A while back, I wrote a post explaining why traveling as a couple is a great thing. However, it’s not all roses and rainbows all the time. Sometimes it’s hard. Really hard. I’ve never done this kind of thing alone, so I can’t really say if it’s harder with a partner, but here’s my list of why it really sucks sometimes.
1. Making decisions.
Sometimes making decisions as a couple can be really hard, especially since practically every decision includes the both of you. Where are we going to eat? You’ll have this discussion 2-3 times a day, and believe me, it gets old. Where are we going to stay in this town? This one’s not so hard, because you’ll probably have a budget you have to stick to, but if one of you doesn’t like the place, you may have to keep searching.
Now, making decisions can be hard if you both have the same kind of personality. For example, Ricky and I are both pretty laidback in some things. We usually end up saying “I don’t really care, whatever you want.” Neither of us has a preference as to where or what we eat, or what exactly to do that day, so we usually end up trying to pass the decision making on to the other person.
2. Lack of Alone Time
I don’t care how in love a couple are, or how attached at the hip and perfect for each other they may seem, everyone needs alone time, especially couples. It’s simply not healthy to spend ALL of your time together. However, when traveling, it’s sometimes hard to find alone time. You’re often in a city you don’t know or where it’s not safe to go wandering out alone. Sometimes you have a strict timeline in a city. Say you’re in a city for 3 days with x amount of sights to see. There’s simply no time for separate time, especially if you both want to see everything.
And no matter how much you love your partner, sometimes you just to punch their adorable face if you have to stare at it again over dinner.
3. Different Activity Preferences
This one isn’t so bad, because taking turns is a wonderful thing. Compromise is a bit harder sometimes, but also good to learn. Perhaps one of you prefers sports-type activities, like rock-climbing, kayaking, or hang-gliding. The other hates those things, but digs going to museums and art galleries. It’s a tricky situation, and there’s no easy answer except to talk it out and come to a conclusion that hopefully suits both of you.
We have found those sorts of differences in our preferences as well. I love hiking. I’ve done some wonderful hiking in Hawaii and in the taller mountains of Utah. I love it. Ricky, however, despises it. Hiking is his hell, mostly because he believes anything that can’t be reached by motorbike is not worth seeing and he has an overwhelming disgust for anything with more than four legs.
So we don’t hike. And I miss it a lot. Sometimes I think of all the cool hiking opportunities I’m missing because Ricky doesn’t like bugs.
On the other hand, Ricky would like to go kayaking, but I have a strange fear of quickly moving water that is based around the time I fell out of a raft in some white water, got stuck under a rock, and when I was finally pulled out I was missing a shoe and a lot of blood. So we don’t do kayaking either. In a way, no one wins. And that’s just how it is.
4. Different Energy Levels
I am a very low energy person. After running around all day seeing temples and museums, I need to re-charge by having a little downtime. Ricky, on the other hand is high energy. He likes to get up and go and just keep going, a la Energizer Bunny.
|Ricky always did look good in sunglasses.
|But I have a cuter smile.
Some days I can keep up and we get everything done by early evening. Other days I have a hard time and have to take a nap in the early afternoon. This frustrates Ricky sometimes because he doesn’t like to just lie around during the day. Sometimes this becomes a war of time management, because what would traveling with a significant other be without a little violence? (I’m just kidding here…we never resort to physical abuse. The verbal kind does us just fine.)
5. Minor Frustrations
|Eating this will fill me with a murderous rage.
It is not easy to be in a foreign country, a place where you don’t understand the language or the culture, a place where you don’t like the food, where you can’t sleep, etc. All these little things add up to a growing mound of frustration which you often take out on the person closest to you. When the food is unexpectedly and unbearably spicy and you’re starving you get angry and start snapping at your partner and they wonder what they did wrong. Or tuk-tuk drivers keep shouting at you and you shout back until you’re shouting at everyone, including your travel companion.
This happens often, more often than I would like, on the parts of both me and Ricky. We get so frustrated sometimes that we think we’re frustrated at everyone, which is hurtful to the other person, because really, they didn’t do anything.
6. Dealing with weird habits, routines, and failings brought on by traveling
Whatever about living together, traveling together is a unique situation in which you are forced to see and deal with your partner’s nuanced style of living, which gets even weirder when outside of the “real world.” One of you may be too organized to the point of OCD, and the other not quite organized enough. You stop shaving (face, legs, whatever), and refuse to wash your clothes. Your partner’s once pristine sense of hygiene has fallen into disrepair. You yourself are finding that you can’t leave the room until each pocket has been patted down 3 times each to make sure you have your keys, wallet, iPod, and tissues.
Traveling changes you, and not always for the better. I have gained weight and started losing things (phones, earrings, keys). Luckily Ricky puts up with it, despite his travel-induced anger management issues.
You see, traveling is a weird thing that brings out the best and worst of everybody. And for better or worse, you have someone to share it all with if you decide to travel as a couple. If you think I see traveling as a couple as a negative thing because of this post, please go back and read the first post about the wonders of travelingtogether, because despite all the frustrations, problems, disagreements, and misunderstandings that occur, you have to fight to make it work, and when you do, it’s amazing.