Traveling together can be difficult. As a Travel Couple, we know! People say that traveling together as a couple can make or break a relationship but there are a few tips that can make things easier. Dave and I have traveled for months as a couple on several occasions, and we have always found that we bond even more while we are on the road. We influence and inspire each other to try new things. We share in unique experiences and talk about them together for years to come.
The Travel Couple's Survival Guide
We find that traveling as a couple has turned us into more well-rounded human beings than traveling alone. By keeping our minds open to each other's suggestions, we end up exploring things that we never would have tried in the first place, and we end up liking things that we never thought we would.
That is not to say that being together 24/7 is easy – being together for that long can test a couple's relationship, but we have found that if we follow a few of these simple rules, we can survive and thrive when we travel together as a couple.
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Couples Travel Tips
This is our number one recommendation to survive traveling as a couple. We have found that a lot of couples are not willing to do this on a short vacation or even in their everyday lives. How will they survive traveling for months at a time without having any compromises? It may sound stereotypical, but I have found that most couples are pretty much the same when it comes to what men and women like. Men will normally go for the high adventure and sports related activities while women enjoy exploring culture, hitting the spa, or shopping. Well, guess what, even Dave and I are the same way. I enjoy a good massage, great deals on clothes,, and exploring museums, and Dave loves jumping off of cliffs and catching waves.
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Figuring It Out
Over the years, however, we have both learned to enjoy both activities. We plan and discuss what each person wants to do, and then we compromise. “I will do this if you will do that.” We will go off and climb a mountain together and bond over the incredible experience. Our relationship is so much stronger because we have just survived something extraordinary together. Once we have done the crazy, extreme, adrenaline-filled activity, we celebrate by splurging on a nice hotel and massage to really relax and enjoy the moment.
When we first started traveling, I didn’t want to spend all of my time trekking through the jungle and Dave didn’t want to spend all of his time looking at local art. Now after several years of being a travel couple, we both love it all. I can’t wait to climb my next volcano, and Dave loves bartering with the toughest salesmen for the perfect deal.
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This really is the key to a surviving a relationship at any point, let alone as a travel couple. I think that the success of our relationship is due to how well we communicate. We never play mind games and we talk about everything. People always point out how difficult it is for men to understand women and vice versa, but I can never understand why they think that.
Dave and I know exactly when the other one is angry or upset. It is pretty easy to read each other. Sure, we could play dumb and ignore the signs, but really, we are all open books if you pay attention.
Most people ignore the problem, hoping it will go away.
Let's face it, we all react differently to situations and while one of you may be completely enjoying an experience, the other may be hating every minute of it. The key is to not ignore how the other person is feeling. If you are at a festival or religious ceremony that is maybe uncomfortable or upsetting to your spouse, make sure to be aware of that person's feelings even if you are completely fascinated by it. If you talk about it, you will understand where they are coming from and be more sympathetic, while you can still persuade them to enjoy the moment and accept that it is something different. No matter what, that person will feel better because you took the time to listen, and like everything in life, by talking about things, they probably won’t be so uncomfortable or upset anymore.
If you ignore each other's feelings, however, you will both come out of it angry; one of you for feeling that the other person ruined the moment for you, and the other for thinking that you didn’t care about their feelings. Just save yourself the hassle and communicate. Then you can move on.
Which is a perfect segue to my next point.
Be Willing to Fight
As a couple, if you can’t fight with each other, you can’t survive traveling together. We have had some epic arguments on the road, but we get over them quickly. Travel can be frustrating, exhausting, and overwhelming. You are stuck with each other for every single moment of it and when tensions run high, you only have each other to take it out on. Sometimes you can simply be angry because you have been traveling for 24 hours and you are exhausted. So you take out your frustrations on the nearest person, which just happens to be your husband. Of course you are going to fight. You will blame each other when things go wrong and you will get on each others nerves at times.
The little things can be magnified when you are a travel couple.
The biggest mistake you can make is holding it all in. It will make for a miserable experience. Have the fight and get it over with, but then move on. I remember once in Kanchanaburi, Thailand we couldn’t find the place that we wanted to stay at on the river. We walked forever with our packs in the heat, and we eventually ended up on a lonely road lost in the middle of nowhere. We were so mad at each other that we had to walk 100 metres apart. We couldn’t stand to be around each other, but we had to keep each other in sight because we were lost. So we kept our distance and wallowed in our anger silently. When we finally found our place and settled in, we said to each other, “I don’t feel like fighting anymore, do you?” The answer was no, of course, and we went on with our day and had a great time.
Which brings us to…
Know Each Other's Boundaries
It is good to know what is too much for one person. When traveling as a couple, you have to be aware of each other's fears. Base jumping out of a hot air balloon is a little too much for me, and Dave will draw the line at a facial or a manicure. Don’t force something on each other when you know that there is no way the other is going to give in. Compromise is one thing, but pushing someone beyond their comfort zone is another. Over time, you will probably be able to get each other to try almost everything, but take baby steps at first.
Changing Over Time
When we first started traveling, it was difficult for Dave to get me into a budget hotel. Now I have camped my way through Africa. I have no qualms wabout squatting in a pretty awful public toilet and hey – if the bed doesn’t come with sheets, never fear, I have brought my trusty sarong along for just that occasion. I was afraid of heights and freaked out doing my first abseil, but now I am an avid rock climber and have even summited Mount Kilimanjaro. Baby steps have eventually turned me into an extreme adventurer.
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And as for Dave – well, when we first started traveling, he didn’t care if we ever left Canada. He was fine with the odd vacation to the Caribbean where he could go parasailing or scuba diving to get his adrenaline fix. He used to care about cars, gadgets, and toys, but now he is a minimalist because “you never know when you will be taking off again and stuffing everything into storage.” He was a staple-foods “meat and potato man,” but now he loves all exotic foods and the spicier, the better. Culture, museums, and religion? No way. It was sports, bars, and beer. But now he has been to over 30 countries and loves experiencing new festivals, checking out the hottest art galleries, and observing religious festivals or exploring pagodas, churches and stupas.
Now our last point for your Travel Couple's Survival Guide…
Do Things Together
We love to do everything together. We don’t go our separate ways for the day to do what each individual likes. So often we will come across people in our travels that have gone off without their spouse to fulfill their lifelong dream. I find this hard to understand. They are experiencing the most amazing time of their lives, without the one that they love because they weren’t willing to try something new. You will come back from an experience that has profoundly changed you, so how will you be able to relate to your spouse in the same way anymore? Dave and I have a hard enough time relating to friends and family when we come back from months on the road, I couldn’t imagine trying to reconnect with him as well.
Couples who Travel Together are Happy Together.
Doing things together has made us who we are today. I didn't want to surf in Bali – it was Dave's life long dream, not mine. I tend to be afraid of the water a little bit. But I did it with him, and I am so glad that I did. I had a great time and the feeling of standing up on that board was like no other. Now I will surf again (when the opportunity arises) without question. I am sure that if those people who stayed at home while their spouse was away would have gone along for the ride, they would have loved the experience just as much. They just needed to open their mind in the first place.
See more travel couple tales on our couple's travel tips page.
Travel can profoundly change a person, and having the chance to change and grow with your spouse will only strengthen the relationship and create an unshakable bond that will last forever. If you follow these easy steps when traveling, your relationship will be able to survive any situation and you will come out of it as a happy and thriving couple and the envy of all of your friends.