One of the (many) great things about travelling as a couple is that you can cut down on what you carry by sharing the load a little. But packing requires planning — and this is even more true if you’re packing for two instead of for one.
No matter how you travel or who you’re travelling with, it’s always a good idea to pack light. Get down to one bag each, carry-on size, and stick to it.
As well as saving you money and backache, this also means it will be possible for one person to carry all the luggage if necessary — though I don’t mean the stereotypical situation of the man carrying his wife’s bags (and of course they’re heavy because she’s packed too much). You should plan on always carrying your own bag. But occasionally, one person might need to carry both bags a short distance while the other goes to the bathroom, or one partner might have an injury that makes it hard to carry luggage.
If you have an injury or disability that makes bag-carrying difficult, talk with your partner before you travel to find a solution that works for you. Perhaps your partner would prefer to take one large backpack while you carry a light one, or perhaps wheelie suitcases are the answer — you might be able to pull yours along most of the time and your partner can carry it over rough terrain.
Before you travel, think about what items you could share so that you’re not both carrying the same stuff. You only need one first-aid kit, for example, and a lot of toiletries are generic enough to share — though you might have to make some changes and compromises in order to really cut down.
In our case, we have one toiletries kit for both of us, and most of the items are shared — excluding toothbrushes and deodorant, of course. Some are used more by one person that the other (Craig has some sort of weird eye foam, I have a tooth mousse), but we talked about what we needed out of the other items and chose a brand that suited us both. Shampoo, toothpaste, moisturiser, hair gel and shaving gel are all shared, and they all come in containers smaller than 100ml, as well!
Share the load but don’t share too much
How you choose to divide your stuff will vary from couple to couple, but we’ve found the easiest way is to only split shared items. Each partner should carry their own personal items, like clothes and personal entertainment, but things that you both use can be divided up. This could include a first-aid kit, toiletries kit, electronics equipment (especially chargers), or games or books that you don’t use too often.
It might help to pack together. Take all your stuff and divide it into three piles: one for each partner and one for shared items. Pack your personal stuff into your bag and look at the space that remains, considering the weight of the bags when you divide the shared items between you. In our case, Craig has a smaller bag than me, so he takes the heaviest items (electronics and games) while I pack the toiletries, first-aid kit and a few other things.
It makes life easier if you keep your bag organised and always put shared items in the same place so that your partner can find them if he or she is looking for them.
If you’re travelling as a couple, what do you share between you and how do you divide it up?
Planning a trip together?
After 7+ years of full-time travel, maybe we can help out a little.
We wrote the the Art of Couples' Travel to help other learn from our mistakes.
Art of Couples' Travel talks about the real nitty gritty of trip planning, safety, romance and relationships on the road.