First things first – neither of us wanted to murder each other at any point in the whole seven months. Just for the record. Don’t get me wrong, we definitely had our arguments, but then that’s bound to happen when you spend no more than 12 hours apart in seven months, but no homicidal inclination. Phew.
We found that a few things made the whole trip not only manageable as a couple, but thoroughly enjoyable and as the end of the trip drew close, we both wished we could have continued on for another good few months. Needless to say, not all couples feel like this, so we feel pretty lucky to have managed that and wanted to share with you some of our top tips to try and help you survive on the road:
1. Treat Yourself
Long term travel can be soul destroying if you’re constantly having to think about every single thing you spend your money on and how you’re going to manage. Don’t be frivolous, obviously, but once in a while be prepared to just spend that bit more on something you’ll either both appreciate, or that you know your other half is going to enjoy particularly.
Particularly towards the end of our trip, we realised that Booking.com sometimes have excellent deals on slightly fancier hotels some of which even included access to a spa. Antie loves a good spa and after five or six months on the road, the chance to soak in a steam room and enjoy a huge, comfortable hotel bed was too good to pass up.
It’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but you know what you’ll enjoy, so sometimes treat yourself and just enjoy feeling properly refreshed. It makes the whole experience so much more enjoyable and can be the difference between an ok experience and a great experience.
2. Get Your Own Room
If you’re travelling as a couple (and, to be honest, even if you’re on your own), once in a while you’re going to want your own room. Couple time. No rowdy bunch of Dutchies coming back from a night out at 4:30am and waking up the whole dorm time. This will make you appreciate each other so much more.
3. Give Each Other Space
No one can spend every hour of every day with the same person and not start to crave their own time. It’s nothing to worry about, or stress over, it’s normal. Think about your life at home – when you’re working full time, how much time per day do you actually spend with each other? Suddenly spending every waking minute with each other is a major adjustment.
Be prepared to spend time apart. Go and do the thing that you want to do. For us probably the best example was when I (Pete) wanted to go and do the Death Road bike ride from La Paz. Not a chance in hell that Antie was going to do it, so off I went and about 12 hours later, back I came. Thankfully in one piece and having had a great time. Better still, we had stuff to talk about as we’d done different things during the day – ‘How was your day?’ actually was something we could talk about as it wasn’t a case of ‘Oh, you know, exactly the same as yours’.
4. Be Considerate of What Each Other Wants to Do
I’ll put my hands up and say, on a few occasions, I wasn’t particularly smart about this. Antie tried to give me none-too-subtle hints that she wanted to do something and I totally didn’t get them. So, be considerate. Particularly if you get the feeling that your other half might want to do something you don’t. Provided it’s not something you are totally averse to doing, suck it up and do it. You never know what you might find you end up loving that you’d never considered before.
Prime example for us – the 8 day Torres del Paine trek. I knew, more or less from the outset of the whole trip, that I wanted to do this. Antie, however, although totally game for hikes and things hadn’t really banked on doing an 8 day trek. When it became clear how much I wanted to do it, she didn’t bat an eyelid and rolled with it. Plus, after we’d done it, we were both really glad we had.
5. Don’t Argue About Money – Use Splitwise
Money has undoubtedly been the end of many good couples while on the road. It can become a real sore point – inevitably you’re going to have different budgets and different spending habits. I am terrible with money and definitely spent more than Antie, but fortunately we knew who had spent what and so it wasn’t an issue.
This was made so much easier by the use of a very handy app called Splitwise, which lets you track expenses and categorise them if you want. We used it the whole way through the trip and it was a life saver.
Obviously if you have a joint account then this is less of an issue, but still worth keeping track of. The last thing you want to do is find that you haven’t go enough funds to do the things you want to do, or worse still, book your return flight!
6. You will see things you might never have done before
This is a bit silly, but pretty fundamental and when you spend all day, every day with the person you love, but haven’t lived with before, you’re probably going to see them go through some stuff that isn’t terribly attractive, but is just part and parcel of being in a relationship. And I tell you what, if you can still say ‘I love you’ and want to kiss the person you once saw vomit a very unhealthy shade of green (not alcoholically induced) on the street in front of a fully-loaded tour bus, then you’re probably onto a winner.