Okay so here’s the thing, I’ve never really done ‘couples travel’ superbly well. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I don’t love traveling as a couple – in fact I really relish the relationship-strengthening experiences traveling as a duo can provide – but because I’ve traveled solo countless times in the past, I’ve kind-of-sort-of developed a camaraderie with, well, myself. And that partnership has been damn hard to break!
After years of holidaying independently you understand your true ‘traveling self’ – that is – the way you like to experience a culture or destination. When you’re going it alone, travel becomes an inherently private experience as you dive head first into the cultural swimming pool of another country. You don’t have another person to filter your experiences or to be used as a social-crutch.
On top of this, when you travel alone you settle-into an intensely personal travel routine. You know whether you’re a tourist or a traveler; a gourmet-explorer or a happy-snapper; a sleep-in-and-party-late kind of adventure-seeker or a jog-the-Parisian-streets-at-dawn kind of dude. When we make a habit of traveling alone we ultimately become besties with that somewhat-selfishly nuanced travel routine.
You kind of get it all down to a fine art and then BAM, you’re suddenly off the beaten path but with someone else in tow! And (gasp) what if they aren’t the same type of traveler as you? What if they don’t want to sit on milk-crates tasting unidentified flying objects from street carts, or tempt Hepatitis B from waterfalls in Cambodia, or worse, what if… instead of staying in unique design hotels they want to stay at a Marriott? A Marriott? Puh-lease!
Now, I’ve had my fair share of shall we say ‘interesting’ experiences while traveling as a couple over the years. From the familiar overtired airport bust-ups to arguments over who gets the window seat to the more experientially detrimental things like disagreeing on whether you should go to a family-feast being thrown in your honour by locals you met just that very day, because one half of your duo was, wait for it, worried about the language barrier.
While I can’t help you with these fundamental differences (if you want to mingle with the locals and they don’t, just ditch them), what I can offer (with Google’s help of course) is how to travel in a duo without A – wanting to maim each other, and B – actually allowing your individual ‘traveling self’ to gain the most from your dual trip. Because sharing another culture with someone else can actually be a really awesome and rewarding experience, if done properly.
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Tips for Traveling As a Couple:
Never Stop Compromising
I get it, I do. Sometimes the ‘C’ word is annoying. Sometimes you don’t want to compromise. Sometimes you want to be the master of your own adventure because after all, you’ve been looking forward to it for months now. But what you don’t know is that more often than not, compromise is the difference between the expected and the unexpected. Maybe your partner wants to do a tour that you’re not too fussed on, but being the good little compromiser you go anyway. Maybe on that tour, you hit-it-off with the guide who suggests he takes you both out for a private ‘locals tour’ tomorrow for a pittance of what it cost you today. Moral of the story: adventure lies in compromise and you never know what can happen if you’re open to new experiences!
Schedule in Some Alone Time Every Couple of Days
Alone time. It’s gospel. So many people swear by it across the Interwebs there must be something to it. I mean, it makes sense to plan an afternoon exploring a city on your own. There’s something so refreshing about getting lost in an unfamiliar city and finding yourself again. And best of all, you can meet-up with your significant other that evening and exchange stories about it.
Don’t Play The Blame Game
This kind of follows on from the compromise theory. If your partner chooses a tour that ends up being a big fat dud, the last words that should be coming out of your mouth should be “I told you so!”
Still Date When You’re On The Road
And I don’t mean other people. Whether travelling for a week or a year, it’s important to still make time for your relationship. By scheduling in fun, location-driven couples activities once or twice a week you’ll keep that elusive spark alive. Plus, there’s nothing quite like falling in love with a city while romancing your partner.
Respect the Type of Traveler Your Partner Is
Some people like to take a lot of photos. If that’s not something your keen on, and you’d rather be out living the adventure then by all means, do so, but just don’t complain when the other is spending a bit more time in that alley way or lookout snapping away. Similarly, if you do like to take the odd photo or fifty, try to do so sporadically throughout the day. Everybody’s different, and that’s both the beauty and bane of travelling with someone else. On the one hand, living through your partner’s travel experience as well as your own can bring a whole new perspective on the adventure, but if you’re partner doesn’t respect and accept your differences, then you may have a big problem.
Focus on Your Mutual Travel Goals
As I said above, everybody’s different. But chances are you’re with your significant other because you share some of the same values. Same goes with travel, your loved one might be into adventure travel and you may prefer a meditation retreat, but you both value taking some time out of your busy schedules to lie on a beach for a week. So that’s what you’ll do! If you focus on the things you have in common, and make your holiday about those mutual travel goals then it’s going to be more beneficial and enjoyable for the both of you.
Laugh Every Damn Day
This goes without saying!
Eat and Sleep Well
It’s a widely known fact that I get snarky when hungry. And sometimes, it’s not as easy as walking across the road to buy some lunch – especially if you have food intolerances. When you’re on the road make sure you pack some ‘emergency eats’ and get at least seven hours of sleep to minimise any grumpy food and sleep-related outbursts! You can thank me later.
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