I was recently asked to feature as a guest blogger for a new website and travel app. I sat and rattled my brains over a cup of extra strong coffee, trying to decide on something that I could blog about. I thought of all of the places that we had been to in Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Bali, and Australia. I thought about all of the amazing things that we had experienced along the way, the people that we had met and the unbelievable food that we had tasted but while I was staring out of the window, deep in thought trying to stimulate my brain to blog, something occurred to me. After being in each others company for almost 24/7 for 11 months, after visiting 5 countries, after 20+ flights, after sleeping in 30+ different places of accommodation and after the countless life-changing experiences, we had survived the trip. Based on what people were telling us before our adventure and the number of people that were no longer together after their travels, this was supposed to be no easy feat but it can be, let me tell you how. This advice applies to couples in a relationship as per my experience but it could also apply to travel buddies.
1. Shared Memories
Let’s start off with the benefits of traveling with a partner. Traveling with a partner is a brilliant idea. In my opinion, experiences and memories are best when shared and there is nobody better to share those experiences with than the person (or people) that you choose to travel with you.
If you are in a relationship with somebody, then it makes absolute sense to travel with them rather than travel alone. You share the experiences with them, spend as much time together as you can, grow and learn together.
3. More Ideas
Combining your brain power and ideas is an instant benefit. One of you may know things that the other does not. You bounce off each other, learn from each other and before you know it, you will have destinations on your journey that you have never heard of but suddenly, you want to visit. Some of the best places I visited are places I had originally never heard of but I found out about them due to me and Rachel sharing our ideas prior to our travels.
4. Looking out for Each-other
At some point on your adventure, one of you may fall sick (trust me this happens). Traveling with a partner means that you can look out for each other and look after one another. We met a girl on our journey who suffered from Dengue fever and had to spend a week in the hospital in Cambodia alone. She said it was terrifying being alone in a hospital abroad. On our last night in Asia, I had to take Rachel to hospital in Ho Chi Minh city after she suddenly collapsed in an elevator, it was scary enough doing it together, I can’t imagine doing it alone, actually I’m not sure that she would have made it to the hospital alone since Ho Chi Minh City had no ambulances.
5. Manage Your Expectations
Before you start your journey, you should discuss the fact that you will be spending most of your time together and mentally prepare yourselves. Traveling involves a lot of personal stress, you have to carry all of that luggage around. Unpacking and re-packing when moving to a new destination was one of my biggest stresses. I turn into the Hulk when it is time to pack but luckily my partner had prepared herself for this. Sometimes you will feel distant from each other but don’t worry, this does not mean that your relationship is in trouble, give each other space and remember that it is OK to do your own thing sometimes.
6. It’s not always like the movies or Instagram
Some of you may follow travel blogs or travel couples on Instagram; their pictures making you want to pack your bags and buy a flight ticket there and then but remember that there is a story behind every picture (even our own) and it is not always like the movies. You may hold hands and go running off into the sunset at some point but there will probably be some conflict along the way.
7. Shared Packing Space
Be sensible when packing. You should pack together to reduce the chance of forgetting anything. You should also share packing space on shared items such as lonely planet books so that they take up equal space in your backpacks. Collaborating and sharing packing space helps you both be aware of where things are.
8. Shared Responsibilities
Sharing responsibility is a must. You can’t just rely on your partner to know everything. If you happen to miss a flight because you had the wrong date or time, then you must share the blame. Make sure that you are both aware of the details of flights, times, dates etc. Myself and Rachel use a shared Google document that we can both access anywhere and at any time to check these details.
9. Share the Expenses
Don’t stress about money too much. It’s obviously an integral part of traveling but neither myself or Rachel are blessed with money. We worked hard and earned more or less equal pay prior to our travels. We share our expenses. If you are not in a relationship where one of you earns significantly more than the other, then it is important to discuss sharing the expenses before departing. Be sensible and don’t worry, just keep track of your spending as you go.
10. A Shoulder to Lean on
It’s important to be kind and respectful to your partner in any relationship but even more so when traveling. They may have a support network back home or places where they feel comfortable. You will probably argue about the same things that you usually argue about. The scenery may change but sometimes the arguments don’t. Be respectful, be patient and just be there for your partner.
Compromise and push Each-other. I don’t mean push each-other physically, I certainly wouldn’t advise that abroad. Push each-others limits instead. You may have a different traveling style to your partner, which is very common. One of you may loud and busy and the other may like quiet and relaxed. You may love to wander around and get lost but your partner may like to have a structured itinerary. Be prepared to move out of your comfort zone and combine your travel styles.
12. Alone Time
Everybody needs time to themselves. If you need some space, you can do something as simple as taking a small trip to the store while your partner relaxes in the hotel room.
13. Be open
Do not hide your feelings. Honesty is the best policy. If something is bugging you, be sure to talk about it. Don’t think that by talking about things, you will ruin the journey, the opposite is probably true. You will have fun if you are open and honest with each other.
14. Better Photographs
Want to get a picture of yourself in front of a good backdrop or famous landmark? Getting a good picture of yourself can prove difficult on your own. I always feel a bit silly when using a selfie stick. The joys of having a travel partner is that you can take great photographs of each other which reduces the need for camera tripods and selfie sticks.
15. Life is short and the world is wide
Experiences and happiness are simply best when shared. You will no doubt make great friends whether you travel solo or as a couple. Enjoy it and make the most of it. Have an amazing adventure.