Travelling is in itself is stressful, so travelling as a couple can be even worse. Key word CAN. That being said travelling is also extremely rewarding and having someone to share that with makes it that much sweeter! Travelling should bring out the best in both of you and it’s pretty simple to make sure that it does. How to strengthen your relationship while travelling isn’t an exact science and every relationship is different. In all honesty when we landed in New Zealand and started our 6 month back packing trip…we almost broke up. But we worked on it and used some of these tips to help build our relationship instead of watch it sink.
It has its ups and downs and does take work, no different than if you were at home. That doesn’t mean it’s impossible. No, not every couple is going to come out together at the end, in fact surely there is a large majority that doesn’t. When we left it was like more people told us to have a back up plan for when we broke up abroad than were excited about our trip.But at the end of the day we just dealt with whatever came up because that’s the only choice we saw. At first we couldn’t anticipate some of the issues that came up but eventually we learned how to (which you’ll read). We actually ended up learning a lot about our relationship and how we deal with our problems. Hello free therapy!
We found the first step was to ignore anyone who says it’s not going to work. Storing that thought in your brain will only make it rear it’s ugly head when you least want it to, at the most fragile moments. Just remember that you are the only one who dictates which path your relationship will follow, no one else.
None the less here’s how we did (and continue to do) it:
1. Don’t lose your hobbies
We make sure to not lose the things that were inherently ourselves. Losing our hobbies and passions meant losing our minds. Which doesn’t sound like a good time and could lead to additional arguments. I personally like to read so I brought my kobo along and actually ended up reading a book to Andy as her drove. Andy likes online gaming so we found a local internet cafe that he could game at. He also loves to cook so I made sure he took that role basically everyday ;). It really helped keep us sane and brought some familiarity from our home life with us.
2. Alone time is important
Taking some alone time isn’t selfish it’s important for your mental health! Well it certainly was for us. It also helped make us appreciate our time together just that much more. We felt less tense after we had spent some time apart and got excited again to spend time together. It’s fairly common knowledge that sometimes spending too much time with someone can be unhealthy and drive you slightly insane. Alone time can be even the simplest of things like taking a bath or heading to a local hostel with someone you met at a pub or even alone.
Andy and I met some really amazing people while we were volunteering at a hostel in Christchurch NZ, which gave us a good opportunity to spend time apart. It also gave us a chance to spend some time with other people, which is incredibly refreshing. We highly recommend volunteering somewhere if you plan on spending a significant amount of time in one location. It’s a great way to save money on accommodation and meet life long friends! Want to know the pros and cons of volunteering at a hostel, read more here.
3. Don’t take arguments to heart
We would be 100% lying if we said we never fought. Honestly, the moment we got to the airport with our families we couldn’t find our gate and ended up arguing right off the bat! At some point you are going to annoy the shit out of your partner and want to send them on the next plane right home. But that’s OKAY, you’re allowed to get frustrated with one another. The best way to avoid these incidents from ruining your travels is to not take anything to heart because it’s probably not you, it’s probably just the situation. We noticed the only time we actually argue it’s because of a shitty situation not because we hated each other.
4. Ignore other peoples opinions about your relationship
Like we said before a lot of people told us our relationship wasn’t going to make it through our travels. Screw them. At the end of the way we know our relationships better than our friends and family and so do you! Take a chance and go somewhere if it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work but at least you tried. Most of the time travelling will just show you some of the holes there might be in your relationship and give you a chance to fix them. Alternatively, it can show you that maybe you two aren’t meant to be together. So you move on and keep going.
Throughout our travels we have seen the good and bad sides of each other which have allowed us to accept that neither of us are perfect. But no one else can know and understand those good and bad sides or tell you if you should accept them, only you can do that. So ignore all those negative people and do what works for you.
5. Be open about trying new activities
Trying new activities is hard and actually pretty scary. But it’s always important to keep an open mind because who knows when you’ll find a new hobby or sport. You could fall in love with something you always thought you’d hate!
Andy is into mountain biking and it wasn’t really my thing. But while we were in Wanaka New Zealand I agreed to give it a try, apparently it’s one of the world’s top destinations for the sport. You have to if it’s one of the world’s best right? To my surprise, I thoroughly enjoyed it! Took me a while to admit that to myself, mainly because at the end of the trail I ended up hitting a bump and flying over my bike handles into a bush. But hey, shit happens right? I still tried it and we found a new activity we can do together. That means more adventures! And hopefully less accidents….
6. Talk things out and don’t keep it in
If you don’t say something no one is ever going to know if something is wrong. Then it builds and builds until you finally explode and it’s ten times worse than it would have been had you said something. Don’t ruin a good experience by keeping your mouth shut. If something bothers you say it! It’s important to keep that communication or else you’re sabotaging your own relationship. On the flip side, be open to listening. You aren’t the only one with issues and relationships are two way streets.
If we hadn’t have talked our way through some of the stressful situations at the beginning of our travels we wouldn’t have made it to the end. We straight up told each other about a month into our trip that we were thinking of breaking it off. Instead of doing that we talked through our issues and dealt with it and learned from it. That was almost three years ago now! Communication is key.
7. Remember and anticipate which situations or places cause arguments
No matter what everyone has something that triggers them. Our number one place that causes us to argue? Airports. The tight deadlines, baggage limits, and mass amounts of people and security is overwhelming and stressful. Which causes both of us to be uptight and ultimately argue. We both want to do things differently and Andy is very on time and I am very…not on time. So everytime we have to fly we anticipate that we might argue and we come up with a plan. That plan helps us get to where we need to go without pissing each other off. After all it’s the situation we are stressed about now each other. The moment we get on the plane it all goes away.
Just remember which situations cause you and your partner problems and come up with a plan to help avoid it. Trust us it’s well worth the small discussion beforehand.
8. Have fun and laugh it off
Being a clutz there are tons of situation where in the moment it’s the worst situation of life, but afterwards it’s the most hilarious stories ever. Sometimes you have no control over the situation and getting upset is only going to make it worse. No we aren’t saying that fights at the airport are going to be hilarious stories afterwards, although we do sometimes life about those situations too. We just mean that you have to enjoy yourself and the good and bad that come along with your adventures.
While we were in Fiji we went snorkelling in the open ocean near a small sand bar. We had to walk through the coral to the sand bar to get back on the boat. Well needless to say I somehow found myself basically drowning in a foot of water. It was (seemingly) impossible to stand up in the thick coral as the ocean waves splashed up into the top of my snorkel. Yes we caught it on video with our GoPro, no it will never be released to the public. It’s a pretty hilarious video though and we couldn’t image travelling without our GoPro. At the time I was super upset and mad that no one helped me and my friends and family laughed at the video (including Andrew).
Afterwards I realized either way I would have been fine and it was pretty hilarious to see the video pan up on the sky and there were 4 people standing a few feet away with water up to their mid-calf.
There’s a lot of emphasis on travelling solo right now which is great but if you are in a relationship don’t be afraid to go abroad! It can be just as rewarding (sometimes even more) going with a partner. It’s awesome being able to share those memories with someone. We constantly daydream about all the awesome things we have done together. And laugh at all the ridiculous things that happen to us that make it all worthwhile.
Reading about how to strengthen your relationship while travelling is only half the battle. You have to get out there and take a chance. Trust us going as a pair is one of the greatest experiences you may ever have and it truly strengthened and improved our relationship
On to the next adventure!
Have you travelled with someone special in your life? Is there anything else you have found helps you travel with a partner?
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Oh so very true. We travel as a couple but also as do solo trips. It helps keep our relationship happy and healthy.
It’s important to focus on spending some time alone! No one can be around someone else 24/7 without going a bit crazy let’s face it!
I totally agree with you, all of this is exactly how to handle going abroad when you’re in a relationship. My husband and I already traveled solo quite a lot before we went on our big trip so it was not something completely unknown, but it’s true that traveling can give you more situations that usually to get tense about. We had moments we argued for stupid stuff like you at the airport but as you say, the important is to not take it to heart. I agree when you say that solo traveling has a lot of spotlight at the moment but traveling with a SO is great, I actually prefer it!
We totally prefer travelling together! There’s nothing wrong with travelling solo it just seems like a lot of people think that’s almost the end all be all right now.
Totally relate to this – James and I travelled NZ too and I must say, after four months of living in a car our tempers ran a bit short! But the experiences we had more than made up for the silly arguments. Glad to hear that you and Andy are strong and happy! 🙂
There were definitely times we argued over some pretty stupid stuff but we agree all of those experiences more than made up for it!
…look after each other, work as a team and “delegate” responsibilities, once a week/month spend a day apart doing different things, once a week/month forget about the blog/social media….
Great tips guys…surely everyone has their own views. We decided from the start that no matter what we would always talk about ‘it”, no matter what, how it happened.
Telma @ Blank Canvas Voyage
These are such great recommendations for travelling as a couple! I’ve travelled more with my partner than without him – I still prefer travelling with him so we can remember the best moments together but sometimes we don’t have a choice and have to travel solo 🙂
Travelling as a couple is truly rewarding but there are some trips where being solo is almost unavoidable.
Ahem! The first trip as a couple was to London in 2011 and yes, we almost broke up (or shall I say it was a game of yelling at one point). We made it, though, and we’ve been married for 5 years (this May). It does get easier to travel together as the years go by. What works for us? I do the planning and all reservations (I’m trained as a travel agent…so makes sense).
We almost broke up when we arrived in NZ. But just like you two we made it through and just celebrated our 4 year anniversary. Travelling together made us a heck of a lot stronger and now certain everyday situations don’t cause as many arguments as they might for others. We are the same, I end up doing a lot of the planning and Andy gets to take advantage of it 😉
Traveling together has made me discover aspects of my loved one I would have never learned otherwise. And there is that certain togetherness, when you are feet up, in the bed, after a long day of walking and just discuss what you want to do tomorrow. Or, wake up and decide – noo, to tired, let’s sleep in!
We couldn’t agree more! It also really taught us that sometimes just staying in bed isn’t wasting a day but it’s just as valuable as those long days spent walking.
Great tips! I met my boyfriend almost 2 years ago while living abroad and we have now traveled to quite a few countries together and even moved to the country we are living in now together. All of these things are so important. The thing I am lacking right now is alone time, as its hard where we live at the moment, and I am looking forward to getting some of that soon 🙂
Alone time is sooo important! We really hope you can find a little bit of it. Even taking a bath with the door locked can give you a bit of that alone time. It’s hard when you live together too, we get that!
Great tips! Thank you 🙂
You’re welcome! Thanks for reading!