When Scott and I travel, we do so as a couple. We don’t go with large groups or even friends. Usually, it’s just the two of us thirty-something guys on the road by ourselves. There are a lot of pros and cons to this style of independent travel, and even some pitfalls. As I thought about this I reflected on the countless, unique travel moments my partner and I have had on the road, as well as some of the tremendous arguments.
Everyone has their own unique traveling philosophy and style and there are corresponding travel sites willing and able to give advice on their specialty, be it traveling solo, as a family or as a couple. Traveling as a couple can be an incredibly enriching experience. There is a simple joy in being able to share the great treasures of the world with the love of your life, and later recalling these moments together in the comfort of your own home. However, traveling as a couple takes work, sometimes a lot of work which, unfortunately, many travelers don’t realize.
Respect Preferences - When planning a trip, it is easy to focus only on the places you want to see and activities you want to do without even thinking about it. My partner and I have been together for almost nine years, and still we both have to consciously remind ourselves that what we want to do isn’t always of interest to the other person. Case in point, on a trip to the Mediterranean I had set up a pretty heavy schedule of trips to archeological sites. They are extremely prevalent in this part of the world and antiquity is something that has always intensely fascinated me. My partner on the other hand has an extremely short attention span when it comes to these ruins and by the third day was already making some “oh good, more rubble” comments. This cuts both ways and I have made the extra effort on many occasions to seek out things of interest to him, although I really could have cared less. It seems obvious to keep in mind the travel preferences of your significant other but just like you have to work on an equal and balanced relationship at home, this is especially true on the road.
Danger of Transition Times- Traveling is a necessarily tiring and exhausting experience. Whether it be a road trip to the beach or a flight halfway around the world, there are many instances where we find ourselves at the breaking point. It is at these travel transition times that most arguments between couples occur. Scott and I used to have so many that we made a rule of not talking at the airport after a long flight. Stress, exhaustion and even confusion all take a tremendous emotional toll and it follows suit that we feel the need to lash out at someone. Unfortunately, that is usually your travel companion. Rather than let these moments take control, which they have for all of us I think at various times, it is really important to step back and put things in perspective. It’s true that I haven’t slept in 36 hours-no I don’t know what that sign in Czech says-yes we are lost- BUT it’ll be ok. No matter what happens, nothing THAT bad will result, so take a moment to breathe and assess. Many times these travel hiccups become our strongest memories and hopefully are a source of humor for years to come.
Safety – Stay on your Toes - I’ve read a lot of solo travel tips, many of which relate in one way or another to safety concerns. It makes sense that traveling by yourself can be a scary and intimidating process, which is another great reason to travel with a partner. That being said, just because you are not traveling alone does not mean you can let down your guard. I have heard a lot of horror stories from people of instances when their pockets were picked or items were lost. The same tips and lessons from solo travel can and should be applied to all forms of travel, even to the largest of groups. Never should this turn into unnatural anxiety or suspicion, but as I said in a previous post, a certain and constant level of self-awareness is essential when traveling.
Traveling as a couple can be a lot of fun as well as a huge pain in the rear. But these travel moments ultimately help grow our relationships and make us better partners to our significant others.