Traveling as a Couple – Opportunities and Pitfalls

Santorini Greece

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.

Delos, Greece
Delos, Greece

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.

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By: Matt Long

Matt has a true passion for travel. As someone who has a bad case of the travel bug, Matt travels the world in order to share tips on where to go, what to see and how to experience the best the world has to offer. Also follow Matt on Twitter, Facebook and

9 Responses

  1. Nicole Henderson

    I’ve traveled alone, with friends, and with my boyfriend. Each present a whole different set of challenges. I would have to say that traveling with my boyfriend is my favorite because I have my best friend there to share all the amazing experiences–and someone to help me with my luggage!

    Reply
  2. ayngelina

    I traveled to Vietnam with an-ex although at the time we had been together many years. Travel generally brought us together as we both had similar ideas on what we wanted to do. However, we bought a train ticket and misunderstood that it was 25 hours, in seats not sleepers, and it was a nightmare. After 20 hours we actually sat in different cars because we were so sick of each other.

    It still makes me laugh.

    Reply
  3. Andrea

    As half of a travelling couple I can definitely say that these are great tips! John and I often get really cranky with each other on travel days. We have an understanding to let anything unpleasant said to each other on these days just fly away with the breeze, haha. Completely agree with your point on not letting yourselves be distracted or have a false sense of security because you are together. Great tips for duo travellers!

    Reply
  4. The NVR Guys

    Great post Matt. Seeing as we live, work and travel together, we know a little about the rewards and potential pitfalls. Interestingly, we too have noticed that the most stressful times are “transition days.” Funny. We almost missed a flight to Quito because we were having a very “heated discussion” at the airport. Yuck. All in all, though, we do very well. Nowadays, we try to be VERY zen when traveling. We have our established roles and we are very patient with one another.

    Travel IS stressful. I suppose we are pretty fortunate to have this cross to bear, right?!

    Reply
  5. ehalvey

    I might need to institute the no talking at the airport after landing policy. I agree that you can only take so much of each other when you’re both tired.

    But I’d would not trade all of the escapades that we’ve experienced for a guarantee against my grouchiness. It’s fun travelling with friends or by myself, but I’ve had the most fun exploring with him. I might need some shopping or museum time on my own while we travel, but at the end of the day, it’s incredibly rewarding.

    Reply
  6. Sherry Ott

    I love your rule about not talking after a long flight…made me smile. It’s similar to how I feel every morning. 🙂 When I read that about the stress of travel and fighting – it made me think about The Amazing Race…that’s why people tune it…to see everyone have a melt down and how they will handle it. I think it’s the ultimate test of couples travel…and maybe why I travel solo!

    Reply
  7. Andi

    I LOVE traveling with a partner. To me, nothing brings you closer than the experience on the road. If you can’t travel with your partner, then you shouldn’t be with that person!!!

    Reply
    • Matt Long

      oh I agree. But you have to admit there are some tense times 🙂

      Reply
  8. Poi

    I’m going to be honest and say I used to hate my girlfriend on travel days, now I’m getting more used to them I would say it’s more of a dislike.

    Reply

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