How To Travel With Your Partner

The majority of my travels around the world have been solo pursuits.

It’s been one of the greatest privileges of my life to have had those experiences, to have given myself such special gifts of independence and adventure, and it is something that I’ll never stop craving.

However, as some of you know, I have been the recipient of another incredible gift this past year: my relationship with a very special human called Dan.

Quite simply, Dan’s The Man. He’s the bombdiggity. He’s the apple to my pie, the Bonnie to my Clyde, the passport to my plane ticket.

He’s my partner in crime, love and adventure.

So you can imagine that when I combined my two greatest loves – Travel and Dan – by embarking on our first overseas adventure together, I was filled with both excitement and trepidation. I was worried that my greatest fear was about to rear its ugly head and become a reality:

What if we suck at travelling together?

I couldn’t even imagine the ramifications of such a horrible thing.

Don’t get me wrong, I love Dan with all my heart; however, my love for travel runs deeper than any other. The thought of my two great loves not getting along - irrevocably incompatible - with me in the middle, hopelessly torn between the two? Well, that scared the living shit outta me, because honestly, that would be THE ultimate deal breaker.

I needn’t have worried though; as it turned out, Dan and I are the perfectly matched travelling couple. Although we have our vast differences (which became even more apparent when away from our little nest in Australia), it is our similarities and sameness that makes us great travel buddies. Our innate ability to share, compromise and look out for each other always won out over our individual (and sometimes selfish) desires. And even though we didn’t get to do everything we wanted to do on this trip, we sure as hell didn’t stop each other from doing anything either.

Here are my top tips on how to travel with your partner, based on what I’ve learnt from my personal experience:

1. Get clear and plan together

If you and your partner do the groundwork together, then you can prepare yourselves for some of the possible obstacles that may lie ahead. Getting clear on what type of travel experience you each want to have is key.

If one of you is frothing over a wild non-stop rollercoaster adventure of extreme sports, and the other is just planning to lay poolside with cocktails and massages by a masseuse named Pablo, then shit just ain’t going to work out for you.

Lay your cards on the table before you leave to avoid major disappointments when you’re flying at 39,000 feet above a new continent.

2. Compromise isn't negotiable

When it comes to compromising in normal life, I’m damn awesome. Hell, I'm the freakin' mayor of Compromise Town.

But when it comes to compromising when travelling? Well, I’ll admit it, I’m absolute shithouse.

When I travel, I become selfish [and almost a little arrogant], because I want to make it all about me. It’s my experience, my life, my adventure. And when I travelled solo, this was not a problem.

But travelling with a partner? Well, that’s a whole different ballgame…

However, as I discovered, compromising isn’t as bad as it seems, and if you are travelling with the right person, it is can actually be the best thing for you. It allows you to have a different adventure from the one you’d planned. If I didn’t compromise with Dan, I would have missed out on some pretty damn amazing experiences on our trip [and vice versa for him].

It’s also about respecting your partner and understanding that this is their adventure, their experience, their life too. And if a little compromise makes both of your lives a lot happier, then it’s worth it.

Remember buddy, it ain’t all just about you.

3. Be adventurous

Jump off cliffs into crystal-clear lagoons; hike to the top of mountains; hold hands while you dive down to the deepest wrecks; dare each other to eat strange and exotic foods.

The possibilities are endless.

Get outside of your comfort zone. Try new things together. It will make the journey that much sweeter.

4. Have each other’s backs

Travel is fraught with hidden dangers. Keep an eye on each other and always have a backup system in place.

Know each other’s vital info before you leave: Full name on their passport, date of birth, contact details when abroad, blood type, any allergies, etc. This is important to know in case of an emergency or if you get separated.

If you do embark on a mini solo adventure on the side, make sure you tell your partner where you’re going and for how long. It’s not being co-dependent or clingy, it’s just being sensible.

And if you are sticking together, have each other’s back. Don’t let your partner wander into any unnecessary dramas or disputes.

If you do find yourselves having a lover’s quarrel/massive blowup and you need to go commando for a bit, just do it in a safe and responsible manner – no stomping off in a huff into the jungle, okay?

There’s a difference between a time out and going AWOL, ya’ hear?

5. Give the gift of space

Which brings me to my next point. Within the art of travelling with a partner lays the understanding that you both need some time apart. Therefore, one of the greatest skills you can ever cultivate as a traveller is the ability to know when to give your buddy their space, and to politely ask for yours.

As much as we love being with our chosen person, we wanderers also love and crave some time alone to appreciate our journey. Unless you’re conjoined twins, you should be able and willing to give your travel buddy some time to themselves, just as you would like some for yourself.

Plan a nice breakfast together in the morning, then spend your day apart exploring on your own, getting that vital fix of independence and autonomy, then meet back up mid-afternoon to share your stories and enjoy the evening together. It’s that easy.

Of all the gifts you may buy for your partner, this one will cost you the least but will mean the most.

6. Remember why you are on this journey together

No matter how much they may piss you off, no matter how much you may disagree with each other over where to eat, no matter how much money they spend [or don’t], just remember why you love your partner in the first place.

When we dare to venture outside of our home and comfort zone, we sometimes see another side of ourselves, and each other. This is not permanent, nor it is not a fatal flaw in your love; it is simply an honest and raw reaction to a different stimulus.

So remember why you chose this person to be by your side, why you want to spend your precious time and energy with them, and why you love them so damn deeply. Every. Freakin’. Day.

Because even after the holiday glow has dissipated, the tan has faded, and the passports have been carefully tucked away, they will still be there, ready to plan the next adventure with you.

All images: Shanny Matterson
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