Traveling with your partner— aka 24/7 subjection, I mean exposure— can be lovely. You have someone to share the world with. Someone to face culture shock with. Someone to watch your bags. In my case, someone whose very male presence deflects the other men practicing machismo. But then again, the constant contact with your beloved gets old, rather quickly. Their endearing habits cause you newfound annoyance. They don’t carry the lion share of the planning. Or you just get plain sick of seeing them. It’s perfectly normal to wax and wane between love and hatred within a single day. Hell, give me 10 minutes. But as with all schizophrenic notions, a lot of the negative can be lessoned with proper restraint and medication (see #10). So BEHOLD! I giveth you the 10 commandments of traveling with your partner (*or friends), promoting relationship survival and overall sanity:
Thou shall experiment travel first
I would have never agreed to travel for this damn long with my own partner if it weren’t for a series of “successful” weekend trips in the early part of our relationship. But yes, no shit. Travel is a super important part of my life so I wouldn’t be with someone who didn’t share my passion. But the same sentiment goes for my lady friends. There are friends I will continue to travel through life with because we have proven worthy during our first escape. And then there are the friends who did not. Therefore, test this theory. One successful week preempts a two-week jaunt and so forth. Or not.
Remember the Google Doc, to keep it holy
I am a planner. Robbie is not. But he likes to stay in the loop so as not to be too surprised. Like when I announce that that thing I want to see today is slightly out of town. Five miles to be exact. Via a bike. After playing polo the day before (yay groin). So we made a Google Doc. Maybe it sounds anal to you but this is the result of many friend-cations over the years, where some of us needed more of a heads up. To help quell individual anxieties. It tracked who paid what, transport times, and logically mapped out what was missing, including “buffer days” (so easy to forget). These days, I continue to Doc as I learn to understand my partner’s personality and therefore want to accommodate it. Ms Mae Travels has a good article about utilizing all of Google’s features to plan accordingly.
Thou shall make a “deal breakers” list
Wherever you’re traveling your partner, you’re bound to have a few “deal breakers,” as in places or activities you base the very trip on. On this trip, it was Easter Island for me and Machu Picchu for Robbie (not that I minded his selection). We discussed these goals and more pre-trip and dutifully scheduled them into our Google Doc. We essentially planned around them, budget and all, knowing that their fulfillment would, well, fulfill us. We also planned “if time” locales, striking some as we went and adding others. Balancing each other’s needs, including our own personal bucket lists, was necessary in order to avoid future resentment. “What’s that? Said place is now underwater? Well, it WASN’T WHEN I WANTED TO GO THEREEEEEE!!”
Thou shall divide the shitty stuff up
Traveling with your partner involves a lot of planning that neither one of you probably cares to do. So play to your strengths and both take care of the dirty work, like calling the airline to beg for a flight change. Whether this means delegating responsibilities to each other or taking turns doing the worse bits, it’s gotta be done eventually. And with both of you taking an equal share of the responsibility, you’re both bound to make mistakes but can then work together to find a solution given what’s available.
Thou shall be thankful
This is simple but so damn effective and often overlooked. Just thank them. Even for the little things. Thank you for watching my bag while I died in the restroom. Thank you for cutting up the bloody rural chicken. Thank you for man shoving that drunk dude who groped me at the concert. Thank you for extroverting with our Couchsurfer about Trump.
Thou shall not couple off
If it’s your honeymoon, lovely. If it’s your first time vacationing together, lovely. But half the fun in traveling with your partner is meeting people from the culture you are visiting. Or those who are traveling to the same place, experiencing the same awesome frustrations. Investigate. Couchsurf with another couple. Hitchhike and meet amazing, weird strangers. At the very least, stay in a private room within a hostel so there’s a least the potential to meet people in a common room. You may even meet someone to hire as professional third wheel for the day. “Love your partner but don’t love him that much?…”
Honor thy book and podcast
If you are traveling with your partner for any length of time on a bus or a plane or even by foot, you should obviously come prepared with a few books and podcasts on hand. No shit. What I mean here is that turning to them means mental time away from your partner. But not just that. Fine-tuning your mind with the words of others means conversation fodder for later.
Thou shall spend time apart, lest risk slaying your love
Please, for insanity’s sake, get the f*&$ away from your partner. Even if it’s just in separate rooms as you both watch stupid YouTube videos. Or just to split nagging duties like laundry and the dishes. Or even to wait in line for five minutes while one of you stands outside. Still counts. You don’t need to be in your partner’s presence 24/7 and mentally tuning each other out can be bliss. I like Suitcase Stories advice for taking time apart.
I am the Tam thy lady
Traveling is not always pretty. With a limited wardrobe and many exhaustive traveling days, appearance comes second to comfort. That’s fine. But that doesn’t mean you should simply give up… like those couples who can poop with the door open. Leave some mystery in your relationship, despite the travel delays, sweaty hikes, and stomach virus (poop to your heart’s content then… just with the door closed). For me, wearing eyeliner and leaving my hair down is what I call effort these days. But it doesn’t go unnoticed. Be My Travel Muse has some doable tips, as does Gap Year.
Thou shall utilize the elixir
I endorse alcohol for many perfectly logical reasons. A). You’re on vacation. Yolo motherf*$#ers. Yes, health is important blah blah blah. Try— I freakin’ dare you— to commit to a diet whilst traveling for several months at a time. B). Sometimes there ain’t nothing to do. It’s then that a bottle of Pisco Sour looks awfully time consuming. C). Drinking has magical powers to ignite conversation when you’re traveling with your partner. Just when you think there aren’t anything left in your personal histories to divulge, a few glasses of vino suddenly reveals your partner’s secret ability to unicycle. MIND BLOWN.
City Base sums it all up, in this great infographic about traveling with your partner: