Can a Holiday Romance Go the Distance? One Now-Married Couple Spill Their Secrets


Now-married couple Ben and Claudia Rickett met on a Contiki tour seven years ago in New Orleans, Louisiana. Ben had been travelling through the States with a mate, who’d bailed less than halfway through the trip, so he’d jumped on the first Contiki tour he could find. Meanwhile, Claudia had been itching to see America, so she went by herself.

“He was super hot and had a cute man bun,” says Claudia on what first attracted her to Ben. “We had been out drinking and I was quoting a line from the movie Friends With Benefits and without any hesitation, Ben finished the line. It was game over right!”

Ben explains that after that, on the tour, the couple pretty much became inseparable.

“When you know, you know, hey,” he says. After the tour wrapped, Ben extended his trip by a week so the two could hang out for longer, but then had to leave Claudia in the US.

Back in Australia, he was living on the Gold Coast at the time, so, when Claudia returned to her home of Sydney, they did 10 months visiting each other every other weekend, before Ben eventually ended up moving to Sydney.

Of doing long distance, Ben says: “Just take each day as it comes and don’t put too much pressure on yourselves — if it’s meant to be, you guys will make it work.”

Ahead, the couple shares more specifically how they navigated a long distance romance, as well as tips and tricks for you, if you’re going through it or considering it, too.

Strengthen Your Communication Skills

“At the heart of every relationship is communication,” says Claudia. “When doing long distance, it’s even more important to explore what type of communication works for you and your partner. Though challenging, long distance actually provides a really great opportunity to firm up your communication skills and learn what works best for you and your partner.”

“I think our relationship was stronger following the distance because we had to make the commitment and dedicate ourselves to putting in extra effort and time to communicate and make sure we were each feeling loved. This set a really strong foundation in our communication skills that have carried through into our marriage.”

Chat or Video Call Regularly

“When our Contiki trip was ending, the tour was finishing up in NYC,” says Claudia. “I was set to continue traveling and Ben was due to go home. He extended his trip by a week so we could hang out some more. Once Ben left to head back home, we pretty much messaged nonstop from then on.”

“I cannot recommend doing the ‘little things’ more when it comes to this. I found it helpful narrating my day in a way for Ben, so it felt like we were going through our daily routines together. Messaging him when I woke up, letting him know once I had my morning coffee, sharing how work went during the day and calling over dinner was really important for us to feel connected. Try narrating your day to your partner over quick texts, it really helps to keep up to date with how their day is going.”

Write Each Other Letters

“Don’t underestimate the power of a handwritten letter,” says Claudia. “It is so old-school and romantic. I loved getting and sending surprise letters, it felt so special and I cannot recommend it enough! It is also so lovely to have these letters as keepsakes we can look back on in years to come.”

“Pro tip: spray a bit of your perfume or cologne on the paper — when your partner opens the letter, they will love getting a reminder of your signature scent.”

Send Each Other Surprise Gifts

“Distance is hard but if it is the reality of your current situation, make it as exciting as you can,” says Ben. “Sending surprises doesn’t have to be a big ordeal. For example, if you are doing long distance with a partner from a different climate, send them something unique to where you are.”

Play Online Games Together

“Just because you’re apart doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy activities together,” says Claudia. “When Ben and I were doing distance we loved playing online games against each other like draw something, UNO, Connect 4, Words With Friends to keep the healthy competitive spirit alive. If online games aren’t up your alley, try a virtual date.”

Schedule in Virtual Dates

“You could also schedule time for a dinner date and make a meal together over FaceTime, try even getting dressed up for this like you would an in-person date,” Claudia says.

“If this isn’t up your alley, pick a podcast you want to listen to and then discuss it together, select a book to read together, go on a walk in the sun at the same time and chat on the phone, go for a morning coffee and FaceTime over a coffee or tea together. There are endless ways to have virtual dates and doing so when apart will make the IRL dates even better.”

Always Have the Next Trip Planned

“Always have something to look forward to when doing distance,” says Ben. “For us, this was having our next trip to see each other booked before we left our current visit. I was living on the Gold Coast at the time, so every second weekend we would take turns visiting the Gold Coast and Sydney for the weekend. I then ended up moving to Sydney after 10 months.”

“We had the luxury of doing long distance between the same country, but for those navigating distance internationally, this tip still applies. Book your next trip out months in advance.”

Remove the Pressure

“Dating and exploring your relationship is meant to be fun,” says Claudia. “Just take each day as it comes and don’t put too much pressure on yourselves. If it’s meant to be, you guys will make it work.

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