If you're considering going on a romance tour you're probably pretty serious about finding love in Ukraine.
These tours aren't cheap, and traveling halfway around the world ( or at least Europe) to a foreign country where you don't know the culture or speak the language is no small feat.
In this article our goal is to give you the lowdown on all things related to Ukrainian romance tours. We want you to be as informed as possible in order to help you on your quest for an international relationship. The name of this site is Foreign Wife Happy Life after all.
In this post we cover what these tours are, and what they are not. We shed some light on the common scams and pitfalls related to the romance tour industry. Finally, we profile a couple tour companies which offer tours in Ukraine.
Let's dive in.
Note: You can use the table of contents below to jump around the article if you don't want to read the entire post.
So what exactly is a romance tour?
There's a lot of misconceptions when it comes to romance tours. Some people assume the worst about these tours (that they're just glorified human trafficking) while others assume the very best (romance tour equals a perfect wife in a box). The truth lies squarely in the middle of these two extremes.
What a romance tour is not
It is not prostitution
When people first here about a romance tour in a far away country, often the first thing that comes to mind is prostitution. They assume that the tour company is running some sort of bonafide sex trafficking ring for foreigners. The truth is that this assumption has more to do with cultural biases than actual facts.
Of all the agencies and romance tour companies out there I know of none that have offered sexual services to their clients. Because these companies market mainly to Western men there would be huge legal ramifications if they advertised prostitution under the guise of a romance store or matchmaking service . The USA has taken particularly tough stance on this issue through the IMBRA law.
More often then not people wrongly assumed that if a beautiful woman from a non western country is open to dating foreigners she must be desperate or unscrupulous (we talk more about this in our article on the common myths of international dating). While these kind of women do exist in just about every country on the planet, they are far from the majority.
It is not a bride buying business
Most people have heard the term "mail-order bride". This moniker takes for granted that men can literally order a foreign wife off the internet. Many imagine that a romance tour is simply some sort of wife auction, where men survey the women, pick the one they like, and take her home.
The prevalence of the term mail-order bride is another unfortunate cultural bias often perpetrated by the news media and talk shows to sensationalize stories and draw viewers.
You can NOT purchase a bride overseas (and certainly not in Ukraine). That would literally be human trafficking.
Men who are interested in Ukrainian romance tours should remember that the tour companies are under no obligation to guarantee that you find a wife or even a girlfriend during your trip with them. A good tour company will guarantee you the opportunity to meet single women from Ukraine. Whether or not any relationship blossoms is up to you, the woman in questions, and perhaps fate.
What a romance tour is
It is an opportunity
At their best, romance tours are a practical way to meet and connect with real and sincere women from a different country and culture. A tour company should facilitate everything leading up to an actual face to face meeting of its male and female clients. This includes in-country transport, lodging, venue or events for meeting, translation assistance, etc.
In essence a romance tour puts you in a room with single/eligible women , the rest is up to you and those women. If you think that a romance tour will be anything more than a way to facilitate meetings between foreign men and and local women then you are setting yourself up for frustration and disappointment. When it comes to love, there are no guarantees in the real world.
Common pitfalls of the romance tour industry in Ukraine
The biggest downside to romance tours is that they are often associated with scams. This unfortunately isn't just another misplaced assumption. There are numerous tales of men going abroad on a romance tour only to return with broken hearts and empty wallets.
A Closer Look
Learn How to Avoid International Dating Scams In Our Scam School Section
While not all romance tours are rife with scams, it's important to know what scams are out there and how to avoid them.
The letter writing scam
The letter writing scam (AKA the Pay-Per Letter Scam), is one of the most widespread online dating scams, especially in Ukraine. This scam is more prevalent on online dating sites, but it also pokes its ugly head up on romance tours as well.
The way this scam works is pretty simple. A site/tour company shows you a database of young beautiful Ukrainian women who are supposedly waiting to meet a foreign man on one of the company's romance tour (even if he's 20+ years older). The company allows you to contact the women to make connections before hopping on a plane to Ukraine. There's just one catch. You are charged a fee for every message you send and receive on the site.
More often than not the person you end up writing isn't the beautiful young blonde you see in the profile picture. It's usually a trained writer (sometimes a man sometimes woman) whose job is to entertain your fantasy of falling in love with a lovely foreign woman as long as possible so that you keep paying the pay-per letter fees. The woman in the profile often doesn't even know you've been writing to her.
That's the short version of the scam, but the rabbit hole often goes deeper. There are fake video chats, automated messaging bots, and all kinds of other devious devices designed to prey upon your manly emotions and keep you paying money.
How this scam works on romance tours
Many companies offering romance tours encourage you sign up for their site and browse the profiles in their database of local ladies before taking your trip. It's presumed that these are some of the ladies you'll see on your tour, so why not break the ice and make some contacts ahead of time?
You sign up and start paying extra fees to send and receive messages with a few women. You send messages back and forth with a few ladies, narrowing you aim to one or two who you feel you've really hit it off with.
A Closer Look
Real Life Example of a Letter Writing Scam on a Romance Tour
You assume that on the tour you'll meet with them and pick things ups where you left them in your letters. Only you arrive on the tour and find that 1) The woman you were writing don't show up to tour, or 2) She shows up but obviously hasn't read a single one of your letters.
You my friend have been scammed. You were never writing those women, the person you were talking to was a trained letter writer.
The dating scam
Some local women show up to the romance tour social in order to extract as much money from men as possible. This scam is also fairly simple and straightforward. A woman (usually young and very attractive) acts interested in a particular man on the tour. Naturally the man decides to take her out on a date or two. For their date she asks or even insists on particular restaurants or shops in town (all of which just happen to be the most expensive around).
The would be couple dines or shops in one of these venues and the locals charge the man well over and above the normal price. Later on the woman gets a kickback from the store or restaurant for bringing the unlucky guy around.
This scam has also been known to happen with translators too. A woman will act interested in a man and go on several dates with him. Because she doesn't speak English and the man doesn't speak her native language, the man is forced to pay an hourly fee for a personal translator. The translator charges an exuberant price and later splits her earnings with the woman who was dating the man.
Search around the web for Ukrainian dating stories and you're likely to find a slew of tragic tales from disgruntled Western men who fell headlong into Ukraine's dating scam industry. Many of these scams surround the romance tours which which are so popular in the country.
Tour companies may or may not be in cahoots with the scam industry. Often times it seems like they aren't, at least not directly. Tour companies make money through their high tour prices. Often times at the end of the day the main thing they're considered with is getting foreign guys on the tour.
One good way to do that is to build up a database of local, young, and beautiful Ukrainian ladies. Many tour companies find their ladies through local agencies which supply profiles and contact info for ladies in a particular city.
It's these agencies that profit the most from the scamming. The ladies supplied from these agencies often get guys to pay for a tour, and as a result tour companies turn a blind eye to some of the scamming practices.
This all makes for a shady and disingenuous environment on romance tours. Yes there are probably some honest and sincere woman on these tours, but they often surrounding by a sea of people and agencies who want to suck hapless foreigners for every cent they're worth.
What to look for in a good agency or tour company
Does this mean that all romance tours are chalk-full of scammers?
While there's a lot to watch out for. It's not all bad. Recently there has been surge of new tour companies who are tackling the issue of unscrupulous agencies and professional daters.
Unfortunately though a lot of these new companies start up and then disappear within a year or so. Evidently creating an honest business model around romance tours isn't all that easy.
Here's some things to look for in a good romance tour company.
Vetting (for men and women)
A good tour company will vet it's female clients AND it's male clients. At bare minimum an agency should check to see that every man and woman on their tour is who they say that are, and is legally single. The better companies will also vet clients for sincerity and intent, only allowing men and women who are expressly looking for a long-term serious relationship.
Emphasis on serious relationships
Romance tours are a pricey investment. Chances are that if you're wiling to pay the money for a spot on a tour, you're not going to simply have a good time or a memorable vacation. If that is what you're looking for there are definitely cheaper options out there for you.
A good romance tour should do everything they can to create an environment that is conducive to natural interactions between sincere men and women. This means that the companies should ensure that both men and women feel comfortable during social events. Men shouldn't have to feel scammed, and women shouldn't have to feel like they're at a cattle auction.
A good company can also try to help bridge the cultural gap between its male and female clients as well. This includes provides ways over the language barrier, as well addressing common cultural misunderstandings and miscommunications.
Most popular picks for romantic tours in Ukraine
Now we finally get to the main point of this article: recommended tours in Ukraine. I wish there was a long list of possible options for you guys, but the truth is an honest dating tour is hard to come by.
There's only two companies on this list. The first one is highly recommended (though I agree that it's a bit pricey), the second is less recommended, but more affordable.
I wanted to leave you with at least two options to choose from. I always keep my eyes peeled for other reputable options. I hope this list will grow with time.
I also included links and info for other ways to meet Ukrainian ladies other than a romance tour. If neither of the two companies in this article appeal to you, there are other options out there too.
$4,950 (one week tour)
Male & female clients screened for sincerity and eligibility
Dream Connections has been a game changer in the romance tour industry. The company was founded in 2011 by the American-Ukrainian couple Mark and Anna Davis. Mark an Anna met on a romance tour with a company called A Foreign Affair in Anna's hometown of Nikolaev, Ukraine in 2006.
Mark later wrote a book on his experience in international dating, which caught some national attention. As a result men starting writing him asking him for advice on how to meet sincere women overseas. Mark and Anna began taking Western guys on small tours in Ukraine and Dream Connections was born.
What makes Dream Connection different?
Mark and Anna met on a romance tour, but they always felt that the romance tour model could be improved to better help sincere men and women form meaningful connections. This led them to make some critical modifications to the traditional romance tour model.
Dream Connections provides each male client with his own personal translator (called your romance coach) for the duration of their tours (this is included in the initial cost of the trip). Your translator is trained not just to translate, but also to help you present yourself in the best way possible in the context of Ukrainian culture.
A closer look at what a personal translator does on a DC tour
In addition to helping you break the language and culture barrier, your translator also acts as your personal assistant. She helps you schedule dates, find local stores or restaurants, line up transportation, and handles any other logistcal issues that might arise.
Your translator does her best to make sure that the only thing you need to worry about during your stay are your dates with Ukrainian ladies.
Speed dating format
Typically romance tour drop twenty or so foreign guys in a rented nightclub with 300+ local women and simply said, "Have at it!". Translators wait in the wings if needed (usually at an additional cost), but other than that there isn't much facilitation on the part of the tour company.
A closer look a Dream Connection's speed dating event in Ukraine
Instead of this model Dream Connections uses a speed dating format for the first part of their tours. There are usually around twenty men and just over 100 ladies. Three to five ladies sit at each table. For fifteen minutes one man sits with his translator at that table and introduces himself and he and the ladies freely talk with each other. Once the fifteen minutes are up the man moves onto the next table. This continues until all men and women have met each other.
After each fifteen minute session the man moves on while his translator stays behind to talk to the ladies. The translator asks if any of the ladies are interested in going on a date with the man. The ladies that are interested write down their contact information and give it to the translator.
After both speed dating events (there are two at the beginning of every tour) the man will have a collection of phone numbers from ladies he's met who are interested in going out with him. He is then free to call them up and start scheduling dates throughout the rest of the week.
A Closer look
Read Our Full Review On Dream Connections
Word of mouth marketing in Ukraine
Dream Connections doesn't use local agencies to fill their tours with ladies. Neither do they post local advertisements. Mark and Anna realized early on that doing either of things attracted a large amount of insincere women and professional daters.
The women on a Dream Connections tour are there because they heard of the company through a friend or relative (usually from a local woman who found a husband on the tour). When this is coupled with the fact that all interested women must register and be interviewed at the local DC office before they can attend an event (no walk ins), the result is a high level of sincerity among the ladies on the tour.
Male clients are screened
Most agencies and tour companies will take any guy who pays for his spot on a tour. That's not the case with Dream Connections. Mark and Anna's company caters specifically and exclusively to men who are looking for a long term serious relationship.
Sex tourists, and guys looking to simply have a good time won't find a good fit with Dream Connections.
The cons of choosing a tour with Dream Connections
Each tour includes a single city in Ukraine. Currently Dream Connections only offers tours in two cities in Ukraine: Nikolaev and Kherson. If for some reason you're interested in visiting another city, or visiting multiple cities with a tour company, you won't be able to do so with Dream Connections.
When it comes to romance tours in Ukraine, Dream Connections is on the higher side of the pricing spectrum. Their tour prices are almost 30% higher then their chief competitor A Foreign Affair (who we feature next in this post).
The Price of A tour with Dream Connections
Dream Connections offers premium tour features (mainly a personal translator and speed dating events), that other companies don't supply. As a result a tour with DC will come at a premium price.
Dream Connections in the press
Excerpt from Jodie March Special on Dream Connections
Our Foreign Wife Happy Life Podcast Episode with Mark Davis
Dream Connections Success Stories
Since its inception in 2011 Dream Connection has produced its fair share of happy couples. Many of their stories can be found on the Dream Connections' Youtube channel. We're included a few here.
Kate & Joel
Karina & Paul
Jessie & Vita
Dream Connections provides a premium option for men who are interested in meeting sincere women, and who are specifically looking for a serious relationship. These tours come with a higher price tag, but if you're looking for a wife overseas it's hard to deny that Dream Connections is a note worthy option.
A Foreign Affair
Tours starting at $3495
Female clients only screened for legal eligibility to marry
A Foreign Affair has been hosting romance tours in foreign countries since 1995. The company is the brain child of three friends who in the mid nineties initially sought to start an internet based dating service that connected people in and around their local Phoenix, AZ dating scene.
Realizing the global implications of internet communication these three friends realized that they could help connect people from around the world. As a result they created A Foreign Affair (AFA). The company has now facilitated hundreds of romance tours, and currently overs tours in seven different countries.
A Closer look
Interview With A Foreign Affair CEO John Adams
What makes A Foreign Affair different?
A Foreign Affair has been in the romance tour business for over 20 years. In many ways they are the company all other tour companies are based off of. The format of an AFA is pretty straight forward. On each tour there are two social events (sometimes more if you book a longer tour). For these events AFA rents out a local nightclub and invites local ladies to their event. AFA provides transportation to and from these events, as well as lodging in a nearby hotel.
Emphasis on quantity of ladies meant
Where Dream Connections takes a quality over quantity approach on their tours, AFA does the opposite. A Foreign Affair regularly encourages their male clients to see as many ladies as possible and then pursue the woman they like once they've considered all their options. It's not uncommon for a social event to have upwards of 300 women with twenty or less men.
These events follow a free for all approach. The men are escorted into a venue full of awaiting ladies and the rest is up to them. Translators are provided and present in the room, but after a certain amount of time they charge an hourly fee.
Women greatly outnumber men on an AFA Romance tour
AFA's Ukrainian tours almost always include multiple cities. A typical tour includes two cities. Some tours include up to four. There is always at least one social in each of the cities on the tour. Thus if you're on a four city tour there will be four social events, and if you're on a two day tour there will be two events.
Multi city tours typically include one larger city ( Usually Kiev or Odessa), and one smaller city (Kherson, Nikolaev, Sumy, Zaporozhye, and others). Around 10 Ukrainian tours are offered each year. Which cities you visit will depend on the tour you choose.
Some of these tours give you access to cities in Ukraine that are a bit off the beaten path. This is a great option for anyone interested in visiting a part of the country less visited by foreigners.
The cons of choosing a tour with A Foreign Affair
They use local agencies to find women
To fill its tours with beautiful local women, A Foreign Affair often turns to local marriage/romance agencies. These agencies post ads in their local cities, advertising a chance for women to meet foreign men. This results in hundreds of women at their social events. The downside is that just about any woman (aside from one who isn't legally single), can attend an AFA event.
“[For some agencies] the perfect bride is the one that never marries,” he said. “We take a very different view of this business. We don't make as much money as some other companies out there, but we like to think that we offer a very straightforward service.”
-Ron Redburn (co-founder of A Foreign Affair) in an article with Askmen.com
As a result you're liable to encounter professional daters (women more interested in expensive gifts and restaurants then they are in you) while on a tour.
A Foreign Affair also gives you the option to write anyone from their enormous database of Ukrainian women. However this communication will come at a price. The cost of a single letter starts at $7.49.
If you've read any of our articles here at Foreign Wife Happy Life you know our opinion on paid letter writing: Don't do it! It is a bad idea!
Though I don't know for sure, I suspect that the letter writing operation on AFA's site is operated by the local agencies. AFA probably receives a commission on any letter fees generated through their site. Often times a local agency will "rent out" their database of women's profiles to multiple dating/corresponding sites.
This is bad news if you're thinking about contacting any of the beautiful ladies on the AFA site. Many of these second party agencies accumulate a large data base of beautiful female dating profiles, and then hire professional "translators" or letter writers to communicate on a lady's behalf.
This is the letter writing scam we already mentioned earlier in this article. In fact the video of Bobby featured earlier in this post, occurred on an actual AFA romance tour in Ukraine.
A Foreign Affair in the Press
AFA is the most widely known romance tour companies due largely to their constant coverage in the media. The company welcomes articles, documentaries, and TV specials. Literally in every special or documentary I've seen with them there are men who get played, ones who are disappointed, and ones who are successful.
The 2014 documentary "Love Me", which follows an AFA romance tour
Excerpt from a National Geographic special on AFA
ABC special on AFA
A Foreign Affair success stories
Despite sensationalized press and mixed reviews, many happy couples have met through A Foreign Affair, including Mark and Anna Davis (the founders of Dream Connections).
Matt & Tatiyana
Larry & Elena
Mark and Anna Davis
A Foreign Affair has long set the standard for the international romance tour industry (for better or worse). There are a lot of stories about guys getting scammed or played on these tours, but there are success stories floating around as well.
Though AFA itself isn't actively involved in the scams on their tours, they don't seem to make much of an effort to prevent them either.
Even with the potential dangers, many men have found their bride-to-be on an AFA tour. The price is cheaper than Dream Connections, so I you feel you can safely navigate to the downsides of a quantity versus quality approach, then A Foreign Affair may be the tour for you.
Alternatives to a romance tour
While many meaningful relationships have been kindled on romance tours, there are plenty of happy international couples around the world who didn't met on one.
Romance tours certainly have their appeal, but if you're looking for a cheaper and more hands on approach to your search for an international relationship you may want to consider an international dating site.
The online dating scene in Ukraine has its share scams of pitfalls, but like romance tours, if you use your head you shouldn't have a problem dating safely. Below you'll find a link to our article on the top dating sites for meeting Ukrainian and Russian women.
A Closer Look
The Best Sites For Dating Russian and Ukrainian Women
This concludes our article on romance tours in Ukraine. There are other tour companies out there besides the two we've mentioned in this article. These companies haven't been included because they are either too shady or they simply haven't been around long enough.
I've recommended the only two companies I would consider going on a tour myself. Take my opinion for what it's worth. My goal was to supply you with enough information to help you decide if a tour is something that would be right for you.
As always date responsibility overseas. Do your due diligence, exercise common sense, and a you should be able to date safely. International dating isn't easy, but here at Foreign Wife Happy Life we think it's worth it.
Best of luck on your search!