My first few dates with my boyfriend, Tyler, consisted of backpacking exotic locales in South America over the course of three months. Four years later, travel remains an integral part of both who we are and is a cornerstone of our relationship.
We are both immensely curious about the world, so much so that I took a year off from work and we traveled the world together. This summer, we completed a year-long, 20-country trip around the world. Perhaps it was a testament to our bond, or perhaps we were really lucky, but we both survived the journey without killing one another! There were definitely moments that tried our patience and tested our relationship, but I am happy to report we made it.
Here’s my advice to successfully navigating a long-term trip with your partner:
- Decide how to split logistics before you leave. Travel planning needs to be a partnership. I didn’t realize how important this was until we were a few months into the trip. You don’t want one person in the relationship feeling like they are doing all of the heavy lifting with planning – that could lead to resentment. Decide who will be responsible for certain aspects of the trip. In our case, I had frequent flyer miles from work travel, and Tyler was a pro at a booking accommodation as a result of his years of living a nomadic lifestyle, so I felt comfortable taking charge of our flights and Tyler took charge of our housing. We each felt like we were contributing to our shared travel goals.
- Keep track of what you spend. We knew money could be a sticking point in our relationship. In the past, we had little fights because I thought I was spending more money on our trips while Tyler felt like he was. The great thing about numbers is they do not lie. Apparently we were both just bad at math! Before we left on our RTW trip, we downloaded the app Splitwise to keep track of our expenses. It simplified our finances, and arguments about money disappeared. If your trip spans multiple countries, also download a good currency converter app, like Oanda or XE.
- Find time to be alone. I don’t think I realized how much time we would be spending together on this trip. We went months spending 24 hours a day together – way more than any amount of time we’d previously spent together. In normal daily life, most people spend several hours away from their partner, either at work or pursuing extracurricular activities. As much as I love Tyler, I need time by myself, and this trip solidified how important personal time is to me. A few months into the trip, we were sick of each other, and we realized we needed to be proactive about carving out alone time if we were going to last a whole year. Once we prioritized our individual needs, we were both a lot happier.
- Eat and hydrate – early and often. In my experience, there is a direct correlation between low blood sugar levels and squabbles with my significant other. We’ve learned we are more prone to pick fights with each other when we are “hangry.” Bring snacks and water with you while on the road to avoid silly fights.
- Forgive quickly. I think when we imagine what a trip with our partner looks like, our expectations are high. We imagine adventure, beautiful landscapes, and the “greatest time of our lives” – these are all true, but unfortunately not everything goes according to plan. Things will go wrong. You will make mistakes. One of you will book a flight on the wrong day. One of you will lose your hotel key. The important thing to remember is you are both human. Learn how to forgive quickly.
Communication is a building block of many of these tips. Have a plan about logistics, expenses, and personal time beforehand, and don’t wait until the heat of the moment to decide how to approach hardship while traveling. Having open lines of communication will allow you to savor the truly unforgettable moments that come with traveling the world with your partner.