He Loves Me; She Loves Me Not...
Travelling with a partner is like having a child. You're with the person 24/7, and unless you're finely tuned in, there's no 'me', there's only 'us'...
After being in each other's pockets for over six months I think I can say a word or two about travelling with someone you call the love of your life, so when gapyear.com asked me to write a few words about it, I jumped at the opportunity.
People have been travelling for years in search of themselves; to find their destiny, their direction in life or a new pathway. Whatever you want to call it, there's nothing that will teach you more about who you are than wandering around the world with all your lively belongings stuffed in a backpack and being out of your comfort zone. And if you're going solo, hats off to you; go for it, I shout! However, if you're travelling with a partner and want to go out there to see if you can make your relationship work or see if you have things in common, don't bother... you won't. It doesn't work.
This won't make you, but it might break you
Travelling together won't make or fix a relationship. A week away in a lush, tropical resort somewhere may make you two feel better about each other and take the daily stresses away for a bit (at least until you return to the bold reality that is called life), but travelling the world with your one and only, boy will it test you hard!
Having been with my boyfriend (now fiancé) for nearly two years when I set foot in Thailand last October I wondered what the next year or so had to offer. Being a stupidly close-knit-type-of-couple, some would say the 'lovey dovey' kind of couple, I thought that being together day in day out may be a bit challenging, but to be completely honest, neither of us at any point thought it will cause any trouble between us. I think that's because we're both independent and we respect each other's space.
Don't get me wrong, it's not all moonlight and roses, but really, you make it what it is. There will be days when you're all loved up and can't see the world past your sweetheart, but there's also going to be days when you or the other half doesn't feel great, and there's not much you can do about it. More often than not your train of thought will go something like this: “Oh dear, what have I done wrong?” or maybe “I am not sure if he or she still likes me...” But in all honesty, in 99% of the cases, it's nothing to do with you or your relationship. All you can do is just talk about it or give each other some space. The sun will always come again and that's all you need to remember.
A step up from moving in together
Travelling together is a step up from moving in together. You'll not only see your significant other in their 'out of bed messy state in the morning' but you'll also probably see them pick their nose or perform any other of their funky habits, that let's be honest, we all secretly have but will never admit to it in public. There's nowhere to hide; you don't go to work / school or to visit your friends. So what do you do about it? Either tell them to sort themselves out or laugh it off and think of what you do when they're not looking! If you can't laugh at each other's flaws what the hell are you doing together in the first place?
There's also that quality 'me time' I love so much. Before I moved in with my fiancé I used to love my Friday afternoons with a lovely bubble bath, glass of wine and some nice dinner cooking in the kitchen. Well, when you're backpacking on a budget you're more likely to have a stinky and cold shower instead of your bubbles and practically zero time to yourself. So what do you do? Well, in my case that's where the fore mentioned fine tuning comes in. I am lucky enough to have someone who knows when I need a bit of time to myself and he just leaves me to it. But I can easily see it, once again, leading to the same thinking of 'he loves me; he loves me not'. Talk about it if you need to. I know, I sound like a broken record but if you leave it, it will sooner or later come out as something bigger and much harder to deal with. Not worth it!
The ups, downs and all arounds
What I've learned is that you go through phases and there's not much you can do about it. There's no magic potion and you just deal with it as it comes. Being a girl you'll feel unattractive at times, not having done your hair in weeks or not being able to put on any make up as it just slides off your face in the heat and humidity, but then when he drags you out of bed to watch the sunrise and gets down on one knee to asks you if you will... you think to yourself it really doesn't matter that you left all your nice clothes at home. It will after all, all be there for you when you come back.
So, the point I'm trying to make is this - you kind of need to know you'll make it before you decide to set off with your loved one. It will either make you or break you, but if you get through trotting the continents together and still come out looking in the same direction, I don't think there's anything out there to test you. If I was here on my own, the course of my travels would most probably be very different. Would I change anything? Absolutely not! It all depends on who you are and what you want from your travels. My friends call me lucky to be in a relationship I am in... I just say that I work on it to make it what I want it to be.