11 Dec TRAVELLING AS A COUPLE: HOW TO COME BACK HOME TOGETHER
How ever it is that you choose to travel – whether it’s solo, with friends, family or as a couple, each path has its own dynamics and excitement that comes with it. Making the choice to travel with somebody is such a personal and deepening stage of a relationship. Committing to being by somebody’s side 24 hours a day, regardless of if they frustrate the hell out of you (a lonnnnng way from home) is a really big step. So, travelling as a couple seems like an ideal situation. Deep in love? In a rut? Seeking to turn over a new leaf? If there is one way to figure out if it is meant to be, take a 40 hours bus ride together through the Andes in Peru, that should probably give you the answer!
Meeting on the road gave us a great opportunity to test the waters. Five years later, we have travelled tens of countries and spent endless months by each other’s sides. We have lived every kind of emotion and situation together, which has made us stronger as a couple and given us a travel experience which is deep and rewarding. There have been tears, arguments, confusion, tension, frustration and forgiveness. Though greater than all those things, have been life changing moments, incredible beauty and waking up each and every morning to a travel companion, best friend and lover. Travelling as a couple is something which gives your relationship irreplaceable moments, and strength which would not be grown from experiences in the comfort of home. Travelling together can be the best relationship decision you ever make.
I once heard a great quote which was something along the lines of:
‘You don’t really know someone until you see how they react to a rainy day, lost luggage or a canceled flight’
Ain’t that the truth.
Here are our top tips for a tip-top trip together!
- Figure out what kind of travelers you are
If you live together, chances are you know what one another’s idiosyncrasies are. Whether one of you likes to organise every precise detail and the other likes to simply take things easy; if you love luxurious comforts or if you can’t live a day without some sort of exertion of energy outdoors. These are all lifestyle choices and habits which definitely dictate who you are as a traveler and how you will be as a couple traveling. If the two of you are incredibly complimentary and somehow meet on the same side or even in the middle, traveling should be a breeze. I say ‘should be’ because no matter how well you know somebody, travel has a way to squeeze it out of them. But this is all part of the fun!
- Be patient
Patience is a virtue. When traveling with your significant other, this is especially true. Remember, you are not the same person, and all those little things which irritate you will itch at you even more when you don’t get a breath of air to yourself. BUT if you can deal with this – whether they take forever to get ready in the morning, or if they get bored really easily, you’ll have this problem fast-forwarded to resolution in no time. Give each other time and space, to be yourselves. If you get annoyed, let it be or talk it out. Try not to bottle it up until you’ve been staring at the 117th Da Vinci painting, 2 hours into your walk around the Louvre. Soak in the good times and throw your frustrations out the window – you are on holidays after all!
- Decide what you want, individually
There is nothing worse than feeling a little off throughout your trip, like you aren’t getting enough time doing what it is you want to do, especially if even you don’t know what that is. Before your time away, take some time to really think about what you want out of your trip – do you want a cultural city-tripping holiday, a nature-soaked hiking expedition or something completely else. Knowing what it is that you really want helps you to clearly communicate in the planning process, or air out your grievances when you aren’t spending your time as you would’ve liked to. Trust me, that is half the battle – solved!
- Compromise if you need
Once you’ve figured out what it is that you really want, it is time to weigh up each side – equally. Compromise is key and it means that not only will you have the trip you’ve always dreamed of, but you will also be able to experience the trip you partner has always dreamt of too. With an open mind, you’ll never be disappointed because you’ll get the chance to try some completely new and exciting things – whether its an obscure interest or a local delicacy, stay open and remember that the even if you don’t love it, it will at least your partner is loving it and it’ll make for a good story afterward!
- Never mistake being together as being inseparable
This one took a while to figure out, and is probably more applicable to longer-term travelers, but it is a golden rule in traveling as a couple. You don’t have to spend every, living breathing moment together. Whether it is taking an hour to do yoga by yourself, or reading a book, or exploring a different part of the city. Never feel trapped by being together, you can have perfectly exciting moments on an afternoon with yourself, and will be even more excited once you come back together – absence makes the heart grow fonder after all.
- Turn disputes into discussions
Whatever it is that fizzes to the surface, let it become a discussion and not a dispute. Arguing and fighting are so boring! If you find a way to communicate clearly and forgive quickly, you’ll have more time to enjoy the beautiful world around you. We found that by being clear, calm and patient we can resolve any miscommunication. Just like you do with a baby – check yourself. Are you hungry, tired or bored? If you woke up on the wrong side of the bed, chances are that if you are clear with you partner, you can take the day a little easier and your time together will be a lot more enjoyable.
- Eat yourselves happy
We all know that the way to your heart is through your stomach. Sharing a beautiful, sumptuous meal together is a magical as many of the best things in life. Indulge yourselves with days where you sample pastries in Paris, or gelato in Amalfi, or crickets in Mexico. We love discovering new restaurants, cafes and local haunts, especially because we eat mostly plant-based there is nothing more exciting than finding an incredible vegan spot, or farmers markets. If you feel adventurous, get out of the city and find your own food. Whether it is going to a raspberry farm where you can pick punnets of fresh berries, a pine forest to forage some wild mushrooms, or a winery where you can ‘pick’ which bottle of wine you’d like for the evening (whilst sampling a few of course), it doesn’t get much better.
- Create special moments
Sometimes it is the most spontaneous times which are the most memorable. These are absolutely the joys of the twists and turns of the open road. But if you are running a little short on fun – do something out of the box. Experiences together are incredibly bonding. Try a new cuisine, go dancing, go diving or create your own bar crawl. One of the best ways you can get out of your comfort zone (and doing something good too) is by volunteering. We love getting into local community projects when travelling, or even better still, try out WorkAway or WWOOFing. If you aren’t familiar with these, they are voluntary exchanges where you can either work on farms, in restaurants or help people out at their homes in exchange for a place to stay and meal, plus a lot of great experiences and new friends along the way. Get out of your comfort zone and knowing that you are in this together is such an exhilarating feeling, you’ll reminisce when you are old and grey that you are happy that you took a little risk.
- Learn together
Nothing is more bonding than learning something new, together. One of our favourite things to do is to take a class together. Whether it is a dance class (we tried salsa in Cuba), cooking class (we try to do this in most countries we travel to), a language class (I learnt Spanish in Guatemala, and Gab had someone to practice with fulltime), or something completely different like a pickling class (which we did at a beautiful organic farm in Southern Tasmania). Watching each other learn, supporting each other when you struggle or just laughing together when you end up just stepping on each other’s toes. It’s all good.
- Meet strangers/ Make friends
When you travel as a couple, it can sometimes be a lot harder to meet new people. Whether it is because people don’t really approach couples to chat, or you feel happy in your comfort zone together. Either way, adding some new friends into the mix, really helps you connect with a real and exciting travel experience. Whether it is talking to local strangers, or connecting with others in a hostel or bus, you won’t believe how many of these strangers will end up being some of your nearest and dearest new friends, around the world. We have connected with so many incredible souls, who we’ve continued our trip with or detoured another trip just to visit them again. Meeting new people might shift the dynamics up a notch and add some new conversations to the mix. Forging new mutual friendships has got to be the cherry on top of an unforgettable, romantic and exhilarating adventure, together.