Planning a trip overseas is always exciting. Sharing the trip with that special someone makes it all the more rewarding. As you immerse yourselves in the world’s destination smorgasbord, it hits you just how much time you and your partner will be spending together.
When I was planning my backpacking trip through Europe, I was plagued with horror stories about couples that had gone travelling and now hate each other. Suffice to say travelling with my partner definitely taught me a lot about my relationship and myself! Below are my top 5 tips to keeping sane and happy when hitting the road.
1. Pack your bags
It’s no revelation men and women think differently. This is especially true when it comes to packing. Women love to prepare for every scenario:
– Outfit for dinner with the Queen, check!
– Sunscreen, sunblock, suntan, check!
– Cute jacket to go with my other cute jacket, check!
The list goes on.
Men are a little more simplistic:
– Passport, check!
– Underwear, check!
As women, we like to justify everything we pack into our suitcases with the phrase ‘just in case’. However, this invariably leads to the following: attempting to hide items in our man’s luggage or getting him to carry ours because it now weighs 3 ton.
As tempting as it is, you don’t want to turn your significant other into a packhorse.
TIP: To avoid the inevitable ‘you’ve packed too much’ , throw down and only pack what you need. ‘Want’ and ‘need’ can be distinguished using the following formula: If you cannot pull it behind you or carry it on your back… up a hill, you need to do some culling. As an added bonus, more space in your luggage means more things you can bring home!
2. Know each others interests
If you’re claustrophobic, and would rather attend a work conference naked than step foot in the catacombs, make sure your partner knows! It’s okay to have different interests but without talking about them before you leave, you’ll end up arguing about what to see and what to miss out on.
TIP: Compromise, compromise, compromise! You can not see everything, unless you plan on travelling for the next 30 years. And if you try, you’ll end up doing everything by half. Take it in turns planning the daily itinerary and if it helps, talk about your 10 ‘must do’s’. Coming up with a list makes planning your itinerary less intimidating and gives you a place to start. Keep in mind you don’t have to do everything together!
3. Personal space is important
Just because you are travelling together, doesn’t mean you need to spend all your time together. Chances are, after being contained in the compartment of a bus, train or plane, you’re going to need some space. No matter how strong of a couple you are, everyone needs a little me time.
Personal space can be a little hard to come by in a backpacking dorm, tent or a hotel room. Sometimes, you need to be a little creative.
TIP: Go for a walk around the campsite, have a chat to other backpackers or just chill out and listen to some music. These things will do wonders for your equilibrium and your relationship. If you’re feeling adventurous, go for a wander and see some sights. Travelling is as much about pleasing yourself as each other.
4. Accepting things won’t always go to plan
It’s midnight and after 10 hours of solid travelling you’re finally settling down on the overnight train to Turkey. Only to find out you’ve booked and paid for tickets on the wrong train! After pleading with the ticket inspector, you finally make it Turkey, absolutely exhausted.
The taxi rolls up to the accommodation booked on your credit card, however it’s nothing but a hole in the wall housing with a homeless man sleeping under some cardboard at the doorstep.
Unless you and your partner are going on a pre-booked holiday, things aren’t always going to work out as planned!
TIP: Don’t blame each other for mistakes made while travelling, especially if it’s your first trip! Arguing when you are tired, stressed and panicking is human nature and it has no reflection on you as a couple. Take a deep breath and remember its all part of the adventure and these are the things you’ll laugh about the most later!
5. Acknowledge strengths and weaknesses
Travelling is all about challenging yourself, and getting out of your comfort zone. That being said, different environments can bring out the best and worst in people. It’s important to realize you may not know all the things that send your partner over the edge, and you need to help each other out!
You may have no issues with the overnight train, while your other half goes without sleep for 24 hours.
Things I learnt about myself while travelling:
– Minimal sleep turns me into Godzilla.
– I can not navigate to save myself.
– Street food does not always agree with me.
– I can pretty much fall asleep anywhere.
Things I learnt about my partner:
– He cannot handle people invading his personal space.
– His brain is like a GPS navigation system.
– He can not sleep unless in a bed .
– He is calm as a cucumber in a crisis.
TIP: Accept that you both have strengths and weaknesses that are going to come out while travelling. Try to remember your partner is probably snapping at you because of lack of sleep, not because of anything you have done. As hard as it is not to snap back, refer back to tip 3 and talk when you’re both relaxed.
So there it is, the things I wish I knew before I started my adventure. I hope the above tips help on yours. Happy travels!