10 Tips on How to Travel the World as a Couple
First off, let me say that this isn't advice solely for ~couples~. It can be useful for friends traveling, students traveling together or parent and kids traveling and attempting to not be the undoing of each other!
Justin and I have been married for four years and have been together for nearly six. During that time we've traveled to 14 countries together and lived abroad (during our first year of marriage, no less!) for two years. We're coming up on our 15th (Cuba) and 16th (United Kingdom) countries this year! So, I'm basically saying all of that to say that we've been in situations where our relationship has grown, has been tested (and survived) and has experienced amazing and beautiful things. So, we've got some advice for those brave duos who are traveling together for the first time. Boyfriends/girlfriends, moms/daughters, boyfriends/boyfriends, girlfriend/girlfriend, spouses, friend/friend, student/student, etc./etc. this is for you!
1.) Take time for yourself! Didn't think I would say that, huh? Yes! It's so important to give each other space while traveling. Go for a walk around the park alone. Ride a bike down to the local bookstore and flip through some thrifted books. If you don't slice out a piece of the moment just for yourself, you could start to find your travel partner agitating simply because you haven't had a moment to yourself.
2.) Listen to each other! Whether you're traveling with friends or your S.O., you'll want to tune in when they are saying what they want to do. Thankfully Justin and I typically want to do the same things but I have followed along to a motorcycle coffee shop one or two times. A good example would be my sweet friend Maria who, regrettably, followed me all across Bangkok because I wanted to go to this temple and then found out I couldn't be let in because I was wearing shorts. Whoops. Sorry, Maria!
3.) Push each other out of your comfort zones and experience something new. I am not a daredevil. I don't really like the idea of parachuting out of a plane or zip-lining through the jungle but somehow Justin convinces me it's a good idea. To be honest, afterwards I'm glad I did it. Although I did cry when on the suspension bridge in Peru. It was very high up in my defense! Conversely, I will get Justin to go to this ridiculous looking restaurant or bar that is cloaked in darkness. It's a win/win, really.
4.) Don't get too hung up on your own pet peeves. If you have a problem with someone eating with their mouth fully agape or snoring and you let it fully and wholly bother you while you're traveling with someone, then you're going to go nuts. Trust me. I have gone nuts plenty of times and will continue to go nuts. I need to stop going nuts. Just let it make you laugh! Maria, myself and this German guy we met were stuck in a hostel with the worse snoring American you could imagine. We ended up coming up with ingenious ways to keep him awake all night. Insert here a devilish grin.
5.) Be very patient and loving with each other. This goes for anyone traveling with anyone. You can't stay irritated with each other forever if you've got to somehow manage to get through the CDG airport in Paris and get to your train on time. When the moment has passed and you've both cooled off, calmly state why you were agitated. It's best to use phrases such as, "I feel.." and "this is what I need" instead of accusatory statements such as "you always" or "you never". You're sure to set yourself up for some difficult traveling. And heck..a difficult life!
6.) Be silly and have fun with each other! It's so important to laugh and find enjoyable things in the little things. That's why you're traveling, right? To learn, to grow, to get out of the day to day rut. While we were in Dubai, we found everything to be stupid expensive so we bought a double/double from Tim Hortons and some TimBits and watched skateboarders skate around the Burj Khalifa. And you know what? That was great.
7.) Don't buy/collect more than your own luggage can handle and subsequently stuff it into your partner's bag. There has been many a time when I've bought a gigantic cardigan from somewhere and shoved it into Justin's pack. Make sure your own bag can handle your own stuff so you don't make your travel partner carry your trinkets (read: oversized cardigans).
8.) Do things that the locals do. You'll love it! Each person can pick something that they really want to do, eat, learn more about, etc. and go do it! Justin and I have found many news favorite foods this way.
9.) Understand what is a challenge for your travel partner and then push them to do it! For me (and Justin knows this) I tend to be a bit of a semi-social introvert. I like talking to the people I know and I'll occasionally talk to strangers, but if I don't have to, I won't. Also, I have a limit of social interactions and then I'm done. Justin will push me to be more social when we're traveling and I typically end up really liking who we talk to. Sam and Richard from Iceland! Paul and Lou from Peru! I, on the other hand, tend to make Justin do embarrassing things. He likes it.
10.) Be present with each other and enjoy the moment. It won't be there forever and you'll spend a lot of time looking back on the things you did together, the conversations you had, the food you shared and the laughs that made you cry. It's a special time so give it it's due.
Remember, friends, that traveling with a partner is just as important as traveling solo. Going at it alone can be super great and informative and life changing. But it is also so good to look up from your pork congee and realize someone is there enjoying it with you.
If you haven't done it yet, subscribe! Get an email every time we post! :D