Travelling as a couple has led to some interesting experiences. From spending a full day of our once in a lifetime trek to Machu Picchu silently fuming at one another to enjoying a full blown hungover screaming match as we mountain biked our way down the Death Road in Bolivia, it’s certainly had its ups and downs!
Of course, we’ve also been lucky enough to have the obligatory beautiful sunsets and romantic beachfront meals, and I’m proud to say that we’ve managed to backpack the world together for eight months now without killing one another.
We’ve met lots of couples on the road, and they’ve all agreed that travelling as a couple isn’t easy, regardless of how long you’ve been together. Being thrust into completely unfamiliar environments, dealing with language barriers, strange food, arduous journeys and all the other challenges that come with long term travel are tricky enough to manage as it is, let alone adding in the need to nurture a relationship at the same time.
So here’s our advice for how you can travel together as a couple and stay together:
1. Know Your Strengths (and Weaknesses)
My other half has what we’ve christened a ‘pigeon brain’, while I can barely hold a map the right way up. However, I can happily spend hours poring over Hostelworld and researching the benefits of flights vs. long bus journeys.
Know what you’re good at and try your best to have faith in your travel partner’s skills. Split tasks according to what you’re good at and it’ll make life on the road much easier.
2. Laugh When Things Go Wrong
You know when a small child falls over and you have about three seconds to do something amusing so it laughs instead of cries? That’s become a bit of a visual ‘mantra’ for us – when you’ve lost something, it’s chucking it down with rain, you haven’t booked anywhere to sleep for the night and have just arrived in some sort of hell on earth, try to laugh.
It feels impossible at times, but it makes the situation a million times better if one of you can laugh instead of crying/shouting/storming off. It’s horribly clichéd, I know, but you’ll laugh about it one day, so it may as well be sooner rather than later. (Should have remembered that one when we had our room trashed and our stuff nicked in Peru!)
3. Know When You’re Tired/ Hangry/Sick
Another one that sounds obvious, but I reckon at least 96% of travel arguments between couples happen when one half of the relationship is suffering with at least one of the above issues.
Machu Picchu fight = fourth day of trekking at altitude in terrible weather. Death Road row = so hungover I could hardly breathe. If you can identify that you’re snappy because you’re jet lagged or hanging or just really need a burger, it’ll make it easier to not just fight for the sake of it but to find a solution to these issues.
4. Date Nights!
These are really fun when travelling, as they get you out of your routine and sometimes make you appreciate small things you used to do at home far more. For example, a few nights at the cinema have been opportunities for us to do something we’d never normally do while abroad. It’s not necessarily too different from being back home, but a dose of that old familiarity in your relationship when you’re on the other side of the world can make an ordinary night all the more special.
Another option is escaping everyone at the hostel in favour of going for dinner and just having a good chat about what you’ve seen that week – a cheap and fun way to reconnect while on the road.
5. Splash Out On Private Rooms
Shelling out an extra £5-10 per night to have some private space together away from other travellers is one of the best investments you can make when travelling as a couple.
Our exception is when we’re staying in pricier places – most cities in the US worked out far cheaper to stay in dorms, as well as cities like Tokyo and Taipei, but try to avoid where you can.
6. Take a Break Sometimes
If you spent every minute of every day together at home it would be insane, so try not to do that while you’re away. We’re probably guilty of spending too much time together, but sometimes it’s really nice to do your own thing for the day.
Take a day out with friends you’ve met in your hostel, treat yourself to a massage or just go out for a wander and have a coffee alone for a few hours.
7. Enjoy Shared Experiences with your Favourite Person
With your partner by your side, those incredible sunsets, mountain treks and stunning landscapes take on an altogether different dimension, allowing you to create amazing shared memories that will last a lifetime. Watching the sunrise over the pagodas at Bagan or snorkelling the Great Barrier Reef together are truly amazing experiences to have as a couple.
All in all, travelling as a couple can be the best thing you’ll do together, but prepare for some bust ups. Above all – BE PATIENT!
Passionate about exploring on a budget, Sarah Edwards is currently touring the world with partner Rob – read more about their adventures at www.natravelblog.com or chat to them on Twitter at @natravelblog