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Lessons Learned from Traveling as a Couple

posted in: Travel guides and tips | 17

Rocio and I have been living together over 8 years by now. We went through a lot of experiences and adventures together and are now happily married for almost 3 years. Traveling has always been an integral part of our lives. Being a bi-cultural couple has enabled us to switch between two countries and cultures. This was and still is a challenging task at times but we managed to get the best from both sides and are happy to have such an opportunity.

We love exploring new cultures, discovering places and meeting interesting people from around the world. We have been on numerous trips together, ranging from smaller weekend escapes to longer 3-week vacations abroad. Last year we decided to conduct a longer trip which took us around Southeast Asia for over 6 months. We absolutely loved this trip and enjoyed every single day of it. Yet, we also realized what it takes to be traveling as a couple. Being together 24/7 and living out of each other’s pockets can be very challenging.

We put together a small list of lessons that we as a traveling couple have learned from our trips. By following these simple tips you can make your travels a truly memorable and amazing experience without killing each other on the way. These experiences of traveling together will definitely build a strong foundation for your relationship and help you in your next travels together – you will see! 😉

travelling couple apenoni

Learn how to take decisions (and learn from them)

This was probably one of the greatest lessons learned. If you travel non-stop or pursue some longer travelings you will face yourself with making decisions throughout the day. Where are we going next? Where shall we eat? What place are we gonna stay? Which route are we going to take? These decisions are sometimes hard enough to make by yourself, imagine being constantly on the road. As a traveling couple it can get even worse.

This may sound normal at first but if you confront yourself with these questions every single day it can get very intense! Rocio and I are very compromising people, meaning that we like to consult each other before making decisions. This is good if you make decisions on a long-term basis but not always the best if you are on the road and need decisions to be made on the spot. We had difficult times at the beginning of our trip finding a way to choose and decide. This lead to tension that could be avoided – it’s really a matter of finding the right balance here.

We learned what was important for us and knew each other’s preferences. Sometimes we also let someone make the decision for the entire day without consultations, after all we didn’t want to waste precious traveling time on this. Make sure you are aware of this and be prepared to face this during your longer travels.

Be flexible and adjust

You need to be flexible and be able to adjust not only to new situations and environments on a daily basis but also to the needs of your partner. Your surroundings change regularly which makes you need to adjust accordingly. Sometimes your partner will have problems with this and not feel comfortable in certain moments. If the situation requires it, hold back on your usual routines or actions and adjust yourself to your partner to make it easier for them.

on-a-boat-apenoni

Listen, listen, listen!

I know, this is an important and crucial aspect of a stable relationship in general. But if you end up being together from morning till evening it is of even greater importance. Like mentioned before we learned a lot from each other. Listen to the needs of your partner and manage to adjust is essential in getting along during your trip.

As Rocio says ” I listen to what he likes and doesn’t like. For example, when he says the word ‘fantastic’, I know he is having a great time – and so will I. It’s these things that make a difference”. Listening and understanding, mostly those small words in between, can make you realize how your partner is feeling.

Never forget your humor

We have had a few moments where we felt annoyed or frustrated by people or situations. At the beginning of our trips we took these things seriously and let them affect our moods. After a while we realized that we always have to see the funny side of things and simply laugh at all the things that happen, even if they might be annoying at the moment.

Do not let some bad vibes get down on you. If you travel longer you will sooner or later face situations that you have not imagined would happen and they are not always positive. Keep the laughter up and have fun together. Be positive, after all you are doing what you truly love!

During our 24-hour train ride in Myanmar we experienced some really terrible insect bites on our backs. It was a horrible feeling, both of us were tied to resting in our beds for 2 days. Despite this, we did not lose our humor and rather made fun of how we looked like with our backs soaked in some sort of white medicine cream.

traveling couple apenoni

Be complementary, be a unit

We both know our strengths and weaknesses and found a way to combine these to handle situations better. If you have been together with your partner for a longer period of time you will most probably know these. On the road they will become more prominent, so make sure to balance these out between you.

For example, on our one-day trip from Laos to the Burmese border we had to make sure not to waste any time and effort to get to our destination. We had a small stop-over where we had to change buses. We knew the connecting bus was leaving just about the time we arrived. While I handled the payments of the tickets and took care of our backpacks, Rocio went running to halt the connecting bus (she literally had to stand in front of the bus to make it stop 😉 ). Without a good coordination and team work we would have missed the bus and spend an unnecessary day and night in a place we didn’t want to stay.

lessons learned from a traveling couple

Don’t forget to socialize

As a traveling couple, we often end up only talking to each other and live in our own comfort zone and travel bubble. Often times couples seem less approachable because of this and prevent people from talking to us. This defeats the purpose of travel which lives of the moments when you meet fellow travelers or locals. During the course of our travels, we realized and ended up having the most fun and adventurous times with people we met.

 

 

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Hi, my name is Julian and I am the co-author, photographer and blogger of apenoni. I am happy to share the experiences of our travels with you and hope you enjoy reading our posts.

17 Responses

  1. Sarah Stierch
    | Reply

    Great tips – including the last one. It can be so easy (and comforting) to “hole up” with each other – when meeting other people is part of the fun of traveling. Cheers!

  2. Amy
    | Reply

    Such great tips, and each is essential for happy couple travel. There just needs to be an understanding that there will be moments of strain, moments of disagreement, but I agree that listening is the basis and the key. When we are able to leave the kids and go away as a couple, we spend the time reconnecting, I believe nothing does this better than travel to a place where all you have is eachother!

    • Julian
      | Reply

      Thank you, Amy. We can’t imagine traveling alone, it gives us both a lot and we love it. Guess traveling with a family can also be tiring but very rewarding as well.

  3. Gokul Raj
    | Reply

    Really good tips for couples….well I am a solo traveler as of now. Maybe someday I will put these tips to use (hopefully) 🙂

    • Julian
      | Reply

      Haha, wish you all the best in finding a lovely travel partner!

  4. Theresa
    | Reply

    Great advice, especially about not forgetting to socialize with other travelers. We find it really easy to get involved in our family when traveling, and forget to stop and chat with the folks around us.

    • Julian
      | Reply

      Thanks Theresa. Yes, interacting with fellow travelers and especially locals is very important to truly explore each place.

  5. Bethanny Sudibyo
    | Reply

    Such great insights! I am in a long-distance relationship w/ my partner and he and I got to travel a bit last summer. What you say is definitely true. It’s really different from traveling alone and we do have to take our partner in consideration. Love this post!

    • Julian
      | Reply

      Many thanks, Bethanny. Traveling together can be very rewarding if you take these points into consideration. But we absolutely love to travel together and can’t imagine going on trips alone.

  6. Danielle
    | Reply

    Absolutely amazing advice. For a while I travelled with a boyfriend but.. well.. we didn’t do any of these things right, and that just didn’t work out. Maybe I’ll have to reread this next time I find someone to travel with..

    • Julian
      | Reply

      Thank you, Danielle. Some couples underestimate this, it’s a totally different situation if you are together non-stop. But its very possible, just gotta know what to look out for!Enjoy your upcoming travels!

  7. Tina and Jimmy
    | Reply

    Agreed have some humor we try to, even when things get the best of us! You make a valid point on being flexible which I had not thought about, naturally I just take things as they come and usually the one to find solutions when plans fail to be what we want them to be.

  8. Omar
    | Reply

    I’ve mostly traveled by myself. But this year I went backpacking through Europe as a couple. Definitely is very different! I really enjoyed it, I think the most important part is to be flexible and adjust =)

  9. Susan Aksu
    | Reply

    I traveled as a couple for about a year. It was definitely a learning experience, sometimes exhausting. Your tips are great.

    • Julian
      | Reply

      Hi Susan, yes, I can imagine! It was a lot of learning for us too but eventually very rewarding. Hope you will get to have some great expereinces coming up. Thanks!

  10. Diana - MVMT Blog
    | Reply

    Humor is a huge thing for my boyfriend and me. It’s helped us get out of a lot of frustrating moments or let go of negativity more quickly. Great list – I’ve traveled quite a bit with my boyfriend and agree with all your tips!

    • Julian
      | Reply

      Thanks a lot Diana, humor can be a great solution to many things actually. Wish you lots of great travels to come.

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