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This is the second installment of our monthly interview series, Love on the Road. This collection will feature interviews from couples who have made traveling an essential part of their lives. We hope these interviews will give you an up close and personal view of folks who love travel and love one another, and will inspire you to travel farther & love better. Meet Carolann & Macrae of One Modern Couple:
Psst! Read next: Our 20 Best Couples Travel Tips
Hi! Please introduce yourselves.
We are Carolann and Macrae! At the end of 2014 we started full-time travel seeking out great things to do, see and eat. We share our adventures on our site while working as digital nomads and haven’t once looked back to our old 9-to-5 ways!
When did you first start traveling together?
We’ve travelled ever since we first started dating, whether it be on the weekends, during holidays or with our vacation time but we’ve been travelling full-time since September of 2014, so that’s just over a year of 24/7 travel together!
How would you describe your travel style?
We started out thinking we’d be backpackers but it probably took us about 2 days before we realized it just wasn’t something we enjoy. We prefer creature comforts and luxury, when we can. We also consider ourselves cultural explorers. We thrive on immersing ourselves with the locals and learning about the country and culture we are visiting while finding great hidden gems. We are passionate about food as well so we really travel with the idea in mind of seeking out the whole picture of a country and culture.
What has been the most rewarding part of traveling as a couple?
Travelling as a couple means we get to share some of the most incredible moments and memories with each other. We’ve also become even closer as a couple and created such a strong bond over the past year (not that we didn’t have a strong relationship before) to the point where we can have whole conversations with just a look, or communicate through random words or phrases that are part of an inside joke or even in other languages.
What has been the most challenging part of traveling as a couple?
We’ve always been pretty in sync with how we like to travel and how we deal with situations so we haven’t had too many challenges relationship-wise. Probably just remembering to keep snacks on hand to prevent either of us from getting too “hangry” (the moodiness that occurs when one is over-hungry).
Have you ever had a fight on the road/while traveling, and how did you handle it?
Our only disagreements really come when one of us is over hungry which is easily fixed by finding something to eat! There have been a few “disagreements” over directions but we’ve quickly learned that while travelling Macrae is the one who can navigate unless we are taking public transit, like the subway, in which case Carolann’s the one to follow.
Can you share your funniest, most humorous experience traveling together?
There are so many funny experiences it’s really hard to choose, but there was one experience we always think back to and laugh about.
It was the first day of us setting out on full-time travel. We were in Beijing for a week because we wanted to see the Great Wall and, while we were sitting in our hostel’s lounge at 5am (got to love that time difference!), we happened to meet a fellow traveller, doing the same thing as us and also on her first day!
We all decided we’d head to the Great Wall and that none of us actually wanted to pay for a tour – we’d just figure it out on our own. Despite all the warnings of scams and difficulties, we researched and set off. We did end up encountering two scams, one of which we neatly avoided and the other which took us on an interesting detour, but found ourselves at the front gates to the wall by mid-day.
Since we still had a 45 minute walk to the wall itself, we thought we’d grab some lunch at one of the restaurants after the main entrance. We tried to communicate with the waitress that we wanted 6 dumplings (2 for each of us) and after a few minutes were fairly confident we got the message across. It wasn’t until the plates of dumplings started coming out that we realized something got lost in translation. We ended up with 6 plates of dumplings for a whopping 60 total!
Though an English-speaking Chinese woman at the table behind us did mention to us that she was pretty sure the waitress knew what we wanted and seized the opportunity to get more money, we still had to laugh about it in the end. There we were with a table full of dumplings and no other choice but to pack the remaining 50, or so, up in Carolann’s backpack and carry them with us up the Great Wall!
There is no one I’d rather be with at this moment, I can’t imagine sharing this memory with anyone else”. That’s love.
Where have you been that you would recommend as the top destination for couples travel?
This is a tough question. We’ve found romantic experiences and getaways in almost every place we’ve travelled. We would say though that the Philippines and Thailand are two places we’ve found some incredible romantic excursions, hotel and resort stays and dining experiences. They are also great because there are many affordable options which means less stress financially and that makes the whole time there more relaxing and enjoyable!
How long have you two been together?
We’ve been together just over 3 years, though we calculated that if we took the average time a couple spends together and applied that to this past year of full-time travel (waking time only), we’d add about 5 years to that… if you can count it that way!
Do you think your relationship would be different if you didn’t travel?
We’ve actually talked about this before and we’re not too sure but it probably would be. When we made the move to change our lifestyle it was a move to make us both happier, to follow our dreams and do things we love to do.
Had we stayed in our 9-to-5s that weren’t rewarding for us, taken our 2 weeks’ vacation time which we felt was never enough and continued staying through Canadian winters that really brought us down, we would be less happy as individuals and that definitely would have impacted our relationship.
We’ve also gone through the struggles and challenges of building a business together as well as travelling and navigating some interesting and unique situations, we’ve set mutual goals and worked together towards them and we’ve travelled in a way that makes it almost impossible not to know pretty much every little thing about the other person. We know each other’s thoughts and moods better and we understand each other better.
For us, travel has strengthened our relationship and helped us grow as individuals and a couple. So yes, it probably would be very different had we not started, and continued, to
How do you define love?
When you’re witnessing something absolutely incredible, like the most gorgeous sunset you’ve ever seen, or enjoying a once in a lifetime experience, like seeing a sea turtle up close while snorkeling, or trying to navigate a stressful situation, like thinking your bags have been stolen, or taking care of someone, like when your travel partner got ridiculously sick and couldn’t get out of their hotel room, and you think to yourself “There is no one I’d rather be with at this moment, I can’t imagine sharing this memory with anyone else”. That’s love.
What do you think is the glue that keeps relationships together?
There is probably no one secret answer. The “glue’ is made of a combination of ingredients and the exact ratio changes with each situation and phase of a relationship. The key components being trust, communication, a willingness to understand, desire and a heaping spoon of hard work. We’ve especially learned the value of all of these while travelling. While on the road we have to trust and depend on each other. Often times, we’re the only one the other person has. If we didn’t know we could count on each other through the good and the bad times, it would make travelling a pretty anxious endeavor.
Communication is key as well. We communicate A LOT from our smallest thoughts to our deepest fears and there is never a hesitation to tell the other person what we are thinking or how we feel about something. This goes hand in hand with a willingness to understand. It’s great to communicate but if the other person isn’t receptive, or if you’renot making an effort to be receptive, then communication is not only pointless, but it will start to deteriorate.
Desire. We’ve been together for three years, seen each other covered in mud, sweat and who knows what, we’ve watched each other struggle with squat toilets, and seen the other person sick as a dog. After all that, we still desire each other as much, if not more, than we did when we first met and a lot of that has to do with the deep bond we’ve formed through trust, communication and understanding.
Lastly, hard work is crucial. It takes work keep a relationship going and it takes effort from both sides. Even at the best of times, we’re still working hard on developing our relationship and understanding each other and it takes that same input of effort to work through the tough times.
What advice do you have for couples considering traveling together?
Do it! It’s a huge test of a relationship but it is an important one. Travel will put you in some tough situations and how you work together and handle them as a couple is representative of how you can work through many of life’s toughest challenges. It’s also a great way to get to know one another better and if you can work through the initial difficulties of blending travel styles and personalities, you’ve found an amazing partner with whom you can experience the world!
Thank you so much for your lovely answers, Carolann & Macrae!
For more from these two, head to their website One Modern Couple and be sure to follow their adventures on social media.
Amy Hartle is the co-founder and owner of Two Drifters, where she blogs about romantic and couples travel, relationships, honeymoons, and more. With a Master’s in English and a BA in Musical Theatre, Amy loves to write quality content as well as to entertain, and she hopes to do a bit of both here on the blog! Amy is happily married to her husband Nathan, and when not working on their sites, Amy & Nathan can be found cuddling, reading, and enjoying delicious lattes.