Travelling as a couple can take its toll on you, end up making you feel regrets and resentment that end up affecting the entire trip and possibly even your relationship. But there’s just so much beauty to sharing the experience of travel. People often ask us how we make it work, so here are a few significant things we do to ensure it’s all sunsets and sangrias. This post is a continuation of Travelling as a Couple- the good and the bad.
1. Make yourselves at home
When you travel as a couple, your rental/hotel room is your home for the time you’re there, so treat it that way. It is your retreat at the end of the day, so make it comfortable. While Charles spends the first 10 minutes after check in configuring the air conditioning, lighting and power points so it’s just right, I spend it figuring matchboxes, ashtrays, bath products, pillows and other comforts. Pick the same side of the bed that you would at home and keep it as neat and clean as you would your bedroom. There’s no need to have clothes and things strewn about just because there’s housekeeping. And you don’t want to have to spend most of your last day sorting and packing. El Palauet in Barcelona was definitely our favourite stay.
2. Pull your weight
Just like you would back home. While planning a trip together, Charles figures the flights and apartment bookings, I figure the itinerary, visas, forex hotels etc. Before we go, Charles handles the packing (he has a system that I dare not mess with) and web check ins, while I look at getting all our bookings and receipts in order. On the trip, Charles manoeuvres the local transport, time management and photography while I collect the info, read maps, and usually narrate the audio guide back to him (he can’t shoot while listening to a tour).
3. Communicate expectations
Nothing’s worse than two people travelling together but with different agendas. Discuss why you’re going, what you want from it, and how you want to do it. If we’re going to a European city, both of us know we’re going to rent an apartment, explore museums and walk till we drop. But if it’s that time of the year where we just want to relax and do nothing, we pick a beach resort and become beach bums. Whatever it is, whether there’s something in particular that’s on our respective bucket lists or old friends that we want to look up, we’ve planned it in advance. No springing surprises.
4. Be considerate of each other
While travelling as a couple, thinking about the other person isn’t always the sacrifice it’s made out to be. For example, I really wanted to go swimming with Dolphins in Mauritius so I asked Charles to come along on the boat even though he didn’t know how to swim back then. I got cold feet once we were out in the open waters, but the fact that Charles had come along for this made me want to make the most of it, so I jumped in. A decision I will never regret. More recently in the Philippines, Charles had finally learnt how to swim, but still didn’t have the confidence to jump and snorkel in the open seas. So I insisted we head to an island sanctuary where he could still touch his feet to the sea floor. Needless to say, he’s hooked to snorkelling now.
5. Be your own person
A relationship does mean that after having spent a whole lot of time together, two people tend to develop similar views and beliefs. But that shouldn’t turn you into a singular entity. It’s important to have your own interests and passions especially when you travel as a couple. In Paris, I wanted to do a course at the Cordon Bleu while Charles wanted to go trawling through the Catacombs. Neither of us was interested in each other’s suggestions. So we decided to split up for half a day, go do our thing, and meet up by lunchtime. Best decision ever. Both of us ended up having a blast, and suddenly had a whole lot to talk about, excitedly giving each other the run down on our morning.
6. Schedul some down time
Being on the road often means you step out in the morning, and only come back to the hotel or apartment to sleep. We don’t want to waste a single day out in a new place by sitting indoors. The few minutes of down time we do have, as travel bloggers, ends up in us staring at our devices, downloading photographs and videos, charging devices, updating social media, etc. But we’ve got a few silly yet important things we do to change it up. Cuddling in bed watching some local television, imagining up dialogues when we can’t understand the language, enjoying a slow cup of coffee at the window before we rush out for the day, we do things that keep us close and connected through the rush of things to do and places to see.
7. Be spontaneous
An organized style of travelling can feel a bit monotonous every now and then. Doing something completely unexpected gives you just that rush of adrenaline you need. Charles sprung surprise tickets on me at the airport in Barcelona, and we suddenly found ourselves in Paris. I sprung a surprise chopper ride over the 12 Apostles on our Great Ocean Road Trip just a few days before a new friend sprung a surprise lift from the Barossa Valley into Adelaide in his own helicopter. We had no plans of spending a long and crazy night à la The Hangover with 4 other friends when we stepped onto Khao San road for dinner in Bangkok. And those are some of our fondest travel memories.
Have you ever faced any issues while travelling as a couple? How did you sort them out? What do you do to ensure everything’s hunky dory?