Today is mine and Andy’s three year anniversary! To celebrate, I’m going to share how we managed to travel together for over a year (16 months to be exact) without breaking up, breaking down or killing one another.
Spend time apart
You’re living in each others’ pockets day in, day out so it’s fine to choose to do separate things once in a while or even frequently. I quite enjoyed browsing through shops by myself or staying in bed to read while Andy went out drinking with new friends (wow I sound old). We had a good few days apart when he did his dive course in Crete. It gives you breathing space and new things to talk about when you get back together.
Do some activities for your significant other but have a limit
It’s no secret that hiking is not my favourite activity, but Andy loves it and the first 6 months of our trip involved camping and national parks so of course I hiked with him. But after hiking the Inca Trail I was done, really really really done. So were my knees. As a result I felt no guilt in sitting out of hiking into the Colca Canyon in Peru or saying no to hiking a cloudy volcano in Nicaragua. Having a break meant I really enjoyed the next hike in El Salvador. Sitting out on the hike in Greece meant I really enjoyed the one in Italy. There’s no point being a martyr and going along with everything someone else wants to do, it won’t be enjoyable for either party.
Don’t revel in being right
“I told you we should have gone left at the fork!” is a really unhelpful thing to say when you’re lost and stressed. Blaming each other for inevitable travel bumps in the road only builds resentment. Just focus on solving the problem together, not keeping a tally on who has made the most mistakes.
Be honest, not moody
Travelling can be really mentally and physically taxing. If you’re tired, grumpy or generally having a crappy time just say so! There’s no point in snapping “I’m fine!” and soldiering on when you’re not. There were many times when I said “sorry babe, I’m just feeling really sh*t and need to lie down for a while”.
If one of you is having a rough time ask “is there anything I can do?”
On the other side of the coin, if you can tell your significant other is feeling rough it’s really nice to ask if there is anything you can do for them. You shouldn’t be expected to read their mind or drop everything to cater to their every whim, but letting someone know you’re there to help is really comforting. Even if there is nothing you can do.
Agree on how you will spend money
If one of you has a shopping addiction and the other one has a strict $50 per day budget, it’s probably not going to work out well… Andy and I were frugal but not the kind of travellers who pinched pennies to the point of missing out on a local experience. We have similar views on enjoying food and were both happy to make our own dinners for a week before splurging on a big Brazilian BBQ feast. We also agreed that there’s no point going all the way to Caye Caulker and not renting a (somewhat overpriced) kayak to glide along the glass-like water. If you have the same views on money and how to spend it you’ll save a lot of headaches.
Don’t hold grudges
If you do have a fight, forgive each other and move on. Nothing turns a relationship toxic faster than holding grudges. If you enjoy reminding someone of all the times they did something wrong and making them feel bad about it you should really question your desire to be in that relationship.
Remember that travel is meant to be fun
At the end of the day, if you’re not having fun it’s probably time to part ways. Andy and I get told all the time that after surviving 16 months of travel together we can get through anything. But travelling is easier than real life. Your biggest decision is often something like ‘should we stay at this beach paradise another night or move onto the next beach paradise?’ not ‘should we re-finance our home loan?’. Being on the road having the time of your lives should be easier on a couple than being at home in the real world with jobs, homes, cars and stress. So enjoy it!