Traveling as a couple is hands-down one of the best ways to strengthen your relationship with your partner. It can also be a great test that determines what your challenges are, what you need to work through, or maybe even bring to light that it’s time to let go. Either way- to experience travel with your partner will teach you more than you could expect.
Before you take off on your romantic and adventurous journey, here’s some things you should consider in advance.
Pull these up with your love and talk it over… even if you think you already know everything about them, it is still good to communicate and be clear on one another’s expectations.
This will help you have a smoother trip and lead to incredible travel memories that you’ll cherish forever.
Before Traveling as a Couple You Both Should Know:
1. Are You A Planner or Spontaneous?
Or maybe a little balance of both?
I’m sure you’ll have a good idea of this prior to arriving at your destination, but it’s still good to ask each other and talk out the details. Do you prefer to do a lot of planning in advance or leave it up to spontaneity?
Chances are, you’ll align with one of these three categories. Ranging from planner to spontaneous, it’s important to become aware of where you both fall so that you can best prepare for your travels together.
- Category 1- Full-on Type A Planner: I’ll be honest. In some ways, mainly PRE departure, I can come off as one of these. Lists and documents everywhere- from google docs, to google sheets, to iphone notes, to screenshots, to actual printed paperwork that I bring along in an envelope. Luckily my partner Toniell enjoys the perfect balance of helping me plan, but also letting me take the lead- which I love (*aries thing*).
- Category 2- Balanced Spontaneity: Here is where Toniell and I both tend to rest. We’re great at planning logistics like knowing what we want to do, where we want to go, food we want to try, where we want to stay, etc. But we’re also good at totally ignoring the list of “must-dos” and letting the wind blow us where feels right. We leave lots of room in our itinerary to explore without reservations and take tips from locals or other travellers. This balance is what makes travel so amazing for us. We’re prepared with everything that’s super important to us (like accomodations and most transportation) but we love to have that space for flexibility!
- Category 3- 100% Spontaneous: If this is you, I admire your free spirit and resistance to planning ahead. I’m sure your life is full of flow and adventure. If your partner is too, I bet you have loads of fun! However for us, this category just gives rise to anxiety. We’re not really spontaneous travelers. I like to know where exactly I’m going, where I’m staying, what I want to see there, and how I’m getting from point A to point B before I board any planes or trains. That doesn’t mean every hour of the day is scheduled on an itinerary (we’re not that type A), but just means that the majority of planning and most arrangements are made prior. This helps us maximize our time there and relieve any stress about expectations. Good to know if your partner craves spontaneity so you can make room for that in your trip. Balance is key here!
2. Are You a Busy Body (aka Bucket-lister) or Would You Rather Chill in a Cafe?
Are you someone who likes to run around a new town and find all of those bucket list attractions that you saw on the internet before you got there? (I am, sometimes)
The anticipation makes it worth the hype, really. There’s so much wonderful world to soak in.
Other times I’m disappointed by how over-run and crowded a place is. (Read this article if you need some profound insight on over-tourism. In Locamotion is a fantastic blog that dives into social justice, sustainable travel, and more.)
With that, it’s important to know what your priorities are when traveling as a couple.
Are you someone who just wants to hit all the instagrammable spots? Paint the town and see it all? No judgement if so! Just be aware of it, that’s all. Awareness helps us in more ways than I could list here without tangenting into a whole other blog post…
Maybe you’re someone who prefers to relax by the beach, or chill in a street-side cafe while you watch a new world stroll by? Notice it.
The more you think about what you want to do there in your destination and what makes you happy, whether that be taking photos or people-watching, the easier your trip will be.
When you’re aware of your preferences and priorities, it’s easier to communicate with your partner. When you communicate with your partner, things will be clear and your journey as a couple will flow with less tension.
So if you’re like me, and like to see it all… but your partner prefers to soak in cafe culture…
Find a balance. That’s the key here.
3. What Do You Both Want From Travel?
To elaborate on the above… make a list of essential things you’d like to see and experience in your destination.
Are there things you absolutely don’t want to miss? Communicate these with your partner beforehand to avoid disappointment (and missed opportunities/wasted time).
Does your partner want to spend more time at the markets or hiking in nature?
Is eating at all the best restaurants a priority for your foodie heart? Or would you rather keep low on the food budget so you have more money for other experiences?
Its major that you know what you want when you travel as a couple. You’re not just wandering solo with all the flexibility in the world… you have a partner to consider so, collaborate!
Make sure you’re on the same page. It’s ok to want different things from your trip, just make sure you’re clear on each others needs and are ready to support one another. You’re a team, afterall.
3. Are You Ballin’ -or- On A Budget?
Have you talked about money with your partner?
Do you have financial goals as a couple? If so, this definitely affects the way you travel.
Though sometimes I feel like it’s worth it to drop cash and splurge every single day… that’s not always the smartest decision considering my partner and I have financial goals as a couple (like paying off my debt, saving together for a house, building up our assets, traveling more, etc).
It’s easy to say YOLO and just blow past your budget when you’re in an exciting new place filled with shiny objects, but when part of a couple you have stronger consequences to consider.
So if you love to shop, like me, but are also half of a couple with financial goals… respect the budget and make adjustments when necessary.
Like when you purchase a beautiful painting that wasn’t really in the budget… you may have to make adjustments afterwards…
Toniell helped me with that budget adjustment by feeding me nothing but crackers and water the next day after I bought this. (Kidding, but you get the point)
Because like, Art doesn’t count towards the budget, right?
Really though, I love shopping and even more I love supporting local artists and businesses.
So if you’re like me and can’t pass up on something that speaks to you, make room in your budget to purchase things that inspire you.
*Each trip varies- sometimes our travel budget is more flexible… sometimes it’s more rigid. Most important thing is that it’s clear before you go.*
Don’t be shy when discussing finances with your partner. Be honest and open so you can help each other out and plan for your goals together.
4. Do You Like to Lag or Be Early?
Not only does your perspective on money have a huge impact on your travels, but your perspective on time can influence how you experience the entire trip.
Are you someone who has to be super early for flights, check ins, etc… or are you more lax?
When you’re traveling as a couple, knowing how your partner feels about time can lessen travel anxieties and make you a more supportive partner.
Toniell loves being early. She likes to be one of the first from our flight to arrive at the terminal, and first from our boarding group to get in line.
I don’t really care, I’m more of a “we’ll get there when we get there” type of person by nature. But Toniell prefers to be early and I’ve gained from the perks that come with that!
Like less anxiety and having plenty of room in the overhead bin for your luggage.
We both feel better when we’re not in a last minute rush and we mutually agree on our schedule when traveling.
5. What Are Your Food Preferences?
One of the greatest things my partner and I bond over is food. We love to splurge on a good meal, or savor every bite of some budget-friendly street food. Really, we just love to eat good food together.
So when we travel- we both have the same thing at the forefront of our minds. Find the good food.
We’ll usually end up stumbling upon a small cafe or restaurant that speaks to our foodie hearts. And after that, we’re loyal- to an extent.
I mean of course we explore and hunt for as many good restaurants in the area as we can, but finding a favorite spot that you can return to during those times when you’re exhausted from exploring makes all the difference, especially during a longer stay.
So find your favorite restaurant together in every city you visit! That’s what we do, and it’s one of my favorite pieces of travel to reminisce on with my partner.
Like Prado De Flores near Hostal Santa Ana in Barcelona *which is super budget friendly and in an amazing location, by the way*- we ate here about once a day during our stay. We always reminisce on this place!
Or Cheabel in Cusco, Peru. We visited this cafe several times during our stay and will never forget being asked for our autographs by the men running the place! Unforgettable haha.
If you’re at the point in your relationship where you’re traveling together, you’ll probably know your partners food preferences… but it’s still good to talk about before you travel as a couple.
6. What Do You Need From Your Partner If You Get Sick or Moody?
How should your partner approach you during these times? There’s nothing worse than being thousands of miles away from home and feeling off or uncomfortable.
Make sure you and your partner know how to approach and comfort each other during these times. The last thing you want to happen is to end up at odds with one another. Afterall, you planned this amazing trip and opportunity together- make the most of it, even when things aren’t “perfect.”
For example, when I got sick in Thailand- Toniell was totally fine with missing out on a whole day of Bangkok to make sure I was ok.
I picked up food poisoning when we were in Bali right before, and was running a slight fever. She took care of me by getting out the meds and giving me something to help sleep and break the fever. Made sure I had water and my electrolyte drink (which is always good to have on hand by the way).
That’s the kind of care that I love and appreciate. It goes without saying but still, when you’re traveling as a couple it’s good to know what’s expected during situations like so.
Takeaway Tips For Traveling as a Couple
- Awareness: Do some thinking before you travel together and figure out what your wants and needs are. The more specific, the better. This will help make way for clarity and ease. Tune in, think, observe.
- Communicate: Talk it all out! Express what you need and how you feel. Communication can be difficult of course, but it helps prevent blocks and stagnation. They don’t say communication “clears the air” for no reason.
- Personal time: Highly underrated when traveling. Even if you’re wandering the world with your love, make space for personal time when needed. Even a ten minute walk by yourself can freshen up your relationship and your trip!
- Be patient: Airports. Crowded places. Missed flights, lost items. Through all the moments of stress that travel can generate, choose to be patient. Its ok to lose your cool for a minute or be upset about something, but don’t let it ruin the day. Patience is a virtue! Let it see you through.
- Have fun, make memories and take pictures: This one is super important. Have fun! Hopefully this one isn’t too hard for ya 😉 in any stressful moments check in and make sure you’re actually enjoying it. Sometimes we can get caught up in bucket-list chasing or photo ops that it ruins the whole reason for the trip. Let go and have fun. Make amazing memories traveling with your partner and remember to take pictures together.
- Lean on each other: Traveling as a couple will strengthen (and test) your relationship for sure. So go at it as a team, support each other, comfort each other. Overall, be good to one another to really reap the benefits.
- Quality time: Just as personal time is extremely important, so is quality time with your love. Yes, you’re traveling together so there will be plenty of time to smother each other…but switch the intentions and vibe up often. Turn things into a date. Start meaningful conversations with each other. Talk about what makes you happy and make your partner remember why they fell for you.
- Discover each others strengths: You might discover a whole new set of skills or qualities in your partner that you didn’t know existed. Acknowledge them! Gas them up. For example, I learned Toniell is great with directions and can actually read a map. Me, not so much. (She’s also good at rowing boats, see above) Find what your partner is good at and compliment them. Appreciate each other.
- Get inspired & bring it home with you: Travel is one of the most inspiring activities you could ever experience, really. The constant exposure to new things and ideas will rapid-fire your growth and expansion. So let it inspire you! Observe what shifted. Even something as simple as a food preparation or drink, bring that idea home with you and inspire yourself when things are bland.
- Discover that home is wherever your person is: When you’re with the right person, you’ll feel at home anywhere in the world as long as they’re with you. My partner and I have traveled all over together and we often miss home (our beds, our bathrooms, our dogs) but no matter where we are, we always feel a sense of comfort being together. This is possibly my favorite realization and hopefully by sharing it you’ll recognize this in your partnership too.
What do you think is important to know when traveling as a couple? Let me know in the comments!