Traveling with the one you love is supposed to be whimsical and romantic, but let’s face it, it’s also a huge pain in the tuckus if your travel style doesn’t exactly match theirs. If 5 star hotels and Louis Vuitton luggage is what you envision your vacation to look like, then you probably won’t get along with someone who prefers a backpack and two changes of underwear. As someone who loves being on the road, I’m convinced the conversation about ‘traveling styles’ should fall in the same realm as the “child rearing” conversation. A simple trip can either be the greatest bonding experience, or a first class ticket to splitsville. And being abroad, especially if it’s anywhere remote, or dramatically different than home, is the ultimate relationship test (especially when sh*t hits the fan!) Like most, I’ve had my fair share of on-the-road show downs, though none of them too apocalyptic. I’ve learned a few tips and tricks to avoiding the elusive travel divorce and thought I’d share them with you!
Once you’ve had “the conversation” and learned more about how you both travel, it’s time to manage expectations. If you are both lucky enough to love the exact same things, than there’s not much to talk about. Plan your activities and execute! But, if one of you is really into scuba diving and the other prefers swinging from jungle vines, there needs to be a conversation about how everyone’s boxes get ticked. Holidays need to be enjoyed by all, equally. Both partners need to be mindful of eachother’s wants, and work equally hard to make sure the other gets what they want to do.
Spend Time Apart
This may not work for everyone, but if you are someone who enjoys their own company at home, there is nothing wrong with getting some alone time on your holiday. One of my favourite things to do when I was living in Zambia, was to spend time with the lions in the morning with my boyfriend and the other volunteers, then have lunch and spend part of the afternoon alone with a book or my travel journal. It was my time to reflect on the trip so far, write postcards to family and just enjoy the tranquility of an African afternoon.
Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff
Disaster will strike. It’s sort of inevitable with couples travel. And it’s up to both of you to either make mountains out of molehills or laugh it off. Don’t throw tantrums through airport security because you feel slighted you were asked to take your shoes off, don’t argue with border security in countries your country has a trade embargo against, and do not panic if you show up a day early for your flight, even if it means you have to spend the night at a hotel where the front desk agent keeps your room key when you go out for dinner, and looks like he’s ready to auction off your gear the moment you’re gone. It’s all part of the travel experience, make a joke about it and move on.
Bad Days Are Allowed
Look, not every day is going to come up roses. If you’ve been in Mumbai for three days and you’ve been hugging the porcelain thrown for 2.98 of them, it doesn’t matter if you’re on an epic bucketlist trip, you’d rather curl up and die. Life on the road may not be real life, but we’re still ourselves, and sometimes, we’re not going to feel all rainbows and butterflies. It’s all about communication – Let your partner know if you’re feeling down. It’s far better than ripping their head off at some inopportune time like right before they jump off a bridge with a stretchy cord attached. Before someone blows a gasket, either give one another some space or console eachother to make the situation better.
Don’t Pull a Disappearing Act
Your number one responsibility when traveling with your partner is their safety. It doesn’t matter how bad the fight gets, never walk off into the night and make the other worry. All it does is add fuel to an already blazing inferno, and it creates and unnecessarily unsafe situation. If you need space to blow off steam, tell your partner exactly where you’ll be, and stay there. Once you’re both ready to come back to the table, put your swords down, don’t draw it out, and get back to making fabulous memories with one another!
Couples travel should be seen as a gift to your relationship, not an event that tears you apart. Take the opportunity to remember why the two of you fell in love, and rekindle the romance!