Traveling as a couple can be a huge relationship builder…
…or the ultimate tester.
BUT FEAR NOT! With the right kinds of conversations and expectations, we believe that anyone can come out on the other side of a trip with a deeper understanding of one another.
Berty and I now work together in our business, which means that we pretty much eat/sleep/travel/do EVERYTHING together 24/7.
We are tested a lot on our patience and grace, but thankfully we now have (and are actively working on) a better understanding of who we are as individuals and as a team when traveling.
Since Berty and I travel A LOT, we’ve had time to sit down and talk about what we’ve learned about one another on our most recent big trips.
In this post, we’re going to give you our own tips and share strategies that have worked for us when on the road. We hope that you can take some points and apply them to your own relationships, or just simply enjoy this post!
6 Important Relationship Lessons We Learned Traveling As A Couple
1. Communication is KEY.
Storytime: The day before we explored Yosemite, I was burnt out. I needed a break, a nap, anything but running around taking pictures. Berty was the opposite. He was 150% ready to explore Yosemite and stay up until sundown.
We were both mad that the other didn’t share the same enthusiasm that afternoon, and it’s because we didn’t talk about it. I didn’t realize how much Berty was looking forward to exploring Yosemite.
As a matter of fact, it was THE place he was most excited about on our Pacific Coast road trip. We could have skipped an entire argument if we would have expressed those desires beforehand.
Lesson Learned: Now, we share our expectations before going to a location. Things like what we’re most looking forward to, what we’re nervous about, and what we want to accomplish at a certain place.
Knowing what the other person is expecting helps you consider not only what you want to achieve, but the ability to help the other person achieve their goals too. Win-win!
2. Being Honest Is Important, But So Is Being Nice.
There are times when the truth can hurt the other person. We’re not saying that lying is better, but choosing your words wisely can spare you an afternoon of hurt feelings.
I found a quote (It’s been claimed to have been quoted by Buddha, Abe Lincoln, and Rumi…I’ve tried to find the origin of this quote, (let me know if you find it!) and it’s been my mantra ever since I hurt Berty’s feelings…
Is it true?
Is it necessary?
Is it kind?
Storytime: We were passing time asking our road trip questions when we came to a question about our least favorite travel experience. I blurted out my answer too quickly and discovered that it was actually a fond family memory for Berty.
I realized it wasn’t necessary for me to share what I did, and I should have thought more carefully about how it might have affected him. It took us an entire day to mend those hurt feelings.
Lesson Learned: If you have potentially hurtful/unnecessary information, consider how it might come off to your partner. If it’s not necessary or kind, consider keeping it to yourself, or figuring out a way to word it differently.
3. Compromise is Essential.
With two photographers in our relationship now, we have to be willing to listen to each other’s vision and idea of how we want to capture the same exact space.
Before we realized this, both of us were frustrated and were forcing a vision of what we wanted the space to look like on one another. After a few squabbles, we discovered that our photography styles are different.
Shocker, I know.
Moving forward, we know to share our expectations and hopes ahead of time, so we can both take turns helping make our individual visions happen.
Now, you don’t have to be photographers to apply this – it can be as simple as sharing expectations about an experience before it happens, or letting each partner choose an activity to do on a certain day.
This way, each person feels like they are in charge of the day and you get to watch them shine!
Lesson Learned: Trading off turns to make your desires and your partner’s desires fulfilled will benefit BOTH of you.
4. Sometimes Space Is The Answer.
On the road, you LITERALLY see each other 24/7. It’s only natural that after all that time together, one (or both!) of you may need some space.
It’s 100% okay to take a walk alone or sit apart at a coffee shop every once in awhile. When we stop at cafes, Berty will put on his headphones and I would do the same. We need that time to do our own thing, and for us it is enough to recharge. If we were in an argument that was in a gridlock, I would take a walk or re-organize our gear, away from Berty.
We found that it’s important not to storm out of the room or just disappear. We tell one another that we need some space, where we’re going, and when we’ll be back.
Takeaway: Space and time alone will help you realize why you began traveling with the other person in the first place. 🙂
5. You Learn Each Other’s Strengths And Weaknesses.
I am definitely the budget-minded, plan-ahead type of person. I do the packing, the unpacking, planning out places to see, handling reservations, etc. It overwhelms Berty when thinking about too many details, but I definitely shine in this area.
Berty’s desire is to explore new places. He seems to be at his best when he’s doing something new and meeting with new people. I can see the light in his eyes when he experiences a new sunset to capture or an adventure to take.
He’s good with living in the moment, and he helps me get in that mindset too. Without him, I would focus on the trivial things, like how many more miles to hike or what time we would arrive at a destination.
Takeaway: Don’t try to do or be everything for everyone. Celebrate what your partner does best, and acknowledge what you do best too. Working together lets the other person shine, and you don’t feel like you have to do everything.
6. You Become A Stronger Team.
After a while, you just understand things about each other. Experiences – good and bad – will allow you to understand why they behave the way they do in certain situations.
I always know where Berty leaves his toothbrush and he knows that I get stressed in airports no matter how early we are. Berty reassures me we’re safe when attempting a sketchy hike, and I drive the car so that he can edit his photos on the road.
After seeing ourselves in many different situations, we understand how we tackle problems and how we can help each other be our best selves. There are so many amazing stories of how couples who travel together stay together!
Takeaway: Traveling as a couple will accelerate time together, as well as open the door for foundational experiences in your relationship.
Be open to the journey and know that getting through good and bad situations will only make you both a stronger team together.
That’s our story! We know that many people experience traveling as a couple differently than us, but we wanted to share our experience to give you an idea of how we handle it together.