Nicole and I have previously written about our own experiences with long term travel for couples (her view / my view), given you the pros and cons of traveling as a couple and quizzed you on “Should you travel as a couple?“, but we only brushed on the subject of how to handle traveling together for a long period of time. While we haven’t been on the road for as long as some of the guys out there, we are approaching 18 months of non stop traveling together and our relationship (after 14 years) is stronger than ever. So from someone who is currently traveling long term as a couple, here are are a few Tips for Long Term Travel for Couples.
Having your own Alone Time
We are all individuals and occasionally we need time to ourselves. There are two ways to get some alone time; the first is actually spending some time apart from each other, and the second is achieving alone time when you are in the same room together.
The first one is the easy one. How often and how long you spend apart is really couple dependent. Some need a few hours a day, while others are quite happy to have half a day away from each other once a month. The two of you will have to work out the right balance for your relationship. I find big cities are the best places to have alone time. Catch a bus into town together, then give each other a kiss goodbye and arrange a time and place to meet up again at the end of the day. This is the perfect chance to go and do something YOU want to do. And remember, alone time should be exactly that; don’t text your partner every 5 minutes, just relax and enjoy your day out.
The second one is a bit different and Nicole and I have now got this down pat. Having your own time to yourself while you are in the same room / house is quite achievable. Nicole and I can be in the same room and be a million miles apart. She might be reading a book and I might be surfing the internet, but it is our own time to do what we want without being interrupted. Just don’t be a million miles away when something important is being discussed!
Compromise / Flexibility
Compromise is very important in a traveling couples relationship and the compromise needs to go both ways. As a couple you should want to make the other person happy and be willing to do activities even if you aren’t that excited about it yourself. Seeing your partner happy should make you happy enough to do it. For example, Nicole loves the theater. It basically bores me to tears, but I’m more than happy to go along because I know it makes her happy. The smile she has afterwards makes it all worthwhile.
However, you should never compromise just so you get something out of it at a later date, like an IOU. You shouldn’t do it so you can say ‘I did this for you yesterday, so today we are doing this’. That sort of defeats the purpose of it, because really you are only doing it for yourself and not your partner.
Also being flexible in what you do, to accommodate what your partners wants, can turn out to be a fun experience. I have done some stuff I never would have by myself, like visit lots of Gardens, because Nicole wants to, and I’ve ended up really enjoying it.
Deal with a Problem / Communication
Talking about your problems is the key to any relationship, whether you are traveling or not. It’s even more paramount on the road, because being with each other all the time means you won’t be able to just brush it under the rug. You need to deal with it and once it’s dealt everyone needs to move on. If you don’t, you are end up having a horrible time, or worse, when you when you should be having the time of your life.
Don’t sweat the small stuff
Most problems that arise when traveling as a couple are caused by the ‘small stuff’. Oh he forgot to confirm the booking for the tour. Big deal. Come back tomorrow or see something else. Don’t let something small ruin you adventure around the world together. Is the problem really worth getting upset over? Are you in danger? Is someone hurt? Everyone makes mistakes. Just take a minute to think about it; is it really worth worrying about or even fighting over? Have a laugh and move on.
Just accept that you are going to have bad days traveling as a couple
It’s life. You have just had a night without sleep because you were on a flight, the bus is running late, you haven’t eaten since yesterday and the guy at the information desk doesn’t speak a word of English. And now your boyfriend wants to talk about getting WIFI so he can watch his soccer game. You want to take his head off! These days are going to happen. You will want to throw it all in (as well as throw stuff at him) and go home. But you are only upset with him because you are tired and hungry and a bus is running late. Normally you couldn’t care less about him watching the soccer. Just take a deep breathe. Things will sort themselves out after a bit of food and a good night sleep.
Take a Break from Traveling
If you are exhausted from traipsing through Asia at a quick pace, treat yourselves to a nice hotel and some room service. It funny how a little luxury will bring a smile back to your face and bring you closer together.
Another way to do this is having a date night. Make a reservation at a nice restaurant and go out and enjoy yourselves.
Share the Load
Long term travel is work. Not the kind you may be used to, but the trip won’t happen by itself. It has an even greater importance if you are blogging while traveling. If you are both going to enjoy the trip and not get upset with each other, then you are going to need to share the load. Hotels need to be booked, places need to be researched, blogs need to be written, clothes need to be washed, food needs to be cooked, decisions about where you are going next need to be made etc. You need to share the workload if you don’t want any resentment between you and your partner.
Have a Plan
Some people like to travel with no agenda, but in reality this can be very difficult on a relationship. Now, I’m not saying you need to plan your travels down to the minute, but if you want to go from Paris to Amsterdam then it’s a hell of a lot easier (and cheaper) if you have a train ticket and a hotel booking at the other end. It’s frustrating when you get there and look at each other and say “What do you want to do now?” and both look at each other and say “I don’t know”.
And write it down! It can cause a lot of tension if you arrive at a location and then realize you don’t remember where you are going to stay. Then you have to get out your computer in the pouring rain, while every shady character eyes it off just so you can get an address. This will drive your partner insane if you were the one that planned it.
A little planning really pays off.
Enjoy each other’s company
Just enjoy yourselves and appreciate how lucky you are to be doing this together. You are living your dream. Sit back, relax, laugh and just take it all in. Things will go wrong, just laugh them off. I mean, it’s small and meaningless in comparison to what you are doing. Always remember to have a sense of humor. It goes a long way.
I hope these tips help you through the good and the bad of long term travel as a couple. Nicole and I can’t imagine traveling any other way, so they must work!
Have you got any Tips for Long Term Travel for Couples? We would love to hear about them in the comments below.