Do you have a significant other you’re itching to see the world with? Before you rush into the trip, it’s important to make sure you’re prepared for the journey together. Today on the Life in Another World Podcast, I sat down with Joe Buckley and Meg Teagle, a Welsh couple I met on the road in New Zealand to discuss what it’s really like to travel with your loved one.
Making the Initial Decision
Like any traveling situation, an initial decision needs to ignite the plan.
When you’re traveling solo, the only person who needs to decide on anything is you. When you add another person, especially when they’re a significant other, things can get a little more complicated.
Before you even consider any potential travel plans, pay attention to how you get along now. Do you fight a lot? Small bickers or massive blowouts? Are there any doubts that hold you back? If there are, this might not be the right decision for you.
Although these are hard questions to face, don’t let them disrupt the trip. Bickering is natural and healthy, but don’t be at each other’s throats the whole time. If the arguments are frequent and larger than a tiff, it may be a sign.
Between the two of you, find the balance of things you’re good and bad at (organizing, directions, etc.) Working together will get you much further than working against each other.
Conversely, don’t be scared to take this trip on your own, especially if your partner isn’t ready to go with you. You can still travel by yourself and do a long distance relationship if it comes to it. Though less desirable, it is still attainable.
At that, if all else fails, even if you break up along the way, you’re still halfway across the world and interacting with new people every day. You’ll never be alone, and you’ll always have plenty of distractions.
The Importance of Communication
After you’ve made the initial decision to go, put communication at the top of your priorities. All relationships depend on communication, but it’s never more vital than when you’re on a world tour together.
Whether you have deep conversations or not, the experiences you accrue together will undoubtedly strengthen your relationship. When your only alone time is in the bathroom, you learn a lot about the other person — and it may not always be pleasant.
With an awareness that there’s always a possibility that things might not work out, discuss what you’re going to do if things don’t pan out the way you’ve planned. Joe and Megan shared a bank account and needed to be real with themselves about what they would do with that if they separated. Stay mature — even if you break up, you don’t want to leave your former partner stranded.
Apart from that, check in with each other. Traveling is stressful, and anxiety is a constant given. Make sure you’re paying attention to each other’s mental stability to help each other stay strong and focused.
Be Aware of What You’re Getting Yourselves Into
You will be with your loved one 24 hours a day. Unlike a typical living situation, space is harder to come by when you do a trip like this. If you share a house or an apartment and each have jobs, you can always work around each other and get the space you need when you want it.
Not so when you travel.
Don’t let that stress you out — you’ve already decided you wanted to spend this much time with that person, right? Remember that always.
Also, take advantage of the fact that you will always have a familiar face, no matter what. If you’re lost, and you turn around, there’s someone you know. As long as you’re aware of how full-on it is between the two of you, you’ll be fine.
Just don’t forget to talk about things.
Take Advantage of Time Alone
If you travel solo, all you get is time alone with groups of people you don’t know. Although it’s the same idea when you’re a couple, don’t take opportunities to be alone together for granted!
Find mutual things you like to do, and you won’t have to worry so much about separating to do what you want. Be willing to go off on your own if you have to, but if it isn’t necessary, don’t push it.
Even couples, however, need space from each other. Don’t become too co-dependent just because your partner is familiar. No matter what, downtime by yourself with your own thoughts is vital for mental health.
When you’re jumping around in hostels, plan for the occasional double room. Staying in dorms with all of your friends is great fun, but it prevents you from having the necessary conversations needed to keep the relationship healthy.
Be aware of the extra cost of double rooms and plan accordingly. At the same time, if you meet people you love along the way, don’t be afraid to stay with them, either!
Finding a Social Balance
Although keeping your personal life private outside of the people you travel with is hard, it is still doable. It’s just up to you to find the right balance.
Oddly enough, it’s easier to make friends when you travel by yourself. Think about it. If you see someone standing alone, or two people canoodling all over each other, who’s less intimidating to approach? The people you interact with automatically see you as a couple, and they become more reserved because you’re already a unit.
Therefore, as the couple, you have to make the effort to either mingle with the singles or find double dates.
To make things easier on yourselves, “go out” together, then “separate” once you’re there.
Whatever you do, just do your best not to seclude yourself. At the end of the trip, making friends is the most important aspect of travel, so be open to that. You’re still a couple at the core, but don’t let that hinder you from having a social life.
The Post-Trip Depression
If your relationship has survived the trip, congratulations!
You’re about to go through a depression.
Don’t worry, though; it’s the same depression most people get when their vacation wraps. Whether by yourself or as a couple, the travel bug possesses you once you get a taste.
Don’t fight the sadness that comes to you. Transitioning back to “reality” is just as much of an adjustment as acclimatizing to all of the foreign cultures you’re now thoroughly accustomed to in the first place.
When you leave and return alone, you feel like no one understands what you’ve been through. That, or it seems like no one wants to hear what you have to say.
Although you get that same response as a couple, the best part of traveling with someone else is they’ll always know exactly what happened. No matter what, in the end, you will always have someone who was with you every step of the way.
Whether you decide to travel alone or with your loved one, just prepare yourself for the journey. The more ready you are for the days that don’t go so well, the more you’ll appreciate that days that run flawlessly.