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
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.
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?
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.