New Study Finds Humans Shouldn’t Spend More than Five Consecutive Hours Together
We recently read this headline in the ONION, and couldn’t help but laugh. Of course the ONION is a satirical publication but all good satire is based on truth. And after traveling together for 23 MONTHS, we can totally relate.
Traveling for a long (or even short) periods of time with a partner, be it a friend, family member, or lover can be an incredible thing. You share not only heaps of personal growth and amazing once-in-a-lifetime experiences, but also the minutia of every day life. Planning, sharing expenses, overcoming obstacles, and making sure you are maximizing your experience are all activities you will be doing together when traveling for any stretch of time.
That said, traveling long term is a fairly unique situation where you can end up spending twenty four hours a day, seven days a week with another person. This sort of prolonged exposure can lead to moments of madness and homicidal fantasies if you’re not careful.
So, just how does one successfully travel with another person for an extended period of time?
Well, while we aren’t experts in the field, we ARE quite experienced in doing so. As a non-romantically involved straight male/female travel duo we have dealt with a multitude of conflicts, which are natural results of our unconventional pairing. However, we have always seemed to be able to work toward a compromise, an understanding, and a resolution.
So, yeah, since we have been traveling together since February 2014 and are both still alive and murder free we figured we are were knowledgeable enough to write a small guide on the topic.
Ten Tips for Traveling with a Partner
Get on the Same Page Before Leaving
Start off on the right foot!
Before you start your trip it is important to make sure your partner has the same travel goals and desires. If you are the kind of person who wants to party every night, loves outdoor activities, and feeds off of social interaction but your travel partner prefers quiet nights, art galleries, and is drained after a few hours of socializing things might not work out. Try to have an open discussion about your interests and desires before deciding to travel together to ensure the best possible experience.
The Importance of Alone Time
You can end up spending every waking (and often times sleeping) moment with your travel companion. Clearly, unless you are conjoined twins, you are going to want some alone time. Taking time for yourself will not only allow you to recharge your own batteries but it will also give your partner a break.
So, if you like yoga, running, or cooking and your partner has no interest in that, GREAT! Be sure to take some time for yourself and indulge in your own interests every once in a while. Don’t get offended when your partner does likewise, they probably need to do the same sort of recharging.
Expect to Learn New Things
Your travel partner might be your best friend. They might be your spouse. Or they might be someone you recently met on a dating website and decided to leave the country with. Whoever they are, one thing is guaranteed. You’re about to learn things about them you never knew, and some of those things might surprise you.
Some of our bad habits only come out after prolonged or constant exposure so if your travel partner suddenly starts waking up each morning with a personality akin to a child-eating troll try to adjust accordingly. Ease into the day slowly, don’t get offended by anything they might say in the wee hours of the morning, and perhaps deliver that first cup of coffee to them every once in a while.
Play to Your Strengths
Split tasks up based on your individual strengths. If you’re pretty good at cooking and horrible at planning but your partner can’t boil water and thrives on researching destinations then dole out duties accordingly.
However, make sure to –
Create an Equal Relationship
Play to your strengths, but make sure the relationship is equal and fair. If one of you is constantly making decisions on where to go, how to get there, while your travel bud contributes little and less, an inequality forms in your power dynamic which might leads to frustration for both of you. Be sure to pull your weight and don’t rely on your partner every time you need help tying your shoes. No one wants to travel with someone they feel like they have to take care of all the time.
As with any relationship, a successful travel partnership is about compromise. If you want to travel with someone you have to take their desires into account, and sometimes this means doing things you wouldn’t normally choose to do. Try to do them anyway. Who knows, you might actually enjoy yourself!
However, ff you feel you are being more flexible than your travel buddy, it’s time for a calm chat on the matter.
Sometimes you do need to think about yourself. If your main reason for wanting to go to Cambodia is to visit temples but your partner has no desire to do so, be sure to express that. If necessary be prepared to go on your own. Sometimes breaking away is the best thing for a duo traveling together for a long period of time. Plus, once you reunite, you have someone to talk to about all of your experiences with.
Work on Your Communication
As with any other relationship open and honest communication is essential while traveling together. Anyone who has been in a relationship knows, communication requires a lot of work. And effort, time, energy, and so on. There is no getting around it, however, so start practicing with your travel partner before you leave home.
Communicate everything. That means communicating about the good, bad, and the ugly. Make sure you let your partner know what is going on with you. It’s good for them to know if you love or hate something, have an issue with them or the place you are in, and especially that you appreciate them and the things they do for you.
Don’t Expect Perfection
Either from your partner or from yourself. We are ALL only human (yes, even you) and sometimes we get cranky, irritable, lazy, rowdy, lonely, sad, mad, glad, grumpy, happy, sleepy, bashful, sneezy, dopey, or all of the above. Try to keep this in mind while traveling with someone else.
Forgive and Forget
When things do go wrong with your travel partner, try to forgive and forget, and do so sooner rather than later. Keep in mind that you’re really lucky to be traveling in the first place and even more lucky to have a travel companion. Try to nip silly arguments in the bud or discuss any serious ones thoroughly. Find a resolution and move on. Don’t hold grudges.
And most of all –