I like to think that my boyfriend, Sean, and I make a pretty epic team of travel companions. I cannot count the number of times that we have shared in a victorious fist-bump in airports, hotels, backs of tuk-tuks in Thailand, or in various other locales throughout our travels as a couple, to celebrate the fact that we accomplished something awesome together. Whether it’s making a tight connection in an international hub, finding a wicked deal on a hotel room, or booking the tour of your dreams, travel as a couple brings about an entirely new range of emotions and experiences with each other. Most of these are happy, but what happens when the inevitable tension arises?
Like any traveling couple, Sean and I have also had our fair share of arguments abroad. Patience gets tested, privacy is a thing of the past, and comfort is not always a top priority. I thought it would be a good idea to write a post about how we keep the peace, romance and excitement in our relationship when we travel. But, instead of just writing about Sean and I, I went out and tracked down three other travel bloggers who also travel in a couple to share their experiences, too.
Here are our 11 Travel Tips For Couples:
The Blogger: Mary Kate from Wanderlusty Writer
The Blog: http://wanderlustywriter.wordpress.com
The Couple: Mary Kate and John have been together for three and a half years, and in that time they have traveled to over 9 destinations together in Europe, South America and North America.
1. Know what type of a traveler your significant other is. And know what type of a traveler you are. Are you a planner? Does he like to just wander around and see where he ends up? Figure out what’s important to you both and structure your trip accordingly. I personally like to plan a few big things (i.e. Hearst Castle is kind of a necessary stop when on a road trip up the Pacific Coast Highway), but then I like to be a bit more spontaneous the rest of the trip. My boyfriend is also pretty flexible, with one exception: food. While I’d happily ignore my hunger pains to wander around a museum for an afternoon, he becomes impossibly cranky when skipping lunch. So now I know that on our trips, it’s important to have mealtimes planned into every day. Lesson learned!
2. Splurge (a bit) on accommodations. In my traveling days of yore (read: as a poor college student) my list of musts for a place to stay was one word long: cheap. A couple of years ago, my boyfriend and I took a trip to Paris, and I unthinkingly booked us at the same super cheap hotel I’d stayed at the whole time I lived abroad. As soon as we arrived, my boyfriend looked around dubiously. “Why don’t any of the sheets match?” he asked. “Is this really as hot as the shower gets?” And then, “Why is this mattress like a lump of cardboard?” When I was 21, none of these things mattered; we’d be trying to cram so many people into the hotel room I’d be lucky if I even got a bed. But when you’re traveling as a couple, it’s really nice to have a comfortable hotel room to return to at the end of the day. Don’t go crazy—I am still cheap when it comes to hotels, since if you travel the way we do, you’re really only there to sleep—but it is possible to find a hotel with hot water and a comfortable bed that isn’t insanely priced. Bonus if your room has a balcony for the two of you to relax on with a drink at the end of the day.
3. Spend a little time apart This might sound weird—being together was the whole point of this trip, wasn’t it? But hear me out. Traveling can be stressful, and no matter how well you plan, unexpected things are going to come up. Even when you’re with the person you love more than anything, you’re going to get a little frustrated with each other. I’ve found a little alone time—whether it’s an afternoon at a park he doesn’t care about seeing, or a drink alone at a café—to be invaluable. Then you have things to talk about when you meet up again! Oh and ensure you each bring a good book (or three). It allows you each a mini-escape from one another, whether at the train station or just a half hour on your hotel balcony. Sticking your noses in your books definitely beats spending that extended layover in the Dusseldorf Airport snapping at each other over circumstances you can’t control.
The Blogger: Alyssa
The Blog: Asked not to be linked
The Couple: Alyssa and Jesse have been in the making as a couple for over 5 years. It took them a little bit of time to reconnect, but they are now happily engaged to be married. Alyssa currently lives in Cambodia and travels with Jesse whenever she can.
4. Get some alone time. You’re on the plane together. You’re eating together. You’re in a room together. That’s A LOT of “together” time. And you love each other and want to be in each other’s company, fair enough. But each day, take 30-60 minutes for yourself. Meditate, pray, journal, social network, whatever you need to do to have some “me” time. This stops you feeling suffocated so you can still enjoy your time “together”. Because after a week of being in each other’s pockets, you still want to have that butterfly feeling you had before you left for the vacation.
5. Get lost together. One of the best memories I have of traveling as a couple was when my fiancé attempted to find a little café in Paris that he had been to before. We walked up and down the same street for 2 hours. He never found it. But we did find another adorable quaint restaurant that ended up serving the greatest champagne either of us had ever had. Get lost together; you never know what adventure awaits you.
6. Do a bucket list item together. This sounds super cheesy, and maybe it is. But one thing I always wanted to do was to put a lock on the famous lovelock bridge in Paris with someone I loved. Find a cool “bucket list” idea for the place you’re in or plan in advance for somewhere you want to go and accomplish it together. It creates an extra special memory that you can hold with that place forever.
The Bloggers: Brooke & Wilhelm Genn from The Nomadic Newlyweds
The Blog: http://thenomadicnewlyweds.blogspot.com
The Couple: Brooke and Wilhelm met in the US and fell in love with one another’s sense of adventure. They have spent their first year as newlyweds globetrotting and writing about their experiences on their blog.
7. Brooke’s Top Tip – Schedule Downtime. Plan out every minute of your adventure…then delete ¼ of the itinerary. Put RELAX on the calendar…go ahead – write it in! For me, prioritizing downtime is KEY to keeping my cool despite any travel blunders that arise. This is my #1 tip for enjoying your expeditions and for savouring the company of your travel partner!
8. Wilhelm’s Top Tip – Be Authentically Spontaneous. Don’t do it for the photo. Your most beautiful and romantic moments will happen when you aren’t concerned with your social media following. That being said – we always have the point-and-shoot camera in an accessible pocket – photos are important, just not more-so than the experience. Keeping this tip in mind truly helps us experience our adventures more fully – here’s hoping it helps you, too!
The Blogger: Me! (Ashley) from Adventure To Anywhere
The Blog: http://adventuretoanywhere.com
The Couple: Ashley and Sean met when they were 11 years old, but it took them until they were 20 years old to become a couple. They fell in love with a passion for travel and adventure, and have traveled in 6 different countries during their two and a half years as a couple.
9. Have pep talks before situations arise that you know will be stressful. There was a time that Sean and I had a ridiculously short connection in Bangkok to board our flight to Chiang Mai, during which we had just over an hour to clear customs and immigration, get our bags, re-check in, get through security, and get on the plane. We were super organized with our customs forms and we had a serious plan of attack to ensure that we could make our connection. A few minutes before we landed, Sean said to me, “Just know that no matter what happens, and no matter how stressed out we get, and no matter how many bickery things we say, and even if we snap at one another because this is stressful, even if we miss our flight and end up stranded in Bangkok…just know that I still love you.” This was one of the sweetest and kindest things that he could have ever done for me. There is nothing worse than being that stressed-out, frazzled couple screaming at each other sprinting through the airport. Just chill out and remember why you’re here in the first place, even under pressure.
10. Lay out your pet peeves before departure. Whenever I travel with another person, I make sure that they are well aware of my main pet peeve – wasted time. I absolutely hate sitting around trying to decide what to do as the day passes by, or sleeping in past 11 and wasting away the best part of the day. You don’t have to come with me, but if you travel with me, you have to know that I will be heading out shortly after 7am in order to get the most out of my day!
11. Make a list of personal “Must-Do’s”. Every time we visit a new destination, we each choose at least one thing that we absolutely must do or must see before we even arrive, so that the other person understands how important it is to us once we are there. When we were in Thailand, for example, it was essential to me that we visited the Elephant Nature Park in Chiang Mai, and Sean wanted to do some kind of cool boat adventure in Koh Phi Phi. We ended up on a night swim with bioluminescent plankton. Both experiences were incredible.
What are some of your favourite travel tips for couples, or even for friends traveling together? Comment Below!