I am writing this from a beach in Fiji with a rum in hand and Fleetwood Mac playing. However, as extra as that sounds, it took a ridiculous amount of literal blood, sweat and tears to get here. Quitting your job to travel the world sounds hopelessly romantic and spontaneous but very few share the reality behind those #blessed posts. Newsflash, travelling as a couple is tough.
The sixty-hour work weeks it took, the 9000 attempts for that “candid snap” and the endless threats of “that’s it I’m leaving you behind.” Although we live with our heads very much in the clouds, there are daily disasters that keep our feet firmly on the ground. Disasters we feel are not shared enough, in favour of the airbrushed Instagrams, cheese-fest Facebook updates and stomach churning couple travel quotes.
Even today for example, our flight was delayed nearly 5 hours, a cyclone has hit the island and so our entire itinerary of activities have been cancelled. Paradise, huh?
Whether you too feel ready to brave an adventure travelling as a couple or you simply want a peek behind the scenes, pour yourself a large pinot and read on…
These are the lessons we have learnt travelling as a couple and wish we’d been warned of prior to packing the bags.
SAT NAVS WRECK MARRIAGES
Firstly, we’re not married. Secondly, our Sat Nav probably plays part blame to that. For the simple reason our Sat Nav (known as Sandra) has witnessed some Jeremy Kyle worthy arguments. She has got us through – and caused – some tough times indeed.
From the tip top of the UK in Scotland, all the way to Alton Towers where Darren threatened to leave me with a lorry driver at every service stop. Through the traffic jams of LA where I cried every time Darren put the roof down through fear of frying alive. She got us to the mountain summits in Switzerland where we thought death was imminent on the single track roads. Wee Sandra has been there, when at times we wished each other wasn’t. It’s surprising road trips are our favourite way to travel considering a driver and co-pilot relationship is one of the hardest things to nail when you’re as easily distracted as me and as road rage prone as Darren.
Whether nipping to the local Co-op or navigating Greek Islands, arguing over directions is nothing new (pretty sure the Egyptians even argued for where to pop the Pyramids) and with our campervan tour of New Zealand mere days away it’s something we hope will get better. If not, Jezza we’re ready for you.
THE “I DON’T MIND, WHERE DO YOU WANT TO EAT” ARGUMENT
We can probably count on one hand the few phrases that properly anger us. So if like us, the response “I don’t mind where do you want to eat” invites as much rage as Trump’s latest tweets then here is one of our best couple travel tips…
Firstly, do not wait until you’re hungry to find somewhere to eat, try to plan where your next meal will be before the Hanger sets in. Do not use TripAdvisor for the best recommendations in a city. Simply because this results in, you’ve guessed it, A LOT of directions to find the best spots. There is nothing worse than finally getting there to find the restaurant is full or closed.
Been there, done that, read about that argument here.
Instead, use TripAdvisors “near me” tool. When travelling as a couple, it’s a bloody lifesaver. As soon as the first belly rumble strikes, hit the app and it will show you the best rated restaurants within walking distance of your current location. No train/plane/sat nav required. Hunger (and relationship) resolved in minutes.
KNOW THEIR WEAKNESS AND THEIR ANTIDOTE
I would imagine before you chuck a grand or two down for a trip, you haven’t just met on Tinder and you know your travel companion pretty well. Admittedly if there’s one thing travelling as a couple has taught us, it’s that we know each other better than we know ourselves. I know the face he does when he’s hungry, he knows not to say “you must be on your period” when I cry every time I have to make a decision.
Learning their weakness is one thing, but we’ve became heroes at “tantrum antidotes” also. Spot the hangry face early on – know to run for the nearest baked good. Tell her she looks better than Beyonce before she cries over yet another outfit change. Let him sulk when his football team loses. Agree to the five minute photo shoot as those photos could make her day.
Learn what makes them tick, before they hit hulk mode and travelling as a couple should be smooth sailing. Equally, a definite couple travel tip is learn the trick that makes them laugh/stop crying/apologise early on so you’ll save so much time huffing and puffing over what doesn’t matter and spend more time on the moments that do.
EMBARRASSMENT GOES OUT THE WINDOW
Just a wee snippet of Loz and Daz overheard on an almost daily basis…
“Can you please close the door when you pee? Or atleast put some clothes on”
“You legit smell like dung. Fix it.”
“Can you see my pants through my leggings when I walk like this?”
“How bad does that fart smell?”
Whether high fiving because you’ve not had diarrhea for over a week, being on nipple watch or threatening to get the next flight home because his fart was that bad, there is no such thing as awkward when travelling as a couple. If you couldn’t guess already, it is not all orgasms and coconuts. If you can get through travelling – living, breathing, eating with each other 24/7 then my friend, you have found a keeper.
At the end of the day, we’re human. Shit happens. Embarrassment doesn’t have to happen. So instead of suffering in silence, couple travel tip number 4 is sharing the embarrassment is embarrassment halved – pretty sure that’s the saying. Or at least take a photo of said embarrassment and save it for couple travel tip 5, below.
MAKE A DEAL – OTHERWISE KNOWN AS BRIBERY
Although this tactic is more likely used by mothers and toddlers over Peppa Pig and PJs, it’s a daily survival tip we recommend to all backpacking BFFs. In New York I made the deal with Darren we’d go art gallery, pub, art gallery, pub. It worked – the drunker he got the more art he liked. His deals usually involve me helping him do the life admin (boring budget stuff) if I want him to play Instagram husband and take candid snaps of me.
I suppose the grown ups call it compromise, as offering a deal shows how you can both win from the situation. Although I’ll never convert Darren to be an art lover and equally he knows I can’t stand burger joints or budgets – make a deal and you’ll both get the most out of your trip.
IT’S NOT THE END OF THE WORLD
It’s a fact of life that luggage get’s lost, hostels can be s**t holes and trains get cancelled. However, chances are you’ve spent months saving for this trip or worse, if it’s a weekend away it’ll be over before you know it, so don’t waste time sulking or screaming at each other. When s**t hits the fan (which it inevitably will when travelling as a couple) use our simple motto.
“You could be at work right now.”
When we rocked up in a crack den worthy hostel in Riga, those 7 words instantly made us laugh. It is probably the couple travel tip we use most often, as no matter the situation, just remember the endless list of worse scenarios you could actually be in. At that very moment you may want to punch him or Sellotape her mouth shut or indeed download Tinder and find a new one, but there’s a reason you’re on this adventure together. No truer words can be said as we are “stranded” in our wee beach hut due to this cyclone. We could be stranded in Fife. Or worse, without rum.
It took Darren and I six years of long distance to finally spend more than a week in the same place together, so if there’s one thing we’ve learned about this travelling as a couple malarkey it’s not where you go that matters, it’s who you are with.
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