When Nathan and I first met, we were traveling, both on separate journeys whose paths serendipitously crossed in Scotland’s capital city. Edinburgh, with its gloomily charming atmosphere and rich history made for a truly romantic experience. Though we didn’t officially begin dating until 6 months later, our first meeting will always be incredibly special.
Meeting someone like Nathan in Scotland drove home that oft-shared notion: “you’ll meet the right person when you’re doing what you love.” In other words, when you’re pursuing a passion, you are bound to meet someone else sharing that same passion, and often when you least expect it.
Once our lives joined up, we decided we’d follow that passion together, traveling as a couple and seeing the world. It certainly is amazing to be with someone who shares very similar dreams, goals, and values, and it makes every day an adventure.
Well, not every day….
In fact, blissful as this story makes it sound, traveling as a couple is not all romantic Parisian walks and icy cocktails on tropical beaches. Like anything else in life, we face our share of challenges as a couple when traveling together, though in the end, for us the blessings far outweigh those trying times. We decided we’d share some of our experiences with you now, so you can decide for yourself whether traveling as a couple will lead to romance, or to ruin.
Challenges of Traveling as a Couple
Nathan: think that being in such close proximity to each other at all times can be difficult. I tend to like having some time to myself, which is hard to come by sometimes when we are on the road. If a couple is not able to communicate effectively (and constantly), then taking a long trip together could definitely strain a relationship.
Another factor to consider is the compromises that will be needed. Even for a couple whose interests are similar, there will be times when their desires will clash. This includes everything from where to go and what to do to how to get there and how much money to spend. No one can get their way all the time, and there will be sacrifices involved for everyone.
Amy: Sometimes being in a vehicle together 24/7 can be frustrating (such as when we lived out of our Australian campervan) Nathan is the driver and I’m the navigator, and sometimes we fail to communicate, resulting in a few minutes of wrong turns and frustration. Why is driving sometimes so stressful? When this happens, we try to remain calm when silly stuff goes wrong. I know at times I try to point out every possible danger and anticipate any problem (“you’re too close to the edge!!!!”), but mostly I need to simply relax and trust my partner to handle everything (well, on his end, anyway!)
Another challenge of traveling as a couple is handling different levels of extraversion. I’m much more of an extravert, while Nathan is quieter and more introverted. We don’t disagree on going out or being social, rather, our differences show up in energy levels. I always have a lot to share, and am happy spending all my time communicating with Nathan. I could talk his ear off all day long, and I’m sure sometimes I do. He, however, treasures moments of quiet contemplation, and a respite from constant chatting. It’s a challenge to satisfy both our needs, but compromise makes it work. I’m happy to give Nathan time to himself, as well as occupy myself with my own musings for a spell. I know he needs this time to recharge, and these moments refresh him, helping to create a happier, more energized trip.
The Benefits of Traveling as a Couple
Amy: Traveling as a couple is as good as it gets, in my opinion. Sharing your life with this person naturally extends to sharing our love of seeing the world together. There are many benefits to traveling as a couple: Sharing special memories with just the two of you. Having someone with whom to witness experiences. Knowing your greatest supporter is right there with you, every step of the journey. Traveling with friends brings a lot of these benefits, but traveling as a couple is special. Romantic moments are made even more romantic in a foreign, exotic location. (I should note that UNromantic moments are possibly made even more UNromantic. Life in a campervan does not always present one at their best, let me just say)
But it’s great to know I’m seeing the world with the person who knows me best–someone who will push me to extend myself and try new things, and who knows exactly how to help when I’m feeling anxious or afraid.
*Check out these 5 ways travel improves relationships.
Travel has benefited our relationship by forcing us to confront issues that we might have avoided otherwise. Spending so much time together, especially when circumstances become stressful, brings to the surface issues of compatibility and personality. We have learned a lot about each other and about how our relationship works. It is also allowing us to grow together through the challenges we face and to build a foundation of shared experience on which to bond.
Advice on Making Couples Travel Easier
Amy & Nathan: It’s all the usual relationship stuff: Be honest and polite, and be patient with each other. Confront issues as they arise rather than putting them off. Take care of yourself and your own needs and desires rather than sublimating them for your partner’s sake. By the same token, don’t expect your partner to meet all of your needs and completely fulfill you. Work on being your own source of strength and assurance rather than expecting your partner to do it for you. We believe strongly in self-love and self care, and know that this is vital for a healthy relationship. It’s important to remember that even though we are a partnership, we are two independent people with separate needs, desires, personalities, and ways of viewing the world. We celebrate our differences and enjoy our independence, knowing that at the end of the day, we’re continually choosing to love one another, and choosing to be together. We keep our relationship as a huge priority in our lives.
For travel specifics, try to reach a general agreement on how to spend money, and keep your bank accounts separate. We share all major expenses (transportation, accommodation, food) but spend our own money on extras like coffees or souvenir items. Keep track of how the other is feeling throughout the day, and try not to overextend your energies if one partner isn’t feeling up to it. Make sure to take some time for yourself, especially if solitude recharges you. Even a quick walk can help revamp your energy and keep you both feeling more positive. Most of all, treasure each and every moment out there together in the world, and be forever grateful you’ve got an adventurous, beautiful soul to share it with.
Want some additional tips? Here’s more advice on couples travel survival.