Anyone who has travelled with a partner, lover or friend for an extended period of time will know there are moments on the journey when your relationship or marriage will be tested. Add a two year old into the mix and you have just taken it to the next level.
Besides some of our time in Cambodia and Thailand, for the last eight months Chris and I have been in each other’s pockets. We generally work in the same room, eat all our meals together, head out sightseeing with each other and even do the weekly grocery shop as a couple. While one of our main reasons to go travelling was to spend more time together as a family, doing it 24/7 for almost eight months is testing if truth be told.
So is a nomadic adventure the way to strengthen or weaken a marriage? I sometimes wonder! When you get the balance right, travelling indefinitely around the world is a pretty special experience, but when things are tense all you want to do is book a return ticket home. So before you pack your bags and live the dream, here are some tips to keep travelling as a happy couple!
Ensure you experience a few highlights solo
Spend a little time away from each other doing your own thing, even going out for breakfast by yourself or a walk can really make a difference. Our tip though is to find an activity or an experience that is really something you have wanted to do and on your travels…you will find plenty. Chris went on a tree top adventure and I went and hung out with elephants for the day while we were in Thailand. It was great to get away, enjoy a day doing something fun and having a lot to talk about when we arrived home. Chris has recently joined the local football (soccer) team here in France which has given him something to commit to several nights a week and also a social outlet (even if no one speaks English).
Individually write down your destination bucket list
Coming up with a destination plan can cause a little bit of tension if one wants to go this way and the other wants to go that way. Composing an individual destination bucket list of your top 15 or so places you want to explore can help you navigate around the globe. If you can’t compromise, result to flipping a coin – heads USA, tails UK! For example I wanted to go to India, Chris wanted to go to Nepal, we couldn’t afford to do both. After some discussions we ended up going to India. It wasn’t quite the wonderful experience I was hoping for, but the decision making process worked.
Book a babysitter
Besides my stays in hospital, Chris and I are yet to have a night away together without Jack since we left Australia. We haven’t really had the opportunity or really made the effort to arrange someone we trust to look after him for the evening. This is something we need to do and want to do in the near future as believe it or not, simply having a quiet dinner just the two of us could be one of our week’s highlights! Hotels often offer a babysitting service and there are agencies who can assist if you haven’t got any friends or family around. Lucky for us Chris’ mum has booked a ticket to visit us in January!
Make the effort to get to know new people
When you are travelling you are always meeting fellow travellers, locals, the guy making your coffee each morning and tourism people, but you are often not really getting to know them. We have had the opportunity to spend time with some great couples whilst on this trip and several who we would like to remain in touch with in the future. It hasn’t been until we have arrived here in France though that we have had the chance to start building new friendships and connect with locals. This is partly due to the fact we haven’t stayed in places long enough and also because we haven’t been out and about at night child free. It has also helped having someone else introduce you to people, especially when there is a language barrier. It can be a little bit isolating and lonely at times when you aren’t connected to a social group. It also means you rely on your partner a lot to converse with and keep you company. No offence to Chris, but this can sometimes get a little stale and developing new friendships enriches your travelling experience.
Spoil each other once in a while
When you are travelling on a budget you are constantly watching your spending, especially when you hit the more expensive countries on your itinerary. While it is important to do this to keep the dream going, it is also important to treat each other every now and then. It doesn’t have to be that costly, maybe you can go and have a massage together (cheap in Thailand!), or bring home a yummy treat for your partner to enjoy. Better still bake a cake at home if you have the facilities. Head to the market and pick up some local goodies and arrange a picnic or an outing together. Little gestures like this can keep the spark going in your relationship and are quite easy to do while on the road. Remember, it’s experiences that are really valuable in life!
Spending every minute of the day with anyone can put a strain on the relationship, however I wouldn’t change it for anything. Each day we have different experiences, make different plans and grow as a couple. Travelling with a family is nothing like travelling solo with a backpack, but being able to share it with someone you love makes it a whole lot more special. With that said, I think I have answered my question…travelling can really strengthen a marriage, but like anything you have to work on it!