#travellustcouple? Hardly. Blurry photos and pulling faces is our specialty! We’ve had a few years of short travels and a good chunk of time travelling extendedly as a couple and we’ve found some things that should be priority discussion before setting off on an adventure with your other half. Mostly through trial and error on our part!
So you and you’re significant other (or bestie) are planning on travelling together? Amazing!
SPOILER ALERT! Whether this is your boyfriend/girlfriend/bestfriend travelling with another person will always create more stress and there will be misunderstandings/miscommunications. That just how it is.
So, first things first:
Fail to plan, plan to fail? Sound familiar.
But no one tells you that the planning part is also stressful, so incredibly stressful sometimes.
As a solo traveller the world is your literal oyster. You can come and go with people you meet up with in a hostel, eat when you want, chill when you want. You can go adventure as hard as you please or sleep off a hangover all day. Ver little planning is required and your opinion is the only one that matters!
As a couple, a pair or a group, theres more opinions, less personal space and both people spending their hard earned money and time on a holiday/extended travels. Expect even the best of buds to clash at some point. Fights happen, there’s no avoiding it. To be fair it’s actually healthy if done in a respectful manner. But planning certain aspects of the trip with wildly lessen tensions if it’s chatted about briefly before.
It’s important to decide ahead of time what you personally care about in terms of planning and decide what is less important. Keep in mind you DON’T need to see everything. Some of those ‘must see’ sights are giant tourist traps now and not worth the stress!
Focus on important things like: Do you want to bounce around from place to place or keep the transiting less by staying in a place longer and enjoying the area? Are you planning on doing all the sights together or going off on your own sometimes? Are you ok dorming it or prefer the privacy of sharing a private room? Do you like the same foods or is someone picky and wanting to restaurant it up and someone going to want to hit up all the street food markets? Is one of you a beach bum and the other an adventurer?
Split up the planning or set aside time to do it together so not one person gets overwhelmed.
For us as budget backpackers we were always price comparing dorm rooms and private rooms. In some area’s you have the luxury of booking private rooms for usually the same price as a dorm for two people.
For example: In Thailand most places it was cheaper for us to book a private room than for 2 beds in a dorm! Vietnamese private rooms in more westernized hostels were way more exspensive (sometimes 3x’s the price!) but most Nha Nghi’s (motels/homestays) had double rooms/triple rooms/family rooms always availible so it was fairly inexpsensive.
Sometimes, if you’re planning on staying somewhere for a few days, it makes sense to budget a stay in a dorm room for a night or two then switch to a private room for some ‘us time’ as needed 😉
Bonus to staying in dorms is you get to meet other traveller more easily and have more travel friends to share experiences/tips and laughs with along the way.
One of the biggest struggles when travelling long term is that you have very little/no personal space from most other travellers, add your pal or other half into the mix and that space is even less.
Work out a system of having ‘me’ time.
Self care is so important. For both Mind and body.
Our situation’s a bit different than most as I suffer from anxiety issues and panic attacks and my other half has Aspergers and ADHD. So we’re a handful on good days!!
It’s cute and adorable to think you have to do everything as a couple but it is so important to still be able to go have your own adventures, even if it’s something like getting a massage or going to the beach with a book on your own. Keep up hobbies that give you a little person space, I kept a sketch book and a small thing of watercolors with me, as well as focused on photography and going to the gym when I could find one. It helps you keep your identity in the relationship as well as keeps you sane!
Long term travelling is tiring, the beds you stay in may be super uncomfortable, you might have rude dorm mates thinking no one can hear them boink their holiday romance, the nightbus may have a noisy drunk group of lads on it. As I write this sentence, someone seems to be trying to murder a karaoke machine with their voice. You will have you’re fuses shortened and you need to make sure that even though you may be on your own personal trip of a lifetime YOU need to take care of YOU.
Know what you and your partners triggers are. Communicate and understand that there will be stress, there will be arguments. That’s real life.
Jet lag? Do you get hangry? Does your otherhalf struggle with change in routine? PMS? Be open and talk about expectations (see planning above). Be willing to compromise on things that you’re ok giving in to but also be ok with pushing for what you really want to see or do. Even if it means the other has to be ok with doing it with you or be ok with you heading out on your own solo adventure for the day.
Communication is key.
Personally, dating an aspie, being specific with communication is always key with us. Even in a ‘NORMAL’ NT relationship don’t assume your other half can read your body language or mind as well as you think they can! You might be fuming but they really don’t notice the steam coming out of your ears.
For example with us cycling Vietnam: I now meet him at the top of the hill rather than have him do a slower pace as it make it more fun for him. I used to get upset that he would ‘leave me behind’ or ‘wish I was faster’ but it came down to he likes cycling at my pace but sometimes he likes to slip stream a lorrey/semi or see how fast he can get up a hill! We just had to openly talk and understand each others point of view. Now I mostly cycle in front, keep the pace but he’ll go stretch his legs once in a while as he needs it. It’s something that from an outside perspective seems small but made a huge impact on the enjoyment of our cycles.
(Want to read more about our Cycle of Vietnam? Click HERE)
The BEST part?
So I’m definately no relationship guru and I’ve had my fair share of irrational spirals while travelling but the absolutely best part of travelling with your other half is this:
You share that amazing life altering/strength building/emotional rollercoaster of a ride with someone who you love. THAT’S ALL. Your best memories will most likely be the little things. The unexpected things that no one else can experience, so embrace when things don’t go to plan. Plot a new route!
Enjoy the company your share and it doesn’t matter where you are.