The Bachelor is easier to process if one doesn’t look at it as an engagement after only six weeks. Instead, it’s basically speed dating, with 25 breakups before one relationship. The roses are handed out, and for those who don’t get a rose and an invitation to keep going on this “journey” to find love, it’s potentially devastating. To have invested so much — pausing lives and quitting jobs, for instance — and have it not come to fruition sucks. It sucks so much that one would hope that producers would be kind and maybe put the rejected contestants in a hotel or something just to soften the blow. Where do Bachelor contestants go after they’re eliminated, anyway?
Contestants are subject to very intense non-disclosure agreements from ABC, but if a person comes back after, say, a week, it’s pretty obvious that she’s not engaged. According to former contestant Jessica Carroll, who was eliminated on the first night of Arie Luyendyk’s season of The Bachelor, if you’re not given a rose during the rose ceremony, you really do go home that quickly. If you’re cut, the producers film goodbye interview segments, and then the cast-offs get boarded onto a bus to go home. In an essay for Cosmopolitan, Carroll wrote, “We all got on this bus, tears running down our faces, and the bus takes you either back to the hotel or, for girls who are catching flights, to LAX. They're forced to fly home the next day.”
That’s a pretty quick turnaround for a show that tries its best to keep its filming policies and spoilers under wraps — you get on a bus or you get right on a plane! The plus, though, for Carroll is that she said that long bus ride instantly bonded all of the rejected women together, and they’re still friends. “The first night [at the mansion] you literally are there until sunrise. So when we were driving back in the bus, we hit LA morning traffic,” she said. “The bus ride was longer than expected because of that, I think, so it gave us this chunk of time to really connect and get to know each other.”
Former Bachelor contestant Izzy Goodkind, who appeared on Ben Higgins’ season of The Bachelor, was also sent home the first night, and her experience mirrors Carroll’s. She told The A.V. Club that once you’re cut, you’re sent out “right away” to do your farewell interview and then cast out into the night. “That was, I think, the hardest for me, wrapping my head around that I had just gone through so much to get here, and it was over within 13 hours. That was the hardest part for me,” she said. “It was emotionally so exhausting.” Goodkind opted to stay in Los Angeles for a few days to figure out her next night, but she didn't do so as a guest of The Bachelor (or on the show's dime).
Because a show like The Bachelor is contingent upon keeping the winner under wraps, it would be easy to assume that production does everything they can to keep contestants sequestered as to avoid spoilers. When it comes to those travel dates, though, there’s no concrete proof about whether or not the women who make it deeper into the season are treated differently during eliminations than the women who are rejected on the first night. There is some hearsay and a handful of theories on reddit, though, and that one infamous video taken on a plane immediately after Andi Dorfman sent her runner-up home, which would suggest everyone quickly hops a plane, no matter how far into the season. Plus it would stand to reason that, budget wise, it would make sense to send folks back home ASAP.
With all that in mind, if you’re ever cast on The Bachelor, in addition to all the other requirements (buying a whole new wardrobe, putting your life on hold), you've also got to mentally prepare yourself for the possibility of being dropped back into society, with no transition, at the drop of a hat, er, rose.