When Jess and I first left for Korea we had been dating for about a year and half. We were so excited for all the great adventures ahead of us. All of the things we were going to see, the places we were going to go. We could hardly wait!
But I must admit, I was nervous. Not because we were moving to the other side of the world to a place where we had never been and didn’t even speak the language. Not because we knew we weren’t going to be seeing our friends or even our families for almost a year and a half. Not because at that point I had never even been out of the country before!
As if That Wasn't Enough!
Oh sure I was nervous about those things too, but one thing stuck out….what about us? It wasn’t exactly a new relationship, but we weren’t married or anything either. Never the less, there we were looking down the barrel of more than a year of spending every single day together. Living together, working together. Confronting challenges and situations abroad that some couples never face. How was this grand crazy adventure going to affect us? Not only as people but as a couple….would there even be an “us” by the time it was all over?
Well, I’m very happy to say that several years and many adventures later we are still going strong! It hasn’t always been easy, but we managed to work together as a team, make it through some pretty hairy situations and have a blast together along the way.
Jess and I have always made a point of trying to read as much as we could about traveling as a couple or even just with another person in general. Some of the tips that we have come across have been really great, and we use them to this day. Others simply weren’t for us.
Every Couple is Different
I don’t want to even remotely give the impression that Jess and I have it all figured out. In fact, I think either one of us would be the first to admit that we’re far from it! But just the same here are a few tips that have served us well, and I hope they do the same for you!
This one may seem like a given, but it’s so important that I wanted to mention it anyway. Try to be as clear as absolutely possible about everything that you can with your partner. Not just while you travel but also before your trip all through the planning stage.
Never assume that your travel buddy “knows what you mean”. Travel can be very stressful, add a few miscommunications in there and all of a sudden you have missed busses, lost directions or even reservations that didn’t get made. All of which we have had the misfortune of dealing with while traveling.
2. Division of Labor
Just because you’re both good at doing something doesn’t mean you both have to do it. The first reason is that travel can be a lot of work, it’s just easier if you divide it up. The second half of that is that you might have different ways of doing it. Jess and I are both great with directions, however, our way of going about it is completely different.
We learned quickly that if one of us is in charge of directions for the day the other person needs to take a back seat on that. But that’s okay because it frees that person up for keeping track of keys or making sure we don’t miss any awesome picture opportunities because we're both looking at a map.
3. Know When to Split Up
Just because you’re traveling together doesn’t mean you’re glued together. Know when to give each other some space. Let’s say you find yourself on a beautiful island somewhere. Your travel buddy wants to take a scooter ride to the other side of the island while you would rather head down to the beach for a few hours.
Sometimes that’s okay. If you can find a good balance between time spent together and time spent on your own you are going to enjoy your travels so much more!
Being able to compromise is important for any couple, but traveling really forces you to work on this skill together. When you travel it is very likely that the places you visit you may never see again. This adds a very strong sense of urgency to what you are doing and the temptation can be to dig your heels in deep on what it is you want to do.
Now I’m not saying you should ever sacrifice everything you want to see for the sake of someone else's itinerary, but know that there should be some give and take on both sides. Find as many things as possible that you both want to see/do and make some fair compromises about the rest.
What? Play? That’s right, play. Remember that you decided to go on this adventure together because you wanted to share it with each other. Travel can be really hard sometimes with all of the research, problem-solving and the noise of cities filled with people speaking languages you don’t understand. Set all of that aside as often as you possibly can and remember to have fun and play together.
Whether you’re in a relationship or not, the person you’re traveling with is special to you in some way. Take every opportunity you can to enjoy your experiences and time with that person. Even if you grow apart as time goes on, even if you never see them again. That person will always have a special place in your memory as the person you shared those grand adventures with.
Do you travel with a friend or a significant other? Leave a comment below and tell us about some tips and tricks you’ve figured out to work as a team.