Couple Travel – Your Guide To Survival

AKA How Not To Kill Your Partner When You Are With Them 24 Hours A Day For 4 Months Solid.

As much as we love each other and are utterly devoted to each other, I’m sure there were times when we both fantasised about pushing each other off the edge of the ferry we just boarded or the mountain we just climbed.

We fell out on the climb up this mammoth viewpoint but made friends at the top!

Glen and I had been together almost two years when we left for our four month trip around Southeast Asia with the eventual plan to live in Ho Chi Minh City at the end of our travels. So here we are, living in the Vietnamese capital drinking copious amounts of milk tea and slowly getting accustomed to the humidity. Looking back over our travels through Asia, we really learnt a lot about each other. I believe it’s one of the biggest tests of a relationship, as regardless of how long you have been together, have you ever spent 24 hours a day 7 days a week at each other’s side for months on end? Sure, you’ve been through a lot but when you’re at home you have hobbies, friends, meetings, appointments, gym etc to take you away from each other for those valuable hours of ‘me time’, which often makes you appreciate the other even more when you return.

He’s my bestie!

We have reached a point now when we are so in tune with what the other needs that we are able to diffuse arguments almost straight away or able to tread lightly enough around the situation for one not to even begin in the first place. Months of practice people, months of practice. I’m no relationship guru but here’s a funny little list of Do’s and Don’t’s which I hope might help some of the couples I know who are going travelling in the near future, and if not, hopefully you’ll have a giggle at the anecdotes along the way.

DO EAT REGULARLY

Hanger is a horrible disease when you are travelling, it sneaks up and it ruins things very easily. I’m not joking here, eat regularly, plan meals times ahead, and ALWAYS carry snacks. I have lost count of the amount of times we lost it with each other because one or both of us were hungry. This is one to take note of especially when you are on a tight budget as we were. Often we were within a mass of places to eat but we couldn’t find anywhere cheap enough even though we were starving – split up, check the menus and return to each other with a solution – trust me!

If we didn’t have snacks with us (very unlikely), we would make sure we got some!

don’t blame each other when something goes wrong

You turn up for your ferry/train/bus only to find you’ve booked it for yesterday instead of today. Money down the drain over a stupid mistake and it is so easy to put blame on the person who booked that transport. Don’t attack your partner for the mistakes made that could have easily been your mistake. Chances are, they will already feel a great amount of guilt for having to pay twice. Glen actually did this when we were in Malaysia but similarly, when we first arrived in Vietnam I was still getting used to the currency and paid £20 for a £2 omelette. It happens, accept it and move on.

Of course, there aren’t any pictures mid-argument so here’s us leap-frogging in Lombok!

do be prepared for the unexpected

This is Asia, anything goes and anything can happen. Once we turned up at a hotel and there was no door on the bathroom, only a shower curtain. Now, we hadn’t been travelling for long and we still liked to remain rather secretive about toilet activities as we both felt some things should be kept for when you’ve been together 10 years or so. Well, I’ll tell you there was no hiding any noises there. I suggest you have some heavy dance music downloaded on your phone ’cause you will want it when you’re trying to disguise those sounds!

Settled down in our sleeper bus in Cambodia – little did we know this was going to be only the first of 4 buses and a 24 hour journey…

Don’t assume everything can be fixed with food

This is something we were guilty of when we began learning about how often we would get hangry in the early days of travelling. Thus we often defaulted in thinking the other must be hungry if they are cranky. It’s not always the case, sometimes they are just knackered, sometimes they are anxious and sometimes they have no idea why. Tip for the men here: I think I can speak for most women when if part way through an argument, your partner says ‘are you just hungry?’ – even if I was, this was not the point I was arguing about so is not relevant to the discussion – haha!

Sometimes it was what we encountered that day that would make us distant

Do take time out

Despite what everyone says and posts on Instagram, there are a lot of down points of travelling. Whether that be horrible long journeys when you can’t shower for over 24 hours, being horribly homesick, getting lost, being hotter than ever before, being extremely tired, being uncomfortable for hours on end, things going wrong, the list goes on and on. Contrary to popular belief of your parents and grandparents, it’s not all ‘one big holiday’, there are times when you are truly tested. Don’t be on the go constantly, plan to stay somewhere for longer than a few days to truly relax, get some washing done, have a massage and unpack. We found that when we spend 4-5 days on the beach we spent a lot less money than when we were on the move constantly, so don’t be afraid to take some time out – it will be good for you both.

Every so often, we afforded ourselves a pool and did nothing but drink happy hour cocktails and beers!

don’t ignore mother nature *one for the men*

No one likes being on their period, sorry TMI, but it’s true. Especially so, no one likes being on their period in 35 degrees of humid heat traipsing around a new town. All I will say is to be mindful of this… men, you may think “shes’s fed, she’s watered, she’s slept and we are in A/C so why is she still a grumpy b**ch?” – I’m sure Glen thought this many a time, but hormones can’t be controlled and mother nature has a way of making you feel crap even when you want to enjoy where you are.

Feeling crap on long journeys was not cool but we still managed smiles!

DO make sure you cuddle often

When you’re spending every moment with each other, it’s easy to neglect such simple pleasures. Don’t forget how good it feels to get under the covers in a cold room and cuddle to your hearts content. If you are travelling on a budget, the disparity in A/C and fan double rooms can be enough to make you think ‘ah it’s not that hot, we will save the money and get a fan room’. This is all well and good but do allow yourself an A/C room every now and then to CUDDLE! Hugs literally release serotonin in our bodies, it’s good to be hugged.

The only way we could cuddle on a ferry in Thailand.

don’t let the other do everything

It’s easy to fall into the roles when one of you is a planner and the other is easy-go-lucky. Whilst this may seem like it works, it can leave the other feeling a little resentful so make sure you find your roles that mean you both have a good amount of responsibility. Obviously, there will be things that one person always does, for example I always booked the accomodation everywhere we went because the one time I let Glen do it, we ended up in a 40 bed dorm room (never again!). But this is okay because I enjoyed it, and whilst I did this, Glen was the one that booked the bus/train/ferry/plane tickets then we would take equal shares in researching the next places.

Thankfully this plane was booked on the right day!

do have a single source of money

We both had credit cards and we both had pre-paid money cards with us, but we worked out which gave us the best rate and solely used that one, which was Glen’s Halifax Clarity credit card. He would withdraw, then I would transfer money over to him to pay off my share. We didn’t have a joint account so this was our closest way of doing it and it worked perfectly. It meant we had 3 back-ups but only had the risk of using one card at a time. Fights about money aren’t cool and luckily we managed to avoid pretty much all of those.

Feeling rich with the 1000’s in Indonesia!

don’t assume photos are always wanted

We are both photo mad as you’ll see from my other blogs, we were snap happy. But there were times when I felt shit, looked shit and really didn’t want a camera in my face, I was much happier for the photo to be one of the back of my head (FYI these make great insta shots so it’t not all bad). Just be mindful of how the other is feeling all the time.

“Oh you want to take a photo? Cool, I look shit so I’m going to pretend to look at you endearingly”

do embrace everything you will learn about each other

You will learn a lot, like a lot a lot. From the way their farts smell after two curries, to the fact they cry a lot (me), to the fact they have a rubbish memory (Glen). There are too many things to list as to what we both learnt about each other and perhaps I should do another post about it and ask Glen for his honest opinion as I’m sure it would be an entertaining read. But you will, and if you’re anything like us, learning even more about them will only make you fall more in love.

I have the most fun I’ve ever had with this person!

don’t be afraid to make friends

You meet so many people when travelling and sometimes they aren’t always your cup of tea or a language barrier makes it difficult for the conversation to flow, but do try to get talking to some other people. We met some lovely couples along our way which was great to be able to share stories and also to have that common ground and know that all couples were having the same arguments as we were. It was great to share stories and laugh, and it breaks up the time wonderfully especially on a long journey.

Making friends on our liveaboard in Komodo National Park!

and finally, do download maps.me

It will save many an argument when you have no signal and no data but are still able to reach your hotel because of this beautiful little app where you can download offline maps of every country! It’s amazing and saved us so many times. There are plenty of other apps and websites, we used along the way and you can check them our in my other post here.

Smiling because we weren’t lost!

With all of these things taken into account, I’m sure you’ll come back a stronger, more understanding couple who are very in tune with each other…

Thanks for reading, share if you liked it!

Grace xoxo