HOW TO TRAVEL WITH YOUR SIGNIFICANT OTHER AND NOT KILL EACH OTHER
I’ve stood on a lot of cliffs with my boyfriend, Josh. Together, we’ve traveled to twenty-some countries and over thirty states. To be honest, I’m surprised he hasn’t thrown me off a mountain yet because let’s face it; I can be a lot to handle.
I get hangry often (FEED ME AND TELL ME I’M PRETTY), it’s not unusual for me to smell worse than a men’s locker room, and my sass can often exceed even my expectations *flips hair and middle finger simultaneously*.
Josh absolutely hates spending money, can hike 25 miles of mountainous terrain without breaking a sweat, and has somehow got me addicted to Pokemon Go.
Here’s a look back at some of our brightest moments together:
Fighting on a train platform in Slovakia because I wanted to buy a book, which cost as much as our daily budget. (I got the book, btw)
Ignoring each other for an entire day on a tropical island off the coast of Spain, which started because one of us got sand on the others shoe.
Getting into a fight in Chamonix, in the middle of a street, surrounded by people.
Also me being ridiculously overdramatic (shocker), when Josh tried making me climb a mountain the day after we hiked the Grand Canyon. I think my words were along the lines of “YOU CAN’T MAKE ME DO THIS” followed by an hour of heavy sighing and eye rolls, only to watch a beautiful sunset from the top that was totally worth it.
Getting into a disagreement over tickets to Morocco, which lead me to drink an over-sized glass of wine filled to the brim while taking an “I’m pissed off” bubble bath in Barcelona.
Josh getting constantly annoyed at asking me to brush my hair outside of the van, to which I never listened (only kinda sorry, babe).
Oh, the list goes on.
Globetrotting couples seem to be all the rage on social media. But you know what? It can absolutely suck. Traveling with a boyfriend/girlfriend takes patience and an understanding of space (neither of which I have a great concept of).
The first time we fought during the beginning of a three-month backpacking jaunt around Europe I was mortified and convinced it “wasn’t going to work” because it was day 4 of 90 and we were already falling apart.
The truth is, neither of us had any idea how to travel with a significant other. It was completely foreign concept to us. We had taken plenty of short one-week vacations in the past, but this was a whole new level.
If you’re traveling on a budget, the hardest aspect is being able to give each other space. Space in a long-term travel situation is a must. But if you’re like us, living in Europe on a $20/day budget with only one tent, it’s hard to stray off.
What we did:
Rarely left each other’s side. Spent an occasional day exploring a city solo only to meet back up at the end of the day.
What we would’ve done:
Planned into the budget to take one solo weekend somewhere every two weeks.
Second, you’re going to need to be patient. Which worked out well for me, because I’m one of the most impatient people you’ll ever meet. *le sigh*
Actually, neither of us is overly patient. But we’ve come a long way.
The other person is going to want to do things you don’t want to do and vice versa. The worst thing you can do is discourage your S/O from doing what they want. If you do, they will feel trapped. If one of you is miserable, you’re both going to be miserable. Suck up an hour to do something you’re only kind-of excited about, or risk being miserable and fighting for the rest of the night.
Patience goes right along with balance. You need to balance each other out. You’ll quickly learn which one is the optimist and which on is the pessimist. Learn the other's strengths and weaknesses. Support them during their weakness, and encourage them to grow their strengths.
Communicate. For the longest time I had an awful time voicing my opinion on things, which ultimately led me to piss myself off when I didn’t do something I wanted, which then led me to get pissed at Josh because he was supposed to magically know I wanted to do that, even though I never said it.
Girl reading this: “I’ve totally done this to my boyfriend!”
Guy reading this: “...wut.”
Know that travel isn’t going to be perfect. And know that neither you nor your s/o is perfect either.
Don’t try to force a perfect romantic, globetrotting, relationship to happen. Embrace the ugly. Don’t take either of yourselves too seriously. When you’re traveling long-term without a steady home (think, backpacking), you’re going to fight in public because you have nowhere else to fight. Your best chance of privacy will be a four-person hostel dorm or a room you rented off AirBnb. Prepare for it.
You’ll never not-fight traveling with your significant other. If you’re thinking “my boyfriend and I are rock solid! There’s no way we’d be like this”. All I have to say is:
LOLOLOLOOLOLOLOLOLOLOL. Go try it and get back to me in three months.
Josh and I still bicker about the stupidest things while traveling (insert story about a fight over Candy Crush here). It’s so much harder than keeping up with a relationship at home. I know a lot of couples who broke up after traveling together, simply because they couldn’t handle it.
- There is no “missing each other”, you’re together almost all the time
- You’re never comfortable and there is no routine
- One of you is always going to be more lenient with money
- You’re constantly going to be put under extremely stressful situations in unfamiliar environments
- You HAVE to learn to compromise
Most of our fights came after long days of travel or when it seemed nothing was going right. Like when we spent a whole day traveling, then walking 10+ miles with our 30-pound backpacks in A Coruna, Spain, and all my clothes smelled like a wet dogs behind. I really wanted to do laundry, but Josh thought it was a waste of money, and we ended up fighting so late in the day about who-knows-what that we didn’t have time to find a campsite and slept in a bush. (Insert ‘rock on’ hand symbol).
If you know Josh and I, sleeping in a bush won’t be that weird, if this is your first post of mine you’ve read, I know we sound probably a little crazy. But we are, and a bush is far from the weirdest place we’ve slept.
Whatever, I embrace it.
So what’s the moral of “how not to kill your S/O while traveling” story? Learn to put up with each other’s shit, prepare for it to happen, learn to listen to each other, and try not to let the little things bother you. It will happen and it’s not always going to be pretty. Maybe you can’t learn to travel together, then travel separately. Learn to travel solo and trust each other to do so. Figure out what works best for you.
Prepare for long and hard talks, tears of both joy and heartbreak, and learning more about your relationship than you have in the last year or decade you’ve been together.