Guest Post: Traveling as One Half of a Couple

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Today's guest post comes from Poi of No Place to Be. Poi and his girlfriend, Kirsty, set off around the world together in August, and aren't sure when they're going home. The English couple started out in China, and are now in Southeast Asia. After nearly 3 months on the road, both Poi and Kirsty are settling into their roles and discovering how to make traveling as a couple work.

Traveling as One Half of a Couple

Tea fields in Vietnam

I had never really planned on travelling alone.

Before Kirsty, there was a rough plan to travel with a friend, but it’s so much harder to plan that way. So eventually I gave in to Kirsty’s begging and agreed to go with her. (It might have been the other way round!)

Now, after two months on the road together, I honestly don’t think I could do it without her. I travel with Kirsty through necessity, and I don’t mean that in a bad way.

Without any real agreement, Kirsty seems to have taken control of many things that mean I really can live the high life. She plans, keeps a check on the money, tells me how much things should cost, how much time we have, what’s on and who’s where. Without her, I probably wouldn’t have left our first stop in Beijing yet.

There are of course days where we push each other’s buttons more than usual, and these are more often than not travel days. We both hate them anyway, and battling your own way through the crowds is hard enough without having to worry about someone else as well. Although as soon as we arrive at the hotel or hostel, we are best of friends again. There’s just something about the travel itself that makes us crazy.

These are the things you learn after a while together on the road that you couldn’t learn at home. It’s important to adapt to them if you want to make it work, and realising we are both going to be touchy during travel days is one of those things.

Out in the rain in Hangzhou, China

Our trip took us to China first. By the time five weeks had passed, where we had been very much by ourselves for the most part, we were ready for some fresh company.

Just because you are a couple does not mean you can’t spend time with other people. (Just don’t sleep with them).

We met Ellie on our Ha Long Bay trip and found she was travelling the same way through Vietnam as us. We spent the best part of two weeks with her and had a great time before going off our separate ways. Having someone else around made us appreciate both how good it can be to have some new friendly company around, and how nice the time to ourselves is as well. This time with someone else was definitely what we needed, and it felt almost like a fresh start again afterwards.

The main two questions that we have been asked since we started travelling are:

Do you get on better or worse since you’ve been travelling together?

We both agreed: better (surprisingly?).

Back at home, we never had the same timetable, so one of us would often be tired when the other was raring to go, which sometimes created a bit of tension. Now we are following the same routine and often have the same ideas about what we want to do (sometimes scarily so), and so far we are really enjoying been around each other full-time.

We’ve never been a couple who have full on arguments; a few jokingly-mentioned but intended words are usually enough to warn the other that it’s time to back off.

How do you give each other space?
Canyoning in Vietnam

We find it’s not so much about having time away from each other, but rather allowing one another to have time to do whatever we feel like. It could be as simple as reading a book or chatting to somebody on Skype and realising that silence doesn’t mean we hate each other, just that it's ok to think by yourself now and again.

The key to travelling as a couple is realising that no two people can be around each other 24/7 and get on fine.

It’s important to learn early on where to draw the line on a big trip, and constantly work to keep each other happy. If you do this, travelling as a couple can be wonderful and very rewarding.

I’m a strong believer that most couples will know before they leave home whether it will work out or not. And if you have your doubts, it may be worth re-thinking your plans, as a long trip is very intense and not the place to test your relationship.

——

Visit Poi and Kirsty's site: No Place to Be
Follow Poi and Kirsty on Twitter: @NoPlaceToBe

"It's a dangerous business, going out your door. You step onto the road, and, if you don't keep your feet, there's no telling where you might get swept off to." - JRR Tolkien

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13 Comments on “Guest Post: Traveling as One Half of a Couple

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  1. Thanks for sharing Poi – fighting with your other half while on the road is completely normal I think and eventually makes your relationship stronger.

    Amy and I are really looking forward to spending an extended amount of time together (work seems to get in the way of that these days!) but also can’t wait to meet some amazing new people!

    I’m happy for your honesty about traveling together. Too many blogging couples do not write honestly about the hardships of traveling together. Certainly it can be wonderful, and I wouldn’t want to do it any other way, but it’s not all sunset walks on the beach and romantic dinners either!! It’s about finding each others strengths and weaknesses and working with them. Good for you guys! Cheers!

    I loved this post! As one half a a semi-traveling couple it’s good to read success stories. My boyfriend and I do really well for our situation here in Italy (he’s from here so technically it’s all on my to be out of my comfort zome, etc.) but things have continually gotten better and we have realized what a change has been made in our lives because even though we are in his hometown, his life is now completely different. I hope it speaks volumes to how we’ll be as a traveling couple.

    It doesn’t seem strange to me that you get along better on the road because even though you’re in each other’s faces 24/7, it’s a welcomed change and traveling makes you guys happy! I find that often my boyfriend and I fight more here because we’re static and we get restless with the same-old. Keep it up!

    It was so nice to spend 3 weeks of goodness with Shaun during our last road trip. He talked incessantly for 3 days about things that he had not had time to chat about due to our conflicting schedules. We mainly bicker now because we see each other so seldom. I am so glad that the traveling couple thing has worked for you guys! You look like you are having a blast!

    Great post Poi!
    I’ve traveled with friends before, and while it was much more partying, it was also much more exhausting mentally. As a couple the relationship is just different, and you know each other on a whole different level than with a friend, I think.

    Love the interview. So much of what you said is so true. There’s no way for any couple to get along great when together for 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. You have to learn how to travel together, and it takes time and a tremendous amount of patience. You both seem to have figured it out quite well. Like anything in a relationship, it’s all about compromise and give and take. But one thing we really figured out when on the road is to put your full trust in your partner. If there’s something your SO is better at, then let him or her take charge and get it done. We figured out after a while that my wife was better at negotiating and bargaining, so I just let her do most of it. I am the organizer, the planner, so she just let me research and book hostels and transportation. Not every single decision has to be made together when traveling with your SO, and once you realize that, much time and tension is saved. Great advice all around here guys!

    I’m just going to agree with everyone else so far — this is a fantastic, honest post. It sounds like you and Kirsty have really figured things out. I’ve never traveled solely with a significant other, but I imagine that it’s not always easy, like you say. However, with you guys as a perfect example, I know it definitely IS possible to have a great time traveling as a couple. Like Adam said, I imagine it’s a lot of give and take — which you two seem to have figured out very early on.

    Also, your “Just don’t sleep with them” comment cracked me up!

    @Kieron Thats why we like it so much, especially as before this trip we were long distance for quite a while, so the time together is really good!

    @Gillian You’re right it’s great but it does take work, I wouldn’t have it any other way. As for the sunset walks on the beach and romantic meals I don’t think we’ve done either of those yet? unless you count sitting on stools eating street food?!?

    @Annie I’m glad you liked the post! Like you say with the change of routine were bound to be happier together and besides what have we got to be unhappy about? we’re travelling the world!

    @Amanda Thanks for having us!!

    It does take a lot of work to spend so much time as a couple without killing each other. My husband Jack and I not only travel a lot together, we actually work together in the same buildilng, carpool together, have the same groups of friends, etc — Talking about 24/7.

    We wrote some tips on how travel as a couple awhile back if you’re interested.

    @Erica Thanks! We’ve almost had a similar thing, I’ve learnt stuff about Kirsty that I never knew before, just little things that you wuldn’t realy think to talk about when your busy at home. It’s been great!

    @Sofia Thanks very much! I can see the fun side of travelling with friends for sure but I’m not sure how long I could last, like you say I imagine it’s very tiring and I need Kirsty to look after me haha.

    @Adam That sounds exactly like what we do, there are definately things Kirsty is far better at than me and at the beggining we use to try and share all the jobs but it doesn’t work, it’s been so much easier since we learnt to just let the other get on with it.

    @Jill wow that is full on, if we have any relationship problems I think I’m coming to you, the experts.

    […] Traveling as One Half of a Couple I love Poi and Kirsty’s kooky (did I just type ‘kooky’) photos of themselves in this guest post and on their own blog. Among their advice is: ‘Just because you are a couple does not mean you can’t spend time with other people. (Just don’t sleep with them)’. […]

    You two look familiar — you weren’t in Skopje, Macedonia, in the summer of ’09, were you?

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