The first conversation David and I ever had centered around our favorite places in Europe. We were both working next to one another in our office, but he had recently returned from living in Chile & Germany and I was still dreaming of my semester abroad in Spain. Within our first four months of dating, we jetted off to Peru. Since then, we have admired glaciers in Iceland, celebrated the dead in Mexico, ate our hearts out in Chicago, and discovered some of our favorite places in the world together.
Like any good relationship, there have been some amazing milestones and bumps along the way. We recently returned from a 3 ½ month trip to South America and spent every waking day and sleeping night together while we were in Chile, Uruguay, and Argentina. Most people wondered how we didn’t kill each other with that much face time. Luckily, we’re alive and well to tell you the 7 secrets to successful travel as a couple.
1.) Patience is a virtue
And the most important skill to master while traveling as a couple. Long lines, bus rides, and flights become the norm. As travelers, we want to control everything. However, the world has other plans. Practicing patience allowed us to go-with-the-flow during our 3 ½ month trip to Chile, Uruguay, and Argentina in 2016. On our trip south through Chile, we were told we would have to take 3 buses from Pucon to Valdivia. Instead of huffing and puffing about this inconvenience, we reminded ourselves to be patient and remember we would eventually arrive at our destination. When things do not go according to your very detailed itinerary, just take a deep breath and hone your patience. Plus, constant complaining will only irritate your travel partner.
When things do not go according to your very detailed itinerary, just take a deep breath and hone your patience. Plus, constant complaining will only irritate your travel partner.
2.) Communicate, communicate, communicate
“Say what you mean, mean what you say, but don’t be mean when you say it”
I love this quote. It’s a great reminder to communicate clearly and with kindness. When you’re with your partner every. single. day. it is easy to forget that he or she is not a mind reader. They’re not going to know that you would rather eat pizza for lunch or that you absolutely loathe staring at 18th-century art unless you speak up and say something.
I’m not just talking about verbal communication, though. A simple phrase like “Yeah wherever” could be a positive response to a new destination when combined with an excited tone. But if that same phrase is coupled with an eye roll and a sigh, then you probably mean something different than what you are actually saying. And your partner will pick up on these queues.
A lot of time and energy will be saved during your trip if you both communicate clearly with one another. Tone and body language is essential to healthy communication too. By knowing what both of you want by communicating clearly, you’ll end up having less stress during your trip and which brings us to the next key to success…
3.) Discuss expectations before and during a trip
We knew that David would be working during our trip to South America this year. I left my job in December, so I had more free time during the week than he did. Even though I knew he would be busy most days during the week, I still got frustrated occasionally when I wanted to explore on a sunny afternoon and he had to stay in the apartment for meetings. Nonetheless, I would wander the streets of Valparaíso on my own giving us both some much needed alone time. It’s perfectly okay to do different things while on a trip.
However, you and your partner should both agree on the main types of activities you’d like to do on your trip as well. If one of you wants to go hiking every day while the other wants to wander inside museums, it’s probably not going to work out. Luckily, David and I both hate hiking.
We also recommend that you and your significant other agree on the style of travel you will do. You should both determine if you want travel slow or to move quickly through each place you visit and what types of activities you’d like to do.
When we traveled to Uruguay and Argentina, we decided before our trip to only book a couple of days at a certain place in advance. This flexibility allowed us to extend our stay in Punta del Este, Uruguay for two extra days before returning to Buenos Aires.
Bottom line: It’s imperative to communicate trip expectations and details before and during your trip.
4.) Identify strengths and plan accordingly
I enjoy making itineraries, David is the translator, and we both share navigation responsibilities. By capitalizing on each other’s strengths while traveling, neither of us feels as if we are doing it all for the other.
I research many hotels and restaurants while making our itineraries and send David a Google Doc list of my favorite places. He then picks his favorites from the list and together we decide on where to stay and eat. This process we developed is very effective when planning our trips. It also helps us avoid the blame game. One of us can’t blame the other for making a terrible choice when we are both involved in the planning and decision-making process.
5.) Eat before you become hangry
Most of our small arguments usually resulted from a lack of lunch. Hangry = hunger + angry. Our irritable moods would shift as soon as we took our first bite of ceviche.
Taking care of this basic need is vital to a successful trip and relationship. We always prioritize meals on our travels because we know we’re not pretty when we’re hangry.We always carry snacks with us while we travel for when the hangry monster strikes at an inconvenient time, like when you’re stuck on a
We always carry snacks with us while we travel for when the hangry monster strikes at an inconvenient time, like when you’re stuck on a 4-hour bus ride in the middle of the day.
6.) Bury your pride and forgive quickly.
David and I are very stubborn. We’re both Tauruses after all. Behind the beautiful sunset photo on Instagram, there are the occasional arguments while traveling. No one is perfect and it happens. However, we’ve realized that being proud, or always wanting to be “right” during an argument, is a steady path to an unhappy relationship.
Our advice: while fighting, remain open to the other person and try to understand their frustrations. Identify the source of the argument and try to forgive one another as quickly as you can. When you only have a few days in a beautiful place, there’s no time to go to bed angry.
7.) Keep the romance flame burning
When you spend every day with your partner on a long term trip, it can be easy to let the romance slow to a simmer. We kept the romance alive by going on dates even while we travel, such as going out to a nice restaurant or listening to live music. On our last night in Buenos Aires, we splurged on a tango show. It was very touristy, but we had a great time dressing up and watching a live & professional performance of Argentina’s national dance. It was the perfect end to our stay in bustling Buenos Aires!
The world is full of beautiful moments. Seize the opportunities to put a little romance into each one.
Frustrations are bound to rear their ugly heads while traveling as a couple. We hope these tips will help you and your partner minimize the bickering and lead to a successful and enjoyable trip together. And if you’re not convinced, just remember you will always have someone to watch your luggage when you use the bathroom at the airport when you travel as a couple.
If you have any advice or tips you would add to ours, let us know in the comments!