Traveling with your partner can mean excellent company, but also put your relationship to the test. Read on for advantages and pitfalls to avoid.
If traveling is a big part of your life, you will probably want to go on an adventure with your partner sooner or later.
Traveling as a couple not only means excellent company and someone to share the new experiences with, but it can also bring the two of you even closer together than before.
However, traveling together with your significant other can also put your relationship to the test if you are not prepared. Unlike with traveling alone or with friends, you probably won’t be able to simply go your own way if there are any disagreements on what to do or where to go!
As an avid traveler, I have many stories to share about traveling with a partner (as well as reasons why I often choose to travel solo). Traveling with your significant other has a whole different set of advantages and drawbacks from traveling alone.
Here are five things to consider before traveling with your partner, so you enjoy your travels and each other’s company.
1. Physical fitness
If you can hike many miles without getting tired, but your partner’s longest walking route is from home to the office and vice versa, going on a mountain hiking trip may be a serious challenge.
During your travels, you should compromise on the activities you both decide to do. If you prefer going on a whole day hike, but your partner wants to have a leisurely walk and a few beers in the town, that’s totally fine.
Separate interests are no obstacle in a healthy relationship. There is nothing wrong with taking a few hours apart from each other to enjoy different pursuits. If you would prefer to stay together, why not compromise with a walk somewhere in the middle?
Make sure your partner assesses their physical readiness, and don’t push them to do things they are not capable of. After years of traveling and building some (literal and metaphorical!) travel muscle, I’d sign up pretty much for anything (apart from rock climbing). However, this was not always the case.
I still have vivid memories of my first trip abroad, when not only I was unprepared to hike twelve miles a day up a mountain, but I didn’t even have the right clothes or shoes! When I was whining in pain from blistered feet and getting a rash from tight jeans, my travel buddy was ascending like a champ, ignoring all my pleas to slow down or turn back.
You don’t want to put a strain on your relationship and make your partner suffer, so you may want to start exercising together beforehand. Try going on long walks, breaking in those hiking boots, and assessing if you have a similar fitness level before booking your travels.
2. Pace of travels
Some people can happily spend a whole two-week holiday just lying on the beach sipping Pina Coladas, while others would much rather be exploring the town market, scaling a mountain, or going scuba diving.
I used to be an unstoppable traveler who would go on every tour, hike, and boat trip available before crashing out dead tired in the evening. However, during years of travels, I discovered that having slower days with a book and Margarita on the beach can be as enjoyable.
My current partner taught me to slow down my travel pace, and I started to really enjoy the balance! A day of relaxation, or even just a bit of a lie-in in the morning before setting off, can re-energize you and give you time to process the incredible things you have seen and done so far.
If you can’t put a break on your travel pace, it’s OK to leave your partner in the hammock with a book for a day while you are touring the islands and snorkeling. If your partner is the adrenaline junkie and you just want to chill out and catch some rays, allowing them to head out on their own for a while will keep you both happy and prevent resentment.
If he loves you deeply, he will respect when your wishes are different from his. Not to mention, you will both get some alone time (too much time around anyone can start to get grating!), and you can share your adventures with each other over dinner!
3. Sense of adventure
Prefer peaceful hikes in a rainforest, but your partner would rather be skydiving or white water rafting? Sometimes having a more adventurous partner can inspire you to push your own limits and expose you to new exciting experiences. I would have never done that scary one-kilometer zipline ride without a bit (actually, quite a lot) of encouragement from my partner!
Food is another area where being on the same page is essential. If you like trying new local cuisines, but your partner won’t eat anything but McDonald’s, this could become an issue. I wouldn’t blame someone who would refuse to eat deep-fried bugs in Thailand, but refusing to try any mouth-watering street food or local dishes that are worth the trip alone would be a crime in my eyes!
Once I went on a trip with a boyfriend who shared my taste in food back home. It didn’t even occur to me to ask him about his views on eating local food when traveling. When we came to Bali, and I started drooling over Chicken Satay and other delicious food from the market stalls, he was horror-struck and wouldn’t touch anything. He was terrified to catch some bug or bacteria when eating street food and refused to try anything that sounded unfamiliar to him.
While I tried to keep my spirits up and enjoy all the food on my own, he’d sip on his bottle of water while watching me eat, then munch on a packet of chips or a bowl of fried rice later. Needless to say, our relationship did not last long after we returned from the trip. A sense of adventure is one of the most important things for me when traveling and in daily life.
Getting lost in the tiny streets of Rome without a map nor GPS? Yes, please! Finding a little speakeasy way past midnight and popping in for a cocktail? Hell yeah! Going on a road trip with no plan or booked accommodation? Why not! While this may sound like an exciting adventure to you, those unplanned and unpredictable situations may throw some people out of balance and cause severe stress.
If you haven’t discussed it with your partner, I would strongly recommend modeling these situations in a conversation before the trip so you get a feel of where their limit of adventurousness is. If the two of you aren’t always on the same page, a little encouragement can help people have experiences they may not have considered. However, don’t be too pushy—you should always respect your partner’s concerns.
4. Level of comfort
I love a bit of luxury when I can afford it. However, it is not always the case that I can afford to stay in five-star hotels, so I adapt well to any environment I find myself in. Throughout my travels, I have slept in a reed-covered beach hut, a mountain cabin wearing all of my clothes, a tent in the middle of the forest, and even in a cornfield by the highway while hitchhiking in Europe (oh, those early days of traveling!).
A few years ago, I met a guy that I seriously liked: he was smart, adventurous, a foodie, and an avid traveler. We went on a couple of dates and spent hours talking about a million different topics. Before too long, he offered to go on a weekend trip to Paris with me. I almost squealed with joy, and I could already imagine us walking along those streets looking for the best macarons in the city!
We started making plans, and it all sounded terrific until the guy announced that he refuses to stay in less than five-star hotels. My level of excitement dropped instantly from 100 to 0. Back then, I wasn’t in a position to splurge, and he knew it. I told him that I’ll probably have to postpone the trip until I had enough money to afford it. A few days later, he sent me a selfie in front of Ladurée in Champs-Élysées, holding a raspberry macaron in his hand. You can probably guess that we never took a trip together.
While this is a slightly extreme example, you will find that different people have different levels of comfort with accommodation, food, and other aspects of traveling. Most people aren’t quite as picky as this guy was, but if you love sleeping in basic, dirt-cheap hostels or even in a tent in the middle of the woods, you may find that your partner needs a little more comfort! As with other disagreements, coming to a compromise and finding a middle ground that is both comfortable and affordable is usually the best bet.
Whether each of you is paying for your own travel expenses or you have shared funds, agreeing on the trip’s budget is one of the most important aspects of planning.
If you both pay your own individual expenses, it is still usually best to have a similar budget to each other. Having similar funds will help you to align your trip goals, accommodation, and entertainment options. It will also help you to have realistic expectations. Imagine if your partner had an idea of dining in Michelin restaurants during the trip, and all you could afford is fast food meals?
Not to mention, it wouldn’t be fun if one of you ran out of cash during the trip and had to rely on the other to buy them dinners or pay for the accommodation.
Ideally, you should know your partner well enough to have an idea of their preferences of accommodation, dining, entertainment and what their budget is likely to be.
If one partner makes more money than the other and has a larger budget, they should be aware and understanding of the fact that their significant other will not have as many funds. In this case, either agreeing on a more affordable budget or treating your less-wealthy partner to meals and accommodation as a gift without expectation of being paid back is the best way to go! While many couples can owe each other money without it leading to arguments or resentment, it is usually best to avoid this scenario if possible.
Shall you decide to opt for a shared budget, agreeing on it before the trip will help avoid arguing or blaming each other for excessive spending.
If you and your partner plan your travels well and have similar expectations, you may find traveling together an amazing and romantic experience!
To avoid the possible pitfalls, you should always make sure that you and your partner are on the same page about everything—from budget to location to activities. A successful joint traveling expedition is about two things: preparation before the trip and compromise during the trip. You can adapt and adjust to each other, but the most important thing is to have realistic expectations for the journey together. The more you discuss before the trip, the more enjoyable it will probably be.
A top tip if you feel daunted by planning a big adventure: go on shorter and less strenuous trips first to test the waters and see your travel compatibility! A weekend city or camping break, or a few days together in a different country is best experienced before diving into a month-long expedition across South-East Asia!
If your relationship is going well, but you realize you are not a perfect travel match, there is no need to get upset or break up! You can always travel solo to have much needed alone time or invite your best friend instead. Even the healthiest and most respectful relationship needs some distance at times.
Meet Emma Jones, Our Guest Author
Emma enjoys observing and exploring the world around her and writing about her discoveries. Human relationships is her favorite topic, and she likes to analyze them from a psychological perspective. She is a contributing author at Thought Catalog, GoDates, and several other media outlets.