Solo long-term travel can be a very lonely business. While some people may find this to be a preferable, it is generally more common on the backpacker trail to see groups of friends and couples. Traveling with someone with whom you are in a relationship can be an endlessly rewarding experience, but it also carries with it some potential pitfalls. Here are five tips for making the most out of your trip and your relationship:
1. Get some time apart
Living together, eating together, seeing sites together, taking the bus together…you may easily find yourself doing absolutely nothing without your partner. For a short trip, there’s generally nothing wrong with this. But after a certain point, you need to allow at least a little bit of distance. Constant contact with a person drives both people crazy, especially in situations that are at times stressful (like navigating the logistical, financial, and emotional pitfalls of extended time on the road). It’s also good to establish your own impressions and relationships with a place. In other words, every memory that you have of this trip afterwards should not be dominated by your partner’s presence in it.
2. Make collective decisions
Many partnerships are dominated on some level by a personality that is more assertive. While this person may not rule every aspect of the relationship, the extensive planning and logistical work inherent in long-term travel may all fall to them even if neither of you realize it. Make sure that you are making decisions together, so that both of you get to do what you want and no one feels overworked or under-appreciated.
3. Meet other people
It’s easy to get wrapped up in your comfort zone. This prevents many couples from expanding their social experience by meeting other travelers or locals. If you are traveling with a partner, it is important to make an extra effort to be social with other people. If a group of people is going from your hostel to get dinner, join them. If there are other foreigners on the local bus, talk with them. It’s especially easy to link up with other couples and find good travel partnerships in that way.
4. Keep a blog or email list
Between the two of you, there are likely a million people back home that are interested in what you’re up to. Coordinate together to send an email update to everyone at once, or better yet, keep a travel blog. Review the best hosting accounts available so you can host your own blog to track your journey. This will allow you to keep everyone at home abreast, but also act as a journal and place that you can put photos to words for your own future memory-keeping. It’s much easier to keep up a travel blog if you alternate posts rather than one person writing everything.
5. Communicate your feelings
This is relationship advice that applies under any circumstances, but it can be especially important when traveling because of the extra stress, proximity at all times, and distractions. Make sure that you are on the same page, and if you aren’t, make sure your partner knows. Be honest, even if it leads to conflict, and then focus on solving any disturbances.
Traveling with a romantic partner can be an immensely strengthening experience, but it has risks. Follow these tips, and hopefully you can avoid any potential pitfalls along your path.