With over six years of a long distance relationship under my belt, I’m a self-proclaimed expert on the topic of long distance date ideas. Dating with a five hour time difference (and sometimes more!), and from a separate continent than each other, has certainly forced my boyfriend and I to get creative.
You can read all about the story behind my international long distance relationship (and how to make your own LDR work) in this post. The TL;DR version is that Dan and I met back in 2013 when I studied abroad in England. We’ve been long distance ever since those first eight months. Sometimes the distance has been shorter (a one hour drive, when I moved back to England for grad school), and sometimes it’s been longer… much longer… (4,000 miles, these past two years since I moved back to the USA).
Long distance relationships, including international ones, are definitely getting more popular as our world becomes more globalized. And right this instant, with the current crisis, even more people have found themselves in unplanned long distance relationships. Whether it’s getting separated from your loved one at a border, or even living in the same town but unable to see each other due to shelter in place… well, distance is distance. And it’s tough – trust me, I know!
We are all looking for ways to help right now, and seeing as this is my area of expertise, I wanted to share some of my favorite creative long distance date ideas. These are things Dan and I do “together,” but they will work with your lover, your friends, family, anyone you are separated from. Let’s get to it!
27 Long Distance Date Ideas
1. Audio call
It’s number one for a reason! Calling each other may not be the most creative date, but it’s definitely one of the most important (and common). If you live in separate countries, you can call over Facetime audio or Whatsapp audio and it feels the same as a phone call. I love audio calls because it can fit so well into your day – you can call while on a walk or shopping or hanging out at home. It really normalizes the relationship!
I asked Dan for his input, and he said to “Facetime at random times throughout the day just to say hello, as if you were walking into a room in real life” – he definitely does call at the randomest of times but it is very appreciated!
2. Video call
Video calling goes hand in hand with audio – it can require a bit more planning as you probably want a little more privacy. But it’s definitely more rewarding as you get to see you loved one, and remember all their funny and cute facial expressions and quirks. Some ways to video call include:
- Facetime video
- Whatsapp video
I recommend planning out your video (and even audio) calls, especially if you have a time difference or busy schedules. For Dan and I, we’ll usually make a rough plan for our next phone call at the end of each current phone call. That way, even though we’re busy, we never go too long without hearing each other’s voice.
3. Play virtual Settlers of Catan
Settlers of Catan is this cult-classic board game that people loooove. We recently discovered there is a virtual version! You can play it with friends, or just with your partner (and use computer generated or random people for the other players).
4. Learn a language together
This can be a fun one if you’re up to it! Dan and I both took French when we were in school, so we decided to brush up on our skills. I recommend the app DuoLingo, which is free. You can add each other as ‘friends’ and build some friendly competition! Then, of course, practice your skills on each other when you call.
5. Fall asleep together
I know this one is cheesy but bear with me. Not your average “date” but I know some people will love this one! Set your phone or laptop up on your nightstand and at the end of your conversation just… don’t hang up. You’ll fall asleep “together”! Obviously this can also get complicated, depending on time zones, but it might be a nice way to mix things up.
6. Cook or bake together
Dan and I love cooking and baking together when we are in person, so it made sense to try this long distance! It is currently one of our favorite long distance dates, and we do a new recipe each weekend. We trade off who chooses the recipe. Then, we both buy the ingredients during the week. And on the weekend, we do a big Zoom call with the laptop stationed in the kitchen, and get baking! It’s fun and really feels like a normal activity, which is what you should be after with long distance relationship dates. And the bonus (besides food to eat!) is you can compare your end products … can you tell we are a bit competitive?
We’ve been making a lot of cookies lately, but you could also choose recipes from a place you traveled to, or a memorable meal together. Here are some recipes you might like, that we’ve been making lately:
- Ravneet Gill’s chocolate chip cookies
- Peanutbutter chocolate chip cookies
- Nutella stuffed brown butter cookies
- Butternut squash, leek, and apple soup
- Noodle free pad thai
Here are some kitchen items you might need if you’re operating in different measuring systems…
7. Ask each other deep questions
There’s only so many Facetime audio calls you can do over the months/years without wanting to spice things up. We recently discovered some cards and apps that provide questions designed to “deepen your relationship.” I like the Gottman app because it has a variety of styles of questions: You can go for silly quiz questions to see how well you know each other, or you can opt for deeper questions that will inspire heartfelt conversations you might not otherwise have had. These apps and card games will help:
- Gottman Card Decks app
- Gottman Eight Dates book – work through these conversation topics together
- Ultimate Game for Couples card set
- Happy Couple app
- Table Topics for Couples card set
8. Have dinner together
Okay, this one can get tricky if you have a time difference. But having a virtual dinner date together can be really fun! (Or, dinner for one of you, and lunch/breakfast for the other depending on time zones). You can even make it more of a “date” with details like eating the same meal, or making dinner together over Zoom or Facetime. Add in a classy bottle of wine, and maybe some cheese? You’ve got yourself a date night!
9. Binge a TV show together
Chances are, if you were together in person, you’d love to cuddle up on the sofa and watch your favorite show. Well, you can definitely recreate this with a long distance date – this is one of our favorites! Dan and I always have a TV show going that we only watch “with each other.” We’ll call for a bit, and then set the TV show up on Netflix or Amazon Prime, and press play at the same time. Then we’ll text each other throughout the show. I know there’s also a free Netflix Party app that lets you do this, too!
I definitely recommend watching TV “together” as one of the best long distance dates out there. When you’re apart, and so much of your lives are completely separate, it’s nice to have a simple thing in common, like a TV show, to keep you connected. It can inspire conversations and just be a nice link between you, while you’re far apart. It’s definitely about more than the show itself!
10. Watch a movie together
This is obviously in the same vein as watching TV together, but it’s also nice to watch a movie together when you have time. Dan and I don’t do this super often, but we love to watch all the new Netflix holiday movies “together” in December. We also have a joint list that we keep going of movies we want to watch together (either long distance or when we reunite) – I highly recommend doing that!
11. Do a workout together
One for the more active among us – why not try a workout together? There are so many ways you could do this.
- Load a Youtube yoga or workout video and do it at the same time, over Zoom or Facetime.
- Peloton has a new 90-day free trial, with multi-person classes. Sign up for that if you both have access to an exercise bike!
- Do your own workout or stretching routine together on Facetime. (We do this a lot as I am a yoga teacher & occupational therapist and Dan always has some ache or pain he needs me to sort out!)
Alternatively, if you don’t want to actually do the workouts simultaneously, make a longer workout plan together. For instance, come up with an 8-week exercise plan with a certain number and style of workouts each week. Do it at your own convenience, but feel the solidarity of getting fit at the same time as your partner! To make it even more fun – work towards something, like a race or competition on the same day.
If you’d like a sample 8 week workout plan, check out my downloadable training plan I used to trek Everest Base Camp!
Here are some of my favorite products for easy home workouts…
12. Always have a game going
There are so many interactive online games you can play together. Instead of playing them in one go, I’d recommend to always have a game going in the background. So you can play your turn on your break at work, and maybe your partner will get the notification while they’re eating breakfast or going about their day. It’s a nice little way to keep being reminded of and engaged with each other throughout the day – even if it’s not a full on phone call or “date”. Some games to try:
- Words with friends
- Scrabble go
- Clash of clans – We were a little too obsessed with this one for a year, so play at your own risk!
13. Send each other snail mail
Who doesn’t love a letter in the mail?! I definitely do, and it’s the perfect touch for a long distance relationship as it mixes things up from the daily texts. Obviously thank goodness for texting, but snail mail is special as it shows the extra effort and time put into it. Plus, looking at their handwriting and knowing they held the letter in their hands (on the other side of the world) just feels nice.
What we’ve done, to make snail mail easier and more convenient, is to pre-address and international stamp a bunch of letters for each other. So really, all that needs doing is writing the letter and popping it in the mail box!
An even easier option is to use a service like MyPostcard where you personalize (with photos, texts, etc.) and type a letter in the app, pay through the app, and then it’s shipped off automatically. You can read more about how to use MyPostcard in this blog post. And check out this blog post to read all about their brand new encouragement cards (the line that includes all the long distance relationship designs!).
14. Play a virtual card game
You can now play cards together over the internet! Thank goodness for that because there really is no easy way to do this long distance with physical cards. Trust me, we’ve tried – playing card games is one of our favorite pastimes, especially when we’re traveling or eating out at a casual cafe. Now we can all recreate playing cards long distance! Go to the website deck.of.cards and get playing.
15. Check in on your goals together
It’s always good to chat about your goals for the future – individual or goals as a couple. This is especially important in a long distance relationship as you want to make sure you’re on the same page with the big life choices ahead of you – assuming you hope to one day live in the same place! I love the SMART goals format: specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound.
16. Go for a “walk” together
Instead of calling from your couch, take the call outside! I often go for a walk through the neighborhoods or local forest when I’m on the phone with Dan. The change of scenery can boost your mood and be a wonderful way to mix up your normal calls. It might also give you new things to talk about as you describe your local surroundings to each other.
17. Send a present and open it together
Sending presents or care packages can be expensive, especially if yours is an international long distance relationship. But the occasional package can really make a difference. It’s so fun to receive, and even better if you open it over Facetime together. You don’t need to go all out – include simple things such as:
- A lotion that will remind them of your smell
- An old polaroid or photos together
- A ticket or memorabilia from past travels together
- A handwritten note
- Your favorite sweater that they always love to wear
- A candy, tea, or treat local to you
18. Talk about your dreams for the future
As I’ve said, it’s important to make sure you’re on the same page as your partner in terms of what you want your future to look like. This can and probably will change over time so be kind to yourself as your goals and wishes evolve! While concrete goals are useful, it can also be lovely to chat about loose dreams and aspirations for the future. You don’t need to plan out every little detail on how it will come to be – this can be stressful in a long distance relationship, or during times like now when everything is up in the air and it’s difficult to make plans. Instead, give yourself the freedom and time to just chat and describe a future dream together, without worrying about logistics. Have faith that it will happen!
19. Reminisce on past travels and memories
While you look to the future, it is also helpful to look back on your past travels and memories together. Remind yourselves of how it felt to be together, all the wonderful things to you did, and the laughs you had. You can do this by chatting over the phone or video call, or sending each other old photos via text.
20. Play truth or dare
Want another way to mix up your phone calls? Play truth or dare! You can play off the top of your head, or use an online generator like PsyCatGames. That one lets you choose between different question categories (classic, kids, party, & hot). You might think you already know everything about your partner, but why not check to be sure?
21. Try a double date
Just because you’re long distance doesn’t mean you can’t double date! Everyone’s becoming very familiar with Zoom at the moment, which means it will get easier and easier for you to find friends to do a virtual “double date” with. Looking for activity ideas?
- Have a Zoom trivia session with friends – this blog post has a great how-to!
- Play a virtual game like Settlers of Catan together
- Play truth or dare, never have I ever, cheers to the governor, or another drinking game
- Play drawful on Jackbox.tv together – this is like pictionary
- Just catch up and chat!
22. Chat to each other’s family or roommates
Don’t keep your partner all to yourself! If they already know your family, friends, or roommates, it can be nice to do a video call from a common room. When your family or roommates walk by, you can all strike up a conversation together. They’ll catch up with other people in your life (and vice versa) and altogether it will help you feel less isolated in your long distance relationship.
23. Have a bananagrams battle
I loooove bananagrams. And you can play it long distance! Both you and your partner will need to buy a bananagrams set – they’re affordable on Amazon and totally worth it. Then, hop on Zoom or Facetime video with your partner. Each of you will set out the tiles like a normal game. Give yourselves each 14 tiles to start and get playing! Unlike cards or other games, it won’t matter that you’re each using your own set.
24. Read together
This is such an adorable long distance date idea, recommended by my friend Ellie! She recommends each reading your own books while on a call together. Then, whenever one of you gets to a nice passage you want to share, just reading it aloud, and maybe chatting about it. This, like many of my favorite long distance relationship date ideas, is great because it really mimics the low-pressure daily life activities you might be doing if you were actually together in person.
25. Order each other take out or delivery
Do something sweet for your partner, and surprise them with takeout from their favorite restaurant. (If you live in different countries, you can order online, or alternatively use Skype Global which lets you make international phone calls for a very small fee). Better yet – plan ahead and order each other take out on the same evening. The only rule is, you have to surprise your partner with what you ordered for them! They won’t know until it arrives at the door.
26. Take quizzes together
Quizzes are yet another way to mix up the millions of phone and video calls you have. We love to do this and it’s so funny to compare results – and actually can sometimes lead to some pretty deep conversations! Here are some quizzes to try:
- Buzzfeed quizzes
- Enneagram quiz
- Meyer’s Briggs personality test
- Love language test
- New York Times’ 36 questions to fall in love
27. Plan your reunion!
And the best for last: plan your reunion! Get yourself hyped for the next time you see each other by planning out details, activities, and adventures you’ll have. I mean, we go all out, with excel spreadsheets, shared Google docs, Pinterest boards and more. Dan and I like to always have at least one mini “vacation”/getaway during a reunion, instead of just chilling at the other person’s house the whole time, and we usually plan this a couple months in advance. Whatever you guys love to do together, just chatting about it while you’re far apart will make you feel so much better.
Do you have other long distance relationship date ideas?
If so, let me know in the comments! After six years, we’ve had to get pretty creative with our long distance date ideas. But there are definitely a few items on my list we have yet to try. If you have more suggestions please share them, and together we can make a great resource for others in a long distance relationship.
And if you want to know more about how to make an international long distance relationship – or any LDR – work, check out this blog post. Good luck, everyone!