So you want to travel the world and you’ve decided that the best person to see it with is your spouse, your BFF, a co-worker, or your mum. When my husband and I had been married for just one year, we went on a six-month trip to Canada, and I can tell you from experience that when you’re with somebody 24 hours a day in a foreign place, even the best relationships are tested. I know of more than a few couples who were ready to kill each other after just a week.
And so, here is how to travel in twos – and still actually like the person once the trip is over.
Budget before you leave
Money can be an issue between two people even when they’re not travelling, so if you add the stress of being in a foreign country, it can be a recipe for disaster. Before you leave, decide how much you plan to spend on accommodation, on meals, on sightseeing and on any extras so that it doesn’t become an issue when you’re on the road. I’ve witnessed enough arguments over prices in souvenir shops to know that it’s also a good idea to allocate individual spending money for each of you to buy the things you want for yourself…
Define your roles
This is particularly important if you’re two control freaks travelling together. Decide who is going to do what. While you both may want to plan the itinerary together, there are some things that are better left to the more experienced of the pair. If you’re in a country where they speak a different language, and your partner is better at conversing with the locals, leave the talking to them. If you’re a seasoned traveller who breezes through even the most intimidating airport, take the lead. If your travel buddy is great at haggling, let them negotiate prices. When the trip is over you’ll find you have a new appreciation for your partner’s strengths.
Take some time out from each other
If you’re going to be with somebody for an extended period, it can actually be quite helpful to take some time out for yourself. Not everybody’s interests are the same, so if there is something you want to see that doesn’t interest your partner, it’s the perfect opportunity to enjoy some alone time – you’ll be able to catch up over dinner. While we were in Edmonton the Queen was visiting. I wasn’t going to let the fact that my husband had no interest in the monarchy rain on my parade. I went to the Royal Alberta Museum on my own and had a great morning. Not only was I happy but I also returned to a husband who was very pleased that he hadn’t been put through the torture of standing in a crowd for hours, waiting to catch a 30-second glimpse of Her Majesty.
Don’t take things too seriously
Anybody who has done a fair amount of travelling will tell you that things never run perfectly smoothly when you’re on holiday. Flights are delayed, luggage is lost, hotel rooms look nothing like they did online…there are some situations where there is not a whole lot you can do except laugh. If you don’t learn to laugh it off, well – you’ll just end up pretty miserable!
Be flexible and willing to compromise
I’m a bit of a control freak so this one is hard for me. What do you do when you’re a control freak and you have a laid-back travel buddy who just likes to wing it? While we were in Canada my husband didn’t like to plan too far ahead. What worked well for us was we’d plan our day loosely so that we had an idea of what we would do and see, but with enough flexibility to be spontaneous.
There are going to be things that your partner wants to see that you don’t and vice versa. Like every relationship, travelling together requires compromise. If you’re having a hard time agreeing on where to eat, take turns choosing the restaurants. If you can’t decide between two attractions, let your partner choose and agree to have you make the choice the next time you can’t decide. If there is give and take by both travel companions, you can enjoy yourselves even if your interests are completely different.
So there’s my take on the topic. What advice do you have to avoid killing each other when you’re travelling in twos? Better still, why not share your funny travel stories with us? There are, inevitably, always incidents when travelling in twos doesn’t quite go to plan…