Two common stereotypical phrases I hear said by straight cis women travel folk are: (1) “My boyfriend and I had authentic tapas in Spain, but not the ones with shrimp because he hates shrimp [and we don’t do things he doesn’t like],” and (2) “I’m a solo female traveler, and if you’re not doing this you’re missing out on life [and you’re also bringing down feminism].”
But people aren’t binary, and people aren’t static. Immediately going from solo travel trips to traveling with my boyfriend the first time had its rocky moments… We’re not two peas in a pod; we’re more like totally opposite poles between two magnets.
And as dreamy and romanticized as traveling is, there are still stressful moments which can really exacerbate even the peas’ emotions (trust me – nobody is actually as happy as they appear to be on Instagram), and I think that’s why many think of traveling as a couple as the ultimate relationship test.
But, there’s one huge lesson I’ve learned from traveling with my significant other that’s important to keep in mind for successful trips and actually transcends out of “couples travel tips” into the realm of “relationship advice”.
(Disclaimer: This worked for ME and MY EXPERIENCES and MY RELATIONSHIP. I am not preaching that it works for everyone in all scenarios because I don’t know all the things. Also not as many people talk about this, but don’t forget that traveling with your platonic friends is so much fun!! Okay back to the tip.)
It’s not all about you; it’s now about you two!
When you travel by yourself, and when you’re single, you’re free to do whatever the heck you want. Eat all the pastries, spend as much time as you want wandering through windy, cobbled roads, change your mind 20 times on your plans for the day, meet everyone and their mom, etc. I love this time and it comes so easily to me. The world is literally at your fingertips!
When you have a significant other, you’re a person sharing your life with another person who’s sharing their life with you. You both have to consider each other’s wants and needs. You both have to compromise, you both have to listen, and neither of you will get exactly what you want 100% of the time. Especially when traveling- there are so many variables you might have slightly different opinions on! The hotel, food, flights, the whole point of the trip, etc. But as long as you’re willing to work together, it should be okay.
And I love this us time too because you know that someone will always be there for you and take care of you when you need it. “But I’m a strong independent person who doesn’t need anyone to take care of me!” I know, but here’s a basic (as in millennial basic) example that really made it clear for me:
I’m directionally challenged when it comes to unstructured European streets. Still, I can totally get somewhere fine on my own. But my boyfriend has amazing navigational skills (typical) and can get us there in half the time without a phone. I’m not helpless without him, but together we make each other better.
I am a firm believer in if you both mutually respect each other’s needs, your relationship and travels will take you places. If one side does it significantly more than the other or not at all, you will have a hard time.
By the way, I am totally open to thoughts or disagreement. I am a random person you found on the internet- what do I know? (And what do you know??)