How to travel with your partner and not break up? We have spent the last two years travelling the world together, working and living abroad, learning new skills and visiting bucketlist places. It hasn’t always been easy, but guess what – we came back engaged!
So how did we do it? How did we not kill each other? How did we handle high stress situations backpacking as a couple? Below you’ll find our 10 best tips that we’ve applied to our relationship during our world travels.
1. Plan together
Before you leave for your travels, sit down and plan the trip together. Throughout our conversations with other expats and travel couples, we realized a very common error (which we’ve made before too): one person driving the entire trip.
Sure, one of you may be a better planner and one of you may go with the flow. We can relate! That said, even to their own surprise, sometimes the “easy going” partner may not be as easy going as you think. If you’re the planner, don’t worry, we are not taking your spreadsheet away from you! All we’re saying is to make sure some of your partners’ ideas are in there too.
Talk about your plans and ideas often before you leave. Remember, it’s a partnership for a reason. Brainstorm together, dream together, and ensure both of your ideas are reflected in your itinerary.
2. Leave plenty of time for change (& be open to it)
Let’s continue to talk about planning for a minute. Our advice is to leave plenty of open time in your itinerary. You never know what spontaneous ideas will pop up throughout your adventures, so factor in time for spontaneity.
This way, if something comes up last minute, you can take it! Throughout our travels, our plans have changed a lot. Sometimes it’s for fun reasons, like being invited to a last-minute tour or party. Sometimes the reasons aren’t so fun, like getting sick or having a breakdown. These last-minute changes have brought us some pretty wicked experiences while backpacking as a couple, and being open to change has been very important for our relationship.
So, avoid stress by leaving yourself some space to breathe and adjust.
3. Communicate daily
Communicate. A lot. More than usual. More than you think. If you want to go back to the hotel, speak up. Tell each other if you are not enjoying a specific city, or beach, or food. You may not always come to a conclusion right away, but it’s important to both speak and listen often, so you don’t hold any resentment just for it to all come crashing down later on.
Thinking about moving abroad together? This can get even more important. Watch our video on the topic below.
4. Get ready for bathroom talk (and smells, and sounds…)
You’ve heard it before, and we’re here to tell you again. If you are a couple that isn’t open about bowel movements and vomiting, your trip may be a hell of a lot harder.
“Why the heck do I have to speak about poop to be in a good relationship?” you may ask. Well, you don’t. You can do whatever you want. But if you are planning on backpacking as a couple, especially for a long time, you’re going to be in really close quarters for a while.
It’s going to be really hard to hide it from your s/o anyway, so if travelling is something you really want to do together, it’s time to get over it.
Your health depends on it. Sure, if you’ve eaten something that’s not sitting right, you could be uncomfortable for a few hours. That said, if you’ve been exposed to e-coli or any real bug, you could be in serious agony for days. Your travel buddy is the love of your life – let them care for you and take you to the hospital if it gets serious. You’re in this together!
5. Never disrespect your partner’s bucket list activities
I have a friend who’s partner often shamed her for wanting to take a lot of pictures during their adventures. To him, it was just a silly Instagram post, but to her, taking pretty photos was a fun way of documenting her travels and sharing her experiences with her friends back home. Eventually, she felt so embarrassed that she didn’t even ask anymore, and they later ended up breaking up and now she has no photos from her travels.
What to you just seems like a little social media post, to them may become a bigger problem where they like they aren’t listened to and frankly would rather just be travelling with somebody else.
I don’t necessarily love spending entire days at the skatepark, but it is something that Nick loves to do, so we factor visiting skateparks into our travel plans and I try to never be impatient with him. The joy he feels from skateboarding makes him a happier person, and in turn, a better partner.
Surely he doesn’t love stopping to spend an extra 10 minutes at every “pretty wall” to take a photo of me, but it makes me feel confident and happy, and again, a better travel companion.
These are just a couple of examples of how offering endless support for your partner’s wishes will make your relationship stronger, and your travels together more enjoyable.
6. Set boundaries when it comes to activities
I’m not about to go bungee jumping, but I’ll probably go zip lining. That said, I’ll happily stand beside my partner at the ledge and watch them jump off a cliff in a harness if that’s what they want to do.
There is a difference between encouraging your partner to try new things and straight up forcing them into something they don’t want to do. Again, communicate. Set boundaries. Listen.
You simply cannot get angry at somebody for not wanting to do the same things that you want to do. Don’t let this feel like it’s holding you back, or if you’re on the other side, that you’re holding them back. Set your boundaries, allow them to set theirs, and find a compromise. We promise, there is always a way.
7. Be open about your funds
Talk about your money right from the beginning stages of planning your trip. For couples who aren’t already discussing finances together, this could be the most difficult part.
Be honest with yourself and your partner, even if you think something is ridiculous. If you’re dead set on spending $1,000.00 on shopping, factor it into your plan. Maybe you both have decided on a $4,500.00 budget, but your partner wants to go on a $500.00 skydiving adventure.
Hey, it might be crazy to some people, but the more upfront and realistic you are about how you intend to spend your cash overseas, the fewer awkward and hard conversations will arise during your trip.
If one person wants to budget hard and stay in cheap hostels, and the other person wants to stay in high-end hotels only, you’re going to have to find a common ground. Do it earlier than later, and continue to check in with each other consistently to make sure everything is going (somewhat) as planned.
8. Put your partner first (before other travellers)
When we were living abroad, we can’t even tell you how many times we witnessed the following scenario: A couple meets another backpacking couple, or maybe a group of friends. The couple spends a lot of time with said new friends. The night gets late and person A wants to go home while Person B wants to stay out. Person A goes back to the hotel “willingly” (resentfully) and Person B stays out, has more drinks, and goes home to a very upset partner. We never see them again.
If you are Person A, we suggest to never leave nor stay in a position where you will hold resentment and anger towards your partner. Be honest and speak up. If you are completely cool with leaving your partner be, that’s fine! Do your thing and touch base later on.
If you are Person B, and this is important, we understand it can be challenging when your partner doesn’t always show the same amount of energy as you. But you absolutely, 100%, must put your partner first and speak to them privately in these group situations to ensure you are making a choice that is comfortable for the both of you.
We are personally the type of couple that always goes home together, even if one of us is having a great time. Do the roles ever switch? Often. Are we resentful? No.
You will meet some amazing people while travelling the world, but while some of these relationships are only temporary, your partner is (hopefully) forever. So talk about it. Understand each other. And always put your relationship first.
9. Spend time together – sober
We witnessed a whole lot of this while living abroad and watching travellers come to and fro (yes, travellers of all ages). When people go on a vacation, many let loose and indulge in the local … well, alcohol. Don’t get us wrong, we love having a passion fruit margarita (or five), but for the sake of your relationship, don’t get carried away.
Allocate some alcohol-free days and nights where you can really spend time remembering the sunsets, planning logically and listening to each other carefully. Your mood will improve, your travels will be memorable, and your relationship will stay afloat.
10. Make the time to be romantic
Despite the bathroom breaks and group scenarios and sweaty mountain climbs, make time for a date, for a snuggle in the hot tub, for an early sunrise, something romantic to do together.
Some people believe booking the ticket is romantic enough. But we believe you have to show up every day for each other. Remember that love brought you here. And never forget what is important.
Travelling, and moving abroad as a couple, has been the best decision we’ve ever made. Do you have tips on travelling as a couple? Make sure to comment your best tips below.
Planning your next trip? You’re going to need travel insurance. Get your quote from World Nomads right here!
Any questions? You can reach out to us on Instagram @nickandraychel. We respond to every single DM!
If you have considered moving overseas together to teach English – have you considered Cambodia? Find our blog post on moving to Cambodia to teach English.
Maybe you’re considering doing a Working Holiday Visa in Australia. Hey, we’ve done that too! Find our post on how much money you’ll need to get started in Australia.