11 Ways to Travel Long Term with Your Significant Other
Will and I are going on eight months of traveling together. It’s been extraordinary! It’s been inspiring! It also hasn’t come without its challenges. I’d rather embark on this adventure with no one else. However, there’s no denying we spend a lot of time together. Like, a lot. So how do we do it? How do we keep the conversation from growing stale? Here’s a few tactics that have worked for us:
1) Divide and Conquer
Delegate tasks and play to our strengths. I typically look into housing and manage our airbnb account, while Will delves into flights and logistical routes. I pack snacks, Will navigates via Google Maps. We also maintain some of our habits from home: I cook, Will cleans. Lastly, we’ve mastered our packing list, so we’re not carrying receptive necessities. I pack the toiletries (shampoo, soap, etc) and Will packs our travel adapter. Since my pack is larger, we can finagle more inside. If it gets to be too heavy, we simply switch carrying bags. It should be noted: Will is tasked with the onerous responsibility of holding both of our passports.
2) Social Accommodations
We prefer to stay in airbnbs to have our own space and to create some rebalance of a routine. However, if we haven’t met new people in a while, we’ll stay in a hostel. When we do stay in a hostel, we stay in a quad as we did in Sydney, or a private room as we did in Bangkok. It’s a wonderful way to meet fellow travelers and also cut costs in bigger cities. But it’s key to be mindful about the type of hostel we book. There are undoubtedly some younger, party hostels and also some more reserved hostels geared towards couples. We aim for the quieter version with a kitchen and also some communal space.
3) Time Apart
I have no qualms about going out for a walk and listening to a podcast. Will prefers to go on solo runs to clear his head. I like lingering in markets. Will is fantastic about waiting while I analyze every single trinket, but if I’m looking for even more time, we’ll meet up later. Since I don’t have a sim card in Europe, we simply setup a meeting time and place. There are several activities that Will simply has no interest in so I’ve done alone, such as yoga classes and cooking classes. Then, when we reconvene, I feel like we have a million things to catch up on!
4) Remember the Highlights
Anytime we feel restless, or have down time, we remember all of the remarkable places we’ve seen. And we talk about it a lot. We rattle off lists: the most extreme hikes, our favorite meal, the people who have had the greatest impact. We’re constantly reflecting on this year with each other. Personally, it helps me keep things in perspective.
5) Something to Look Forward To
More often than not, we’re scheming about what’s next. What’s our next move, where are we staying? And once that’s settled, we chat about what our life in Chicago will look like. What neighborhood will we live in? What hobbies should we adopt? Where can we volunteer? Although we’re constantly practicing living in the moment, verbalizing upcoming plans helps ground us.
6) Support System
When I was visiting doctors the first half of the trip, Will sat in every waiting room with me. I never once felt like I was tackling anything alone. We’re a team, he constantly repeated. I really felt it.
7) Don’t Take it Personally
Minor disagreements are inevitable. Having been together for nearly ten years, we’ve come to terms with this long ago. However, when you’re traveling, the unpredictability of the day-to-day increases. There are simply far more variables on the road: long delays, unfamiliar ailments, language barriers. This is all to be expected. But it’s the personal, petty flare ups that are commonly fleeting. When traveling with a significant other, know there will always be highs and lows. Communication is key, talk it over and move on.
8) Celebrate the Little Things
In DC, going out to eat was a treat, typically reserved for special occasions. On the road, there are days when we go to a restaurant for every meal. On an average day, we tend to eat out at least once a day. This pattern was even more prevalent in Southeast Asia when it was literally less expensive to get noodles out than cook at home. But, the other day was Will’s birthday, and we made a point to celebrate it. He opened small gifts, we got a couple’s massage, went out to a nicer restaurant, and had birthday cake. It was a celebratory change up from our daily routine.
The perks of traveling in a duo, is that you can split a fair amount. In Europe, going out to eat can be more pricey. In addition to packing picnics, we’ve definitely become more accustomed to sharing meals in restaurants. It’s nice to order several dishes and eat family style. We’re also able to try more things! And it’s not just meals. Transportation in general can be easier to share, such as renting and riding on one motorbike. Or, rather than buying two train tickets, it’s easier to justify renting a car.
10) Prioritize and Compromise
Early on, Will and I listed places to visit that were priorities for each of us. He really wanted to visit Ankor Wat. I felt a strong pull to go to India. It was important talk it out, and explain why certain destinations held certain significance for us. Although we’re growing so much as a team, there’s still plenty we both want to get out of this year individually.
11) Understand Each Other’s Travel Styles
Fortunately, we have a lot in common in regard how we like to travel. We’re both totally okay with meandering aimlessly. We like walking and try to focus more on the journey than the end destination. That being said, we’re both Type A by nature and have a tough time sitting still. It’s gratifying to work on trying to slow down together. The go with the flow mentality doesn’t come easy for either of us, but I can say for certain, we’ve significantly improved this year!