Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Traveling as a Couple

Happy Valentine's Day!  In recognition of the holiday, I thought it was timely and appropriate to highlight an important aspect of my upcoming Around the World Adventure with my hubby:  Traveling as a Couple.

Just yesterday I stumbled upon this great article on, one of my favorite sites!  The article, How Traveling as a Couple Can Enrich Your Trip (& Your Relationship) addresses a belief held by some that traveling with someone else is a cop out, or makes your experience less authentic.  It goes on to challenge that perception and argue how traveling as a couple can make your experience even broader and MORE authentic.

I don't have a problem traveling alone, as a matter of fact, the few times I've done it, I've really enjoyed it.  However, traveling alone as a woman, and to some of the places I'd like to visit, might not always be the safest idea. 

Also, traveling alone, you're either going to end up staying in a dorm room in a hostel (which can be fun to meet people, but really, you can meet people just as easily in the hostel's common areas) or paying a lot more money for a private room.  With a partner, you can usually get a private room for less than you would each pay separately for a dorm bed, with the added bonus of privacy and additional security for your belongings.  Plus, you can share food and drinks.  But these are just some of the logistic benefits of traveling as a couple.

Traveling as a couple involves compromise - and therefore experiencing more!  My husband and I are pretty similar in terms of our hobbies and the things we like to do on vacation, but sometimes one of us might really want to see something while the other is indifferent.  The inspiration of one person can often lead to both people experiencing things they wouldn't otherwise.  A great example of this was on our most recent adventure abroad, in Australia.  I'm a HUGE animal lover and ever since the last time I was in Australia I knew that on my next visit I wanted to go to Kangaroo Island (sometimes referred to as the Galapagos of Australia).  This island has lots of wildlife, including fairy penguins(!!), the iconic kangaroos, wallabies and koalas, plus seals and sea lions!!!  Not to mention, it was supposed to be gorgeous.  My husband was fine with us going, but it wasn't something he was super excited about, he was really just going for me.  However, this ended up being one of BOTH of our favorite stops along the trip and we both want to go back in the future!  Pretty cool!

Another thing we know too well - not everything is perfect when you travel.  You might get haggled by a local to pay too much for a stupid souvenir you don't really want, you might reach a breaking point one day on a boat in the middle of the ocean and want to jump overboard to get away from everyone, or you might even get extremely sick.  When these things happen and you get frustrated, lose your cool, or can't keep even water in your stomach, it's really awesome to have someone who loves you, cares about you, and truly knows you by your side.

On our honeymoon through Thailand and Cambodia, I got extremely sick.  I was confined to the bathroom, had literally no water or food left in my body, and could barely stand for more than five minutes due to weakness and fatigue.  My husband was by my side through it all.  He would have flew home the first day I was sick if I wanted to (which of course was out of the question, we needed to see all the places we had planned!).  He made multiple trips to find me Gatorade and crackers, and even peeled my bananas and oranges and arranged them on a platter when I was finally able to keep some stuff down.  A couple days later, just as I was beginning  to feel better the illness got to him.  I took my turn taking care of him and making sure he had what he needed.  As much as it sucked to be sick for over a week on our three-week honeymoon, this experience cemented our commitment and trust in each other - even in foreign, difficult situations.  We got through it and still look back on that trip as something amazing, fun, and positive, despite those difficult few days.

Like I mentioned before, illness isn't the only possible complication.  Sometimes when traveling for an extended period of time, a person can get tired, stressed, or easily irritated.  When one of us is overly upset or stressed, the other can usually sense it.  We have a good history of calming each other down, and easing each other's frustrations by dealing with the difficult people or situation that is causing the stress, or making the decisions for the day.  We work well as a team and when we travel together, this tends to become more obvious.

Finally, one of the best things about traveling together - experiences are so much better shared!  Sure, family and friends at home (or reading our blog!) will enjoy hearing stories and seeing pictures, but the actual memories are made on the trip, and let's face it, are often only fully understood in the moment.  It's nice to have someone to experience things with and to talk to and recall those exact instances months or years later.

I'm not saying we're not going to get annoyed with each other and need our space at times.  I'm not saying we won't miss our family and friends at home.  I'm not saying traveling alone isn't great.  But I am saying that I'm glad to be planning and dreaming about this trip with my husband, and I can't wait to embark on this adventure with my best friend.