Being a couple has its challenges under normal circumstances, but add long-term travel to the mix and challenges can become major issues. Travelling the world has countless rewards, but that doesn’t mean it’s always easy or comfortable. Unresolved issues and annoyances can amplify when you spend 24 hours a day together and have to navigate new landscapes and cultures, often in languages you don’t speak.
While we’ve never been the type of couple that fights much, over the past 9 months of travel, we’ve worked through our share of disagreements, frustrations and annoyances. The road hasn’t always been smooth but I believe the lessons we’ve learned over the past 8 months have helped us become better partners.
Here are some basic principles that have kept us sane and happy around the world.
Speak up. Don’t let your relationship die from a thousand minor cuts. Express your frustrations when you feel them and have empathy for your partner when they need to vent.
Switch it up. Keep things fresh by trying new activities together. It may be something small like learning a local craft or relaxing your budget for that expensive diving trip. New experiences aren’t just fun, they help you discover new things about yourself and your partner.
Balance the load. I’m much more detail oriented than Peter and am generally the one that researches travel bookings and details. While this is fine for your usual 2-week vacation, it’s too much in a long-term travel situation. Not only is there fatigue, you start resenting the other partner for just ‘enjoying the ride’ while you work to figure out all the details. I now try to let Peter take on more of the travel planning, and have worked hard to relax my inner need to control.
Relax. “I did nothing, and it was everything I thought it would be.” – Peter Gibbons from the movie [amazon_link id="B000AP04L0" target="_blank" container="" container_class="" ]Office Space[/amazon_link]. It might sound crazy but sometimes you need a vacation from your round-the-world trip. The constant sightseeing and exploring, while amazing, can also be exhausting. Every once in a while, give yourselves permission to give the exploring a break and indulge in the simple stuff. Close that guidebook, shut down your gadgets and lounge with a good book for a few days, have a long lunches and linger over tall bottles of wine.
Take a break. Over our 8 months of travel, we’ve learned when to give each other space and to pursue separate interests. Strike out on your own for a day or longer. We all need some personal time and you’ll have great stories to share with each other when you meet up again.
Have any tips for travelling couples? Let us know in the comments.