Keeping The Relationship Spark Alive

By Nomadic Matt | Published July 28th, 2011

T eh couple from Positive World Travel hugging on a boatThis is a guest post by Ant, one half of Positive World Travel.

When traveling the world as a couple, there can come a time when the your relationship “spark” loses some its brightness. While exploring new cultures and racing around the world, it‘s easy for your relationship to fall to the wayside or end up in a rut.

I’m talking from experience. Our relationship has become boring and mundane a few times, but we‘ve found many ways to keep igniting the flame over and over again. The important thing is to try and keep your relationship as fresh and as exciting as the countries you‘re visiting.

Elise and I have found many ways to keep our relationship interesting:

Date Night
As corny as it might sound, going out on an actual “date” can do wonders for your relationship. It can get monotonous sightseeing, eating cheap meals, or cooking your own food day in and day out, so making time for a special night can be something to look forward to. Elise and I plan a date night every two weeks. We spend a little extra money, go to a nice restaurant, and dress up as best we can. We spend that night not talking about our website or what we did that day, but talk with one another, put our dream caps on, and play the “what if” game.

Elise loves to chat about our eventual wedding and even though it can drive me crazy at times (I never knew you could talk so much about floral arrangements!), date nights are a great way to share and chat about her—err, I mean our—dream wedding. Date nights let you listen and reconnect with one another outside the traveling experience.

Be Spontaneous
Traveling as a couple can take its toll on each of you, and this tip is one of our key ingredients to success. Elise likes our travels to be somewhat planned, and I try and mix things up and be spontaneous, which keeps her thinking because she doesn‘t know what I have planned next.

If you have extra time in the city you‘re in, head out for the day and just act on a whim. Do activities you hadn’t considered before and try romantic dates like going for massages, seeing a movie, or going bowling. Traveling doesn‘t always have to be about sightseeing, and you can spend time doing the normal things you did back home, too.

Celebrations
Girl sitting with a bunch of colorful balloon at a birthday party
Even while traveling, celebrating birthdays and anniversaries is important to any relationship. It doesn’t matter if you‘re in the middle of nowhere, because the fact that you‘ll go to a little extra effort and get creative will always make your partner happy.

Once when we were camping, it was Elise’s birthday and we were far from any nice restaurants. So, the morning of her birthday, I woke up early to blow 23 balloons up and then gently placed them throughout our tent. I woke her up to an out-of-tune singing birthday candle and a dry piece of cake I found at a corner store the day before. She was delighted that I had gone to the trouble of making her birthday a little special even though we were camping. We spent the rest of the day at a deserted beach, and Elise says that it was one of her best birthdays ever.

Surprises
Even though you‘re traveling together and you may be on a limited budget, a surprise every now and again will always excite your better half. Elise knows that I‘m a sucker for dark chocolate, and I always get excited when she‘s been out to run some errands and jumps on the bed with both hands behind her back when she gets home. I love that she thinks of me while she‘s out. It brings joy to our relationship.

Face Your Fears
Doing activities that one or both of you have a fear of can bring you together and bond you. Sharing a fear and overcoming it will definitely bring the spark back and a sense of achievement for you both.

Elise has a small fear of heights, and she has regularly pushed herself to confront this fear over the past 18 months. She has jumped out of planes and jumped off cliffs into fast-flowing rivers. Each time she faces this fear I get so proud of her and it deepens my love for her.

Supporting your partner and giving them the encouragement they need to face their fears or overcoming them together is an instant bonding moment shared between the two of you and only strengthens your relationship.

Getting Intimate
Female getting an exotic massage in a romantic setting overseas
It has to be noted that sex is an important part of every relationship, and when you’re not having any, you‘re bound to be fighting more. Traveling in dirty environments and staying in shared accommodation can be a dampener to sexual relations. Finding time for a romp when there are train schedules to work out, long and sweaty bus rides to take, or a day battling annoying touts can be difficult.

Spending a little extra money from time to time and staying in a private room is the best way to find some alone time as having sex in hostels can be quite tricky otherwise. Elise and I do this from time to time to make sure we can have intimate moments together.

Even couples that have been together for years and years all need to take time out every now and again to make sure the spark is still there. The most important tip is to work out what works for you as a couple. Elise and I always make sure we not only have time for long-term travel and all that entails, but also for making our relationship work on the road and keeping the spark alive.

Ant is one half of the dynamic duo at Positive World Travel. Both are writing about their experiences and thoughts on what long-term travel is like as a couple. You can also follow them on Facebook for more of their travel updates.

comments 13 Comments

Interesting post although I’m single. Little question… do you make time for yourself, like go for a few days by yourself and breathe a little. Maybe you don’t need to, but I definitely would…

We do have “me” time which allows us to appreciate each other more and when we see one another again we always have so many stories to tell. It is always hard to be travelling with each other 24 hours a day and you need to allow yourself some breathing space every now and again.

Great post Ant! I’ll have to pass this on to my wife Jammie. We love traveling but, as you said, stressful conditions can put a damper on things and it makes sense to be ready with some clever plans. Do you guys have one person that wears the pants or does it kind of depend on what kind of decision making is happening? I’m just wondering what happens when there is a difference of opinion on something medium to big…

We generally share the decision making as we have different jobs that we take care. We didn’t assign these jobs but just took on what we do best. Elise wrote about our responsibilities last month which shows how we make decisions http://www.nomadicmatt.com/travel-blogs/dividing-up-travel-responsibilities/ You will always have a difference of opinion and it is your willingness to make compromises on a daily basis. It does help if you are similar people and have the same likes but you will always need to communicate you feelings and usually someone needs to compromise on something each day.

Fantastic advice! Even though it’s just me writing Pack Your Passport, I’m travelling with my boyfriend of 5 years and it can be so difficult travelling together; sometimes we find that we’re just spending far too much time together so we make a conscious effort to make time for ourselves and go our separate ways for a day. Makes it even better when you return and have lots more to talk about.

Thanks for the advice :-)

Thats exactly right, you do need time for yourself when you are travelling together for so long and we find that we have loads of stories to tell each other when we return. It is amazing how much we miss one another when we are by ourselves. Elise wrote an article about it here http://www.nomadicmatt.com/travel-blogs/the-importantance-of-personal-time/

It sounds funny to say that site seeing can get monotonous but you’re right, it totally can!

I’m married already, have been for 4.5 years, and we have to work hard to make sure we keep the spark alive when we’re on the road. These are good tips. Though I have to say, we are wedding photographers, and there’s nothing that makes me love my husband more than going to a wedding and seeing all the love and remembering how I felt when I walked down that aisle to him….

Its not the sight seeing that can get monotonous, but its the person you are spending it with. Elise and I sometimes joke and say to each other “I am just sick of your face”. Which is true sometimes and it is always good to spend time apart and appreciate one another.

Keeping the spark alive is mainly done by doing little thoughtful things for each other when they are least expected.

I would never expect a guy to write something like this. Good job, Ant!

What can I say, I am getting in touch with my feminine side :P

I like the idea of having a special day to spend time with each other. It is hard make time without the distractions of life and having a schedules time is a great idea. Good luck for you wedding!

22 Years strong this Sept and I attribute it to all the things you wrote above added with this piece of advice: Don’t say everything you are thinking. Argue respectfully and never utter your Holy Grail words – you’ll be happy you didn’t the next day when you can’t remember what you were arguing about in the first place.

Keep smiling!

Awesome! This was definitely the hardest part of my year abroad. But when you make time it can definitely work. Plus, if you can survive travel together, you can survive just about anything! :)

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