Planning your first couple travel trip together can be awfully exhilarating! The thought of you and your loved one zipping off on an aeroplane, sipping cocktails or coconuts on the beach of Bali, or eating pizza while gazing out at the Trevi Fountain in Italy or going away to teach abroad – together, creating fairytale moments that you will cherish forever.
However, what you may not know is that travel doesn’t always come easy. It can be very stressful and many people will tell you that the true test of a relationship is to travel.
Byron and I have been blessed with an amazing relationship where we can talk to each other (and we actually do) and even though we have been in some seriously trying situations, we have never fought. Not once.
During our travels we have witnessed some serious relationship ‘fire’! Tantrums, breakups and even divorces! At some points, we were convinced we were going to go through the ULTIMATE TEST too, but we never did… Or we did and didn’t even know it!
The point of this is not to scare you and make you cancel your trip, it’s to offer up some advice for when the **** hits the fan!
It All Begins With The Do’s
DO: Spend Time Apart
I know what you must be thinking, “We came together, If I wanted time to myself I would have come alone.”
Trust us, sometimes all you need is a little me time! Spending 24 hours a day with one person can become a lot, especially when it’s 24 hours a day for, say, a month.
Now, we don’t mean leave your partner behind while going to see the Taj Mahal. We mean pop down for a morning coffee by yourself or go for a sunset run on the beach. ‘Me time’ can be gorgeous!
DO: Have A Budget And Stick To It
Having a budget is super important because most of the time money ends up being the most stressful part of a trip and this can even begin before you leave!
Why do we say this? Well, for example, you might want to stay at a fancy resort but your partner was really eyeballing the cheaper Airbnb down the road. If this never becomes a topic of discussion from the get-go, you might find these same issues arise while you are busy travelling, ordering food, booking tours, etc.
If you discuss beforehand that you have R500 a day and you both stick to that, you will eliminate a few awkward moments of shared tension. It also means that you could turn it into something positive. If you only end up spending R300 a day, you can save the R200 for a new experience.
Byron and I joined our accounts well before starting our couple travels, which really made things a lot easier – it’s not yours or mine, it’s ours.
DO: Agree On A Plan Beforehand, While Still Leaving Room For Change
Plan your trip ahead of time! Both parties will know what to expect and it will save you a lot of time trying to figure out what to do when you get there.
This way you also have better control over how you schedule things that you enjoy. For instance, Byron hates to do nothing, but I love to lay by the beach or poolside and do absolutely nothing! If I let him know ahead of time, I’m expecting a pool day, he won’t be so uncomfortable about it when the time comes and Vice Versa.
When we were on an island in Thailand, this worked out very well for us! Byron wanted to go exploring, I wanted to relax beachside and we both knew it. So we had the entire day to each do what we really wanted and it gave us some alone time, too!
Then again, leave some leeway for those spontaneous moments. The two dollar cocktail you were scheduled to have at 17h00 can wait, go explore that rocky shoreline at sunset.
DO: Have A Sense Of Humour
A super important one is that you need to learn to laugh! Travel is spontaneous and even the best-made plans can fall apart.
Heck, we travelled to Manila and when trying to catch our flight back home, we hit a series of unexpected challenges! We almost missed our flight and had no money to pay for a new one. I mean we were stressed but it was so stressful it just became laughable and is now one of our favourite memories!
If you want those juicy details ➭ We Almost Got Stuck In Manila!
This is also extremely important! One of the best pieces of advice we ever received for couple travel was to compromise, delegate and share the workload.
Byron doesn’t like to make the bed, so I will.
I, however, don’t like to iron, but Byron will.
I hate doing the dishes, but so does Byron, so we save up and buy a dishwasher.
This can also be applied to how we travel.
I am fantastic at organisation and planning, so I do just that.
However, any form of transportation stresses me out completely, so Byron handles that.
We both have our roles and we stick to them. We work together to highlight each other’s strong points and are there for each other when the other is weak. It is also important to trust your partner, if they say they’ll do it, show them the trust and rely on them.
Let’s Hear Those Couple Travel Don’ts
DON’T: Forget To Compromise
Compromise is a big player in any relationship! If you don’t do it for the other, why should they do it for you?
He may really want to go and see the Springbok’s Rugby Team play in Japan and you might not be too keen on it. Go for him, and throw in some extra sprinkles for you… Just remember, he probably didn’t want to watch The Notebook…
DON’T: Make The Holiday Too Much About The Place And Forget About The Person
This can become a common problem, especially if you are like us and want to film everything! We tend to run around from attraction to attraction, beat the time, beat the traffic, take the best picture, beat up the camera when it goes out of focus and so on.
What is the point of couple travel? You need to be enjoying the attractions and sights with your significant other, otherwise, what is the point? We could have seen the Taj Mahal from our computer screens…
Put your camera and phones away for a while, walk back through the place, breath it in, share a glance and a kiss and THEN beat the traffic!
DON’T: Be Afraid To Try New Things
There is nothing more annoying than visiting a country with someone and then not straying from the bounds of your familiar customs and routines. You’re in a new country, try something new!
You don’t have to go sky diving or eat a scorpion but for goodness sake, don’t order a McDonalds burger in Thailand, visit a local market!
Try something new, overcome a fear, get to know yourself better; it might just spark laughter and excitement in your relationship! If you are both scared, do it together, what a great way to bond!
DON’T: Place The Blame On Each Other
Remember that travelling can be tough, especially when there is a little something called culture shock! Now, you will experience this if you decide to live abroad or travel for a long time. We didn’t even realise we were going through it at first. You might feel a little lost or uncomfortable and things might not all work out the way you planned.
Whatever you do, don’t play the blame game! Blaming each other will not help your case, and you are putting so much extra stress on the other person, who is probably feeling it as much as you are.
DON’T: Base Your Vacation On Something You See On Instagram
This is an important one and something our generation is currently struggling with.
Sure, Byron and I, as well as many other travel bloggers, have a good relationship, we get to travel, but our lives are not perfect. Nobody’s is. But who is going to upload the bad, sad moments of life?
Our ultimate aim is to inspire you to travel and experience life, helping you out along the way with some useful tips, but we cannot travel for you! It’s up to you to create those experiences and moments that you will cherish forever. Also, people are different, what we find fascinating, you might not…
Remember when your grandparents used to talk about the ‘back in their day moments’. ‘I backpacked across Europe’ and so on moments. You heard their stories and decided to do the same. You weren’t really sure what they got up to, but you did your own thing and had fun.
Well, Instagram is the same, we are sharing our stories, so go out and create yours!
It was really sad to see hordes of people lining up at Diamond Beach to just have their turn to take the famous image on the steps… and then leave! Byron and I first explored the entire area, we played around, we walked on the beach, we had a local lunch and THEN we took a few images, the way we wanted.
We believe couple travel is about couple travel and not just trying to look like you’re travelling!
Do you have a couple’s DO or DON’T to share? Where did you learn some valuable lessons? Share with us below!