You’ve been locked down for a year with the one you love. You have your daily routine figured out but after a year of being stuck in Groundhog Day, you are looking forward to mixing things up again. After the year we’ve all had, traveling around the world just might be the ticket. And traveling with your partner is something that is close to our hearts. Dave and I have been married for 24 years. We have travelled extensively since 2000 and for 8 of those years we were one the road 24/7. Let me tell you a secret, we’ve had a blast!
But to travel as a couple can be a challenge. The first time traveling together can be overwhelming. Even if you are used to being together, the stress of being on the road can take its toll. But, if you work through the bumps in the road you really can grow closer and have a stronger relationship by traveling together.
Tips for Traveling as a Couple
Couples travel can be difficult for many people but we wouldn’t travel any other way. We are able to share life-changing experiences together, and we get to share tears, joy, and the elation that comes with long term travel and adventure. We have grown together.
We find that traveling as a couple has turned us into more well-rounded human beings. By being open to to each other’s suggestions, we end up exploring things that we never would have tried in the first place, and we end up liking things that we never thought we would.
“We’ve been able to travel together, see the world together and create memories that will last forever as we grow old together.” We know the joy that traveling can add to a relationship. We have been happily married since 1996 and once we started traveling together, we have had even more fun and excitement in our lives than we could ever imagine.
How to Travel as A Couple
Traveling as a couple can test your relationship and some people end up breaking up after traveling together. We don’t want that for anyone! But we have found that if we follow a few of these simple travel tips, couples can survive and thrive when we travel the world together.
1. Have Patience
Some of our first trips were tough. And there were times we wondered what we were doing? Can our relationship survive this? There was a time when I locked myself in the bathroom because we didn’t have another room to go to in the middle of the night, and there were times we were so mad at each other, we couldn’t look at each other.
Remember, travel couples are going to fight and you’re going to annoy each other. We found that when traveling long term for the first time, we needed to get over a hump.
There are stages to traveling as a couple. There’s the honeymoon stage, the annoyance stage, the I can’t stand the sight of you stage and then there is acceptance. Work through it and you’ll come out the other end stronger than ever.
2. Be Able to Compromise
Being able to compromise is always our biggest piece of advice that we give people who want to start traveling as a couple. We have found that a lot of couples are not willing to do this even on a short vacation. How can someone survive traveling the world for months at a time without making any compromises?
You have to be willing to give and take when traveling as a couple. Traveling together can’t be one person dictating where you are going and what you are doing. And it can’t be a constant struggle or tug of war.
So what is the solution?
Maybe you love art and culture while your spouse loves sports and adventure. You may want to spend your time at museums and your spouse wants to go see a local game of cricket or join a beach volleyball game. You don’t want to spend your time having separate vacations so give in a little.
Maybe you could go to a sporting museum like the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto or the hurling museum in Dublin. You both get the best of both worlds. Sports and culture wrapped into one! Or, let’s face it, you love each other. Would it be so bad to suck it up for a few hours to go to a football game with the one you love but then the pay off is that you both go to the Museum of Modern Art the next day?
Communication really is the key to surviving a relationship at any point, let alone as a travel couple. We find that when we travel, we need to communicate much more than we do at home. When you are home, you are in your comfort zone and it’s easy to take each other for granted. You have your comfortable space and your “things” that keep you busy and occupied. When traveling around the world, you are going to find that you are more vulnerable and you are going to by hyper sensitive to each others actions.
I think that the success of our relationship is due to how well we communicate. We never play mind games with each other and we talk about everything.
3. Read the Signs
Most people ignore the problem, hoping it will go away. Sure, we could play dumb and ignore the signs, but the truth is we are all open books if you pay attention. Let’s face it, we all react differently to situations, and while one of you may be completely enjoying one experience, the other may be hating every minute of it. So pay attention to each other and get to know what the signs are when something is wrong.
The key is to not ignore how the other person is feeling. If you are at a crowded festival and you know your spouse is slightly claustrophobic, pay attention to their face. I know when we attended Thaipusam in Malaysia, I was terrified in the huge crowd. Dave saw my face, and led me out of the crowd to a place where we could watch from above.
You may be completely relaxed fascinated by the crowds it but have a look to see how your partner is doing? It’s pretty easy to read the look on people’s faces when they think nobody is watching. A little empathy goes a long way.
When I didn’t want to do the polar plunge in Antarctica, Dave said “you don’t have to do anything you don’t want, Deb.” He listened to my fears, and then by giving me support, I had the courage to jump into that icy water. Because he took the time to listen and I didn’t have to hold my feelings in, I wasn’t uncomfortable or upset anymore.
If he ignored the signs hoping I would just “get over it” we would have come out of the situation angry with each other. I would have been angry that he didn’t offer help and he would have been angry that I ruined his great adventure.
4. Know Each Other’s Boundaries
When traveling with your partner you have to be aware of each other’s fears. Don’t force something on each other when you know that there is no way the other is going to give in. Compromise is one thing, but pushing someone beyond their comfort zone is another.
But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be open to trying something new! Bunjy jumping is a little too much for me so Dave did that without me, but we then went paragliding together. Maybe whitewater kayaking is a little over the top, but what about giving a guided whitewater rafting trip on some small rapids a go?
Over time, you will probably be able to get each other to try almost everything, but take baby steps at first so you don’t scare the adventure right out of your spouse!
5. Be Willing to Argue
As a couple, if you can’t fight with each other, you can’t survive spending every day with each other. You can’t just go out with friends for a break, you are going to be in very tight quarters in your hotel room in a strange city. When traveling the world, you are often stuck together and you are going to have an argument whether you like it or not.
You will blame each other when things go wrong and you will get on each other’s nerves at times. Be prepared for that. Things could get ugly. But if you are ready for it, you can handle it.
If you hold things in and don’t say anything, things are going to build up and you are going to explode. So, speak up. If you aren’t enjoying yourself, say so!
I’m not saying be nit picky at every little thing. I’m talking about letting the person know when something is wrong. It’s important to let each other know when something is wrong. Nobody is perfect and we are all going to make mistakes, but when things reach a point where you need to say something, say it. Chances are the other person won’t even know they were upsetting you in the first place.
6. Don’t Hold a Grudge
It’s okay to have an argument and let off some steam, but have the fight, get it over with, and then move on. We never hold a grudge, and we always talk things through no matter how long it takes. Once we forgive, we move on.
Bringing back past mistakes is childish and only leads to frustration. There’s nothing worse than throwing a past mistake in your loved one’s face. That will only leave your partner wondering when you will bring something up again. If you don’t want to let it go, then don’t accept the apology and talk things through until you can move on.
Even if it means a bit of time apart or sleeping on it. Yes, we said sleep on it. We have gone to bed angry many times and woke up wondering what all the fuss was about? Half the time when traveling we don’t even remember what each fight was about. Sometimes we have argued by the simple fact that we were hungry or jet lagged.
Travel can be frustrating, exhausting, and overwhelming. It can be magnified even more when traveling as a couple.You are spending every day together. And when tensions run high, you only have each other to take your frustrations out on.
7. Know Your Triggers?
Traveling as a couple can be difficult on a relationship, but we’ve found that by simply understanding why you are acting the way you are can have a make things easier. So get to know you and your partner’s triggers are? It took us a long time to realize that jet lag played a huge roll in many of our arguments. Jet lag is not only hard on the body it can play with your emotions.
Dave and I noticed a pattern that for the first 3-4 days after landing in a new destination, we would argue over everything. We were irritable and frustrated with each other for no reason. We had never been this way before and wondered why we were so angry with each other. Until we noticed a pattern. A few days after our arrival at a destination when we finally relaxed we would get along again.
Once we understood our pattern, we could control it. We made a pact to never make any important decisions during the first few days of landing in a new destination. We made sure to give each other a break when it came to our emotions during the first few days of being in another country. Whenever we were irritable or frustrated, we took a moment to decide whether we were really and truly upset or whether it was the jet lag talking. Most of the time, it was jet lag.
The moment we knew about our jet lag problem, life became much easier.
8. Make Time for Romance
We always set aside time for romantic dinners, and a splurge on a nice hotel or spa day. Even during our most frugal travel days, Dave and I always found money in our budget to stay at an upscale hotel for a couple of nights.
There is nothing better for bringing passion back on the road than enjoying a luxurious room while ordering in room service and spending quality time together free from distractions. We make sure to always set aside Dave and Deb time. It’s kept our marriage strong strong for 24 years.
9. Set Expectations
People put a lot of pressure on making their vacations perfect. Just because you are traveling the world together doesn’t mean everything is going to be perfect all of a sudden. There is a chance that things will go wrong and that people will make mistakes. Many people put pressure on their world travels that it is suddenly going to fix every problem in their life and if something goes wrong, they blow it out of proportion because they have spent money to travel. If things aren’t going as planned you still need to treat each other with respect. It’s important not to point fingers or lay blame.
10. Hugs go a long way
When things go wrong, give each other a hug. Dave and I have found that a simple hug can make things better. I know that my temper can run higher than Dave’s, and often when I’m fuming mad, he’ll say to me “come over here and give me a hug.” He won’t take no for an answer and once I give him a hug, I start laughing and realizing that I was frustrated over nothing.
11. Don’t Fall into the Trap of Being Pals
It’s easy for travel couples to slip into the friend category and become ‘pals’. The worst thing a couple can do to start acting like friends. Remember, even though travel can sometimes be difficult and you are busy sightseeing or running around seeing everything on your bucket list, you need to take time for each other and act like a couple.
Body contact is important when traveling as a couple. It is easy to forget that we are a romantic and passionate couple. You need intimacy and comfort. You have a deep bond that you need to nourish. If you find that you have focused too much on travels and not enough on each other. Slow down. Take a break and add romance.
If you slow down when traveling, take the pressure off one another, and are aware of each other’s feelings and actions, traveling as a couple can be one of the most rewarding experiences of your life.
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And you’ll find after your travels that you are closer than you ever thought you could be.