Today’s blog comes from Ryan and Lucy Williams who booked with STA Travel last year and had one epic adventure!
Travelling as a couple is a totally different beast compared with going it alone or heading out with a group of friends. Knowing how to tame that beast is the key to coexisting and thriving on an adventure with your other half.
We took an eight month journey from Rio to Malaysia, a trial by (exceedingly hot) fire, and at the beginning we honestly had no idea what ‘real’ travelling actually meant! Sure, we had been on holiday together lots over the course of the years and this was just a really long holiday…right?
Surviving travel as a couple
Not as prepared as we thought
In our minds we had it sorted. I pictured us hanging out with the locals, Caipirinhas sloshing in one hand whilst kicking a football about on Copacabana beach. We’d got the guide books and done our reading. We knew what we wanted to see and had put the time into learning about different, distant cultures. I had spent a whole three weeks learning new languages from Smartphone apps and was confident I could pull off a multitude, nay a cornucopia, of phrases that would get us by – I would definitely be fluent by the time we left Peru! We were on time for transfers. We were going to be travellers. We had this in the bag.
The only thing was, when we arrived in Brazil, we realised this wasn’t our world and we weren’t nearly as adventurous as we thought we were. Rio is a wild, wild place in all senses of the word. The first week of our journey was spent in a near state of petrification. White knuckles clutching our wallets, surely giving off an iridescent glow, signalling “ATTENTION, VULNERABLE TRAVELLER ALERT!”
We had to learn to toughen up and manage our fears more productively in order to enjoy the places we had decided to travel to. We learnt to rely on each other’s strengths and took on specific roles. Lucy is great planner/forward thinker, a person who works preventively, whilst I am the opposite. I improvise well, and can fix things when they break (physically and metaphorically). We realised this setup worked well and started to capitalize on it.
We conjured a set of codewords, a magic phrase* which when uttered would break the tension in the most extreme, tense and difficult situations. This word was unique to us, but you may want to use something along the lines of “SASQUATCH ERECTION” (we think this is really funny and no I don’t know why). The intention was to make ourselves laugh, and to serve as a positive reminder of what awesome adventures we should be having. See it as a travel mission statement that re-energises your lust to wander!
Highs and Lows
The plan seemed to work with the rest of the journey dealing us a ‘firm but fair’ circumnavigation of really high highs and exceptionally low lows. We swam unscathed in piranha infested rivers, got married in Las Vegas, experienced the dizzy heights of Machu Picchu, earned a snowboard instructor qualification, hung out in Frodo’s Hobbit hole (we showed Frodo our wedding ring – but then the atmosphere went a bit iffy. Not sure why…) and met incredible international travel buddies for life.
Conversely we also endured a broken kneecap from a pretty nasty motorcycle accident, multiple lacerations, tendinitis, depression, anti-malarial medication side effects, countless tears, long distance family bereavements. We tried hard to lean on the other’s strengths – otherwise what’s the point of travelling together?
Make like a cow
Of course, don’t forget the absolute basic…not killing each other. You need to ensure you’re hydrating your insides, eating heartily and doing your best to communicate. Mild dehydration is a mental killer and can really affect your attitude towards each other. Eating is as simple as keeping a cheeky snack bar on upon your person at all times. Graze like happy attentive cattle. They know the score.
So what final travel survival advice would we have for couples? Well, you both have to really want to make long term travelling work. There has to be a sort of ninja vigilance, an understanding that you are both in it together, through thick and thin, a kind of sticky symbiosis that you have to get into. You need to look after each other on an emotional and physical level, defusing those tricky tension bombs any which way you can. You’ll probably get lucky and re-forge your connection to each other, giving you strength to battle whatever the world decides to fling at you.
*By the end of the trip we had forgotten our codeword as we had become real bonafide travellers, equipped to maintain ourselves in most tricky situations. We didn’t need that phrase any more and to this day we have no idea what it was.