Whether you’re going for a couple weeks or even several months together, there are some basic elements that are critical to making travel with someone else successful. Ashlea Halpern is an editor at Traveler magazine who recently spent a year globetrotting with her boyfriend. Here are some of her best tips for making it work so you can come back from your journey with a stronger relationship than ever.
Get clear on what you’re good at and what you’re not good at — and play up each other’s strengths.
You might be awesome at small details, or you might be more of a big-picture kind of person. Either one is fine, of course — but be honest with yourself about where you excel and where your partner may be stronger. Use your gifts to help make the trip better, and let your travel partner do the same. If you hate navigating and you’re no good at it, then don’t insist on being the one to find the hotel at 11 p.m. in a city of ten million people. Find another way to get that done. It may sound a bit cheesy, but when tested, you can learn ways to rely more on the strengths of each other in order to excel together.
Go ahead and step out of your comfort zone, but be clear about boundaries.
Yes, traveling is all about expanding and learning, and it’s good to try all kinds of new things. But don’t be afraid to set limits. If you absolutely do not want to go skydiving, don’t do it — but if it’s someone else’s dream, offer to be there cheering her on. If you really want to try roasted beetles, go for it! But if your friend refuses, respect that and move on. There are plenty more adventures ahead to enjoy together. Plus, it’s a good idea to have a designated photographer around when you’re eating roasted beetles for the first time.
Find small certainties within the chaos.
So much of travel is uncertain — you’re in a new place, surrounded by things you might not recognize, trying to navigate through language and cultural barriers. If you’re traveling long-term, you know the agony and exhaustion of flight changes, overnight layovers, train schedules, taxi rules, late nights, and early mornings. Fatigue can make you vulnerable to illness, impatience, and arguments. Take an honest look at yourself and identify one or two needs to fulfill each day to keep yourself grounded. Is it a good breakfast? A great cup of coffee? A reasonable bedtime? An afternoon walk? Time with a good book? Then, to the best of your ability, try to honor those needs, even when everything is up in the air.
Compromise with your travel partner — if he’s an early riser and you’re a sleeper-inner, find a way to meet in the middle, or try to accommodate those natural tendencies. Maybe he gets up at six and reads the paper or works out while you snooze for an extra hour. These small concessions will pay huge dividends later on when the unexpected occurs and you need to work together to deal with the chaos of travel.
It’s okay to spend time apart.
Especially if you’re an introvert, you might need alone time to stay sane. Or you might just want to spend an afternoon exploring on your own, talking to new people, doing different things. It’s okay! It’s normal to get sick of spending weeks at time in close quarters with the same person, any person. A little knowing yourselves, and planning ahead for some cordial time apart might be the exact thing that helps you be at your best together and enjoy the adventure as much as possible. Try not to let it go too far before you get the courage to say you need a bit of time apart. There is nothing wrong with a day alone in the hotel room with a book, or the park with a coffee. Communicating your needs is important, and we may not realize in our normal daily life, but alone time is certainly a need for many.
When things get tough, stand together.
It’s normal to bicker about small things. Everyone does. But when there’s something major, remember that you are a team. Hold off on blame, engage empathy, and get to work — together. Often times when things get tough, time is of the essence. A missed bus means a scramble to figure out alternative transportation. The best way to tackle this is with two brains working together. Two brains working against each other (or fighting) isn’t going to make the situation better.
Don’t forget to be silly.
Laughter has saved many a relationship. It brings us back to what matters. It helps us take ourselves less seriously. It reminds us that it’s more important to be connected than it is to be right. Recognize when your travel partner is trying to lighten the mood, and don’t be afraid to let go and be goofy together. That time when everything was going wrong, and you stopped and realized how ridiculous it all was, and you laughed so hard that you both had tears rolling down your cheeks — that will stay with you forever. Go with it.
Ready to plan an adventure with your travel companion?
If you’re ready to embark on the fun, crazy adventure of traveling with a loved one, give us a call! We’d love to help you make it the best experience yet. You can reach us by clicking here. Bon voyage!