Are you about to travel as a couple, or have you travelled as a couple and your relationship suffered as a result?
“I have found out that there ain’t no surer way to find out whether you like people or hate them than to travel with them.” ~ Mark Twain
Before meeting him I was already a keen traveller, having studied in Germany where I picked up the wanderlust, and have pretty much organised my life around my journeys since.
Then, came 2006 unknown to each other, had the same idea from different sides of Sydney and our fate was sealed. We met on the plane to Chile, and began 9 years (and counting!) of travelling together.
Many couples dread travelling together, especially when it comes to independent travel, because our personalities can shake under pressure and patience can be tested to the extreme.
The ultimate relationship test comes when you travel as a couple!
However it doesn’t have to be like that! Travel can strengthen relationships as well and there are many couples who can attest to that.
So, what will make it work?
Firstly… you must both like to travel!
I know what you are thinking… isn’t that a bit obvious?!
Well, you’d think! But in relationships too many of us think that we can change each other.
Relationships are formed too quickly these days sometimes couples spend less time finding out about each other than they do… well, fondling.
It may well be ok if a bit of fondle is what you are after, but surely you want a relationship with a future?
I have found that travellers who form relationships while travelling with other travellers are the ones that are likely to last, and since both sides value the importance of travel and what travel can teach you, they are likely to be more tolerant and patience with each others’ quirks and differences.
Learn that it is OK to spend time alone
Some of the most common argument between couples who travel are over what they should do on the trip. Fights over whether to do a cooking class or to go quad-bike riding, whether to spend the day at the museum or shopping for souvenirs.
What successful travel couples will tell you that why not split and do what you want to do?
As a couple, you already spend most of your time together, so if one of you wants to go to the museum and the other wants to go shop for souvenirs, it is absolutely ok to spend that few hours apart and spend some time alone!
While it means that you won’t have someone to ‘check prices with’ or to share the appreciation of a particular painting, but if the other person never wanted to do that in the first place, it is likely that you will actually end up arguing than appreciate the time together.
The benefit of splitting for a few hours is that at dinner, you’ll have something new to talk to each other about, and while you are alone, you have the chance to see the destination with your own sights and even make some new local friends!
Do make sure to spend some time together though!
Ok, I did just say it is ok to do things separately, but make sure on every trip, you find some common ground and do at least one thing a day together (eating breakfast silently does not count!).
Come on, you are together, married even, so surely you share a common interest? Find something around that and enjoy each other’s company on your trip!
My husband and I both enjoy food. He cook, I eat! So on each trip we try to do something to do with food, such as a food tour or a cooking class.
This has give us plenty to bond over when we are back from our trips, not to mention, we get to try our hands at creating authentic cuisines in the comfort of our own home!
Plan your trip together
To achieve the above, you need to make sure that you plan the trip together. Don’t leave it to one person where they are just going to get frustrated with the lack of assistance and then getting blamed for booking/considering the ‘wrong’ activities!
Planning together is also a way to find out more about each other, and as people grow over time, you will be surprised how much you still have to learn about your partner even if you have been married for more than 5 years! It is also a way to ensure that both of you get what you want out of the trip too!
When things aren’t working out – talk it through
Communication is important for any sort of team work, and if you travel as a couple, you are a team.
It could take something as small as a delayed flight at the airport to make couples fight about things, and that’s the worst thing you can do when you travel as a couple – if you fight, you are definitely not going to survive!
So, when things aren’t working out – talk it through. Don’t start to point fingers at whose fault it is, but use the time to discuss options and alternatives. Say it really was your fault, do apologise! Don’t be too proud to think you can’t apologise. And if it’s not your fault – don’t go into to ‘I-told-you-so’ mode. Rather, accept the apology and simply continue with the journey.
If you can survive this, you can survive any relationship test!
Do you have any tips on how to travel as a couple? Share with us in the comments below!