In the travel blogging world, every Tom, Dick and Harry is blabbing on about why Solo Travel is this life-changing, must-try experience, and I’m here to say “hey, let’s not forget about couple travel” – it’s not to be frowned at, in my experience it’s equally as life-changing (if not more so) than solo travel. Sure, I’ve got some good stories and some bad stories about travelling with my significant other. But, ultimately the good outweighs the bad. We’ve experienced some amazing things together and at the end of the day it feels so good to be able to share those once-in-a-lifetime experiences with the person I love.
So, why do I think ‘couple travel’ is the bees knees…
You’ve always got a safety net, I know travelling (“proper” travelling) is all about living on the edge and exploring the unknown without fear, but you know what, when exploring the depths of an unknown city it makes me feel safer knowing that I’ve got a burly sidekick beside me. For example in Santa Ana, El Salvador we took a wrong turn down a notoriously dangerous street in the city – there were needles strewn everywhere and some inherently dodgy looking groups of men. If I was by myself I probably would have had a nervous breakdown – but himself, always the calm and collected type, just told me to walk fast and keep looking straight ahead. They didn’t bother me at all, maybe it was because I had a guy with me, maybe they wouldn’t have bothered me if I was on my own. My point is simply, I feel safer with him than on my own.
You have someone very special to spend those once-in-a-lifetime moments with. I always say that the best moments in life are those you spend with someone you love. We’ve had tons of these amazing moments on the road – like the time we slept in a wooden hut in the jungles of Palenque, Mexico and heard jaguars and howler monkeys as we fell asleep, or the time we swam with sharks in Belize, or the time we hiked an active volcano in El Salvador or when we watched the most surreal sunset from a clifftop restaurant in Cinque Terre, Italy. These are all ‘our moments’ that we will treasure forever and I’m certain will still speak about in years, even decades, to come. BUT, there’s also been some ‘couple travel’ moments we’d rather forget like the time Paul got such extreme food-poisoning in Cambodia that he was bed-ridden for 5 whole days, or the time I had a mini-breakdown in Guatemala because I was so exhausted and cried on the bed in our shitty little dungeon of a hostel room while Paul ran out to get me McDonald s.
You always have someone to talk to, I talk a lot so it saves me looking slightly mental whilst talking to a wall somewhere.
It’s easier to meet people when you’re part of a duo. I know some people will disagree with this but I feel it kind of relieves the pressure of ‘having’ to bond with someone when you’re travelling with someone else, and so your connections with other travellers are a lot more genuine and less forced. Does that make sense? I did a bit of solo travelling before I met Paul, and I felt I was always forcing myself to speak to someone in my hostel/ at a restaurant to avoid looking like a loner. But maybe, that was just my younger more paranoid self. We met some incredible people on our ‘couple travels’, sure a lot were other couples but we also befriended a lot of solo travellers. After all, we had one big thing in common (travel) and so conversation came easily.
You always have someone to take photos of you. “Babe, will you take a picture of me next to this beach/ statue/ building?” is a very common phrase in our relationship. Paul is usually the one doing all the photo-taking but, I’m getting a little better at snapping photos of him (so he told me recently). And because he’s my other half I’m not too embarrassed to tell him to keep taking photos until we have the perfect shot. Luckily, he’s into good photography as much as me, so when I ask him to wake up at 6am with me to take photos of the sunset he doesn’t look at me like I’m mad.
You have someone to split your costs with. When you’re a ‘travel couple’ there’s really no point in staying in a hostel dorm room when you can stay in your own private room for the same price. You can save money by splitting meals, especially in countries like Mexico and Belize where the portions are massive. If you can’t afford another night drinking in a bar you can split the price of a bottle of wine and relax in your private room. Also, if you have issues with your bank card there’s someone to bail you out and give you a loan. This happened to me in El Salvador (not a fun experience).
Of course, there are bad sides to ‘couple travel’ too – you are literally spending every hour of every day with this person, so make sure you actually like them. We killed eachother at times, but the argument was usually over after a few minutes and we never went to sleep angry. You have to learn to compromise – if one of you wants to have Italian for dinner and the other Mexican (this was the cause of most of our arguments FYI), go for one tonight and the other tomorrow. If one of you (me) wants to lie on the beach all day and the other wants to explore the city nearby, maybe you can go your separate ways for a few hours. These are all just things that worked for us, but we’re no experts, although we did travel together for a year non-stop without splitting up. Take the time to find your ‘couple travel’ groove together!
I’m lucky enough to have found someone who loves to travel as much as I do, and I know that’s not easy to find. I’ve found my partner-in-crime, someone who doesn’t talk me out of my crazy plans to go on Safari in Kenya or spend Christmas at the Plaza in New York. Life is good.