Travelling as a couple is one of the most enriching experiences your relationship can have and will be the thing you reflect on when you are grey and old. Memories of navigating your way to hostels, laying side by side next to the ocean, building a snowman in the Alpes, Sex on the Beach (the cocktail!). Countless moments and many opportunities to learn more about each other.
But let's not kid ourselves it can also be quite a challenging experience – especially if you are doing it with children. Navigating your way to hostels can turn into map wars and the traits you find ever so endearing can turn into the things that bug you the most when you are faced with them 24 hours a day.
Recently a friend told me she is embarking on a 4-week road trip across the US (mostly) in an RV with her husband and two children. My first response was ‘
There are no rules to travelling – follow the sun and smile whilst you are doing it. However, there are
1. Have meaningful conversations
Life is on hold when you are on holidays and it is the perfect time to reconnect with your partner. There is no sense of time and none of the day-to-day responsibility that brings the mundane into your conversation. Dig deep and discover each other again.
Holidays bring out the best in people and allow us to let go of the things that weigh us down giving making space and giving room for us to discover what is is that makes us happy and the things that don’t. Take this opportunity to ask the big questions, get the big answers and find the deepest of meanings in your relationships.
On your holiday neither of you will care what your boss did to piss you off this week – it won't matter, you are not there! Without these daily musings you can talk about the bigger picture stuff like “are you the happiest you can be in your life right now?”, “what’s next for us?”, “what are your aspirations and how are they different from the last time we talked about them?”.
The best lubricant for these types of conversations is a relaxed atmosphere, your cocktail of choice and a positive attitude. Fortunately, there are some products on the market like FuelBox Australia that ask the questions for you and act like a living board game for you to cruise your way through. Pick a question out of a box to spark conversation and start talking.
2. Have rostered days off
Personally, I believe that whilst we love to be a couple, we need to be with ourselves and have time out. Whether that be reading a book, discovering something your partner is not as interested in or simply tanning at the beach. For the friend travelling with her family in the RV, I insisted on rostered days off. Days where she and her husband could take some time out from each other and the kids to do what they wanted to do.
She loved this idea and was kicking herself that she didn’t think of it before. My husband is quite an active man who loves to be ‘doing’ something all of the time. On the flip-side, I love to relax and ‘do nothing’ if you will. Give me a trashy book and a cocktail and I am a happy woman.
Give yourself days to explore on your own. You will come back rejuvenated and excited to be with your partner on the next leg of your adventure.
3. Plan and designate a leader
How many times have you been at the hands of a map book or GPS and gotten into a raging argument that sounds like “You were meant to turn back there”… “Well, you are the person that is meant to be navigating!”.
Navigation, directions, timetables and schedules are one of the biggest conflicts and time wasters for couples when travelling. Similarly, arguments about ‘what should we to do today’ and what the itinerary will look like can lead to
Plan Plan Plan! Plan your route, plan your days, plan your itinerary for the trip. This sounds very unromantic, I know. But trust me, a good plan can go a long way. It is good to let each person take the lead for different parts of the trip. If your partner is an avid adventurer and you are more on the cautious side, let them plan the part of the trip that might push you a little out of your comfort zone. Then let go – enjoy the ride!
Before embarking on ‘travel’, meaning catching transport, navigating through towns and the like, plan your trip. Agree on a route the night before, or the morning of, and then designate a leader. One person who will take charge of relaying information you have already agreed upon. If you can come to a unanimous decision on which route you are going to take there will be no room for disagreements. Unless you are absolutely rubbish at directing or taking directions!
6 Ways To Grow Together as a Couple While Travelling
4. Disconnect from technology
Don’t get me wrong, technology is amazing. Being a mother, I can appreciate the power of an iPad. However, an enriched experience doesn’t pop out of an app or a computer screen. It is before us in nature and in our surrounds. The very unfortunate thing about our world today is that real life and the responsibility it beckons follows us on our small screens.
Work follows us no matter where we go; we are constantly connected on social media with the roots of the mundane when on holiday; and mostly we are completely distracted from the beauty of what is in front of us… hello, Facebook!
Social media is a point of contest with me. I think it is absolutely amazing how we can share out ins and outs with loved ones from all over the world at the click a button; but when that click keeps on clicking you need to ask yourself what is the purpose?
By documenting every meal, every experience, every thought and every selfie on the trip, what are you missing? Subsequently, when travelling with children it is all too easy to have them look at an iPad screen to keep the peace but what are they missing?
The point is that technology is a distraction from the beautiful world around us. Embrace the world in your travels, switch off and enjoy yourself!
5. Try something new
We are nothing but new experiences. Every day we live to tell another tale and it is important that we keep pushing ourselves beyond our limits. The same goes for your relationships. Often in relationships you will have ‘opposites attract’ and in this instance between the two of you, you have covered a lot of ground. But the fact remains that discovering a new thing or experiencing something completely new together forms a very deep connection.
They say that a problem halved is a problem shared and so is the case with new adventures. An adventure is amazing but it supersedes anything you could do yourself when shared with someone you care about. Find your something new and invite your partner on the journey.
Trust me, you will be talking about that experience for years to come and it will never be dated.
6. Find a kids club or a babysitter
This one is a shout out to all of the parents and something I am particularly adamant about. When travelling as a unit, kids and all, time out can feel scarce. A holiday sometimes doesn’t feel like a holiday because you still have your backup job to fall on… parenting.
Part of connecting with your partner is reminding yourselves that you were a unit before you embarked on this epic journey. Whilst enjoying your time as a family is priceless, it is important to prioritise what keeps you together as a family and that is you as a couple.
Now I don’t mean that parenting is not enjoyable as a couple, it is. But there has to be time for you. For you both to reconnect on a deeper level and to explore what it is you fell in love with in the first place.
Google ‘Kids Club’ in each area you choose to visit and book at least one-night accommodation there. Whilst the kids enjoy endless planned activities, make a point to enjoy the time you have as a couple, even if that means you don’t leave your hotel room. Failing kids club, jump on a forum and ask your fellow community if they have used any babysitters in your chosen destination. Trust me, you will not regret it!
Happy travelling friends!