Take it from someone who has been there, done that, got the cheesy couple selfie… for all of fourteen countries over a period of eighteen months. Travelling as a couple is a dream come true, and will bring you closer together than anything else in this world could. But it’s not all sunsets, cocktails and beach bungalows for two…
We’ve asked some of the most successful and loved-up couples who are together on the road right now what it’s really like travelling as a twosome. Spoiler… there’s a lot of myths busted here, which are likely to make any solo travellers reading this feel a bit better about themselves this Valentine’s Day…
1. You won’t be any more organised just because there’s two of you
As a pair, you’re led into a false sense of security of thinking that two minds and four hands = less room for error. Wrong.
If you’re anything like my boyfriend and I, you’ll still miss buses, get hit with late check-out fees, get lost in weird neighbourhoods, and permanently misplace possessions on the back of Indian busses. When we were in Sumatra, Matt accidentally booked our flight out to Java a week later than we’d planned to leave, meaning we ultimately had to shack up in Bukit Lawang’s dense jungle for a total of two weeks.
@kotravellers: Last year we arrived at Miami airport very cheerfully, only to find out that we had turned up a whole month early.
The positives thing is, at least you’re both in it together – laugh it off and don’t pass the blame off on the other person.
2. It’s not really any cheaper
Sure, double rooms are often cheaper than two single dorm beds and you can half the grocery shopping, so you’d think that couples spend less than singletons on the road. But as a couple, it’s harder to say no to things. You’ll constantly fancy a beer together, and want to take advantage of every ‘two for one’ drinks sign you see… plus forking out on ‘out there’ experiences is a lot more justifiable when you have someone you want to share it with.
@kohtravellers: If we had to name a con of travelling together, it would be our style of travelling. Saying ‘yes’ to things seems to come a lot easier to us than saying ‘no’. Unfortunately, this means that while travelling on a budget we spend a lot of our money on experiences – like a helicopter or hot air balloon ride, which can make a hefty dent in our budget.
3. You find things out about your partner you wish you hadn’t (like their bowel movements)
You may have been together years. You may have even lived together, but leaving real life behind and going travelling in an unfamiliar place is a whole different ball game to reality…
@inked_passports16: I’ll never forget our first international holiday in Thailand where the hotel had a clear window between the bedroom and bathroom. There was no privacy when we needed to do our business!
@Nicolemwright: I waited until we were in Thailand to tell Luke that I can’t swim… then had to ask for a life jacket on a snorkelling trip.
@Jade_woodall: My boyfriend can go for weeks without actually using any soap or shampoo when he showers.
4. You’ll be a bad influence on each other
travel rave together, stay together, right?
And on a six-month trip, with 150+ back-to-back Saturdays and ample lie-ins, there’s plenty of opportunities to put this old chestnut into practice. Whereas you may assume our idea of a ‘date night’ in a new city is a romantic meal and bed before midnight, in reality, it’ll often involve trying to keep up with one another pint for pint and questionable decisions, like boarding the back of a locals’ motorbike to ride off into the hot Asian night together. Followed, inevitably, by extreme hangovers.
@Jade_woodall: in Osaka, which is a crazy city, we went on a big night out, managing to blag VIP access into all these clubs because we made friends with the right person. So a rather classy night ended with us being so drunk that we passed out in a private karaoke booth and woke up to the Backstreet Boys at 6am, very confused, with microphones in our hands.
5. You’ll still end up sunburned
That clichéd worry that as a singleton on the beach, you’ll have nobody to rub sun-cream in properly… should still be a worry. The truth is, we still forget and end up with sexy peeling backs. Which cope so well with lugging backpacks cross-country.
6. It can feel lonelier than travelling solo
@borderlinebackpackers: Be prepared – other backpackers treat you differently as a couple and assume you’ll be less fun. Some single travellers are intimidated by a couple and will avoid making conversation with us completely.
Solo backpackers always act like magnets towards one another and form tight families in any hostel dorm room around the world. Sat drinking or eating breakfast as a couple, you’re naturally less approachable to other travellers, meaning you have to try three times as hard to meet new people and show you’re not going to make others feel like the third wheel.
Guys, cut us some slack here and come say hi – we can’t talk to just each other, all the time!
7. Hostels can be a challenging landscape
Not only for the above reasons, the obvious ones regarding privacy and alone-time, but because…
Matt, @borderlinebackpackers: At one of the hostels we stayed at in Australia, there was a guy who resembled me from behind. We were similar in height and build. Ally accidentally mistook my doppelganger for me, and gave him a big bear hug from behind. I don’t know whose facial expression was better: the guys’ face, or the shock on Ally’s face when she realised it wasn’t me!
You always hurt the ones you love. But when it’s because you haven’t eaten in six hours and there isn’t a street food cart in sight, apart from that one selling frogs legs on sticks… we understand you can’t help it.
Ally, @borderlinebackpackers: Matt gets hangry when he hasn’t eaten, and with the calories, we burn, we need to take regular food breaks to ensure ‘the beast’ doesn’t get unleashed.
The solution? Bananas, breakfast bars and trail mix, at all times!
8. Compromise, compromise, compromise
For solo travellers, traversing the world at your own pace, doing your own thing is incredibly liberating. Sharing it all with someone else means you have less freedom and have to meet in the middle on things. You might have had a sky bar in mind one night, but instead, you’re in a basement boxing ring. You could find yourself on a 26 hour bus ride from Belize to Guatemala because you let them be right when they were convinced it would be a ‘shortcut’.
@faramagan: Where do you wanna go for dinner?” “I don’t mind, where do you wanna go?” THAT. Being a solo traveller has an extra level of freedom – you have nobody’s interests to worry about other your own – which at times is a definite pro. With a partner, every decision requires a consultation and usually involves talking the other into something (like sky diving)…or out of something (like a sloth tattoo).
Lizzy, @cuppa.to.copa.travels: Andy views finding somewhere to watch the Premier League as more important than finding a place to sleep (though arguably for me, those are the same thing anyway).
But, embrace! Be open to your partner’s ideas – compromising can lead to you discovering incredible new food you’d never have otherwise tried, embarking on a life-changing hiking trail you wouldn’t have bothered with alone, or conquering a fear.
9. You don’t have to rely on strangers with whack camera skills to photograph you.
@cuppa.to.copa.travels: You’ve always got someone there to hear you say ‘wooooow’ at an incredible view. And you can leave the selfie stick at home – your photographer is permanently attached to you.
10. You’re in it together, which is great the inevitable Delhi Belly strikes
Carla, @double.occupancy: I’m always the one to get sick. Giul, on the other hand, always stands unaffected. I’m grateful to have someone who will bring me crackers and Sprite when I’m running in and out of the bathroom.
On the other hand, he’s often stuck taking care of me instead of hiking or exploring. My immune system not only slows me down, but it drags him down with me.
But travelling together is all about give and take. It’s about walking that extra mile because one of you really wants to see the monument on the other side of town. It’s about agreeing to another two months in South America even though you’re ready to move on to Asia. It’s about waiting in a three-hour line in Berlin for the “best kebabs in town” even though you’re ill, because above all else, you’re both in this together.
11. “Remember that time when…”
@Wanderingwithlaura: It’s amazing to have so many unbelievable memories and shared experiences to look back on.
You might grow old together, but never boring when you can reminisce about the crazy adventures you’ve had. It’s always better to have someone to gas on about travel experiences with, without the eye rolls and sarcastic “Did you go travelling?!” comments.
And if you ever do grow old and settle down enough to buy a house with a mantelpiece, think of all the photos you’ll have for it.
12. Despite seeing eachother at your worst, you grow to fancy each other more
It’s a fact. Travelling makes you more attractive! And not just because you get a tan. Sure, I fancied my fella based on looks, sense of humour etc. before we travelled, but watching him become more outgoing, learn to drive a motorbike (with me on the back), navigate hardships he’d have never encountered at home with a smile on his face and become so fulfilled and happy made me fall for him all the more.
About to embark on the trip of a lifetime with your lover, or best travel bud? Read tips on how to make sure your relationship survives the road here.