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The Secret to Staying Together on the Journey

by Theresa Dowell Blackinton Jan 7, 2008

So you’ve finally found the one.

Not only does he make you laugh, but he’s also just as enamored as you are with hopping around the globe in search of amazing adventures. No longer will you be working the long-distance relationship; instead you’ll now be part of a traveling twosome.

Sounds fantastic, doesn’t it? That is, until you find yourself not speaking on a twelve-hour bus ride or fighting your way up Kilimanjaro. There’s nothing like cancelled flights, squat toilets, overcrowded minibuses, or simply being stressed out in an unfamiliar place to expose our worst traits.

A week into a trip you might find the considerate gentleman you left home with has been replaced by someone less patient, more churlish, and a good deal smellier.

But don’t fret. Traveling as a twosome can be wonderful.

You’ll have someone to watch your stuff while you run around bargaining for a cab, someone to keep you warm in that tent on Kilimanjaro, and someone to commiserate with when that long-distance bus replays the world’s worst Bollywood film for the third time.

With the following advice in mind and the perfect partner in tow, you’ll find that the best way to see the world is together.

1. Pick A Destination That You Will Both Enjoy

Whether you have one week or one year, you don’t want to waste your time in a not-so-perfect place. Problem is, when traveling with your partner, defining the perfect place isn’t always easy.

You might be thinking white sands and turquoise waters. He, on the other hand, is imagining imposing mountains.

You might be thinking white sands and turquoise waters. He, on the other hand, is imagining imposing mountains. You want art. He wants adventure. What to do?

First off, make individual lists of the top five places you’d like to go. If you’re lucky, you’ll both be eager to see at least one of the same places.

Not happening? Discuss what draws you to the places on your lists. Maybe you’ve picked different places, but your goals are similar. Still not even close to wanting the same thing? Then it’s time to get creative while remembering the golden rule of partnership-compromise.

There’s hardly a destination in the world where you can’t combine multiple interests. Egypt might immediately bring to mind thoughts of ancient history, but don’t forget the fine beaches of the Red Sea. In Chile, you can get active in Patagonia, then relax with fine wines in the Lake District.

2. Split Responsibilities

Nobody likes to think of travel as being work, but you’ll need to book flights and accommodations, figure out how to handle your money, and determine what to do with the house, the dog, and everything else being left behind.

While one of you may naturally be more of a planner, it’s not fair for one person to shoulder all the responsibilities. Figure out a way to share the load.

If you’re going to multiple cities, consider assigning all responsibilities related to that location to one person. You be the expert on Thailand, while he handles Vietnam. Or you handle hotels and let him book the flights.

How you split up responsibility isn’t as important as doing it.

3. Say Goodbye Every Once In A While

No matter how awesome your partner is, spending all day, every day with him (or her) can be a bit much. All those cute little things he does can, after too much togetherness, easily become big annoying things. So give yourselves a break.

Instead of dragging him through an art museum he’ll ruin with his whining, spend an afternoon alone, while he catches a soccer game in which you have zero interest.

On a longer trip, such as a year-long round the world adventure, consider splitting up for a week or two. You can go on that bike tour you’ve been eyeing while he learns to scuba dive.

The time apart will make future time together all the sweeter.

4. Make New Friends

At home, you don’t rely solely on each other for entertainment, so why do it on the road?

Part of the joy of travel is meeting new people, but it’s often harder to do so when you’re traveling with a partner, so go out of your way to be open and approachable.

Stay at a hostel (many offer private double rooms) where you can mingle with other travelers in the common room. Chat up a stranger at the bar. Book a one-day tour.

Once others realize that you’re interested in connecting, you won’t have any trouble making friends. Then, when that wonderful partner of yours is about to make you lose your mind, you’ll have someone else to hang out with until you can remember why you fell for him in the first place.

What tips do you have for couples on the road? Share in the comments!

Theresa Dowell Blackinton is a freelance writer and frequent traveler. In 2008 she will put her relationship tips to the test when she hits the road with her husband for a one year trip around the world. Visit her website, Lives of Wander, to follow along on their journey.

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