When we think of round-the-world travelers, most of us probably envision young backpackers, just out of college, heading out to see the world before settling into “real life”–and certainly before getting married. But more couples are taking off on long-term trips these days, some who take a year-long round-the-world honeymoon.
Traveling with another person, even if it’s someone you love more than anyone else in the world, has its challenges. It can also be an incredibly rich experience. Luckily, you can do quite a bit before you leave home to make sure it’s more about riches and less about difficulties. Here’s our guide on how to travel the world with your sweetheart.
Make Sure You’re Both Involved in Planning
If one person plans everything, you run the risk of arriving at the start of the trail to Machu Picchu and having the other person say, “So, where’s the bus that’ll take us up the mountain?” Even if one of you is less interested in the planning process, make sure no one is left in the dark. Make wish-lists together of things you want to do and see. Figure out which of you is best at various travel tasks (navigating, translating, budgeting) and delegate. Ask questions to make sure you’re on the same page–even if you think you know someone really well after living with them for years, traveling brings up a host of new potential roadblocks you won’t have experienced. Having both people involved at all stages of the trip-planning process means you’re not forced to guess what your partner may or may not be comfortable with.
Respect Each Others’ Boundaries
You may be gung-ho to hike the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, and your partner may be totally into the idea of seeing Machu Picchu and less enthusiastic about the hiking part. Travel should be about branching out and trying new things, but not at the expense of your relationship. Figure out what the most important thing is and make sure you agree on that. Investigate different tour options to find the one that has the best balance between what each person wants from an experience. Be aware that you won’t get to do every single thing exactly the way you want to do it. And be sure to trade off–if your partner acquiesces to the Inca Trail hike, follow that up with something they really want to do (and about which you may be less excited).
Just because you’re traveling the world with your beloved doesn’t mean you need to spend every waking moment together–and, in fact, things usually go more smoothly if you don’t. Everyone needs a little space now and then, whether that means you go shopping while your partner goes to a local sporting event, or you go ahead and hike that Inca Trail while your partner spends a week at a spa. Going on a trip as a couple doesn’t mean forcing someone to do something they really don’t want to do, and it also shouldn’t mean you give up your travel dreams. After you spend a little time apart, you’ll have a whole host of new stories to share with each other, too.
Pick Your Battles
You will argue during your travels. There is no getting around this. You’ll be tired, hungry, sick, or just grumpy for no good reason. What’s important here is to be prepared for the inevitable squabbles. Talk before you leave about how you’d like to handle it when you fight. (You won’t always do what you say you’d like to do, of course, but talking about it beforehand will jog your memory when you’re actually arguing.) Look carefully at anything you’re bent out of shape about to determine whether it’s really worth it. If your partner keeps mixing dark socks into the light laundry, that’s not as big of a deal as if he or she refuses to let you in on the trip planning. If you’re going to argue, it might as well be over the stuff that matters! As for the other (smaller) stuff, take a deep breath, put it in the “grand scheme of things” context, and if it’s still bugging you when you’re calmer you can bring it up in a relaxed way rather than starting a fight over it.