What is long term travel like with a significant other? Like some Facebook relationships- it’s complicated.
Lack of Space
Getting out there and seeing this great big world means that you'll find yourself in tight quarters, especially when traveling on a budget. Often times we found ourselves with small, uncomfortable sleeping arrangements. This type of accommodation normally wouldn’t cause you to blink an eye if you were at them for a week, but after a few months spent doing it, the novelty starts to wear thin. When you’re constantly within arms reach of your travel buddy and already agitated, fights will start themselves.
Just Getting Food Can Be a Struggle
Being completely out of your element is my single favorite thing about traveling. I’ve never felt as strangely free as being in places where I’m completely this fish out of water. This does mean however, that even getting things like a meal can cause friction between a couple. When you’re constantly traveling to the next destination, food choices tend to fall into three options:
Convenience store/shack store food/local market
Eating gas station type food from #1 becomes something reserved for situations where we’d be starving. #2 can be difficult if you have no grasp of the language or even a place to put the food you’re purchasing. That left us with solution #3- which I understand sounds awesome if you think you’re eating out at a restaurant three times a day. However, in practice, going out to eat 3 times a day can be a major pain in the ass (waiting, ordering, etc) and time and money suck.
It’s only natural that you and your partner don’t share every interest. When it comes time to pick destinations, it’s a little like picking a movie to watch on Netflix. If one of you chooses, it’s likely that the other one will be completely unhappy with whatever they are watching. If you decided together, you more likely than not end up with a flick neither one wants to really watch. It’s a little like that with travel.
When picking both destinations and activities, you’re better off with truly picking something the other person wants to do rather than always meeting up at a mediocre agreement. Some destinations are easy to agree on of course, like anything with nice weather.
With so many challenges, it's a wonder people travel together at all. There are some pretty awesome benefits though:
Never Feel Like an An Outsider
You have someone to share the trip with that get’s it. -The saddest part about any trip is that when people ask about, the story becomes a list of county names with little meaning. It can truly be depressing. (Or don't ask at all and just say "so, where will you be settling down?")
Traveling with someone means that they know that mentioning your week in Croatia means “Hey-nude beaches but watch out for those sea urchins!” and time spent in Vietnam means "remember when we almost accidentally drove to China?".
You’ll learn everything there is to Know
Think you know your spouse/girlfriend/boyfriend/partner? You’ll really get to know them after a month spent sleeping in a minivan. Allison and I truly learned the other person's hidden weaknesses and strengths while abroad.
Over the course of the trip I learned that Allison:
CAN negotiate face to face with people and be an absolute hardass when needed.
CAN Ride a motorbike.
NEEDS 8 (9) hours of sleep.
And prefers time on a beach to almost anything else.
In addition to just seeing the other person in every conceivable situation possible, you’re also going to have time to tell each other every story you’ve ever been part of. That’s okay though-you’ll be making a new story with the adventure you’re on.
Don't however, take this connection lightly. We constantly had enlightened moments where we kept saying "I'm so glad we're married" because... imagine doing something like this with a boyfriend/girlfriend and having to explain to your future spouse that your honeymoon is going to have to be in your backyard because you already went everywhere else with your ex.