05 Jul Couple Travel
We get this question all the time.
“Wait a minute …you travel together, live together and work together? How do you not kill each other?”
Firstly, we get along really well. I guess that’s a given. But beyond having compatible personalities, there are conscious decisions that we make to maintain the integrity of our interactions and keep things easy and fun. This can be particularly important when challenges arise – like issues while on the road or being overworked and worn out at home.
Before I dive into our tips and why they work for us, I’m going to share a little about Sean and my relationship and, essentially, how we knew our personalities were compatible early on in our time together.
When I met Sean he was planning a 4 month trip to India. For me, this was an immediate point of interest, a clue that our travel goals were aligned. India isn’t the easiest place to travel (it’s not Paris or a wine country tour) and even less on a budget. He planned on woofing and living in an ashram for a time. Both the length of time and the location were indicative to me of someone who wanted to dig in and have an authentic travel experience, even if it proved difficult.
He didn’t end up going because, well, he met me and we decided to embark on a trip together instead. Our first trip, a little one, was a week in Michoacan – despite all the hype about violence in the region. We spent it camping, tooling around in the Rover, horseback riding, relaxing in hot springs and visiting ruins. My kind of guy!
It didn’t take long to plan our first “real” trip together – a month in Cuba, included getting out of Havana, staying only in Cubans’ homes (not one night in a hotel), eating in people’s kitchens and avoiding everything touristy (almost! We did – and loved – Bodeguita del Medio). We got typhoid and almost died on a Cuban train which didn’t permit foreigners (read about it in the Huffington post!). And we had SO. MUCH. FUN. At this point, I knew – not only that it was love – but that we were truly compatible.
So, without much adieu, here are our best tips for staying happy with your better half on the road, in the airport, at your desk or wherever you find yourself!
This seems obvious, but somehow it isn’t. When people know one another really well, the gloves tend to come off. They feel more comfortable snapping when irritated and saying things they may later regret. Respect is a key tenant of our relationship; we don’t raise our voices; we never call each other names. We’re careful to preserve the integrity of our words when we speak to one another and it makes a really big difference.
2. Play to each other’s Strengths
Not everyone is good at everything … obviously … so don’t expect them to be. Take on the parts you know you’re good at and encourage your partner in the tasks they excel at doing. By playing to both your and your love’s strengths, you can both feel good about your contribution to the team’s efforts. For example, Sean drives and I navigate.
3. Take turns
Sharing tasks and responsibilities is key to getting along. Nobody wants to feel like they have to do all the chores, all the heavy lifting, or all the dirty work. Being a good human 101: take turns when it comes to unpleasant tasks (ok, most kindergarteners could tell us that.) But it works the other way around, too! You shouldn’t get to do all of the fun stuff either. When one of us is particularly excited about a destination or activity, the other relinquishes control; opening up to the possibilities of whatever the other has in mind.
4. Take space
And allow for space. If something interests you and not your partner, great! Take the opportunity for alone time and enjoy hanging out with them that much more when you get back to the hotel/hostel/rover/house. My personal outlet is dance – it’s something that I love to do, but Sean doesn’t. We don’t really partner dance (um, unless we’re really loaded #truestory), but anywhere I travel I enjoy learning local dances and dig into classes, events or whatever is going on. Point being, it’s ok to be you and have your own independent activities that make you happy.
Travel, especially budget backpacking or overlanding, can be tough! It can try us in ways we aren’t accustomed to (which, for me, is the point) and sometimes you need someone there to remind you that it’s a process and that you’ll make it to the other side just fine. Whether it’s getting bad news or just waking up on the wrong side of the bed, recognizing when someone is having a tough go of it and making an effort to support them can be immensely helpful.