I’m not going to tell you that travelling with your partner is the best thing you can do for your relationship, or give you advice on how to travel with them. This isn’t an article on learning to compromise or learning to listen to one another and value them- because who knows, it could be the worst thing for your relationship. I’m certainly not an expert and I am certainly not in any position to give out this kind of advice.
This is more personal. A no bull-shit recount of how scared I was before embarking blindly on a two month European journey with my partner of about three months. We hadn’t lived together. We hadn’t travelled together. We hadn’t even considered the fact that our relationship could turn into something a bit more serious. We were still new, fresh, high on the energy we were giving each other, and stuck in the blissful honeymoon stage.
It could have been a disaster.
There wasn’t really a discussion that sparked the trip. On an impulsive move, Jaiden decided to book himself on my Contiki and insert himself into the trip I had been carefully crafting for months. Note: he also managed to pay about half the price. All I remember is that one moment he was telling me this grande plan he’d had and before I knew it, we were off on our way to London with no idea whether it was going to work out.
We would be spending day in, day out together; every meal, every decision, every long, squashy coach ride and every little delay. Would we make it? It was certainly a risk I was willing to take after the 10 months of working my ass off to get there.
Sure, we joked about it all the time- “I hope we make it through this,” “If we are even together by the end of this,” “If I don’t kill you before we make it home.” Perhaps it was because we had a positive frame of mind about what we wanted to achieve on the trip, or maybe it was the fact that we were so excited we didn’t have time to think too much about whether or not the relationship would make it. The thought of our relationship not passing the test was too scary to deal with. And so on we soldiered.
The little memories I have of those first nights after he told me he would be joining me in Europe make it sound rather easy. The truth is, I was scared shitless. It wasn’t that I was worried about the relationship. I was worried that a year’s worth of dreaming about my holiday would lead me to be held back by a boy. (Spoiler: it doesn’t).
The thing I didn’t consider
We were coming at the trip from two very different perspectives. We were at two stages of our lives, we had dreamt about different things, and we’d left different things behind. I was travelling on a baked-beans-on-toast budget and he was travelling on a smashed avo with a side of salmon budget. I was interested in history, he was interested in buying gladiator helmets. We were two different people who barely even knew one another and we were trying to galavant our way through Europe in the attempt to come out rosy on the other side.
I’ve read stories about how with any travel buddy, be it a friend, family member or stranger, you should always get on the same page with your budget, lifestyle and priorities.
Although we were near and far between, it somehow worked. We pushed each other to spend more time doing the things the other loved and in the end, we left as completely new people. These changes became some of my favourite memories and helped define me into the person I feel like I have grown into since the trip.
The bad days
Anyone who says that travelling with a partner is a piece of cake, is lying. We certainly had our tiffs. Although, admittedly, these were mostly driven by myself being food deprived or getting angry at him for not capturing that oh so important instagram shot. It also isn’t clean, and you get to learn a whole new side of your partner that you’d never seen… or heard… or smelt… or felt before. We had to learn how to tiptoe around one another in a confined space and it was bloody tough.
At first, we spoke about our trip a lot, but now we need to make a conscious effort to bring it up with each other so we don’t forget about the incredible experience we shared.
For me, it wasn’t travelling with him that was hard. Travel is easy: it’s life at home that is hard. Choosing a meal and what to do while you’re in Prague, Paris, Amsterdam, Berlin is easy. It’s fuelled with adventure and fun and excitement. It’s the decisions we need to make at home as a couple that become difficult. Should we move out together? Where will we live? How does my career change affect my partner? Should we buy a dog? When can we next get annual leave off together? Do you love me?
The most important lesson I learned was that even whilst being home, we must remember to have fun. We need to ask each other how we are. We need to put down the electronics, share a few drinks, and never stop being spontaneous.
Don’t forget to add me on Instagram – @oneworldwanderer – for more foolishness and travel adventures!