Traveling long term is usually done one of two ways; as a single person or as part of a couple. Now, I stretch the term ‘couple’ to include traveling with your bestie as you will find there isn’t that much difference between being a couple and traveling with a friend. Your relationship, outside of sharing the same bed, is basically going to be the same. I mean, you picked this person to travel with, so they must be pretty special to you.
With any major decision you make regarding long term travel you need to really think it through. Sometimes it will be a no brainer and other times it will require time and research; For example, do you want to travel solo or with someone? To help you with that decision we have put together some of the main advantages and disadvantage of traveling as a couple.
Sharing your Experiences with Someone
Traveling together will give you memories that will last a lifetime. Having someone there to share it with you will add to the experience. That’s not to say you aren’t going to have an incredible time by yourself, because you will, but to share it with someone is truly special. I still remember the tears in Nicole’s eyes when she first saw the Eiffel Tower and the time when we were squeezing each other’s hands when we saw a wild sloth for the first time. And that’s just two of a million memories Nicole and I have just from our travels in the last 18 months. In many years time, I can see us living together at an old people’s home still talking about our travels together. I mean, I will have to put my dentures in to talk and she will have to turn her hearing aid up, but we will be talking about it.
Not as Lonely
If you travel on the road by yourself, there will be times when you get a little lonely. Even the most extroverted of people are going have a hard time every so often and are going to miss having someone special around to talk to. Go to any blog written by someone who is single and you will generally find a post about a time where they were lonely and how they dealt with it.
Now, you will still have times on the road as a couple where you will get lonely and miss something from back at home. Everyone who leaves on long term travel knows they are leaving behind friends and family, but when you have that special someone with you, these times will be further apart, and you will have someone to talk to about it.
And then there are times when you are really going to need someone. There is nothing worse than being alone when you are sick. Who’s going to bring you that hot soup?
This is an obvious one; it is going to be cheaper to travel as a couple. By traveling together you will share a lot of the costs that you will incur as you circumnavigate the world. If you want to hire a car, stay in a motel or ride a taxi (the list could go on) your cost per person is half when you travel as a couple compared to as a single.
You will also make savings on a host of other things such as sharing food, going on a cruise or being able to buy in bulk.
Strength in Numbers
It’s amazing some of the things you will do after being strongly encouraged by your loved one to do. Nicole is terrified of heights, but with a little encouragement she has been able to go places she never would have alone, just because I held her hand through it. Likewise Nicole has encouraged me to try new foods, which I never would have tried if I was by myself. And you know what, there was plenty of it I liked.
It’s much safer to walk around a foreign country as a couple, particularly compared to traveling as a single female. Being a tourist, even as a couple you may still be at risk, but it is reduced significantly.
As a result of traveling as a couple you may also decide to visit a location you wouldn’t think of going to by yourself. Everyone is different, but as a single person you may not think traveling to South America is a good idea, but with someone else with you, you feel confident enough to spend time there. Or even if you decide to visit South America there may not be countries you feel safe in by yourself. Likewise, you may not feel safe going out alone at night and, as a result, your experience could have been better if you were not as limited.
The other advantage of having someone there with you, is that you will have someone to help or take care of you if something were to happen.
Some opportunities around the world can be a lot easier if you are a couple.
A perfect example of this is house sitting. While it is certainly possible to get a house sit as a single, it will be a lot easier to get one as a couple. We have found most homeowners like the flexibility of a couple; having two people around the house will make it easier to take care of the pets and gardens. Also, it is a comfort to the homeowner knowing that if one of the sitters becomes ill, there is another there to continue caring for the home and pets.
It is more difficult to immerse yourself with the locals and local culture
When you travel as a couple you go everywhere together and it is very easy to block others out. For example, you will go into a bar and just sit and chat with your partner. You enjoy each other’s company and will have fun doing that, but it will draw you away from interacting with the locals. Now, if you walk into the same bar by yourself and take a seat you will be compelled to have a chat to the barman or the guy sitting next to you. Likewise you are far more likely to be approached by others if you are there by yourself. A big part of the reason we travel is to immerse ourselves in the local culture. We want to learn about what makes this culture tick and what better way to do it than listening to the old guy tell you all about the history of the village you are in. Speaking to the locals also helps you find out so much more about the area, like the little hidden spots to go and see before you leave. As a couple it can be too easy to miss out on these things.
I’m not saying you won’t immerse yourself in the culture as a couple, it is just a little bit harder and you probably won’t have the same experience as you would if you were a solo traveler.
No Alone Time!
You are with each other 24/7! Even the best of friends or the perfect relationship is going to struggle with that sometimes. There are obviously ways you can help deal with it, but it is still a factor. Those little annoying habits you ‘put up with’ when you only see your best friend a few hours at a time will drive you crazy after a few months of travel. “Oh my God, she’s chewing her hair again!” When you are by yourself the only annoying habits you need to put up with are your own! Are you happy to deal with it?
If your relationship has a problem you are going to find out about it
It’s easy to see this one as a positive or a negative, but the fact is that if your relationship is on shaky ground long term travel is going to do one of two things, bring you close together or drive you apart. Those little feuds or problems you use to keep brushing under the carpet are going to come out. As all couples know, when you only spend a few hours together a day it can be easy to forget about a problem that comes up, but that’s not the case on the road. It’s like a therapy session and when that problem comes up on the road you can’t hide anywhere, you’re going to need to sort it out.
Now this section sounds all doom and gloom, but it isn’t. For one, it can help you sort out these problems you never wanted to deal with before, which will bring you closer than ever. And another benefit is that it should be easier to sort out on the road because you don’t have that ‘background noise’ (all the stress of your work and life in general etc) distracting you. Back in your previous life it’s easy not to want to talk about a problem after working 10 hours straight after a bad night sleep. Now you have the time to sort it out.
It’s not always going to be about what YOU want to do
When there is another person to consider, you are going to have to do some things you don’t really want to do. I’m going to have to go see some girly Broadway show and Nicole is going to have to look at some boring bridges. That’s just part of the compromising you will need to do on the road to keep both parties happy.
Also, because one of you knows the other one is bored it is easy to feel pressure to rush through it. This can sometimes make what should be a great experience much less enjoyable. While I know Nicole is happy to be somewhere I’m really enjoying, I still always have at the back of my mind that she is bored. I have no doubt she feels the same way when at one of her activities.
There you have it, some of the advantages and disadvantages of traveling as a couple. We hope this helps you in your planning for your long term travel.
Can you think of any other Pros and Cons of Long Term Travel as a Couple? We would love you to share them with us in the comments.