Partnering up for the adventure of a lifetime? This article is for you!
Todd and I have been together for many years. In fact, it’s a whole 20 years this year. We were teenagers when we met and have spent the last 20 years growing together.
As a couple, we drifted through different phases over the years – chasing careers, building assets and seeking out a place to call home. We never stopped moving though, always getting itchy feet and never really settling in one place.
We took small trips in our home state and eventually spread our wings to travelling to other states in Australia, both by road and by plane, until we finally took our first overseas adventure. From this moment on, everything changed. The minute we arrived home we knew our lives would never be the same.
But for some reason, we fought the desires and buried the feelings deep inside. And, as you would expect, these desires and buried feelings eventually started to ooze out into the shadows… then they burst out into the open, a sea of flames and fury. Our path was so clear, and had been for some time, but we needed this push to face our fears head on and be brave. We needed the soul searching to realise our truth, reach our potential and jump feet first onto the path that we knew would bring us peace and contentment.
It was not long before we sold everything we owned and the world was our playground. Along the way, we have learnt so many valuable lessons about who we are as a couple and as individuals. Undertaking this adventurous life with the one you love is an incredible journey with many benefits. But today, we want to share five of our key learnings with you.
And the best bit? You don’t have to just believe us – we asked other travelling couples to tell us about their experiences too!
Top Reason #5 – Different Interests
Although you might have many mutual interests, there will come a time where one of you suggest an activity or attraction which does not appeal to the other. At first, this might seem like a downside to travelling with a partner – particularly if you are an independent person and used to doing things your way. But, once you start to delve deeper, it doesn’t take long to see how these differences can challenge you as a person, and as a partner. Stepping outside of your comfort zone and having a go at something new, or participating in an activity that you would have said ‘no thanks’ to, is a great way to enhance your travel experience.
Sure, you might go along and confirm your suspicions that the activity or attraction isn’t for you… but what if you don’t?
Claire says: “The best part of travelling with each other is being pulled along to a destination or activity that one of us was not particularly interested in, but when we get there, it’s amazing! Recently, I booked a random weekend at a resort in Pennsylvania and chose the activities: clay pigeon shooting and visiting Fallingwater, a Frank Lloyd Wright house. Both made my husband’s eyebrows raise, asking why did you want to do that? Both ended up being the highlights of that trip!” (Read more about Claire’s adventures on her blog Direct from the District)
Sarah also highlights the benefit of differing interests when travelling with a partner. “For me, the number one thing I’ve gained out of travelling with Lenny is that our different interests have made for more diverse, well-rounded trips every time. As a history nerd, my solo travel days were marked by exploration of ancient sites, cobblestoned historic towns and big cities, whereas he’s happiest out wildlife-spotting in the wilderness. Thanks to his influence, I’m now just as obsessed with the great outdoors as him. And I learnt that remote towns and villages can have fascinating history and culture all of their own.” (Read more about Sarah and Lenny’s travels at World Unlost and check out their Facebook or Instagram)
Top Reason #4 – Different Strengths and Weaknesses (aka Teamwork!)
Opposites attract? One of the joys of travelling with a partner is that you generally have different strengths and weaknesses which can complement each other. Working out which tasks you are both good at can really reduce individual stress levels and help to avoid tension in the relationship. It is important to divide up tasks and responsibilities so that each partner gets to use their strengths to full advantage. Whilst it may take you a few weeks of travel to get into the groove, once you have a routine sorted, the benefits really stand out.
After having travelled together many, many times, Todd and I are very familiar with our strengths and weaknesses and use this to our advantage. Todd is amazing at practical tasks and I am more comfortable dealing with the business of travel. So, before our 18-month-long motorcycle trip from Alaska to Argentina and across Australia we divided up responsibilities – Todd would take care of all the motorcycle maintenance and technical aspects of the blogging. I would take care of the border crossings (and associated paperwork) and learning Spanish. Obviously, we both support each other by being ‘assistants’, but knowing that you can pass the responsibility of tasks and decisions that are not your forte reduces individual stress, which obviously helps to maintain a harmonious team.
Sarah and Lenny (World Unlost) also like to divide up the responsibilities and draw on their teamwork abilities to get the most out of their travels.
Sarah: “Then there’s the skills gap factor. I think when your brain is wired slightly differently from your partner’s, it’s a huge help not only on the road but for life in general. For Lenny and I, it’s a bit of a classic ‘book smart vs street smart’ scenario; I’m better at handling the logistics and research side of things whereas he’s the driver, photographer and on-the-go problem solver. For example, I found out about an abandoned town in Italy near an agriturismo where we were staying, researched what I could about the history of the place and took screenshots of prior visitors’ tips and tricks for visiting so we were prepared. He’s the one who got us there and figured out how to jump the fence so we could explore for ourselves. Teamwork!”
Lenny: “Whether in our homeland of Australia or a country on the other side of the world – like Iceland – road trips are one of our favourite forms of travel. Because driving in a new place usually requires a little more concentration, it’s great having my partner there to look out for signs pointing out some interesting looking place, turn-off or lookout. When we drove Melbourne’s Great Ocean Road, we planned very few stops along the way besides the big name attractions (looking at you, Twelve Apostles) but ended up making over a dozen spontaneous stops each day purely thanks to signs. One of the places we chanced upon this way was The Grotto. It was a rock arch and small natural pool looking out onto the magnificent blue water of the Bass Strait, and ended up being our favourite stop.”
Top Reason #3 – Travelling with Your Partner Makes You a Better Partner
Obviously, the key to travelling with someone else is always going to be compromise. And in order to truly compromise, without either partner feeling their needs are not being met, the key is effective and thoughtful communication.
While you are travelling, far from home and your ordinary support network, there is really no one else to rely on. You’ve only got each other. You must work through issues and have ultimate faith in each other. Most importantly, you must trust yourself to uphold your end of the partnership and take your fair share of responsibility. This knowledge really inspires you to be the best partner you can be.
Being in each other’s space constantly also heightens your sensitivity to your partner’s emotions. It also helps you to get in tune with yours. Being able to identify when you need your own ‘headspace’ time is really important to long term travel and allows you to maintain independence and keep your relationship fresh. For tips on managing this, read our article on how to find your alone time.
Abby, who blogs at Abby Away, agrees that travelling with your partner teaches you the importance of communication and compromise. “When you are around someone twenty-four hours a day, you’re not always going to see eye to eye. We are individuals and have our own opinions and preferences, whether at home or on the road. A disagreement is just bound to happen at some point. And when you are traveling, you can’t retreat to another bedroom! You are stuck in the same room with one another and are forced to talk and work it out. An example is when one person may want to experience the local shopping, while the other would much rather spend the day in a museum. This is the perfect opportunity to learn how to compromise. Maybe split the day in half or agree to do a day of shopping or the museum on the next trip. In the end, this will lead to better communication skills and form a stronger relationship.” (Read more about Abby Away on Facebook and Instagram)
In becoming a better partner, we also get better at providing the kind of support our partners needs. Amanda, who blogs as the Health Nut Nomad, highlights the comfort that can be provided by a partner. “As much as I love solo traveling, traveling with your partner definitely has its perks. If my debit card has been blocked in a new country, he’s always there to spot me some extra cash. If the bus schedule is in a different language, he’s always there to help translate. Even on the days where the stress gets to me, he’s there to be a shoulder to cry on. Having your person, the one that knows you better than you know yourself, is one of the most comforting things in the world…which is especially important because traveling in itself pushes you to be uncomfortable often.” (Read more about Amanda on Facebook Twitter and Instagram)
Top Reason #2 – Builds Emotional Intimacy Through Shared Experiences
One of the great benefits of travelling with your partner is the emotional connection built through the shared experiences. From the experiences that make your heart sing and make you thankful for the universe and everything in it to the moments that are emotionally charged, stressful and maybe not your finest hour. All of these experiences build your emotional intimacy. We love recalling these moments and reminiscing about our travels, but the real benefit for us is the level of trust and unconditional acceptance that grew as a result of our long term travel.
So what do our fellow travel bloggers have to say about this benefit?
Amanda (Health Nut Nomad) ranks sharing a strong travel bond as one of her top three benefits for travelling with her partner. “The bond that travelers form with one another is one of the strongest I’ve ever felt – I love that Rafe and I can also share that bond. I swear that travelers’ brains are wired in a certain way: we have to be savvy, quick on our feet, and very adaptable. These kinds of attributes are also especially helpful to have in relationships.”
Lenny (World Unlost) writes heartwarmingly of his experience with his partner: “The biggest benefit of travelling with my partner is simply that she opened my eyes to the splendour of travel itself. Before she came into the picture, I would never have dreamt of travelling to some of the places I can now say I have. Our very first trip together was to Sri Lanka, a country I am ashamed to say that I never thought twice about before. I’ll never forget being immediately awestruck at our very first stop out of the capital city, Colombo, where we pulled up at the most colourful and detailed Hindu temple I had ever seen. The feeling of being thrust into a totally different culture was something I’d never experienced, and a feeling I began to love that day. Venturing beyond the norms and routines I take for granted – from eating authentic foods, observing traditional customs and seeing unique sights – has become my addiction. This is hands down the greatest gift I could have ever received and it has changed my life for the better.”
Of course, benefits don’t always have to be deep and meaningful! “My second favorite benefit of traveling with my partner is always having a dinner date. Two people ordering means twice the amount of food to try!” (Claire, Direct from the District). And who doesn’t love trying more food!
Top Reason #1- Enhances Your Relationship into the Future
The relationship skills you learn on the road, and the high level of emotional intimacy you build in your relationship, can be maintained when you return home. You can easily reignite the intimacy through reminiscing about the triumphs and tribulations of your adventure. These patterns set the tone for the future of your relationship, allowing you to continue to trust and support your partner and work together to overcome the difficult times and cherish the best of times. It becomes not only who you are as a partner, but who you are together as a partnership. It sets the foundation for your life.
“Traveling is how we are spending our life together. Our marriage is filled with mundane everyday stuff, of course, however, road trips through Europe and weekends in Mexico provide a regular dose of adventure and wonder,” explains Claire (Direct from the District) whilst Amanda (Health Nut Nomad) describes the foundation of her relationship as adventure: “Being able to travel together and push each other to do crazy things is one of my favorite things about our relationship. If it weren’t for him, I probably wouldn’t have bungee-jumped in South Africa. If it weren’t for me, he probably wouldn’t have picked up snowboarding in Azerbaijan.”
“Traveling with a partner brings two people together, for better or for worse. This kind of experience might be exactly what you need to reinforce that you’re perfect for each other. Before Trevor and I left for our big trip, we had only been dating for around a year. While we were a little hesitant to make a big trip commitment together, we figured that traveling together long term would really help us figure out if we were the right people for each other. While there were a few bumps along the way, we discovered that we really are a great team. We experienced all types of situations and handled them really well together. Our personalities balanced each other out and this made for 9 months of seamless travel. Additionally, we had a ton of fun and made so many memories together. Now going forward, we’re so much stronger in our relationship. We don’t feel there’s anything we can’t face together and we’re so excited for all of life’s adventures!” (Jennifer, The SoFull Traveler)
Maintaining a high level of connection and emotional intimacy obviously takes work, as everything to do with maintaining a partnership does. Travel will teach you how to find that emotional intimacy and show you how important is to maintain that connection, even during times of ‘everyday’ life. Reflecting on this, Abby Away sums up:
“Traveling can be an opportunity to spend that overdue quality time with your loved one. It allows you to take a break from the craziness of life and reconnect with your special someone. Let’s face it, the world is full of distractions, and sometimes couples forget how to actually talk to each other. We’re all guilty of being in the same room but so caught up in our Facebook newsfeed that we don’t bother conversing with each other. What’s great about traveling is it offers couples a way to remove these distractions and put the focus back on each other and the relationship. When my husband and I vacation, we purposely choose places that feel removed from the rest of the world. We also make it a point on trips to stow away our cell phones for the day. The resort we stayed at recently in Belize had no television in the room. When we left, I remember commenting on how we finally got to spend some “real” quality time with one another. We enjoyed the moments of simply being together as a couple without all the worldly distractions.”
The verdict is pretty clear here! Travelling alone is a wonderful experience, but travelling with your partner is a whole new experience indeed. Life is not always easy, relationships are not always chocolates and rainbows, but travelling with your partner will give you the sweetest gift of all. The gift of love, wonder, growth and compromise.
So go on. Get out there. Get adventuring. Together.
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Interested to learn more about managing your emotional wellbeing while on the road? Check out The Road to Mindfulness: Being in the Moment
Would you like to connect with me about this article? Email me at email@example.com