Love on the Road: Martin & Trey

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Love and travel. We believe they go hand in hand. The journey is both physical and emotional (and even spiritual!) We love celebrating other adventurous couples, so every few weeks, we interview a new duo about their own exciting adventures. This series is called Love on the Road. This week, we introduce Martin & Trey of!

Hello! Please introduce yourselves!

Hi everyone! First, a big thank you to Amy and Nathan for giving us the space to share our journey so far. We are Martin and Trey, both originally from the American South but who found each other in the concrete jungle of New York City. We hope you enjoy our story!

A couple poses in front of a white covered bridge.
Putney, Vermont, November 2013: We connected over our love of travel and began taking trips to explore the New England region early on in our relationship.

When did you first start traveling together?

When we met, the two of us immediately connected over our love of travel. Martin had spent his 20s roaming the world by volunteering on organic farms, and Trey had been working for a hotel company, which required a lot of global business travel. From the beginning of our relationship, we traveled, and what began as quiet weekend getaways to the Catskill Mountains or vacations with friends in Mexico or the Caribbean morphed into longer and longer holidays in farther flung places like Africa or Greece. We couldn’t get enough of exploring new destinations together, so when the opportunity arose to hit the road for a full year, we couldn’t resist. On December 31st, 2016, we boxed up our belongings, strapped on backpacks, and boarded a plane for New Zealand to begin this incredible journey. We haven’t looked back since!  

How would you describe your travel style?

Some might call us flash-packers. We are a little too old for the raucous nights and communal bathrooms of most hostels, but we’re certainly not on a luxury expedition. We are budget conscious, and we take into consideration the seasonality of a destination, transportation options, and the offerings of any place we stay (for instance, does it have a kitchen to prepare a few meals in?). However, we are willing to splurge on little comforts as well as the location and perhaps a bit of style. On this trip, we have taken baths with buckets of water, spent long hours on buses and trains, and stayed in the guestrooms of local villagers, all part of a genuine travel experience. But we have also used loyalty points to upgrade on long-haul flights, spent beyond our budget for a five-star and oh, so worth-it meal, and opted for higher-end lodging for special occasions or to recover after long periods of intense travel. For us, it’s about research and smart planning in order to stretch the budget and occasionally splurge for once-in-a-lifetime experiences or a good, solid rest.  

Elephants walk in a field under a cloudy sky.
Maasai Mara, Kenya, July 2016: Here, in the alluring African savannah, we saw the potential for a year of travel ahead.

What has been the most rewarding part of traveling as a couple?

Although we traveled very differently in the past, we had both had inspiring moments of solo travel, whether it was tacking on a few days in a new city after a business meeting or traveling by train over vast stretches of land to reach a remote destination. Yet, there is undoubtedly something very special about being able to turn to the person you love and share a knowing glance during a magical travel moment or laugh together during the inevitable (but in the end hilarious) mishap.

People sometimes ask us if we get bored or tired of being together all the time, but another wonderful benefit of traveling with your partner is the deep, meaningful conversations you’re afforded when it’s just the two of you without distraction. While we’re waiting for the next flight, trekking from one village to the next, or road tripping around a new country, these moments of togetherness have been truly priceless and have allowed us to grow our relationship in ways we never could have imagined.

Check out our 20 best tips for traveling as a couple!

What has been the most challenging part of traveling as a couple?

As much as our relationship has flourished during this journey, the reward of coupledom can also become the risk if you are insular and stay within your own bubble. One of the most invigorating parts of travel is obviously meeting and learning from both other travelers and especially locals, so we work hard to interact beyond ourselves. That could mean talking with the hawkers at a market to better understand local farming practices, engaging with a simple “hello” when passing someone on a hike, or turning to a fellow traveler on a bus or at a café to ask about their experience thus far. It is human nature to form tribes and stick together, so we challenge ourselves to go beyond our coupling every day.

A couple smiles at the top of a rocky mountain.
Valbona, Albania, August 2017: Trekking from Valbona Valley to Theth was one of those moments filled with deep conversation and inspiration.

Have you ever had a fight on the road/while traveling, and how did you handle it?

We would be lying if we said we didn’t have our occasional argument or disagreement, but in our relationship, we try to keep front and center that we are full of nothing but love for one another. We can typically identify one of three reasons (sometimes all three!) for any conflict: we’re exhausted from a long day of travel; hungry from missing a meal, which sometimes happens when you’re on the road; or faced with a travel stress or frustration, like trying to read a map while passionate Italians are riding your bumper or deciphering a foreign-language timetable as your bus pulls out of the station. It just takes one of us to realize what’s going on, step up to be the better man, and soften the tension by shouting a big ‘ol “Cheers!”. This might sound completely odd and out of place, but it was great advice we received from our friend, Michelle, before leaving New York. And it works. We usually laugh at the absurdity, recognize what’s happening and move on.  

Can you share your funniest, most humorous experience traveling together?

There are countless moments of hilarity on the road, especially when traveling in foreign lands. Our laughs mostly come from misunderstandings, usually on our part, when trying to interact with locals, like the time an old woman in Hong Kong gave us both severe bowl-shaped haircuts at her husband’s barbershop (we had no idea she didn’t know how to cut men’s hair!). But one of the most sidesplitting moments so far came while we were practicing yoga at a small beachfront hotel in Amed, Bali.

A couple poses in front of a fence.
Ubud, Bali, May 2017: Exploring the sacred temples of Bali together was both spiritual and emotional.

While the hotel was billed as a spiritual retreat (a full menu of local medicinal teas, a traditional Balinese healer on-site, and the endorsement of Ms. Bali herself, author Elizabeth Gilbert), we were a little surprised when the afternoon yoga class turned out to be taught by the owner’s wife, a woman full of both spirit and body. In her very limited English, she more visually than verbally instructed us, along with a pair of Dutch honeymooners, in various poses as we tried to balance on the uneven lawn of the hotel’s beachfront courtyard. We were already snickering over the many falls, awkward positions, and drill sergeant commands of “Breathe!” and “Go!”. But just as the class began to wind down, she introduced laughing yoga with loud, full-hearted belly laughs that totally enveloped us. At first, what were continued giggles turned into true, deep-seeded laughter from all of us, and before we knew it, the entire courtyard was a cacophony of real gut-busting laughs as we fell on our sides and rolled around on our mats, overcome with both amusement and loving spirit.    

Where have you been that you would recommend as the top destination for couples travel?

For couples who enjoy the great outdoors, we would highly recommend renting a campervan and driving around New Zealand for a couple of weeks. We started off our yearlong trip here, and after the hectic pace of the Big Apple, it was the best cure to be in nature together, taking in the jaw-dropping and fast-changing landscape, hiking the many green trails of the Southern Alps, and just slowing down and getting cozy with #vanlife. It was also a great bonding experience for us, driving around the South Island, talking about life, the hopes and expectations of this trip, and practicing a little “carpool karaoke” along the way!

View of feet looking out to a field.
Milford Sound, New Zealand, January 2017: Living in a campervan for three weeks will certainly force you to become closer!

How long have you two been together?

We have been together for nearly four and a half years. We met through the magic of the Internet, and although we are both from the South and both went to university in Tennessee, we would have never had the opportunity to meet if it weren’t for taking a risk and trusting in technology.

Do you think your relationship would be different if you didn’t travel?

Our relationship would absolutely be different if we didn’t travel; in fact, we probably wouldn’t be in one. Whether it was a short weekend getaway or an exotic vacation abroad, travel has allowed us to truly get to know each other. We first bonded over our passion for it, but travel actually showed us a deeper picture of ourselves. On the road, you get to see people at their best and at their worst, and it can make or break relationships along the way. Hopefully, the bonds and ties that travel brings, the special and memorable moments and times of reflection and conversation, allow for any relationship to grow and to strengthen.

Animals walk around a huge field with mountains in the background.
Durmitor National Park, Montenegro, August 2017: Road tripping through a new country is another excellent way to bond.

How do you define love?

Love is a Sunday morning. We believe love should feel warm and cozy, and while any relationship takes work, it should be easy. For us, love is a warm breakfast in bed, wrapped in blankets on a cold winter’s morning; love is resting your head on your partner’s lap while reading on a sunny day in the park; love is sipping coffee in your favorite cozy armchair while music plays on the radio kind of feeling.

What do you think is the glue that keeps relationships together?

As cliché as it sounds, we believe that communication is integral to all healthy relationships. Being clear with one another on feelings and expectations is important whether you’re making dinner at home or exploring a new city. It is vital to create safe moments in your relationship to check-in with one another beyond the mundane, “How was your day?”. Travel is often a great conduit for these types of conversation as you often have the complete and total attention of your partner without the everyday distractions.   

A couple laughs while eating in bed.
Radějov, Czech Republic, September 2017: Long-term travel is a marathon, so sometimes you deserve a day in bed to rest and recuperate!

What advice do you have for couples considering traveling together?

Communication plays a big role here, and just like in relationships generally, before setting out on any trip together, especially a long one, we would recommend that couples sit down and discuss their expectations and wishes and set boundaries from the get-go. We are all unique individuals, so understanding what your partner hopes to get out of the trip as well as any limits or specific requests that he or she might have for the journey is essential before you hop in the car or board the airplane. Travel naturally raises emotions and heightens senses, so it’s also important to also check-in along the way to ensure you both are getting what you need and deserve and are enjoying the experience. Long-term travel is a marathon, and like any long race, you have to ensure you’re listening and tweaking, as needed, along the way.

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