How Traveling As a Couple Can Enrich Your Trip (& Your Relationship)

Couples travel often gets a bad rap in the indie travel community. There seems to be a popular belief that traveling as a couple is somehow a less authentic experience than going at it solo. Granted, by definition traveling as a pair is definitely less independent-there are two different people whose needs and travel objectives have to be met. However, this isn’t always a disadvantage. You don’t have to be the couple sitting at a table by themselves at the hostel, or secluding themselves in group situations. You can certainly push yourself not to use your partner as a crutch, and reap the huge benefits of traveling long term with the person you love.

All costs are split in two

Probably the most obvious, and logical, advantage of couples travel is the money that you save when traveling as a pair. No one can turn their nose up at saving money, right? When you’re traveling with a partner two incomes are going toward one trip, and even if you’re not at the point where you’re pulling from a shared travel fund, this can result in savings. From rickshaws to taxis to mini-buses, it’s always cost efficient to split the fare.  A 6-pack of beer may be too much for one person to casually drink on a laid back night, but is much more manageable, and affordable, for two. And often a double room costs only a bit more than a single, so with two incomes going in, it’s cheaper per person. By the time you share tours, food, and rooms, even if you’re not sharing a bank account, you’ve both saved a lot of money by traveling together. This money can be put back to the important things – prolonging and enhancing your trip!

>> See how much money you need to travel 

There’s safety (and flexibility) in numbers

No matter how peaceful a solo trek in the mountains may sound, it’s definitely not safe to go at it alone. You wouldn’t want to end up in a situation like Aron Ralston – it’s certainly easier to travel with a romantic partner than to amputate your own arm. Whether you’re secluded out in the wilderness or stumbling home after a night of drinking, you need other people around in case of emergency and to make sure you always make it home safely. It helps if that person is your romantic partner and has a vested interest in your well being!

Some solo travelers argue that it’s pretty easy to find drinking, hiking and travel buddies at your hostel, and this is generally true. However, you can’t always count on it. When my boyfriend and I set off for a 2-day trek along Tiger Leaping Gorge, the people we were traveling with, who we met at our hostel, had different time restraints than we did and thus had to move along a lot quicker. We were able to take our time and work with our own schedule without being worried about being stranded in the woods alone. The bottom line is meeting up with travelers often doesn’t allow you the flexibility that making plans with a romantic partner does. If you’re traveling together you likely have similar time constraints, budgets, and interests, so you can make plans according to your own needs and still stay safe.

There is someone to take care of you

Many long term travelers will admit that as exhilarating as extended travel is, it gets tiring. It’s easy to get into a mindset where you want to see and do everything, which is a perfect recipe for burning out quickly. Luckily, if you’re traveling with the person who knows you best, you’ll have someone with you who knows when you need a break. When my boyfriend and I traveled to Shangri La we immediately wanted to get away from the city and explore the mountains. However, it was obvious that my boyfriend was dragging because of altitude sickness. It didn’t take long for me to realize that if he was huffing and puffing walking around town we definitely weren’t ready to hit the trails. Even though he wanted to experience all there was to do in the area, we came to the conclusion together that it wasn’t worth it. The sickness actually got much worse, so not only was it good that he wasn’t stranded in the mountains, but it was fortunate he had someone to take care of him while he adjusted to the altitude.

Even in less severe situations, having a partner to split responsibilities with can keep you both going longer. Many people are drawn to extended travel because you don’t get stuck in the daily rut that you might at home. However, the reality is that without a routine comes a lot of decision making. You constantly have to decide where to stay, what to eat, and what to do. One of the biggest advantages of traveling as a couple is trading off who makes decisions. It relieves stress as sometimes you can relax and count on your partner to figure out the details. This can help prevent fatigue when traveling.

>> Get tips for traveling with your partner 

Extended travel pushes fast forward on a relationship

When you begin a relationship it takes awhile to learn enough about the other person to know what you’re going to absolutely love about them and what’s going to drive you completely crazy. For better or for worse, traveling together speeds up that process. From the beginning of your trip you’ll get to see how your partner handles a variety of new and challenging experiences, whether it’s fatigue after a long, bumpy, overnight bus, or an awkward cultural situation, like being in a small town in China and not being able to communicate with anyone around you. You’ll quickly get a feel for how they budget their money, how neat or messy they are, and all the other things you want to know about a person that you’re committed to, but could ordinarily take a long time to figure out.

You’ll also learn how to deal with potential problems and conflict really quickly. Travel offers some great perspective. If you only have a couple days on the coast of Thailand you realize a trivial fight isn’t worth ruining your experience. You don’t want to have bad memories of your trip to Machu Picchu because of some drama you can’t even remember the details of now. Not that your trip will be completely without relationship problems- you’ll just be more motivated to push past the conflict and focus on enjoying the amazing things that you came all this way to experience. You’ll really have to pick and choose which fights are worth jeopardizing your time abroad, and it’s likely that many of them won’t be worth dwelling on.

Some experiences are better shared

There are tons of situations that you’re simply glad to have someone to experience them with. Sure, you can blog about it later, but there’s nothing like seeing the world with your best friend. It’s great to experience things with people from all over the world and get a variety of perspectives, but some moments are best shared with someone who is looking through a very similar lens, and thus understands exactly the significance to you. My boyfriend and I had to move back home with our parents, work long hours and save up money for months before we were able to move abroad. Thus, we both can appreciate how hard we worked to get to China, which makes our adventures even more gratifying.

Eating is also an example of a better-when-shared experience. Meal time is typically a social affair, especially when you’re trying a bunch a new foods. However, not only is it enjoyable to have company while you eat, it’s often more practical. In many countries food isn’t served for dining solo. For example, in India and China food is often served family style, meaning instead of getting an entrée and a couple of sides, you’re getting a lot of one thing. This makes it hard to put together a balanced and satisfying meal when you’re eating alone, and allows you to taste fewer things. If you’re always eating as a pair you can reasonably pick out several dishes to taste, and have a chance at actually finishing them.

Compromise means you try more things

Couples seem to have a reputation for being less adventurous or apt to try fewer new things because they get too comfortable together and push each other less. This is often completely false! When you travel as a couple you have two people with different things they want to do, see and try. Being in a relationship is about compromise, so you end up doing a lot of new things that you wouldn’t have done on your own. For example, if I had my way I wouldn’t ever even think about riding a bike through a city in China. However, after dragging my boyfriend around the Old Town of Lijiang window shopping for hours, I owed it to him to try out something he wanted to do. Renting bikes ended up being a great experience. We got out of the city and away from the crowds and got some of the best mountain views of the entire trip. Similarly, you might not be motivated to go out on the town or try a fancy restaurant by yourself. Having two people often gives you reason to do things you wouldn’t on your own.

Travel brings you closer

The fear is that once you get away from home and the two of you spend all this time together you’ll realize that you’ve made a terrible mistake, the person is not who you thought they were, everything about them annoys you, and your travel experience will be ruined. (In that situation, though, wouldn’t it be better to go your separate ways on the open road than to keep running into each other in your hometown anyway?) It’s likely, though, that you came all this way together because you had similar ideas, views, and goals. Traveling together will let you put to action all the things you two had in common at home. For example, what’s more attractive? Talking about volunteering, or giving up the luxuries of home to work on an organic farm in South America? To talk about the hypothetical importance of ecotourism, or to see how your partner always makes it a priority in practice? There’s a good chance that the experiences the two of you share while traveling will actually bring you much closer. Plus, you’ll come home with a bunch of fond and unique memories which the two of you can cherish forever.

>> Get inspired with our list of places to make love before you die

Read more about couples travel: 

Photos by: tonyhall,  James Marvin PhelpsMany Moon HoneymoonErick Moreno, maveric2003, Photo courtesy of the author and may not be used without permission, Jessie Reeder

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