Racing to catch flights, understanding new currencies, Bali belly and long days navigating cobblestone streets in a European city… Travel. Even at the best of times, is exhausting. It’s said there are two situations where you really get to know a person: living together and travelling.
For many couples (and friendships), it’s the beginning of a new journey – one of complete honesty, with quirks out in the open, and a deep knowing that this is, in fact, your person.
With some collective pre-planning, travelling with your significant other or close friend can transform your relationship… in a good way.
Travelling together can change your dynamic, in a positive way.
1. Understand that you’re going to see a new side to them
First, it’s important to remember that you’re both going to act differently, given the ever-changing scenery and situations. You’re not in Kansas, hanging out watching Netflix, deciding what to order on Uber Eats, anymore.
There might be language barriers, currency confusion, and general fears that emerge, as you both give in to a lack of control.
You might see more of an anxious, cautious side to your usual carefree, go-with-the-flow partner. Travel will access different parts of our personalities, and this changes depending on where you go.
You’ll be seeing an entirely new side to them when you travel.
2. Make sure you’re both involved in the planning
While one of you might be ‘the planner’, it’s important for you both to be involved in the lead-up to the trip. This can be fun, as you choose your destinations, map out an itinerary, browse accommodations and attractions.
Planning together also minimises any blame, if something isn’t quite what you expected.
You both need to put in the time to plan the trip.
3. Set your expectations clearly before the trip
Speaking of expectations, setting them too high can lead to disappointment. Sit down together and discuss what you both want your trip to be. This will shape your plan, the length of time you spend in each place, how you spend your days and help avoid conflict.
Some people love to see it all, not knowing if they’ll ever return. And others, prefer spontaneity and relaxing (or non-existent) itineraries. Open a Google Calendar and plan your trip this way, even if it’s as simple as blocking out the days you’re in different locations. Establish your travel goals and make a list of all the things you both want to see.
Recognise each other’s energy levels, share the load on decisions, and answer questions like, “is it okay if I go off alone if you don’t want to see this?”
Setting expectations will help you both enjoy the experience.
4. Talk about your daily routine and find a balance
How you spend your time and set budgets are the two common aspects of travel that can cause a divide. Talk about your routines, the time you’d like to start your day, and make room for a little compromising. Try not to sweat the small stuff, because you’ll be faced with big decisions on your adventure.
Harmony between the two of you is the best thing you can ‘pack.’
Deciding how you spend your days can cause a divide.
5. Agree on a daily spend
Agree on a daily spend, and keep personal purchases separate. Travelling to Paris? Chances are, the ladies will open purses a little more, in search of her French wardrobe. Whether you’re travelling with your partner or a friend, make paying for meals easy with a ‘kitty.’
You both put in, say $50, per day, to cover all shared expenses to avoid “how much did you spend last time” debates.
Agree in advance how much you want to spend on experiences.
6. Make a list for everything
Get everything on paper, so you can share the planning responsibilities and start the trip in good spirits. Play to your strengths. You might be great at the organisation (flights, travel insurance, visas etc.), while they have a special talent for finding unique things to do. They keep you calm, level-headed and then step up in a crisis.
Both roles are important. Know yours.
7. Intercept future frustrations
Do you already know that you struggle to sleep in youth hostels? Intercept future frustrations by booking an AirBnb or guesthouse instead.
Is your beau notoriously unorganised? Allow an extra week to pack your bags. Be honest with yourself and recognise these things, before they become a problem.
Pick your accommodation carefully to prevent any dramas.
8. Compromise to avoid conflict
And most importantly, compromise is the secret to successful trips. You might end up spending more money than you needed to. You could miss a flight because your partner got you lost. Their cute habits might start to annoy you after a while. That questionable, hole-in-the-wall restaurant that they picked out made you sick.
These highs (and lows) are all part of the way travel shapes us.
Accept that it might not always be easy to navigate with your partner.
9. Embrace the experience
If you relax, let go of resistance and embrace the trip (and the person you’re travelling with), then you’ll be in for one life-changing adventure.
10. Learn from your trip
Travel is a great revealer, not just about your relationship, but the person you are. You might learn you’re bad with directions or thrive in new situations. If you let it, travel is the most enlightening of teachers.
Accept the lessons and let it bring your relationship up to a whole new level of authenticity… as you begin your next journey together.
What are your best tips for travelling with someone?
About the writer...