One of the perks of a remote job is the ability to work from virtually anywhere. Some men are now using this advantage to shake up the playing field, so to speak, when it comes to dating. These “passport bros,” as they’re calling themselves, are traveling the world to meet women abroad. But while they sell it as a lifestyle hack, others have leveled some serious criticism about its potentially exploitative nature.
Data analyst Austin Abeyta, 31, who goes by Digital Bromad on TikTok where he has over 413,000 followers, may now be the most-recognizable face of the so-called passport bro movement. In a May 22 viral video that’s since been viewed nearly two million times, Abeyta listed out the benefits of his lifestyle, which he says he learned after living in South America for over a year.
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First, he says to never underestimate an American accent, which he says is “exotic” to foreign women.
“I know it sounds crazy, but you have an accent,” Abeyta explains. “The American accent is kind of trash, to be honest, but the fact that you have one peppers your words and gives everything you say a little bit of weight, a little bit of spice. It makes it more exciting.”
Next, Abeyta lists “secondhand excitement,” which he says amounts to people loving to show off their country, and showing off the things they love.
“It’s like back when you were a kid and you found out one of your friends never saw Space Jam… and then you got to be excited watching them watch it,” he compares. “And that happens a lot on dates, it plays into the excitement. It keeps things light and keeps things fun.”
Finally, Abeyta points to the stereotype of Americans being wealthy, which he says is partly because the U.S. dollar is the global reserve currency. And that can evidently make a big difference when traveling to countries where the cost of living is low.
“So if you make $60,000 a year, you can live like you made $120,000 a year pretty comfortably,” he says. “Experiences and the things money can buy make a huge difference in dating.” As proof of this stereotype, he makes an unfortunate comparison to The Tinder Swindler, a 2022 British true crime documentary about a conman who used dating apps to financially manipulate women into supporting his lavish lifestyle.
“I would have to make four times what I currently make in order to live in America the way I do while I travel,” Abeyta recently told Insider, though he did not specify his exact salary.
While he might not be the real-life Tinder Swindler, Abeyta says he gets a lot of hate for his videos, with commenters comparing his dating strategy to a mail-order bride service or other forms of exploitative financial relationships.
But the criticism has gone even further than that, with some calling out the lifestyle for being akin to sex tourism, or “the practice of traveling to foreign countries with the intention of engaging in sexual activity or relationships,” typically in exchange for money or lifestyle support. As Junkee points out, these men tend to visit Asian and Latin American countries, where women are stereotyped as being more “submissive” or having more “traditional values” than women in places like the U.S., U.K., or Australia.
Not to mention, there’s also growing concerns of Americans living abroad in the age of remote work in general, with some pointing to the influx of cash leading to rising prices in places like Mexico City and Costa Rica that push locals out of “trendy” neighborhoods.
But while the movement is indeed gaining steam—with the hashtag #passportbros currently at over 422 million views on the platform—perhaps TikTok user Trust Andy said it best. In a video back in February, he explained that Japan has its own name for “passport bros,” and let’s just say it’s far less catchy.