Six Tips on How to Travel with Someone Long Term
Traveling long term with someone else can be amazing. Whether it’s a partner, family member or friend, the benefits are many: You share experiences and memories and can always reminisce together, you get to know that person on a much deeper level, you always have someone to take pictures of you, you’re rarely bored or lonely and you can share the costs of renting a room, a car and so on…
However, while there are innumerable benefits, there are also potential dangers, regardless of how well you know or how much you love each other. Being around the same person 24/7 will almost inevitably create some kind of conflict, either due to hunger, exhaustion or stress, but, other types of conflict can easily be avoided by considering (and perhaps discussing) a few points before departure – as well as during your trip. While it isn’t necessary to agree on everything in order to have successful and enjoyable travels, it definitely won’t hurt!
- Align your expectations before departure
The ideal trip differs from person to person, so the purpose and end goal of your vacation may vary, too. Before you go anywhere, these are some of the key elements to consider:
- How long do you see yourselves traveling for?
- What do you want to accomplish with this trip?
- What happens if someone wants to go home?
- Are you free to do things without the other?
- Is your budget the same?
- Will there be a tight schedule?
- If you’re going to be working, how much time is allotted to each country or job?
- Will you accept the other person’s family/friends/partner to join you at some point?
- Know each other’s strengths and weaknesses
Being aware of your travel partner’s mental processes and habits can be very helpful as not to misunderstand them. Knowing these points beforehand may prove beneficial.
- Does one get really hangry? … emotional when tired? … impatient in crowds?
- Does either one of you feel unsafe in certain environments?
- Is one of you a morning person and the other a night owl?
- Is one a better communicator than the other? … a better planner? … more social?
- Does one of you have a phobia, sensitivity, allergy or other that needs to be considered?
- Compare interests and hobbies
While having shared interests is not a prerequisite, it would definitely help the group dynamic. This is not to say that you can’t make time for the hobbies that you don’t share, but it might be sensible to consider major differences in preferences of activities.
- Does one person want to spend countless hours in a museum? … shopping? … hiking?
- Is one of you a health and fitness freak and the other a junk food loving couch potato?
- Would one want to stop and photograph everything on every corner?
- Is one a party animal and the other a fan of quiet nights in?
- Can one walk from one end of the city to the other, while the other prefers public transportation?
- Does one want to listen to audiobooks while on the road, while the other one can’t shut up?
This is probably the most important point, but maybe also the most difficult one to remember!
No one can read your mind or know exactly what you feel like at any given point in time – no matter how well they know you. Being transparent about what’s going on in your head can really save a lot of energy and help you avoid lots of conflicts.
- If you’re in a bad mood/tired/hungry/anxious/agitated – ANYTHING that isn’t your normal self – make a note of it. Your travel partner can potentially help relieve your stress, but most importantly, you won’t end up biting each other’s heads off due to a misunderstood tone of voice
- If you have a notion in your head about how something is going to play out, mention it. It may be something as little as saying that you need the impending weekend to relax or that you want the upcoming city-break to contain sightseeing from sunrise to sunset
- Evaluate on successful and unsuccessful moments with suggestions for improvements
- Give each other space
Even if you really like each other, you’re going to need some time apart.
- Sit a few seats apart between destinations
- Go on day trips, activities and lunches without the other. Enjoy not having to consider the other’s wishes about food, walking distance and energy levels. Spend as much time doing your favorite thing as you want, put on some headphones and relax. It will do (both of) you good!
- If you live abroad together, it might even be good to take up a weekly activity or class that doesn’t include the other. Alternatively, find separate groups of friends to hang out with
With all this being said, try to do things that are also good and celebratory of your friendship/relationship. Go out for fancy dinners, show appreciation of each other by doing good deeds for the other, so that your trip doesn’t end up being about surviving the potential struggles.
- Be a nice person!
This might go without saying, but I want to mention it anyway, because it’s so important.
- Be the person you would want to be around 24/7!
- Be patient, kind, considerate, accepting, respectful, fun and adventurous!
- Be willing to compromise, even though it means that you may miss out on something you want to do or see
- Leave disagreements behind. Holding on to a grudge will wear you and your travel partner out
So, there you have them: My six tips for a successful long-term trip with someone else.
Feel free to let me know if you agree or disagree with something, and if you have other suggestions!