10 Tips For Travelling As A Couple (part 1 of 2)

What do you do when you and your travel partner travel are at each other’s throat the whole time? You keep fighting about places to go, places to eat, how to get there, etc, etc. You blame each other about missing the bus,

“I told you we should’ve taken a cab instead”
“If only you woke up on time as planned!”

What if your partner is your boyfriend/girlfriend/spouse such that going on your own separate way would involve more than sneaking out in the middle of the night to take the earlier bus out of town?

Jack and I spend so much time doing stuff together on trips people generally assume that we are alike in our preferences. I mean, it’s true that during our travels we like to listen to the same type of music (which is a big thing) and can’t live without coffee. But that’s pretty much where our commonalities end: – I’m a planner, and Jack isn’t. I like to start my day early, Jack prefers to sleep in. I turn into a bitchcake when it’s hot and humid (even though I was born in a tropical country, the irony), Jack revels in it – I lose things, Jack forgets things – the list goes on and on.

Throughout our previous trips, both long and short, we have learned to accommodate each other’s habits and quirks and somehow make things work. But it was only possible since we genuinely like each other’s company. And that’s vital… and therefore it should be number one on the list:

1. Make Sure You (Really) Like Each Other

It takes a lot of ‘liking each other’ in order to tolerate each others imperfections, especially when these imperfections are exposed continuously for a long time. Even the most patient and understanding partner would be tested. To realize that your relationship is more important that this trip you’re currently undertaking is the basis for… well, for not taking the trip too seriously. I personally think it’s the most important foundation for a successful long term trip together.

What it all comes down to is, would you really prefer to go on solo without sharing your new experiences with your partner? Are you willing to sacrifice your dream trip for your relationship sake?

2. Find Out His/Her Quirks Soon

When you’re stuck with one person for a long period of time, every little quirk of his will be amplified many many times. You even start discovering new ones you never noticed before (he never used to snort and sniffle like that, did he?)

If you are not currently living together, it might be a good idea to take a bunch of mini trips beforehand – not only to discover as many of these quirks as soon as possible, but also to build tolerance for them – think of it your annual flu shot. There will be few that you might find just simply intolerable (for me personally, nagging and sloppy eating is a deal breaker) — and it’s good idea to find out what those are too before rushing to buy your tickets.

3. Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff (and it’s all small stuff)

When faced with aggravating situations – you miss your bus, you drop your only clean underwear on the wet (public) bathroom floor, etc – just ask yourself:

“Are my partner and I currently safe from physical danger?”
“Do I have a place to sleep tonight?”
“Do I have enough money to go back home if I want to?”

If the answer if yes, it’s all small stuff. And remember… all of these inconveniences would be ingredients for a great story in near future.

4. Remember that Hunger +Tiredness = unhappy camper

Photo from theloushe - Flickr

Deep down inside, we’re just toddlers in a grown up body. We get cranky when we haven’t eaten for while and the last meal we had was an unidentified mush. We get testy after 3 days of non-sleeping. It’s easy to travel yourself to exhaustion when your to-do list is long, the food is close to inedible, and no one speaks your language (have you ever noticed that it’s extremely exhausting to try to listen to a foreign language ?)

Take a vacation from your vacation

On a trip longer than a couple of weeks, it’s important to schedule a break from running around ticking your checklist. Go somewhere where there is not a ‘must do’ items – no museums, churches, temples. Think of a place your grandparents would love – and go there. And relax and gather your bearings. Take siestas. Sit in the square and watch people. Take a long walk and silly pictures of each other. It’s amazing what this will do to your sanity.

Being silly in Nafplio, Greece

Bring snacks with you, always

Sometimes you never know where your next meal is coming from. When there’s an opportunity to stock up on snacks and water – take it! Always have something to eat in your daypack to prevent that toddler inside you (and your partner) from rearing its ugly head up. Feed the monster!

5. Plan Apart – Silence is Golden

Traveling as a couple is all about compromise. But sometimes compromise is just another way of saying that neither party gets what he/she really wants – that could be frustrating after awhile. There is nothing wrong about going your own separate way for a day or two.

Maybe your partner would rather lounge around the hostel and nearby cafe, while you hop on a bus and go check out some house that an obscure write that only you and 2 other people have heard of used to live in. The time alone could be a very welcome break from the constant need thinking about “us”, and you can focus on “I” for a little bit. Changes are good. And to be alone with your own thoughts… is golden.

Related Articles That Other People Have Written:
Traveling Couples: Are We Insane? The Survival Guide
5 Tips For Traveling As A Couple
How to Get Along on Vacation