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Traveling with a partner is extra special. Though solo travel can certainly be awesome, exploring with the one you love is an experience unlike any other. We love couples travel and because it has played such a big role in our life, we are always thrilled to meet other couples who feel the same. Every few weeks, we share their stories in our interview series Love on the Road. Meet Eric & Lisa of Penguin & Pia!
Hi! Please introduce yourselves.
We’re a Lisa and Eric – a German and Canadian travel couple who were brought together by photos of our beloved Edinburgh. As the story goes, we met on Instagram and fell in love over Skype. After crossing oceans to visit one another for a few months, Lisa decided to move to Canada for a year. Currently, we’re living in Toronto, but we plan to move back to Europe in 2018.
When did you first start travelling together?
That’s a funny story – because the first time we travelled together was also the first time we ever met in person. We met on Instagram, fell in love over Skype, and travelled around Europe together for the first time around New Years 2017, so just under a year ago. Now we live together in Canada, and have plans to move back over to Europe in the coming months.
How would you describe your travel style?
We like to observe a certain “structured curiosity”. We are meticulous planners when it comes to before the trip – accommodations, flights, etc. But when it comes to day-to-day wandering in a city – we’re much more laid back. If there’s something we want to see, we’ll make a point of planning it out. Otherwise, we go with the flow and discover new things on-the-fly.
What has been the most rewarding part of travelling as a couple?
The most rewarding part of travelling as a couple has been engaging in experiences that are important to you – but sharing them with another person at your side. In doing so, you end up discovering stuff about yourself like you would in solo travel, but you also discover things together. In the end, we’ve grown together as a team through our adventures – and it brings us closer with each new city we explore.
What has been the most challenging part of traveling as a couple?
For us, the most challenging part has been making sure that we have time for ourselves. Our relationship was founded on long distance, and so we’ve always struggled with separating while travelling. We only ever knew a reality where our trip time was all we had until Eric had to fly back across the ocean. Now that we live together, we’re getting better understanding that it’s alright (and perfectly healthy) to take time for ourselves to debrief and recoup to be the best version of ourselves.
Have you ever had a fight on the road/while travelling, and how did you handle it?
We’ve never had a full-on shouting match, and we think that’s a testament to our communication style. That said, we have our little spats here and there. We always talk through things, no matter the issue. We’re both very patient, and seek to understand the other’s perspective rather than jumping to conclusions. Oh, and we NEVER go to bed holding a grudge. One time, however, we almost missed a train out of Krakow, and instead of dishing the blame for why we were late (doing the dishes in our Airbnb) – we admitted dual insanity, rushed like mad, and made the best of the situation. We also made the train!
Can you share your funniest, most humorous experience travelling together?
There’s a dog in an Airbnb in Hamburg that we tried to steal. Okay, not quite – but this little guy was SO cute. Even when our door was often closed, it would scratch and paw until we let him back in. He’d come in, jump on the bed, inspect the room, get a belly rub, and off he would go again. The owner said it was affectionate, but this was next level. We we’re so in love with this dog we wrote in the guestbook when we left: “Thanks for the great stay. We wanted to take your dog but it wouldn’t fit in our bags!” After we landed in Oslo, we found a message on Airbnb from the hosts: “Always a pleasure – and thanks for leaving the dog here.”
Where have you been that you would recommend as the top destination for couples travel?
We’re always going to have a soft spot for Copenhagen. It’s a beautiful capital with so much charm, diversity, and many things to get up to. Dinner and drinks is easy, biking and river tours are easy, photography and exploring is easy. It’s a great city mix of modern and medieval, and a fantastic city to get lost in.
How long have you two been together?
While we’ve only been together a year, it seems like we should have been doing this all along. Crossing oceans multiple times ages your relationship, in a sense. We’ve checked off a bunch of milestones that most couples usually take weeks or months to cross. The way we planned our first Europe trip meant that we spent basically all our time together from the moment we first met. That means that early on we saw each other at the best and worst of times (mainly sickness). Essentially, we jumped into dating full-on – “with two feet” being an understatement. We had basically decided which country the wedding would have to be in by Day 2. Spoiler: Maybe Edinburgh – it’s halfway between home countries.
Do you think your relationship would be different if you didn’t travel?
Certainly, because without travel it’s very difficult to imagine a world where we are together. Without crossing oceans for one another, we’d most likely not be where we are right now (living in Canada). The fact that we travelled and lived abroad before as individuals for school or leisure has allowed us the mentality to be comfortable with big changes – such as moving abroad again. Spending a few months in Canada or spending a few weeks in the U.K or Germany isn’t that much of a stretch or a lifestyle shift for us.
How do you define love?
Love is letting yourself be completely yourself in front of someone else and have that person accept that version of you 100% of the time, no compromise. It’s just that simple.
What do you think is the glue that keeps relationships together?
Hugs. Seriously. There’s a certain physicality to a comforting embrace that just makes everything okay, if only for a second. We make sure we hug every single day. We hug every time we come home from a day at work, or a day exploring a new city. It’s like our own “check-in” at the end of a long day – it reassures us that we’re on this path together, and that we aren’t going anywhere without the other person. Beyond that, effort. Just be aware of your person’s needs, and you’ll be just fine.
What advice do you have for couples considering travelling together?
Meet before you go! Just kidding. We would say be clear about “travel styles”, your roles, and your expectations on the trip. What are you looking to get out of it – as individuals, and as a couple? Discussing that will allow you to manage your itinerary with everyone’s ideas in mind. You’ll make compromises, but you’ll have made them as a team – and that’s important. Good luck, travel safe, and enjoy the ride!
Be sure to keep up with Eric & Lisa on social media:
See more couples travel interviews here:
Amy Hartle is the author of Do You Love Me? How To Stop Seeking Reassurance in Relationships, a book on reassurance seeking and relationship anxiety. Both her book and this blog are born of personal experience; Amy shares expert relationship advice from the lessons learned during her own 10+ years with her husband, as well as couples travel tips and romantic getaway recommendations, all gleaned while traveling the world together.