This week we have a guest post from Kelly Dunning for Travel-Wise. She has some great thoughts about traveling as a couple, something that we know a little about as well!
It’s great to have a partner to share your world travel experiences with – but it’s not always easy.
Even the most compatible of couples will have their stress points and will get frustrated or annoyed with each other every now and then. When you throw in the chaotic circumstances that traveling the world often creates, it can be a real strain on your relationship.
I’ve been travelling the world with my English boyfriend Lee for about 7 years now and although we love each other deeply and enjoy each other’s company – there have times when we have struggled. No matter how much you adore someone, spending 24 hours a day with them will inevitably lead to annoyance and tension. We have learned a lot about the challenges that can emerge when traveling as a couple – and how to handle them.
When You Want to Do Different Things (Or You Get a Bit Sick of Each Other)
Of course, you are two different people – so naturally you will be interested in a wide range of experiences when you travel. Perhaps your dream day in Rome consists of going on as many historical tours as possible and delving deep into the world of ancient ruins while your partner is more interested in wine tastings, gelato and finding the ultimate bowl of pasta.
Romantic destinations can do wonders for your relationship, but it’s okay to take some time for yourselves while on vacation. The trick to this is a little bit of compromise and a little bit of independence. For some activities you can enjoy them together (even if one person enjoys it more) but don’t be afraid to split up and do your own thing separately.
For example, I often go to art galleries on my own when we are traveling because Lee isn’t that interested and he will go to football or cricket matches without me because I’m really not too bothered about sports. Even though you are traveling as a couple, you can split up for a day to enjoy an activity that you are interested in and your partner is not. You can even go off and spend time with other people, such as friends you make at the hostel or on different group tours.
Spending time apart helps prevent you from getting too sick of each other. You’ll get a break and a chance to miss your partner. You will have a renewed appreciation of their presence when you get back together. Plus, you’ll have time to do things you are passionate about but your partner is not.
When you Are Both Tired and Stressed
While there are definite benefits to traveling as a couple, there are times when those benefits are overshadowed — in particular on those days when you have been on a 15-hour overnight bus, you’ve gotten lost on the way to the hostel and you are exhausted, hungry and irritable. Everything your partner says to you starts to sound like an attack and you feel yourself bristling at their touch, silently wishing they would stop breathing so loud or making that stupid face.
We’ve all been there. You still love them, of course. You’re just in such a miserable mental state that you really aren’t capable of feeling love for anyone or anything – except perhaps a warm meal and a comfortable bed.
It’s important to remember that when you and your partner are stressed out from the rigors of travel you shouldn’t take any annoyance with each other too seriously. Remember to take a deep breath, have a snack, listen to some calming music or a podcast and try to get in a more tranquil state of mind. Also, try to give your partner a little more patience and understanding in these moments even if they are getting on your nerves — they are probably just as tired and uncomfortable as you are.
When One of You Is Unwell
This is one of the advantages of traveling as a couple – you have someone to care for you when you are ill. If your partner is under the weather, head to the local pharmacy and get them what they need – whether it is loperamide (for a volcanic tummy), painkillers, antibiotics or anything else. I even carry around some of the basics with me in my backpack so I am prepared if one of us gets sick.
When it comes to picking something up in a foreign pharmacy, the brand name may be different but the drug name will be the same or similar. Google it beforehand to find out what that particular drug is called in that country – unless you want to play ailment charades with the pharmacist. Plus, always have travel health insurance so that if one of you is very sick you will be covered for the cost of being treated by a doctor.
When You Have Different Standards
What happens when one of you is completely fine with sleeping in grotty hostels and traveling on the local bus with the chickens, while the other can’t even stand the thought of staying anywhere below a five star resort?
Talk about this beforehand – if your gap in travel styles is too vast it might mean you are incompatible traveling together. However, you might be able to work out a compromise and find a sweet spot in mid-range accommodation that fits your budget and you are both comfortable with.
These are just a few of the challenges that you might face when traveling as a couple. The main key is patience, empathy and communication. You will get fed up with each other at some point, but that’s not the end of the world – it’s only natural. If you can work through difficult situations together, have each other’s back when the going gets tough and communicate with each other, you’ll be on the road to a great trip and a long lasting relationship.