We surveyed real travel couples to find out what they think is the top travel tip for couples traveling. Many of these traveling couples are also travel bloggers offering lots more of their opinions and travel stories on their own personal travel blogs. If you are interested in discovering more travel couples on Twitter, check out this list of over 100 travel couples on Twitter.
One of the biggest problems faced by couples is the disappointment and arguments that spring up from unmet expectations. You expect a location to be like this, you expect your partner to act like that. Paris should be romantic, not covered in dog shit, right?! Communication is key in order to avoid being the couple screaming at each other in the hotel lobby — take the time before your trip to do a kind of creative dreaming together — imagining all the places you’d love to go, and how you might react to the everyday issues that might crop up on the road. By starting your trip with similar expectations of a place, you’ll both react better to the good and the bad.
Start off on the right foot. It’s important to have a healthy, solid relationship with your partner before setting off on your travels. If you already have a lot of problems, argue a lot or can’t be honest with each other then it would be a good idea to work on those issues before you start travelling. Any issues or resentments currently affecting the relationship will only be magnified once you’re on the road.
Take turns being the boss and making the decisions on a long trip. By this we mean switch off the responsibility of checking into hotels, finding transportation, deciding on activities/restaurants, paying for things, communicating in a foreign language. If one person has to do it all the time he will resent having to do all the work to have a good trip, and if the other person never does it she might resent not getting a say-so. Alternating means everyone does a little bit of work for the fun and that each person gets a chance to make the decisions. Especially on a long trip this can be a lifesaver.
Jillian: Make sure you schedule time to relax. Sometimes, on shorter trips, it can be all about moving from one place to another to fit in as much as you can possibly see and you won’t have time to enjoy things. You’ll also get tired faster which could lead to arguments with your partner which could lead to having a bad time on your trip. Joe: Make sure your girlfriend or wife packs light. At some point you’re going to be carrying your bag and her bag at the same time and you will wish the extra bag was as light as possible.
Schedule time to eat. Whenever my boyfriend and I start snapping at each other it’s often because we’re both hungry and our blood sugar levels are low. Even if that’s not the case it’s always better to fight on a full stomach!
Don’t step on each other’s toes! Each member of the team needs to have his/her role and needs to be trusted to do it. Micromanaging doesn’t work in the office and doesn’t work while traveling either!
Delegate and Conquer. Most often George plans where we are going next. He figures out the directions and reads the Lonely Planet. He might say to me, which of these 3 places do you want to stay? Which of these flights do you want to take? We both talk about where we want to go but he takes the lead. I am usually in charge of the photos and blog updates. If we both try to do the same task, too many cooks crowd the kitchen!
Although travelling often means sticking to a tight budget, you can still surprise your partner now and again with a little treat. You may not be able to afford (or find) a dozen roses but a small gesture goes a long way and can mean a lot to someone. In Kirsty’s case, just grabbing her a piece of chocolate while I’m out does the trick.
Want to spend less money on food? In some countries, meal portions could be huge and you might not even eat that much. Sometimes splitting one bigger/more expensive meal between the two of you is plenty of food, and cheaper than buying two separate meals.
Our advice for couples travelling would simply be to OVER-communicate. We thought we were both pretty great at letting each other know how we were feeling before we left on our trip, but long term travelling has made it mandatory that we are almost basically transparent in terms of letting the other person knowing how you are feeling. Even if your emotions and feelings are not right or rationale, you need to be certain that your partner is aware of what is going on, so to help you deal with the situation and move on.
Invest in two good pair of headphones, one with a speaker and one without, so that if you both are working or one of you is on a conference call, you can tune the other person out. Sometimes, you need a little space from your significant other and if you’re stuck on a tightly packed bus, headphones can provide that bit of mental space even though you are physically together.
Is fighting ok on a couple’s trip? Yes! Only if you fight fair. Fights are usualy a product of two smart people having smart opinions. The key is working together to get the most out of the trip. Enjoy your travels!
Don’t over-plan. Nothing kills a trip like the stress of trying to do too much. A long flight, weather or bad food can quickly change (one of) your plans. If you haven’t left enough fluff time, things are going to get stressful. Sure travel is about doing stuff, but its also about living in the moment and focusing on each other.
Participate in activities that involves teamwork, support and encouragement. Not only do these type of adventurous activities give you a fun memory to share but it helps you to join as a couple more. You will learn to rely on each other’s strengths and how to lift each other to push through personal barriers.
Leverage each other’s strengths. There’s a reason why teams (and couples) perform better than individuals. Learn what each person is good at and define your roles. Nicole is much better at finding online deals, booking flights and scoring cheap accommodations, so when it comes to online research she is the master. Cameron is better at reading maps and negotiating with people, so when we are exploring new cities or booking tours he is in control. By knowing our roles we limit arguments and misunderstandings (most of the time).
Madhu: Make sure you give each other alone time to pursue what one likes. I like to go out in the evenings and take candid pictures of the place we are at. In Savi’s case it is to curl up and read a book. Savi: Say “yes” whenever he asks, “Have you been taking backups of your data on the laptop?” Keep an ID with your partner in case your pocket gets picked.
When we first started traveling we mainly booked private rooms in hostels. Now Instead of always staying in a hostel/hotel with other travelers, we try and immerse ourselves in the culture and community of our destination. There are opportunities to house sit, couch-surf, WWOOF, or arrange a home stay, and all of these will introduce you to new people and get to know how they live everyday life.
Remain calm. If your travel partner misplaced a hostel key or important document, it doesn’t help either of you to get mad or impatient. Remember that it could have easily been you who made a mistake. Always be supportive and understanding. On the bright side, mishaps make great travel stories!
Make sure you spend a few minutes each day apart, especially if you’re traveling together long-term. You’ll appreciate having stories to share with each other and it will make the time together much sweeter!
Travel planning and logistics can take their toll on your relationship. Make sure to spend time together away from the mental noise of travel details. Have a picnic, go on a date, take a walk, or go big and spend a whole day unplugged from technology. Exploring a new place together is much more valuable than any information a website or guidebook can give you, and spending quality time together will help reduce tension and arguments.
Our number one recommendation to survive traveling as a couple is be willing to compromise. We don’t always love doing the same adventure, but with each travel we plan and discuss what each person wants to do and then take a chance and do it together. It has opened us up to new opportunities that we never would have taken if we travelled solo or refused to try something new. If you are stubborn and not willing to give your partners ideas a chance, you’ll not only be missing out but your relationship will suffer as you start to resent one another.
Interact with others. I think it’s important as a couple traveling to make new friends on the road. It’s easy to shut ourselves off from everyone else and only talk to each other. Hang out with other couples, hang out in the common area of the hostel, and do activities with others. Invite others to come along with you to do activities or go to the next destination with them.
Communication and quality time is key in order to keep Scott and I from driving each other crazy while traveling. We have found that it is ten times easier to be empathetic toward the other person when we communicate before things escalate into a fight . Trying to schedule in quality time with your partner is also important when traveling. We try to schedule a “vacation” into our trips where we do nothing except relax and enjoy each other’s company.
Just because you have a plan it is not necessary to remove spontaneity from a trip. Sometimes you don’t know the best things about a place until you get there. Allow time and talk to locals and see if there are special things happening. Most of the time there are, even in what are not normally presumed to be prime times. Also, just because you are traveling as a couple it is not necessary to always do the exact same things. Striking out separately then meeting up later at say; a new restaurant gives you both a lot to talk about and keeps you both from having to do things you don’t necessarily enjoy.
Before setting out on an extended trip, think about how you’ll entertain yourself during downtime. Don’t expect your partner to always keep you occupied. They need their downtime to recharge and refresh, too. Take up some solitary hobbies or get an e-reader. We can sit side by side so completely immersed in our own things that for all practical purposes, we’re miles apart. It’s like getting that coveted “alone time” while sharing the same room.
For those who are traveling with joint savings, I’ve found that often one person in a couple will become what I like to call ‘The Money Boss’. This person has the bank cards and carries the cash, and is always metering out the funds at appropriate occasions – but with great responsibility can come great power! They then become the ‘deciders’ of exactly what is purchased and what is needed for both people to enjoy their traveling experience. Luckily I got pulled up on it by my girlfriend, who had to explain to me that we both saved for this trip. So remember to both have some allocated spending money to do with as you wish.
When traveling in Asia with a small child, sometimes its like being in a vacuum Jar. The child needs their napping time, favorite food and they don’t care much about the nice viewpoints you want to visit. Instead, they want to ride on a donkey or elephant. Take things more slowly and stay relaxed. If you think you need 2 days for a visit, plan to stay 4. Always know how to find a doctor quickly in case of emergency. Most importantly remain calm and enjoy your trip while avoiding the stress.
Being native Seattlites, our advice is simple. Take coffee breaks. If you don’t drink coffee, you can have a tea, hot chocolate, or milkshake. For us, a coffee house is a safe haven. It’s where we go to relax, talk, hold hands, and it makes us feel at home, even if we’re a million miles away. It’s where a traveling couple can hash out their problems (without yelling since you’re in a public place) as well as catch up on what the other person is feeling. Sure, you’re with each other 24/7 but that doesn’t mean that you’re actively communicating. Take time to step out of the chaos of travel, and into something familiar.
Don’t expect perfection. After a year going round the world and even more exploring since, we still hit snags in our travels. We are the most stress free when we divide responsibilities. One plans the next destination, like hotel and bike rentals, the other figures out what to do today and how to get there. But, be ready to take over if the other person needs help or gets “hangry” (hungry-angry). Do things without each other; time apart can be almost as enjoyable as time together. Also, splurge as often as possible on an ensuite bathroom. It gives you more, ahem, privacy and helps you start your day faster, since you only have to wait for each other to get ready.