exchange a fun time for sex and, if things don’t go well, potentially releasing this entitlement-fueled anger upon unsuspecting travel partners. PR Manager Paiger Berger told me, “We have guidelines that are made clear to every member of MissTravel on the site. Our intentions are to keep that element off the site completely and anyone who violates these terms and conditions is either suspended or banned from the site immediately.”
Fair enough. Because as fun as the concept is, that question has to be asked.
We’d had a great time at the movie, but you don’t really talk in a movie, so the next day’s adventures would determine the success or failure of the trip. Neither one of us wanted to get up for breakfast, so we decided on doing lunch at one of D.C.’s legendary restaurant’s, Ben’s Chili Bowl. Both of us had mentioned we were into fitness and health, so we decided to walk to the restaurant, about a 22-minute trek…in what turned out to be 30-degree weather. I was dressed appropriately — thermal shirt, tights under the jeans, boots, sweater, hat and gloves — but Josh didn’t prepare for the weather quite so dramatically.
We showed up with him sniffling and me heaving because, as it turned out, I was a little too hot in all those clothes. Ben’s was bomb, and we got to talk more about music, being fierce carnivores, partying habits (doctors do it big) and what we planned on doing for the rest of the day. As the conversation went on, we both started stepping closer and closer to the Friend Zone because as it turns out, I’m much closer to “settling in with a good book on the weekdays” 29 and he is much closer to “age ain’t nothin’ but a number” 29.
Still, he was cool and quite the looker, so I figured there was no point in peacing out on him just yet.
We both wanted to visit some Smithsonian museums, but as we headed into an Uber it started freaking snowing. Look: I chose Mexico. I live in Houston. I don’t like the cold and I kid you not, the exact moment I stepped outside, my head started hurting, I started coughing, and my nose turned into a faucet. I didn’t want to punk out in the middle of the day, so I soldiered on to the National Museum of American History, where we had to stand outside in the cold for a bit before entering.
The museum was super dope and I got to be weird and share a bunch of random American history information that people probably don’t normally care about. Josh acted interested to hear the details of how the Vietnamese took over the nail salon game after the war (it’s actually a super interesting story), and to hear about my 23andme.com results that connected me to my Native American and Yakut heritage, so I was all *heart eyes* again for a moment or two.
Sadly, I was starting to feel pretty crummy, and could tell I was going to need to head back to the hotel soon. At the end of a couple hours, I had never been happier to see our Uber pull up because the snow had gotten even heavier and walking anywhere was not even an option.
After a quick trip to CVS for all things cold and flu — it was pretty cool to see Josh turn on his doctor mode and tell me exactly what every each kind of Mucinex did (ALL the big words) — we headed back to the hotel and I passed out cold, only to wake up groggy and weak a couple hours later for dinner around the corner from the hotel at Old Ebbit Grill, a cute little pub with some amazing dishes. We split an oyster appetizer and then ordered our meals…and I was all of a sudden too nauseous to eat.
Seriously, y’all. I was the worst date ever. I ended up going back to the hotel early and taking all the medicine I bought earlier while Josh went out with some friends he knew in the area.
The next morning was super awkward, as we met up for lunch at Wiseguy Pizza (more food I was too nauseous to eat) and got ready to head to the airport. Clearly, Josh and I were not making any kind of love connection, but he was a super cool doctor dude who loved to party, and who advised me to keep his number on hand in case I decided to try any recreational drugs and needed to know what I could handle based on my medical history, or like, wanted to do them with him if I visited his city.
Thankfully, there were no ill feelings about wasted money, just actual ill feelings as I got on a plane to head home to Houston, my chest tight with phlegm, not love and my head burning with fever instead of passion. As a final confirmation of our missed connection, I got the swiftest text when I landed about keeping Josh’s name anonymous. Still, the MissTravel thing was fun for me. Yes, it would have been great to meet a future “someone special,” but the way it worked out was pretty fun even without that bit (besides the sickness part).
My original idea: “If you’re going to have a so-so date, might as well have it on the road, while having an adventure” absolutely stands.
*Josh’s name has been changed to protect his identity, as per his request.