Traveling with your partner can be a fantastic experience that brings you closer together and creates shared memories that the two of you will treasure forever. Seeing incredible things and having unforgettable experiences around the world is even better when shared with the one you love!
However, traveling as a couple can also pose challenges and obstacles that traveling solo does not. In this guide, I have listed eight challenges of traveling together. Knowing what could potentially go wrong or cause conflict is the best way of ensuring that it does not!
1. You might have different and conflicting needs
Picture the scene: you have just landed in a foreign country and can’t wait to make the most of your time. You want to walk around the town, explore the busy markets, and just generally immerse yourself in the culture as much as possible. On the other hand, your partner is tired and jet-lagged from the flight and just wants to lie down in the hotel and relax before starting activities tomorrow. I have been in plenty of situations like this, and have been each of these people on different occasions!
It happens a lot when couples travel together: one wants to take things slow and easy, while the other wants to fit in every activity available. If you were traveling solo, you wouldn’t have the problem of trying to cater to someone else’s needs.
If your partner is right for you, you will most likely be able to come to a compromise on most things or take it in turns to choose activities and make decisions. Respecting your needs even when they are different from his own is one of the clearest signs he loves you and wants to make things work, both on the trip and in your relationship.
2. You won’t have much personal space
However much you and your partner love each other and enjoy spending time together, everyone needs a little time to themselves every now and then. When you are at home, going into separate rooms for an hour or so can ensure that you don’t get under each other’s skin too much.
Unfortunately, when traveling, this is sometimes not possible. You may be staying together in a small hostel where you don’t have the luxury of separate rooms, or may feel the need to stick together for safety because you are in an unfamiliar place. Try to give each other a bit of time to explore your own interests or enjoy some time alone even while travelling alone. One of you may decide to go off to explore and take photos while the other catches up on their book at the pool. Each choice is valid and allowing each other space to explore your own interests while on holiday will ensure your relationship lasts longer than the trip!
3. It can be emotionally tiring
While traveling can be incredibly thrilling and rejuvenating, it can also at times be exhausting! Planning activities, moving from place to place, and getting used to different customs can be physically and mentally tiring. Unfortunately, we often become short-tempered and irritable when we are tired. If we are traveling with our partner, they will most likely be the one on the receiving end of any crankiness. When you are tired from walking the whole day, something as small as not finding the right restaurant for dinner can quickly turn into a fight.
Dealing correctly with your emotions when tired is essential for traveling as a couple. Remember that any stresses are probably not their fault. Instead of offloading your feelings onto your partner, why not take a seat somewhere in the shade, have a sip of water, and let your partner know that you need a bit of rest?
4. Stressful situations can cause conflict
Various stressful situations can occur when traveling in a foreign country. Unexpected events like getting lost, accommodation being canceled, or your car breaking down in the middle of nowhere are not uncommon. Depending on how you and your partner deal with stress, situations like these can result in arguments.
I remember one disastrous trip to Thailand with my then-boyfriend where my bag—which contained all of our money and both of our passports—was stolen. We both blamed each other for losing sight of the bag and ended up having a massive row in the middle of an unfamiliar country! While the bag and its contents were thankfully found undamaged, our relationship was not so lucky and didn’t last much longer after that.
5. Arguments over money
Money is rarely an issue when you have plenty of it, but spending can quickly bring up arguments when things are tight. I understand — you want those gorgeous beach dresses, sarongs, and local artisans’ jewelry. And what are holidays without spas and massages? Of course, after all this, a nice dinner and a couple of cocktails watching the sunset are a must. Next thing you know, your credit card is crying, and you and your partner are blaming each other.
To avoid this, agree upon a budget, keep aside some cash for personal expenses, and make sure you check your spending regularly while traveling to avoid shock upon returning home.
6. Different food preferences
As strange as it sounds, different tastes can completely ruin your trip. Even if your food preferences are generally similar at home, differences can become apparent when traveling in a foreign country. New ingredients or different hygiene standards may cause severe arguments between the two of you. Not to mention what can happen if you don’t manage to find something to eat for a while—you know what they say, hungry makes you angry!
I have been on trips where my partner refused to eat anything remotely unfamiliar and instead lived off potato chips for a whole week in Vietnam! On the other hand, one ex-boyfriend ridiculed me for not wanting to eat a deep-fried locust in Israel, so there are two extremes.
7. Emotions can run high
When the two of you spend a lot of time together, there is a risk that you will offload all your negative emotions on each other. In your daily life, you can step aside, talk to other people, and calm down if you have a disagreement with your partner. This is not necessarily possible when traveling!
Traveling can expose you to each other’s emotions 24/7. The other challenges on this list can all negatively affect your emotions, so coming up with solutions to these, and perhaps arranging short moments apart (for example, one of you can nap in the hotel while the other checks out the beach) can work wonders for your sanity and your relationship.
8. Misaligned expectations of the trip
Expectation can cause disappointment. If you book what you think is a hotel room with an Instagrammable view, but end up staring at a grey wall from your balcony, it is easy to become frustrated. Perhaps you wanted to visit ten museums in two days but only ended up visiting three because your partner kept wanting to stop for a beer. This once happened to me, and I ended up missing seeing Van Gogh’s sunflowers, which was devastating!
Weather can also cause disappointment—perhaps it rains the whole time, and you don’t get that holiday tan you were dreaming of.
Different expectations between partners can also cause friction. Discussing and making clear your expectations when planning the trip can help avoid this! Once you’re there, relaxing and going with the flow is usually the best attitude when traveling. Be open to scenario changes and improvise—it may bring new opportunities and unexpected adventures.
Travel can bring the best and the worst in people. You may see sides of your partner that you have never seen before! However, traveling as a couple can be a wonderful and enriching experience if you plan for and overcome its challenges.
If you survive the travel test with your partner, you can survive anything. Traveling together can strengthen your bond, teach you tolerance and compassion, and help you deal with any daily situations in your home life.
About the Author
Emma Jones enjoys observing and exploring the world around her and writing about her discoveries. Human relationships are her favorite topic, and she likes to analyze them from a psychological perspective. She is a contributing author at Thought Catalog, GoDates, and several other media outlets.