How to Survive Traveling with your Partner
When you scroll down your news feed on Facebook or Instagram, you see hundreds of photos of smiling couples. They are having fun on the holidays, spending valuable time together, eating delicious food in the fancy restaurants… at least that’s what they want you to see. What is the truth behind traveling as a couple? Is it as perfect as it seems? Is it easy to survive traveling with your partner?
We’re living a life of digital nomads for more than 5 years. Fortunately, we’ve never had a problem with spending 24 hours a day together. Many of you asked how do we manage to never be apart and still love each other. We’ve asked fellow travel bloggers to help us writing this post. They are giving you best tips on how to survive traveling with your partner. Enjoy!
by Audrey from Gumnuts Abroad
Many people looked at us in horror when we told them we would be traveling together for a year. They didn’t understand how we could be together 24 hours a day for a year without ruining our relationship.
The truth is there’s no secret formula that’s guaranteed to make a relationship work. But for us laughter is a key ingredient. Quite simply we like to have fun together and make each other laugh.
In jokes and shared humour create a bond that only the two of you can share. And it helps strengthen and cement your relationship.
It’s not all smooth sailing of course.
When you’re travelling tiny aggravations and disagreements can build up over time. But a simple joke or some light-hearted silliness can ease the tension and help you get past pointless negativity.
Laughter really is contagious. Just hearing someone laugh makes you want to smile.
And seriously, there’s nothing like a good joke and belly laugh to break up the monotony of a 12-hour bus ride!
How to survive traveling with your partner, isn’t about just “surviving” at all. It’s about laughing together, forming bonds and loving life and each other.
2Accept your individuality
by Megan from Half This World Away
My husband and I have been travelling together for over 5 years; and one thing we have learned is that we’re two individuals who have different interests, and that it’s totally okay.
It’s okay to want to do different things and it’s important that each of us gets what we want out of travelling on an individual level. You should never feel like you need to miss out on something because the other person doesn’t want to do it. Recently we were in Colombia and my husband wanted to do the 4 day Ciudad Perdida trek, which I had absolutely no interest in doing (4 days trekking through the Colombian jungle in the searing heat? No thanks!) But he went on and done it without me and instead I explored nearby Santa Marta, spending my days in cute little coffee shops, sipping coffee and writing.
At the end of the 4 days it was great to see each other again and we had so much to talk about! In the end, the trek ended up being one of the best things he done during our South America trip and I relished having some independence again for a while and some spending time on my own. It was a very refreshing experience for both of us.
3Be ready for less romantic moments
by Christine from Christine Abroad
When traveling with your partner you have to be prepared for less romantic moments (to say the least) during your journey. There are several bad things that can happen while traveling the world, even though you try your best to avoid it. For example, you can lose your passport, you can crash with your rental car/bike, you can get robbed, and it’s not uncommon to get food poisoning.
Which brings to the main point, traveling as a couple and get a severe food poisoning is as you can imagine not very romantic. Even worse if both get sick at the same time, and you’re running in rounds between the toilet to puke or even do the number two. I’m sure we can all agree that diarrhea and vomiting don’t exactly go hand in hand with romance.
These are just a few of the many things that can happen while traveling, and these kinds of moments are mostly not so romantic.
But do not worry, there is still plenty of time for romance during your travels. It’s just good to keep in mind that bad things can happen, so you won’t get too disappointed or embarrassed if you would get a really bad food poisoning when on a romantic trip with your loved one.
..by Suzy from Suzy Stories
My partner and I are an antipodean couple. We currently live 19,000km apart which means that travel is often precious time spent together, and trips are made even more special by being an infrequent chance to be in each others’ company for extended stretches of time.
Our circumstances have taught us many important things about one another. We’ve learned about the way we each approach travel, what activities we do and don’t like, and so much more. This has led us to realising how crucial communication and compromise is in order to successfully travel together. As well as compromising on location (my country or yours is often a tough decision!), we choose activities we’ll both enjoy, but also indulge each other in our favourite pursuits too.
One daily ritual we find invaluable on our travels is to sit down in the evening, and look through the photos taken throughout the day. This simple reflection means we review our day and recognise what memories we made together, find the things that made us smile, and find the gems of the moments we’ve shared. Even if we’ve had a quiet, unexpected or seemingly bad day, we always find something that we’ve gained from it whether that be a funny story or a treasured memory. So, my tip for travelling as a couple is to reflect together, and appreciate every moment because before you know it it’ll be gone in a flash. Time flies when you’re having fun after all!
…by Claire from Past The Potholes
Terry and I have moved to a foreign country twice, are in our second year of full-time travel and somehow we are still married! One way we cut down the stress is by remembering that normal roles don’t apply on the road. We each need to be ready to take on new tasks and help each other out.
Everything’s different when traveling, none of the usual jobs and responsibilities at home follow you. It’s quite common to hear Terry say he’ll cook dinner while I’m busy on the computer or if I’m tired after a long hike. I’m the travel planner but full time travel requires so much more planning! Sometimes we’ll put Terry in charge of finding accommodation at our next destination while I focus on the transportation.
Some tasks are more difficult in a foreign country. At home, I typically do the grocery shopping. When traveling it often becomes a two-person job. Between unfamiliar stores, language barriers and the lack of a car it can become quite an adventure!
It’s important to communicate these changes with each other though so you’re both on the same page. Asking the other person if they need help with anything is key, as well as being willing to ask for help.
by Eric and Lisa from Penguin and Pia
Here at Penguin and Pia, we’ve thrived through almost 20 countries together. To do this, we have a rule that we always follow: Share a “Team Hug”.
We, for whatever reason, hug each and every time we come home from being out. We could just be running an errand at the grocery store or coming home from a day trip with buses or exploring a city. Doesn’t matter. As soon as the door is closed, it is the first thing we do after dropping bags – usually before we take shoes and jackets off. We hug.
Looking back, we think it started because we met in an unconventional way and started out dating long distance (Canada to Denmark). Being together was a rarity in the early days because of the Atlantic Ocean, so, when we did get to see one another, we wanted to be close at each opportunity. Over 1.5 years later, we still hug as both a formed habit and as a sign of closeness and togetherness.
We consider ourselves an adventure team – in business and in life. Because we do everything together, it’s important to stop and share moments with one another – however small they may be. By hugging, we take the time to cherish how close we are and how lucky we are to have found one another!
6Learn to spend most of your time together
by Jessica from Independent Travel Cats
7Never travel on an empty stomach
by Jenny from Tales From the Lens
As we travelled in South and Central America for 16 months, Steven and I noticed we often started arguing about small stupid things around mid-day. Not really a coincidence, but simply the fact we are two “hungry grumpy cats” who get irritated at each other when at least one of us has a small craving! We identified this issue with time and know now, we need to stop the conversation and head to a place to eat… Being hungry causes mood swings, and it can happen to anyone to be cranky when hungry. No surprises then the word hangry, a mix of hungry and angry, exists.
This is a reality that can impact the relationship between any long-term travel couples without even noticing it. Drop in blood sugar triggers the secretion of hormones which regulate mood and, therefore, the way we behave with the loved one. So next time you start arguing with your partner or feel angry at him or her for some reasons, it is probably time to find a cafe or some street food delights. But be careful about what you eat. Junk-food increases the blood-glucose levels in satisfying you for a couple of hours, before crashing down fast and starting another cycle of crankiness.
8Keep an open mind
by Victor from Victor’s Travels
Traveling with your partner (or friend for that matter) can be as rewarding as it can be frustrating. Whether it will be the former or the latter boils down to the compatibility of your travel styles and your openness to new things and other perspectives. Intense traveling makes you dive into (and deal with) many difficult or awkward situations in a short period, which allows you to draw a parallel to the day-to-day situation back home. As you will spend 24 hours a day with your travel partner, you will be able to see the good, bad, and ugly sides of their personality.
When you decide to take a long (multi-month) trip together, having a voice of reason can be very refreshing. It’s sometimes much-needed to share your frustrations and get someone else’s perspective on unusual situations or events. On the other side, sharing precious moments with another person multiplies the joy and will make you grow closer.
Being a Dutchman, sharing costs is also a very welcome pro about traveling with your partner, especially when it comes to booking accommodation. Speaking of accommodation, it is quite likely that you’ll naturally be a lot less social in places like hostels when traveling with one or more people in a group.
All in all, traveling with your partner is simply another kind of experience than traveling alone; it’s a great opportunity to get to know your travel partner through and through, and either return to your home country with the thought of having found your soulmate, or that you might not be the best match after all.
The best tip I could give is to keep an open mind when traveling with your partner and don’t just focus on your own agenda. On the other hand, let your partner know when you don’t agree with a decision he or she made. As in any good relationship, not keeping grudges and voicing your concerns are the key to happy travels with a partner.
9Think about the money
by Danny from Coddiwomp
When it comes to traveling with your partner I’d offer a few suggestions about money and equal spending!
I) Essentially, if you’re travelling on a budget and haven’t quite reached the ‘joint bank account’ stage of the relationship, I recommend keeping track of who is spending what, just to make sure it’s fair.
When my partner and I travel together we try to spend roughly 50/50 each. We make a note of what we buy so that by the end of the trip, on average, we have pretty much spent the same amount in total.
II) Don’t let it become a ‘thing’ though!
Sure, totally pay attention to who is spending what and make it fair! I mean, it’s annoying to feel like you’re carrying the brunt of the expenditure, especially if that wasn’t expected from the outset.
However, it is easy to get caught up in the process of ensuring you’re all square- even more so when you’re tired and irritable on the road.
If you can, don’t let the budget tracking detract from the trip! There is no point arguing over pennies and at the end of the day, as long as things are roughly equal then minor discrepancies surely don’t matter.
III) And, finally, I’m also a big advocate of breaking the budget tracking process every so often and treating your partner by paying for the both of you, or buying them something nice out of your own pocket.
Buy them a meal, pay for their tour, hire them a bike, buy them a drink etc etc…and don’t include it on your ‘accounts’, or silently expect them to reciprocate later on.
It is easy to worry about money when you travel, sometimes at the expense of your experience. Every once in a while, forgetting about the financial side of things can do wonders for everyone involved!
10Learn how to deal with the strangers
by Toni from The Swiss Freis
Travelling as a couple definitely has its ups and downs but being in an interracial relationship adds its own unique sets of experiences. Along with learning not to squabble over who gets more space in the luggage (and boy do I need a lot for my natural hair products!) comes the unique challenges of learning how to handle the sometimes-awkward stares we get as a black and white interracial couple while we travel.
It’s important not to take many of these gawking eyes as a form of criticism but rather as a form of curiosity. In many of the countries my partner and I have travelled together it’s uncommon to see such a diverse pair which naturally garners some attention. In fact, we sometimes invite persons who are bold enough to speak with us to snap a selfie.
In the very rare occasion that you and your partner (as an interracial couple) may hear a nasty slur it’s great to provide the moral and emotional support to the partner who may be affected. If needs be, step up to defend your partner in a kind and respectful manner. Regardless, we should all learn to laugh these incidents off with healthy optimism and let it roll right of our backs.
11Take solo trips
by Cate from International Desserts Blog
My best tip for how to survive traveling with your partner is for each of you to also take solo trips. I love traveling with my husband, and he’s by far my favorite travel partner. But we’ve also never hesitated to travel solo and often encourage each other to do so. We’ve found that some solo travel
1) allows us to freely pursue individual interests,
2) prevents either of us from feeling resentful or guilty if one of wants to go somewhere the other doesn’t (or if can’t leave work at that time),
3) reminds us that we’re still independent and capable people when on our own,
4) gives us something to share with each other in a different way than when we experience it together, and
5) makes us appreciate and enjoy the times when we do travel together even more!
We find that because we have a balance between solo travel and traveling together, we enjoy travel planning even more when it’s the two of us. We’re also more appreciative of what the other brings to our travels together, we don’t take each other for granted, and we’re more willing to let the stuff that doesn’t really matter slide. Solo travel has definitely enriched our travels together and made us even better travel partners.
12Don’t take everything seriously
by Vicki from Vicki Viaja
Last year, I’ve been traveling with my partner for seven months through Asia. Obviously, traveling together for such a long time is not always puppies and kittens. But for the most part, it was a great experience for the both of us. During this trip, we learned one important thing which makes it way easier to travel as a couple: Don’t take everything so seriously!
When you travel, things go wrong. That’s totally normal. Even the most experienced travelers get lost, get scammed or encounter some epic travel fails at some point. But the last thing you should do in those moments is starting to blame your partner or get angry. Just try to stay positive and avoid getting into a fight as that’s the least helpful thing in such a situation.
Therefore, our new travel motto is: “Whatever, this will make a great story at some point.” And it is true, we realized that apparently, we are telling some of our travel fail-stories a lot more than our positive experiences, e.g. of how we got scammed in Vietnam or how we spent a night in the worst accommodation ever surrounded by bed bugs and rats. Even though looking back, the situation was awful and we couldn’t find a positive aspect about it at all, now it makes a funny story. And next time, we just know better.
13Divide travel chores up
by Kate from Our Escape Clause
Traveling may mean that you get out of a lot of typical chores like scrubbing the bathroom, mowing the lawn, or even doing dishes–but it also brings on a whole heap of chores of its own.
When it comes to traveling with your partner, it’s imperative to divide these new chores up just like you would in a more typical setting. Otherwise, one person is going to be stuck with a lot of work!
From booking flights to packing to hailing cabs to learning the tipping culture of the destination to handling conversations in languages you guys don’t speak, the little logistical challenges definitely add up over time.
We have been traveling together full-time for more than 2 years now, and along the way we have developed quite the division of labor: I handle booking flights, he negotiates with taxi drivers. I research what we’re going to do in each place, he figures out on-the-ground transportation. I book hotels, he deals with the logistics and payment at check-in.
Everyone needs their own system, there’s certainly no one right answer–but one thing is certain. If you travel with your partner and end up doing all the work, there’ll be a fight brewing before long!
14Prioritize each person’s interests
by Dan from Honeymoon Always
As you are planning your trip, make sure you know each other’s priorities of things to do and see during your time traveling. My wife and I always make a list of things we want to see the most and compare. We talk through each idea and narrow things down to a few must do things that we both are aware of. Next, we plan it out, making sure we hit all of the top few things from both partners, even if it means doing something one of us doesn’t really want to do.
15Spend a day in a spa
by Sherrie from Travel By A Sherrie Affair
Traveling can be fun, exciting and exhausting. Pair that together with your significant other and well… I’m sure you get the picture. Being married 36 years we have learned a few tricks along the way to avoid not wanting to strangle each other.
There are several tips to making your travels more enjoyable, but there is this one that really works for us. Spa Day! Yes, a wonderful, relaxing day at the Spa. We are more a luxury type traveling couple, so we tend to stay in some amazing hotels and resorts with wonderful spa amenities. But you don’t have to stay in one to take advantage of a Spa day. Most resorts allow anyone to make reservations.
We have also found not to wait till the end of our holiday. If we are gone for a week we try to enjoy at least a couple’s massage in the middle of the week. It helps to reset and relax both of us. Longer holidays, we tend to take advantage of a few visits. Yes, we try to do the spa together; couples massage and facials…But, when you are traveling for three weeks and you are together 24/7, it’s time for a little me time. Body scrub for me and maybe a pedicure for him :).
16Know what you are both good and bad at
by Nat from Nat Packer
17Get to know each other
by Jackie from Life Of Doing
Traveling with my husband for over 8 years has been a rewarding experience! We know each others’ traveling style. We used to be strict with our traveling schedule, but now are more relaxed on what we do daily. One thing that we do to reduce stress is share luggage space. To make traveling easier, we prefer not to check in luggages. We use duffel bags and packing cubes to minimize our stuff. We have our travel checklist on things to bring and divide up who brings what. Sometimes we bring bulky items, such as hiking boots, or buy too much clothes which adds to the weight of the luggage. Compromising is necessary by sharing the load of carrying bulky items by switching back and forth between the heavier and lighter luggage to the next destination.
Sometimes vacations don’t go as planned. We’ve missed a flight, crashed a rental car, went to the hospital after a scooter accident, had food poisoning, and more. We get mad for a few minutes with our brains going a million miles an hour. Once we calm down and realize it’s in the past, life goes on. The best part is that we’re supportive of each other, give hugs, and work together to find solutions. Onward to the next adventure!
by James from Portugalist
19Spend valuable time together
by Thais from World Trip Diaries
20Rely on each other
by Stephanie from Sofia Adventures
When I’m by myself, I have no one to blame but me. However, when we’re together, it’s easy to start assigning blame for his mistakes and forget about my own or forget that sometimes things just go wrong when you’re on the road. The biggest lesson I’ve learned from this is to rely on each other’s strengths, but try to pick up the slack for each other’s weaknesses. For example, I still do more of the planning since I’m good at it and I do it more often, but I step back and let him handle a lot of the day-to-day decisions on the road that stress me out. And since he’s a terrible navigator, I’ve learned to make sure we have turn-by-turn voice directions so that he doesn’t have to focus on navigating while I’m driving. It’s taken the stress out of our trips together so we can just enjoy each other’s company and relax.
21Take a break
…by Jamie from Crashed Culture
While making sure you take some time to relax from traveling is important when you travel solo, it’s even more important when you travel with your partner. Travel is exhausting! You’re faced with new, stressful environments, have to make critical decisions, and then do all of that on top of taking care of your relationship. Don’t think that you have to spend all your time traveling. If you and your partner are getting on each other’s nerves a lot, or you’re starting to feel tired and overwhelmed, let yourselves take a day to just vegetate. Especially if you and/or your partner is sick (which is a much more common occurrence when you’re traveling), be sure to take some time to take care of yourself. There’s no use traveling if you’re not healthy enough to enjoy the experience!
If you can, get some comfort food and eat it in bed. Turn on Netflix, eat something sweet, and cuddle. Maybe read a book together – whatever it is that you and your partner do to decompress together, do it! When you’re relaxed and refreshed, you’ll be more able to navigate your relationship on top of your travels. Self-care is paramount, so make sure you and your partner are taking care of your relationship, too!
by Stefan from Nomadic Boys
We are gay couple Stefan and Sebastien, and have been together for almost 10 years. We met in London in 2009 and since 2014 have been travelling the world, blogging about it as Nomadic Boys.
Since 2014 our relationship has taken a new level of its own, something that neither of us have ever experienced before. We are around together 24/7, travelling together, going out together, and since the blog became our business, working together. This has made our relationship far more intense, and we’ve certainly embraced this with open arms.
But, the intensity means that taking a break from the 24/7 constantly together is necessary and very healthy. In other words, we make it a point to ensure we each factor in alone time every so often. We each have family in different parts of the world – especially in London for Stefan and France for Seb, so we make these visit separately for example to allow us to share some of this time with family. It’s definitely important for a healthy relationship to thrive to allow each person some “me”. We find that by the end of it, we’re missing each other more than before and excited to reunite.
by Justine from Wanderer Of The World
My top tip for traveling with your partner is to always ensure you share responsibilities (before, during and after the trip).
Although everyone has their strengths – my partner for instance is much better at navigating new destinations than me, while I’m great at keeping us on time for activities and flights – it becomes way too easy to blame each other if mistakes are made if you’re leaving it up to one of you, rather than working together.
Before your trip, make sure you’re both working together on booking flights, accommodation, excursions, planning your itinerary and packing your bags.
During the trip, share responsibilities of navigating (whether this be via good old fashioned map reading, or using Google Maps), as well as finding places to eat and keeping both of you on time for planned activities.
And after the trip, keep sharing responsibilities. Whether this be to get yourselves to the airport on time, plan your route home, or even the dreaded tasks of tackling insurance claims and post-holiday laundry!
By always sharing responsibilities for our trips, my partner and I have ensured that we keep arguments and stress to a minimum, while simply laughing at some of the mistakes and misadventures we have along the way. There’s no “winning points”, and there’s never any regret or resentment, no matter what happens.
23Try to understand your partner
by Mikkel from Sometimes Home
24Always hold hands, even if you’re angry
by Katy from Free Bird Katy
The best travel experience with my partner (Izzy) was when we were recently in Mondello Beach, Sicily. Every day we would go to the beach, sit by the water and sip on cold drinks. We love to travel together because we have the same interests, love outdoor activities and we absolutely love to explore! We always have the best of times even if it’s just at home, exploring or even giving each other some time apart.
I am very adventurous and am not afraid to talk to anyone, while Izzy has some anxiety about meeting new people and trying new things. What we do is, I’ll do the talking, and she’ll hold my hand and follow until she is comfortable! It works, she isn’t so anxious, and I love to talk anyways! There are also situations where we are mad at each other, and we can be in an argument over nothing (probably because we are hungry to be honest…) In this case, one of us will always just reach out their hand we look at each other and just start laughing. We realize how stupid the argument is and get back to having fun and exploring!
by Ben from The Sabbatical Guide
…by Michelle from Maps and Muses
..by Andra from Our World to Wander
My husband and I traveled around Asia and New Zealand for about a year. It was an adventurous year that changed our relationship and made it stronger than ever.
But it isn’t always easy; we had to learn and adjust. However, the best tip that we have learned during our travels together was making sure each one of us got its share of activities. I don’t always love what he loves doing and vice-versa. This meant we had to compromise and discover each other’s passions and hobbies.
I wasn’t as keen on trying paragliding as he was, but I joined him. And then he is not such a big fan of cooking classes, but he stilled joined when I did it. Instead of doing the activities that each one of us loves by ourselves, we decided to try them together. And it was always a success, and we had tons of fun.
You end up realizing that making your partner happy can also fill your heart with joy, irrespective of what you are or aren’t doing together. So compromise! It’s the key ingredient for successful and lovable travels together with your loved one!
…by Wendy from Empty Nesters Hit The Road
My husband, Jason, and I love to travel together, and usually have a great time. Over the years we’ve definitely had to learn to compromise on what we will see and do. I do most of the travel planning for the two of us, so I often select our tours, museums and adventures.
Occasionally Jason has a strong opinion about something to see that was not on my list. My first inclination is to tell him there is no time, and that all our plans have been made. With experience, I’ve learned that his ideas are just as valid as mine, and if we want to both enjoy the travel, then we both need the opportunity to give input. Last year during a trip to Barcelona Jason wanted to visit Camp Nou, home of the soccer (or football) team FC Barcelona. I’ll admit this was not on my list originally, but I agreed to go. Now I find myself recommending this to friends! While I may not be a soccer fan, this sport is a important part of Spanish culture, and seeing the stadium and museum was a highlight of our trip. Thanks to my husband, I stepped outside my usual list of sites and experienced something new.
…by Lyn from A Hole in My Shoe
We’ve travelled 33 countries together and shared some incredible experiences throughout the years and I’ve loved travelling with my husband and best friend, sharing the experiences. From our first sunset selfie on a cruise to Asia for our honeymoon, to Christmas in Vienna, or a scenic train trip on Bernina Express followed by a stay in a 17th century villa in Milan. We’ve shared some wonderful experiences, but spending so much time together hasn’t always been a fairy tale.
We’ve fought, we’ve forgiven and we’ve laughed til we’ve cried. We know each other so well and we know when we get that ‘little look’ what it means. We often finish each other’s sentences and are unbelievably similar, but we also have a tendency to bicker over the small things. Each of us have personal quirks and qualms that the other finds annoying, but when you travel together and there is only each other so you have to work it out amicably.
Looking back on the journeys Steve and I have shared over the years I’ve learnt Steve makes me smile and is a great listener. This is great, because I love to laugh and I’m a great talker. Perfect match, right? But our travel styles don’t always match and that’s when we compromise. We also share responsibilities to make our travel work. I make the wish list, do the research and guard the passports (the inner control freak in me), whilst Steve books the flights and schedules the itinerary, breaking the news gently if one of the places on my wish list can’t be squeezed in.
If you plan a lifetime of globetrotting you need to agree on where to go, when to go and what to do. So rather than tell your partner not to worry, try listening to their concerns over their aversion to unfamiliar cuisine, fear of flying, etc. Find solutions together. When one of you is a control freak it can lessen the joy of travelling together, so learning to let go of the strict itinerary, relinquish your grip on control and try to relax, enjoy and trust in your partner is my biggest tip.