Travel as a Couple Survival Guide

Traveling as a couple can be difficult. Many people will say that it can make or break a relationship. Dave and I have traveled for months at a time together on several occasions, and we have always found that we bond even more while we are on the road. We influence and inspire each other to try new things. We share in unique experiences and talk about them together for years to come. We find that traveling as a couple has turned us into more well-rounded human beings than traveling alone. By keeping our minds open to each others suggestions, we end up exploring things that we never would have tried in the first place. And we end up liking things that we never thought possible.

That is not to say that being together 24/7 is easy, but we have found that if we follow a few of these simple rules, we can survive and thrive when we travel together as a couple.

1) Compromise – This is our number one recommendation. We have found that a lot of couples are not willing to do this on a short vacation or in their every day lives even. How will they survive and get along traveling for months at a time without compromise? It may sound stereotypical, but I have found that most couples are pretty much the same when it comes to what men like and women like. Men will normally go for the high adventure and sports related activities while women enjoy exploring culture, hitting the spa or shopping. Well guess what, even Dave and I are the same way. I enjoy a good massage and great deals on clothes and hand bags and Dave loves jumping off of cliffs and catching waves. Over the years however, we have both learned to enjoy both activities. We plan and discuss what each person wants to do, and then we compromise. I will do this if you will do that. We will go off and climb a mountain together and bond over the incredible experience. Our relationship is so much stronger because we have just survived something extraordinary together. Once we have done the crazy extreme adrenaline filled activity we celebrate by splurging on a nice hotel and massage to really relax and enjoy the moment. When we first started traveling, I didn’t want to spend all of my time trekking through the jungle and Dave didn’t want to spend all of his time looking at local art. Now after several years of being on the road together, we both love it all. I can’t wait to climb my next volcano, and Dave loves bartering with the toughest salesmen for the perfect deal.

2) Communication – This really is the key to a surviving in a relationship at anytime. I think that the success of our relationship is how well we communicate. We never play mind games and we talk about everything. People always point out how difficult it is for men to understand women and vice versa, but I can never understand why they think that. Dave and I know exactly when the other one is angry or upset. It is pretty easy to read each other. Sure, we could play dumb and ignore the signs, but really, we are all open books if you pay attention. Lets face it, we all react differently to situations and while one of you may be completely enjoying an experience, the other may be hating every minute of it. The key is to not ignore how the other person is feeling. If you are at a festival or religious ceremony that is maybe uncomfortable or upsetting to your spouse, make sure to be aware of that persons feelings even if you are completely fascinated by it. If you talk about it, you will understand where they are coming from and be more sympathetic, while you can persuade them to enjoy the moment and accept that it is something different. No matter what, that person will feel better because you took the time to listen, and like everything in life, by talking about things, they probably won’t be so uncomfortable or upset anymore.

If you ignore how each other feels however, you will both come out of it angry; One of you for feeling that the other person ruined the moment for you, and the other for thinking that you didn’t care about their feelings. Just save yourself the hassle and communicate. Then you can move on.

Which is a perfect segue to my next point.

3) Be willing to fight – As a couple, if you can’t fight with each other, you can’t survive traveling together. We have had some epic arguments on the road, but we get over them quickly. Travel can be frustrating, exhausting and overwhelming. You are stuck with each other for every single moment of it and when tensions run high, you only have each other to take it out on. Sometimes you can simply be angry because you have been traveling for 24 hours and you are exhausted. So you take out your frustrations on the nearest person, which just happens to be your husband. Of course you are going to fight. You will blame each other when things go wrong and you will get on each others nerves at times.

The biggest mistake you can make is holding it all in. It will make for a miserable experience. Have the fight and get it over with, but then move on. I remember once in Kanchanaburi, Thailand we couldn’t find the place that we wanted to stay at on the river. We walked forever with our packs in the heat, and we eventually ended up on a lonely road lost in the middle of nowhere. We were so mad at each other that we had to walk 100 metres apart. We couldn’t stand to be around each other, but we had to keep each other in sight because we were lost. So we kept our distance and wallowed in our anger silently. When we finally found our place and settled in, we said to each other, I don’t feel like fighting anymore do you? The answer was “No” of course and we went on with our day and had a great time.

Which brings us to…

4) Knowing each Others boundaries – It is good to know what is too much for one person. Base jumping out of a hot air balloon is a little too much for me, and even Dave will draw the line at a facial or a manicure. Don’t force something on each other when you know that there is no way the other is going to give in. Compromise is one thing, but pushing each other beyond their comfort zone is another. Over time, you will probably be able to get each other to try almost everything, but take baby steps at first.

When we first started traveling, it was difficult for Dave to get me into a budget hotel. Now I have camped my way through Africa, I have no qualms with squatting in a pretty awful public toilet and hey, if the bed doesn’t come with sheets, well never fear, I have brought my trusty sarong along for just that occasion. I was afraid of heights and freaked out doing my first abseil, but now I am an avid rock climber and have even summitted Kilimanjaro. Baby steps have eventually turned me into an extreme adventurer. And as for Dave, well when we first started traveling, he didn’t care if we ever left Canada. He was fine with the odd vacation to the Caribbean where he could go Para Sailing or scuba diving to get his adrenaline fix. He used to care about cars, gadgets and toys but now, he is a minimalist because you never know when you will be taking off again and stuffing everything into storage. He was a staple meat and potato man, but now he loves all exotic foods and the spicier, the better. Culture, museums and religion? No way. It was sports, bars and beer. But now he has been to over 30 countries and loves experiencing new festivals, checking out the hottest art gallery and loves observing religious festivals and exploring Pagoda’s, Churches and Stupas.

Now our last point for surviving your travels as a Couple…

5) Do Things Together – We love to do everything together. We don’t go our separate ways for the day to do what each individual likes. So often we will come across people in our travels that have gone off without their spouse to fulfill their lifelong dream. I find this hard to understand. They are experiencing the most amazing time of their lives, without the one that they love, because they weren’t willing to try something new. You will come back from an experience that has profoundly changed you, so how will you be able to relate to your spouse in the same way anymore? Dave and
I have a hard enough time relating to friends and family when we come back from months on the road, I couldn’t imagine trying to reconnect with him as well. For me, it would be an impossible situation.

It is by doing things together that has made us who we are today. I didn’t want to surf in Bali, it was Dave’s life long dream, not mine. I tend to be afraid of the water a little bit. But I did it with him and I am so glad that I did. I had a great time and the feeling of standing up on that board was like no other. Now I will surf again when the opportunity arises without question. I am sure that if those people that stayed at home while their spouse was away would have gone along for the ride, they would have loved the experience just as much. They just needed to open their mind in the first place.

Travel can profoundly change a person, and to have the chance to change and grow with your spouse, can only strengthen the relationship and create an unshakable bond that will last forever. If you follow these easy steps when traveling, your relationship will be able to survive any situation and you will come out of it as a happy and thriving couple that are the envy of all of your friends

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