Big day for you and your partner! You’ve made a big choice; you are going to travel together around the world! Isn’t that wonderful? And so you joyously start planning everything, the budget, the itinerary, the visas, the backpacks… You can’t think of anything but of the day you’ll finally set sail to new horizons with your beloved chosen one. But at the bottom of your heart you are a bit… worried. You heard so many frightening stories about broken couples who fought to death (or worse!) after an ill-handled road-trip, about sad love stories which ended up with a broken heart the day Marlon left Jessica for a sexy blond German backpacker met on the beach, or about couples travelling together who just dropped hopelessly into silence and indifference the day they couldn’t find any more subjects of conversation… Doubt is slowly creeping in your head. What will happen to your couple? Will you be strong enough to face together the vagaries of travel? What should you expect before leaving?
Of course we, too, pondered endlessly on those intrusive questions, and this before and during our many travels! We’ve been together for 10 years now of which 5 have been devoted to discover our beautiful world. Today we’d like to talk about this amazing but sometimes very trying experience, for, to be totally honest, travelling as a couple is nothing more than a super-extreme challenge!
Travelling together: let’s change a bit
Travelling is not (totally) a synonym of being on holiday! Whatever your situation is (solo traveller, couple, or a group of friends) you will always have to face stressy and unpredictable moments, which will force you to improvise quickly to find the best solutions. It is the general opinion that travelling helps you to push forward the boundaries of your comfort zone. Or maybe it just redefines them… When you never happened to travel before, it is very hard to know how you will react to this brutal upheaval in your life. Then you can imagine that it is even harder to guess how will react your dear partner! It often happens that the trying situations you’ll have to face during your travel are an open source of new kind of fears and anxiety that will not show the most charming sides of your personality. Strong anguish, home sickness, discouragement, fear to run short of money, incapacity to take decisions… all this can transform you in no time from the lovely charming person you usually are to a rogue fractious bulldog ready to bite!! If, on the other side, you happen to be the relaxed traveller and your partner the depressed/anxious/hot-tempered one, then (good lord!) what a real (bloody) party-pooper! He/she is really spoiling the whole trip! If she/he continues like that, you are really going to abandon him/her straight away on a deserted island surrounded by hungry angry sharks!
Oh dear! Please stop here and quiet down before you start throwing things (like rotten veggies) to each other’s face! Please stress down and don’t panic!
It generally happens this way: travelling changes you. And it sometimes changes you so much that looking backward you can hardly recognize yourself the person you were before leaving. Your present self now has totally different opinions, new dreams and new expectations. This is of course very upsetting and unsettling couple-wise, since you and your partner can possibly evolve in different directions, which will progressively set you both apart from each other. And sometimes you simply don’t recognize or understand the person that you’ve come to love so much that you decided to travel long term with, as she/he changed radically and you can’t manage to appreciate this new changes in him/her.
To travel in harmony with your beloved companion is not something easy and requires a good deal of learning. If today we have this strength and complicity, it didn’t happen in a fortnight drinking beers on an Australian beach! No, it took us several years of shared life and an 11 months road trip in a small 4WD to learn the basics, and we are still improving our « travelling relationship » today (there is always something to improve anyway).
Indeed, the probable hardest thing when travelling as a couple, especially if you go on a road trip, is to stand being together 24/24. Even if you happen to meet other people on the road, the love-of-your-life will never be really far, and there is no way you can lock you up in a room listening to a super-loud Metallica to stop hearing him/her anymore while cursing him/her using every bird names you know. You’ll have to get through it, to take it on you. But, to be fair, after a time, and even if you’re the most devoted lover on earth, it really (really) gets on your nerves. All the little « faults » that you loved so much in your partner before you left now become utterly irritating! Worse! You can’t help to remark and emphasize every one of her/his big faults that you hate so much! And moreover, as you spend your whole time together you soon realize that you have nothing to discuss about anymore… Olala! We are on the wrong way now, aren’t we?
Let’s be clear: we won’t give you any « miracle recipe » to get your couple through all the mishaps of your travel. Why not, pray? Because. This doesn’t exist. Every couple is utterly different from another, every travel is utterly different from another, therefore it is impossible to generalize. You, and only you, are able together to find the solutions that will suit you best. So stop despairing!
Because like a good Padawan listening to his Jedi master, to master the best weapons to fight emotional crisis, you will learn! They are called tolerance, patience, concession, and the most important one: discussion! Careful here, we are talking about having a true conversation, sincere, honest, without lies (to your partner nor to yourself!) but, most of all, straightforward and fresh! Yep, fresh. This is important. Go straight to the hurting point as soon as it appears. Don’t linger three months with your problem trying to find the best opportunity to maybe start to think about perhaps finding time to try to talk about it together… STOP! Deal with it now or never! Better to have a good argument now than to break a jar of peanut butter on your comrade’s head the day you’ll reach your boiling point. First, that would be a horrible waste of peanut butter. And second, it is far much easier to talk now before a days-contained anger gets you out of your wits! And to bury the argument definitely, you end up in bed together… Well, why not? It is well known that love after an argument is the best ever. Plus it’s relaxing and damn good and it will no doubt get you close again. And here you go for a long new moment of happiness in your couple!
Travelling together: what about sex?
Well, now we’ve started on the subject… let’s dig a bit! Because you are a couple and so there will be sex (or so we hope for your own sake)! As you start planning your new adventure together, either you hardly think about it or you have an exotic vision of it, a bit idealistic and sometimes even coated with a strong erotic/romantic fantasy… You already see both of you running naked in the vast world looking deeply in each other’s starry eyes, having passionate sex on a deserted paradise beach at sunset or trying new foreign experiences to enhance your common sexual life! Well, my dear lovebirds, you are going to be a bit disappointed! Of course you can have all that is written above, and even more if that is what you really wish to do. But you will have also, and more often than not, the following experiences:
- It’s far too hot in this van/tent/bungalow! You can’t move a pinky (so never talk about the rest of your body) and you feel like you are literally going to drown in your own sweat. Your partner is a bit sticky himself and doesn’t smell very good under the armpits. No way you do it tonight!
- Damn! It’s probably minus 20° in this van/ten/bungalow! You are burrowed in your sleeping bag. You’d like to do something but… Well, you are burrowed in your sleeping bag. You are not going to get out. Ever.
- You didn’t get the opportunity to take a shower for three days… (Or more). It’s not really hygienic, is it?
- You’ve been staying for a week in a hostel dorm. You are clean, neither cold nor hot, and you are super-ok for it… But unless you manage to lock the door when everybody’s out… well this is not very intimate… Bugger!
- You have to recreate the most acrobatic positions of the Kamasutra to manage to fit both of your bodies in the small space of your van/tent. Or your place is so small that you can hardly move and are stuck with one or two positions max, which frustrates your creativity of sex god/goddess!
- You have been sunburnt, you have ridiculous bikini marks, spots on your face, hair looking like a dry mop, and you have not shaved for several weeks… It’s nothing to say that you are a lot less presentable than before leaving. It’s hard to seduce your partner with your ugly hiking clothes and your red peeling nose! On the other hand, the love of your life is not in a better shape… And after all, isn’t she/he supposed to love you the way you are?
- Otherwise, there is this tall tanned muscular handsome guy/ sexy blond pinup over there who is hitting at you since two days… Um… Oh er, I was jut wondering… What do you think about threesomes?
Travelling together: a bond forever
Let’s talk about another side you will enjoy when travelling together and which will for sure get you two as close as you will ever be. We told you earlier about when you’ll have to share smaller places to live… Like a van. Or a tent. Or a reeky hotel room lost in a dark alley of Jakarta. Or else. Travelling that way you will sooner or later become more intimate with your partner than you ever thought possible. Or than you ever wanted! Indeed, it won’t be as easy to go and hide anytime you feel like letting go a somewhat indiscreet smelly fart… You also won’t have the opportunity any more to innocently change clothes when you realize that you had produced inadequate big rings of sweat on your sexy blue top and you won’t be able either to quietly scratch at that ugly white spot growing on your chin. Soon you will find that you won’t have any more troubles to sit busily on the toilets in front of your love while discussing different matters of various interests. Be aware and ready. You won’t have any private life anymore! No more little secrets! All the seducer’s little tricks you used at the beginning of your relationship will fall one by one. Your natural glamour will totally take over, and you will probably share a good deal of laugher together on these situations!
As you have understood, travelling as a couple is not the easiest thing on earth. More than not we argue, groan, sulk, shout, blame, hiss, threaten, cry…etc. Still, nothing in the world will ever stop us to travel together. Because travelling together means also that when you find yourself in a difficult situation, you have someone to help you go through it. When you live a unique and wonderful experience, you have someone to share it with. You will learn to count on each other. You will learn to walk in the same direction without starting to suffocate. You will also be able to take some time for each other, to do things together that you always dreamed to do and never took time to, you will talk more of everything and nothing, you will create memories and stories and dreams that will strengthen your relationship in no other way. And you will develop something invaluable that will end to cement your couple: trust!
For us, travelling together has been a way of discovering more about each other, and each challenge we went through got us stronger at the end. We’ve learned (and are still learning!) to be more patient, more tolerant, more respectful of the other and ourselves, more relax… Most of all we learned to keep our sense of humour in any situations! And maybe a little to stop playing the drama queens… To summarize, we are communicating better and better. We (nearly) found our travelling and couple harmony. If we would advise you to go wandering around the world with your partner? A hundred times yes! You’ll definitely know if you are made for each other, and after such an experience, if you manage not to burn your wings in the sun, you’ll find that your couple will be ten times stronger than when you left. Finally, travelling together is nothing more than a direct short cut for love maturity! So. What are you waiting for?