Before I met Jack, I used to travel by myself a lot. Even though there are certain aspects of solo traveling that I miss (such as how much easier it is to meet other people), traveling as a couple also has its benefits.
And no, not only because it means I won’t ever have to eat alone (which I don’t mind), or going to movies alone (which I sometime prefer), but because of other things that can only be found by traveling with a life-long partner or a friend.
1. “You had to be there” — instant sharing buddy
Have you ever seen something so breathtaking amazing it literally… well, takes your breath away? And you look around you to find someone that you can share it with, “Did you see that?” “Wasn’t that amazing?” and then you see your partner just as excited as you are, and suddenly the moment just seems so much better because you get to share it with somebody.
2. Safety in Numbers
There are some things that’s not advisable to do alone such as hitchhiking or going out after dark in unknown areas. Things that I did out of naivete when I was younger… but with Jack, well, we probably still won’t do those things. But if we have to, there is some comfort in knowing we’ll be able to watch each others back (and have an extra pair of hands and feet to fight with if it ever comes to that).
But more commonly, it’s just nice having someone you can trust to watch your belongings while you go to the bathroom, or while you take a nap on a long-haul train ride. Or if your toilet is missing 2 walls and a door, you have someone to stand there to ‘block the view’.
3. You get to venture outside your comfort zone
When traveling solo you have the luxury of going wherever you want, and doing whatever you want. Which is great. Traveling with your significant other means every now and then you get dragged to places you’re not interested in or to do things you know very little about (– You’re going spelunking? What’s that? ). With someone you just met, it’s easy to go “Eh, I’ll pass”.
But boy, it’s so, so much harder to say no to someone you know you have to hang around with for a long time in the future. Or more often that not, you simply have no say in the matter. ( — What? We’re going spelunking now? And you already paid for it? )
But you might learn that you actually enjoy these things.
4. Two for One — It’s Just Cheaper
There are certain things that are just simply cheaper when you’re traveling as a group, even it’s a group of two; things like cab rides, or rental cars.
Splitting a private room in a hostel might end up costing the same as 2 dorm beds. And if you’re traveling with your significant other, sharing a much smaller bed is always an option to save cost even further.
I also notice that when I was traveling by myself I ended up throwing a lot of food away; with the two of us we can split entrees at restaurants, a loaf of bread and cheese, and reduce food cost in general.
5. Through thick and thin
The social scene at backpackers hostels tend to be lively and friendly and all out fun. It’s easy to make friends and to meet new people. Until you get sick.
When you get sick or come across some personal problems or just simply too exhausted from all the ordeals involved in traveling… it’s nice having somebody who’ll bring you hot soup and stay with you to watch TV all day in the hostel while the others are out and having fun; or listen to you bitch and moan about random things; you know… someone who’ll stick with you in good times and in bad times.
6. 2 Heads Are Better Than One
Extended travels can be quite a logistic challenge that require constant research and split decision making. It’s awfully nice not to have to deal with this potentially-unpleasant aspect of traveling by yourself. However much I like to plan, there is such a thing as planning burn out.
During the times when you don’t think think you can look at another train timetable without throwing up, it’s nice to know that you can pass on that job to someone else; to share the burden of making decisions, to bounce ideas around, and feel safe that even if things go to hell from lack of planning or research, there will be someone there to
blame share the consequences.
What is it they say? Misery loves company…
7. Reliving the memory when you’re old and gray
Some experiences are truly once in a lifetime. Sharing them with other travelers you meet on the road is all fun and good… but to have shared them with your life long friend or partner is a different thing. Jack and I always have a lot of fun looking through old pictures and talking about past travels. We remind each other of certain things that the other has forgotten — and it’s amazing how easily we forget things.
Sometimes the best memories are not necessarily created from being in the best places in the world, but from the little things that happen between yourself and people that you care about on the way to see the best places in the world.
Having said all that, traveling as a couple is not without its own set of challenges. Here are some tips about how to handle your relationship while on the road: