For some of us, wanderlust is as much of a relationship requirement as anything else. While traveling with your partner can be incredibly connecting, it almost always presents challenges that you’ll need to face together. And for couples and families who make travel a regular (or even full-time) endeavour, finding a way to manage the inevitable hiccups is key to maintaining a healthy and happy relationship. Here are 6 common challenges you’ll face as a traveling couple, and a some ideas to work through them.
6 Challenges You’ll Face as a Traveling Couple (& Tips to Overcome Them)
- Losing alone time. No matter how much you love your partner, you need time for yourself. In your normal environment, you likely have ways that naturally give you space from each other, like your job, social life, and workout classes. But when you’re traveling, you are constantly together. Now this seems like a lovely idea at first, but you’ll quickly realize that it’s actually kind of intense. Know this: it is completely normal to want time alone and away from your partner. That just makes you a healthy balanced person and doesn’t mean anything negative about your relationship. Tip: Acknowledge that you need time apart, and talk about how you’ll achieve this when you’re on the road. And don’t take it personally when your partner asks for the same thing. Instead, give them a big kiss for taking care of themselves well.
- Changing routines. Humans are creatures of routine and habit. Even for the most avid wanderluster, establishing some kind of routine and consistency is essential to feeling settled and calm. While spontaneity can be exciting and even freeing, you will likely start to feel the stress of uncertainty if you don’t settle into some kind of routine. Tip: This could be as simply as sitting down for a coffee every morning, having an hour of alone time in the afternoon, or going to bed around the same time at night. Find out what is most settling and stick with it.
- Choosing your destination. This is something that my husband and I have a lot of fun with, but it’s also a bit of a challenge. For us, we plan on a lifetime of travel so we can trust that we’ll eventually get to the places we hope for. But … we have opposite dream destinations: I want to bask on the beach in Bali and he wants to hole-up in a cabin in Ireland during the winter. We are both almost repulsed by each other’s dream place. Tip: Compromise. I have realized (reluctantly) that it’s not all about what I want. Try being curious about why your partner is so keen on a particular place, and who knows, maybe you’ll get inspired! Besides, it’s kind of cool to see your partner’s dream come true. For no other reason, that’s worth it!
- Adjusting to a new place. I don’t know about you but I find it can be stressful to adjust to a new place, especially with kids in the mix. Throw a new language in there, a complicated transit system, different currency and you are operating on high alert. The stress of adjusting can manifest in your relationship because that is your comfort zone. People often direct stress toward those who love them most (psych tidbit: this is your safe zone, where you trust that person to love you regardless of how you behave). Tip: Be aware going in that you’ll be stressed and consider how you’ll handle this when it happens. Own your part of the problem (this means admitting when you’re being sharp or reactive), and find ways to destress and simplify.
- Balancing work. For those of you who work remotely, finding a way to weave your job into your travels can be a real challenge. And issues may arise when you and your partner have different ideas of how the trip will go. One of you needs to work, the other wants to play. What’s even harder is when both need to work and there’s no one to look after the kids. Or how about this one: one person is constantly hooked into technology for work and the other partner reacts. Tip: For us, it’s all about planning and setting expectations. Discuss in advance all the work that needs to get done and literally put it in the calendar. This way, you’ll both know exactly how the trip will go and there’ll be less room for disappointment or resentment.
- Finding time for dates. This might be the most surprising thing I have learned as a traveler. Of course when it was just my husband and I, finding time for dates and romance was a non-issue. And that’s how we ended up with two children. But now… we have to work hard to create this space. It seems like when we are traveling, most routines go out the window including a reasonable bedtime for the kids. And parents, you know how this goes: late to bed means adult-time gets seriously squished. And you know as well as I do that everyone loses when you don’t nurture your relationship. Tip: For one, get the kids to bed early. Then see if you can make a commitment to have a date night, even if it’s in your own home. Do something special, open a bottle of wine, spend time together rather than surfing online. Put on a sexy outfit. Maybe even shave your legs. Make a point of connecting and call it a date. Trust me, it helps, and it’s necessary.
Try this on for a minute: relationship challenges aren’t always set backs, they can actually be opportunities to learn about one another and grow even closer. They bring interest, challenges, and reward into a relationship, and usually funny stories too (once sufficient time has passed, that is).
What else gets in your way as a couple when you’re traveling? I’d love to hear what other challenges you’re up against and what helps you get through them! Leave a comment below and share your stories!
Author: Kate Butler
Kate Butler is a writer, a wanderer, a digital nomad. A mother of two, lover to one, and dedicated to living an inspired, colourful life. She co-authors Flipping Moons and has an online therapy practice, LiveLight Counselling.