How do you avoid fights on the road? How do you stay happy with each other, and ensure your trip is the best it can be? While there’s a million and one ways each relationship is different, these tips can improve your round-the-world trip, or you next vacation.
Why do couples go a bit crazy while travelling?
New places and new challenges give us the chance to show off our best for our partners, but travel also wears away at the rough patches too. Some of the most-common starting points for flare-ups are:
- Tiredness (physical) or weariness (emotional).
- Decision making in unusual situations, leading to poor choices and blame.
- Unmet expectations… The place or experience doesn’t match your dream.
- Actually spending time together! If you have both worked long work hours for a while, you might not have spent intensive amounts of time in each others company since dating.
These four points are the root cause of most disagreements; and sometimes they can be fixed as easily as having a rest and a snack, then starting the conversation again. Other times, you’ll need to do some more work.
Get your relationship ready for long-term travel
We’ve talked in detail about planning travel as a couple; and it’s as much about the relationship as it is about the itinerary! In this podcast we discuss:
- Why you should both be heavily involved in the planning process; and have fun with it.
- How to avoid crashing off an emotional high (and there will be lots of these!).
- What to do instead of attributing blame.
While you might not spend every waking moment together, you’ll be living in each others pockets for a fair bit while you travel. Long road trips without a set destination can help you to practice your communication and decision-making skills; and teach you a lot about each others travel styles.
And remember, although you’ll need money to travel with, you shouldn’t sacrifice yourself for future pleasure. Short term pain for long term gain works, but long term pain without an exit plan doesn’t.
Discovering and balancing your expectations
The biggest reason for displeasure on the road is unmet expectations: when you imagine a place is going to be just so, then you arrive and the fantasy is shattered. Your real experience doesn’t match the one you dreamed about. And this can be true of your partner as well. The way you expect him or her to react might make you angry. While you’re falling head over heels in love with a place, he’s making snarky remarks and getting ready to leave.
When you and your partner don’t share the joys of the road, this can be a hard time for you both. Some places will delight you much more than you expected; something everyone raves about might leave you cold; something you expected to be corny might change your life. Talk about it before, during, and after. It’s a great chance to learn more about each other.
It’s normal for you to have different opinions on where you want to go and what you want to do. This is where solo travellers really have an advantage! But remember, even if you were travelling solo, there still wouldn’t be enough time or money in the world to do everything you wanted.
Negotiation, therefore, plays a major part in all travel plans. Balancing your time, your money, the things you want to do, and the places you want to see.
Good negotiation can ensure that both of you see most of what you want, and neither of you get passive aggressive if you’re in a place you didn’t want to visit and something goes wrong! We cover win-win negotiation techniques quite extensively in the Art of Couples’ Travel.
Make time for yourself and for your relationship
If you’re couchsurfing and hostelling your way around the world, make sure to create some time and space for yourself: book into a private room in a hostel, or splurge on a resort sometime. It certainly helps the budget if you can plan to do this in cheaper spots too!
You not only need time for your relationship to grow, you also need to create private time for yourself as an individual too. Pursuing a hobby, getting wrapped up in a book, wandering alone, even finding a job: all these options can help you get some space and find balance in a world where you spend so much time dependent on each other.
Don’t expect failure
Why sabotage something before it starts? Whatever you do, don’t expect failure.
This article has touched on several ways a trip could go bad, but it’s also given concrete ways to avoid those issues. And while we know travel can really test any relationship, we’ve proven it’s also a chance for that relationship to flourish. With a bit of flexibility, resilience, and communication, you can make things work and have the time of your life.
Get more advice on travel as a couple in the Art of Couples’ Travel, currently on sale at https://indietravelpodcast.com/books/couples-travel/.