They say you never really know someone until you travel with them. Being in a foreign environment can bring out the best and worst aspects of a person and if you travel as a couple it can really test a relationship.
There are a number of things I love about my partner, and the fact that we can travel together is one of them. I’m not just talking about a shared passion for travel, although we do have that. I’m talking about the fact we can travel together happily without any major dramas.
Our first trip overseas was just a few months after we started dating and since then we’ve travelled extensively together both domestically and overseas. It hasn’t been all sunshine and rainbows, but we always return stronger in our relationship with many happy memories.
I’m of the belief that travelling is a really important part of a relationship. It doesn’t even need to be overseas, but getting out of your comfort zone and experiencing something new and different together really brings out the strengths and weaknesses in a relationship.
It forces you to communicate.
It forces you to work together.
It forces you to compromise.
Here are some hints to make sure your trip goes smoothly and your relationship makes it back home with you.
BEFORE YOU LEAVE
1. Sort out your finances
It is absolutely crucial to get all things relating to money right BEFORE you leave for your trip. Are you in agreement about how much should be spent? Will you split everything evenly? How will you pay for hotels, dinners, activities? Will you take it in turns? Pay from a joint account? You don’t want to find yourself bickering over finances when you’re trying to enjoy yourself. So get the boring stuff sorted before you leave and have a system in place for when you arrive. N.B There is no “right” answer to the above questions, it depends on every couple and their personal circumstances. What works for your friends might not work for you so go with your gut, and ALWAYS have extra money available should something go wrong.
2. Discuss your expectations
This may sound awfully formal and I’m not suggesting you sit at a fancy mahogany table and draw up a contract of obligations for your two-week trip to Thailand… but it is worth having a discussion. If one of you wants to lounge by the pool with a cocktail and rarely leave your hotel and the other wants to see every museum in the city, you’ve got a problem. It may very well be possible for you to both get what you want (see point 7), but you will avoid arguments and disappointment if you go in to your trip knowing you’re on the same page about what you’re going to do.
3. Share in the planning and booking process
You may like to put one person in charge of finding accommodation and one person in charge of transport or activities. Or you may want to take a few countries each and organise things that way. Whatever you decide make sure you communicate. The 18-bed hostel might be a bargain but if your significant other has a romantic evening in mind you’re in for an interesting conversation.
4. Make copies of all your documents, then swap
Should one of you have the misfortune of losing your bag it will be very helpful to have back up copies of your passport, credit card information or extra bankcards. If your partner has health problems or a severe allergy it’s also a good idea to keep a sheet of paper detailing their condition and any medicines they’re on.
DURING THE TRIP
5. CARRY SNACKS. You WILL get hangry.
If you only take away one piece of advice from this post, make it this. I can’t even tell how many arguments can be resolved with a good meal and avoided entirely with regular snacks and drinks. Being hangry (hungry + angry) is a real thing folks. I don’t even need scientific evidence to back me up here. Being in a foreign environment can mean you’re not always entirely sure where your next meal will be and it’s when you’re wandering around after a long day trying to find a good place to eat that you’re going to fight. Eliminate this problem with a nice muesli bar, some chocolate, whatever it takes.
6. Have couple time
This may sound a bit strange given that you’re already on holiday together, but for long-term trips in particular this is really important. It’s so easy to get swept up in seeing monuments and making sure you don’t miss your train that you can forget to have some down time together. Some of my happiest memories of travelling with my partner have been the “down time” moments. Take a break from being a tourist and see a movie, have a picnic, spend a night in with room service and recharge.
7. BUT have alone time too
Just because you’re travelling together doesn’t mean you need to spend every minute of every day with each other. If you want an afternoon of shopping or to spend more time in an art gallery, go for it! Work out where to meet up afterwards and enjoy some solo time for a while. It gives you both a bit of a break and it can be fun swapping stories from your different experiences.
8. Take turns deciding what to do
One of you might plan what you do before lunch, and the other can plan what to do afterwards. Or you can each have a whole day where you plan out the itinerary. This can be a fun way to make sure you’re both getting the most out of the trip and can help with avoiding arguments. It can also be fun to let your partner take the reins for a day; you can just sit back and go with the flow!
9. Have a plan in case you get separated
Getting separated is likely to happen at some point in your travels and if your phones only work in a wifi zone it can be inconvenient. Have a plan in place should this happen and you won’t have any problems. Meeting at the entrance to the museum, the ticket office or even back at the hotel are all easy options and will save you wandering around aimlessly.
10. Say thank you
Being in a foreign environment can make you act differently than when you’re at home in your comfort zone. This may make you rely on your partner more than you normally would, or it might make you feel more independent with a need to be in charge. Regardless of what travelling does to you, never stop reminding your partner how much you appreciate and enjoy travelling with them. Thank them for the little things; helping you with your bag, being a star at reading maps or for finding a great hotel.
Join the discussion! Do you travel with your partner? What are some of your secrets to success? Leave a comment below!
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