Travel Advice from Traveling Couples

By Nomadic Matt | Published August 25th, 2011

gypsy nesters traveling overseas togetherThis is a guest post by Elise, one half of Positive World Travel. It’s a different format than I’ve done in the past, but let’s see how it works.

It’s been almost two years since Anthony and I started traveling together. In that time, I’ve learned more about Anthony and our relationship than I ever could have if we had stayed in Sydney. I certainly believe our travels have only strengthened our relationship. And so I began to wonder what have other couples learned from their trip. I was sure they’d have advice to share, so I decided to contact a few couples and hear their thoughts, tips, and perspectives of life as two on the road.

Life After Kids: the Gypsy Nesters
I was interested to talk with a couple that are now traveling after they’ve raised their kids. David and Veronica from Gypsy Nester have been together for 30 years. Since their kids have flown the nest, they’re enjoying life on the road and have been traveling full-time for the last three years.

David says traveling has been the couple’s best way to share experiences together as a newly-minted empty nest couple. “Our plan took on a life of its own—leading us to sell everything, including our house. Now every day is a new experience, and our relationship is stronger than ever.

Of their travels together, David says, “In some ways this is a bonus time for us since we spent a huge portion of our first twenty years of marriage separated because of my work…Now, we get to make up for some of that lost time.

For Veronica, traveling has opened her up again and she feels free. She says, “Sometimes ‘holing up’ in one place can make you fearful of the world. As a mother, I turned into a protector. My main focus was keeping my children from harm. Though that’s a very commendable thing, it made me fearful.

So, after three years of full-time travel, what advice do they have for couples who want to travel? “Dial back the day-to-day planning, embrace the unexpected, and look for the unknown gems along the way.” They both agree that, initially, they were trying too hard to see everything in a minimum amount of time. “We had been known to vacation like that, but it’s not a vacation [now], it’s our lives.

David and Veronica have really got their lifestyle, relationship, and travel style down pat, and when I asked them to sum up their travels in one word they simply answered: “Discovery.”

A Decade Of Travel: Wanderlust Fever
transamerica karen and eric is a couple that travels together with their truck
Karen and Eric from Trans Americas Journey are no novices when it comes to either long-term travel or couples travel. In total, they’ve been traveling for just under a decade and have been on the road constantly for the last five years.

Traveling together for Eric and Karen is what they describe as a “long-term endeavor—more [of a] lifestyle than anything else.” For them, the one- to two-week vacation just seems “foreign and impossible.”

Eric and Karen say that their biggest challenge on the road is spending all of their time together. (This is also one of the biggest challenges Ant and I face). But they also see this as their biggest gift. Many people say to them, “If you can travel together, you must have a perfect relationship.” No such thing, they say. Being with someone all the time means it’s “important to find a way to give in to your partner’s needs on his or her deal-breaker issues, and vice versa.

For them, it’s compromise that is their single most important tip for traveling couples and for maintaining a great relationship on the road. They suggest you “compromise when making decisions (where to go next, budgets, this hotel or that hotel, etc.), especially when it comes to the two or three core elements that are most important to your partner.

On The Flip Side: The Beginning Travelers
positive world travel is a couple traveling abroad
With such great advice from two truly inspiring couples, I also wanted to talk to one couple who have only just started out on their travels. Is their perspective any different? What have they learned in their short time on the road?

Skott and Shawna from Get Up And Globe just started traveling together in June of 2010. Their long-term travel started with looking for a honeymoon destination, but the wheels were set in motion when they realized they wanted to spend time in more than just one location.

Although they weren’t really nervous about traveling together for so long, they do think their travels have been a whole lot easier because, prior to this trip, they worked together. “Working together prepared us quite well. We got to know what makes the other person tick in challenging, high-tension situations,” they said. Skott and Shawna suggest that if you’re worried about spending so much time with your partner, all day every day, try “getting yourselves involved in an activity where you are stuck with each other for at least a few days without escape. For example, a week-long canoe trip or camping.

Whether you’re a couple who’s been traveling for two weeks or two years, there will always be lessons you can learn to strengthen your relationship. Skott and Shawna focus on communication and trust. “Communication is an area where we are absolutely continuing to grow. If one of us is getting annoyed, we are learning that it is better to explain why you are upset instead of keeping it bottled inside…We are learning we need to trust each other more. Whether it is planning a certain element of the trip, finding our way around a city, or even working on our blog, we need to recognize that the other person is just as competent, and that they need to be given a chance to show what they can do!

While Skott and Shawna said it took them some time to find their “travel legs,” they absolutely love that they “have someone else to share every incredible experience and every challenging moment with. We will share these moments forever.

While all three couples have such different relationships and travel experiences, none of them sugar-coated the fact that traveling together is hard and takes work. Yes, the times on the road will be tough, but each couple looked at their travels as time to spend with one another, share special moments, and problem solve as a strengthened unit.

Traveling with your loved one really is a very unique and rewarding experience. I know I wouldn’t change my travels with Anthony for anything.

Elise 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 11 Comments

Great piece! My partner and I have been traveling together for a year and together for only a year! I have to agree with Karen and Eric that there are things we’ve learned about each other that we never would of if we stayed in one place. Sharing travel with Ric has made the experience ten times better-but as with any relationship we have our bad times on the road-so it’s nice to hear from other couples about their experiences and tips! Thanks!!

Hey Bobbi,

Great to hear that you love the article. Being able to get advice and thoughts from other travelling couples was one of the reasons I wanted to interview other couples-to show other people, that we ALL have our ups and downs on the road. It’s normal!!
I agree with you, that travel really makes you understand your partner and you learn so much more about them than you ever could!

Great piece! I’ve done a bit of solo travel and a bit of couple travel, and I think I prefer the travel with company option when the company is right.

Hey Chris,

I think you hit the nail on the head….’travelling with company when the company is right’….it only really works when you actually enjoy being around the other person!
Travelling can be intense and if you can’t stand being with a person all the time, then it will be no fun for the both of you….luckily for Ant and I (and the other couples I interviewed) we all enjoy each others company!

Very interesting post!
My girlfriend and I are also planning a one year trip together, and we do have doubts about what will happen to our relationship. Will we grow closer together or will we start annoying each other.

We are used to travel for short periods like a couple of weeks, but that is something totally different. My biggest fear is that I will need solo time too much (I need this much more than my girlfriend) and that at a certain moment we won’t have anything to tell anymore to each other, because we’ve experienced everything together.

I thinkt that the tip of Skott and Shawna about not bottle up annoyances is really valuable. It’s very hard to process such things inside when you’re together all the time. Issues need to be solved right away.

Hey Nicolas,
It normal to be feeling a little nervous when you are about to set out on a trip with you partner. I remember the first time Ant and I went travelling together for 6 weeks, about 4 years ago, i was even nervous then.

The same went for when we started our long term travels, but if you communicate and are quite happy to be around each then everything will be fine.

Alone time is definitely soemthing that all couples need from time to time-even when you are not travelling.I wrote about having me time a couples of months ago, if you are interested in reading about how Ant and I deal with me time and how healthy it is for our travel relationship:http://www.nomadicmatt.com/travel-blogs/the-importantance-of-personal-time/

Hearing from a new couple on the road, was refreshing too and I think Skott and Shawna gave some great advice to what they have learnt.

Thanks for reading and glad you found it useful.
When are you leaving for you trip with your girlfriend?

Elise and Matt!
Wow, we sound so wise! Thank you so much for the opportunity for us to share our story – we are grinning from ear-to-ear.

-David and Veronica

We’ve been on the road together for 16 months and the single most important factor in making it work is something that is often overlooked: you both have to really like each other. It seems so obvious that almost nobody ever states it explicitly, but far fewer couples actually enjoy each other enough to spend 24/7 together. It is, I think, a rare and wonderful thing.

Beyond that, communication, flexibility, and some periods of ‘alone time’ are also critical to ensuring that you keep really liking each other. Both parties have to work at it. But it’s well worth the effort to have someone to share all of these great memories with.

Wonderful and inspirational post! My wife and I have been traveling the world together for about 7 years, 3 of those with our daughter Kaya.

Hi Elise and Matt,
Super great post. All people who have had a terrible traveling experience with a friend/partner/spouse know how travel requires (demands?) compatibility. Like no other activity, travel reveals your compatibility with another.
Conrad’s and my relationship is best when traveling. We have the same pace, comfort level, food requirements and stamina.
What we appreciate in each other is our unique abilities: Conrad is like a “City Savant” in that he understands the flow and make-up of cities. He “feels” where important places are like city center, tourist offices, water front, train stations, bathrooms.
I’m the expert lodging finder. Based on where we’re headed, I can ferret out the coolest family-owned places — which are usually low-cost, too. My methodical searches resulted in some of the sweetest travel experiences!
Thanks for this post. I love reading about other couples.
~Josie

Thank you for posting! I have been travelling with my boyfriend for a month now and yesterday we almost called it quits… so, I am searching for as much feedback as possible. I flew from Sydney to Argentina because we decided we couldn’t do long distance and wanted to travel together. We’re probably quieter than most travelers (we eat together, generally converse with just eachother) and spend literally every minute of every day– side by side. We love eachother immensily but, we both are craving variety: other relationships (friendships/connections), employment/work experience, alone time, etc. I think that (lack of alone time) is the root of the problem and it branches out like so: I feel that he is being inconsiderate and then become upset/angry and I ‘shut down’. He becomes irritated that I’m in a bad mood but, won’t say anything about it… until later. So…. communication gurus….. help!!! I love this man to pieces and want to overcome … whatever this obstacle is. Oh, and we both love travelling, too! Gah, help!!

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