Travelling solo vs. couple travel – which is better?
It’s a debate that many dwell on and I guess there’s a lot to be said for either side of the argument.
My travelling experience has been shaped by the fact that I travel with Carlo, and I have done so since we started seeing each other in 2005.
And when I say “I have done so since 2005,” I mean I haven’t taken one solo trip. He’s been right by my side in Vietnam, India, Bulgaria, Brazil and the other 38 countries that I’ve been to.
So, with that said, I can’t give you guys the answer to the question above, nor can I attempt to reason which is better, as I’ve obviously only one reference to go by.
But what I can do is reveal the real truths about travelling as a couple and seen as I’ve so much experience at it, I’m in a good position to know what I’m talking about!
Couple Travel: 5 Truths About Travelling as a Couple
Let’s start with the obvious…
You get to share amazing adventures and make life-long memories together
Travelling as a couple allows you to experience amazing adventures together. Wherever you decide to go and whatever you’ve got planned, having your other half with you while you climb to the top of mountains, swim under the sea or sleep under the stars will create a bond that you’ll have forever.
Travel long-term together and you’ll soon have a whole collection of great stories about past adventures that only you both can relate to.
Rather than only sharing things with people on FB or Twitter, there’s something special about having an actual human being that you connect with by your side when doing something awesome.
There’s sometimes nowhere to hide
They say that a person can’t really get to know another person until they live together. And while this is true, travelling with someone will ensure that you really really (and I mean) really get to know him or her.
Whether it’s going to a pharmacy in a foreign country and being forced to make gestures to get some medication to ease your bout of diarrhoea or sleeping in a hotel room where there is no door between the loo and the bedroom, be prepared to find yourself in all kinds of embarrassing situations that you previously wouldn’t have even dreamt of!
If you decide to travel long-term as one half of a couple, like it or not, you WILL get to see and experience things that most couples, even those who have lived together for years, never do.
Why? Because when you’re sleeping in a campervan in a foreign country where you know no body else for weeks on end or taking a 24 hour ride on a crammed minibus to your next destination, sometimes there’s just nowhere to hide.
It’s all about compromise
Like it or not, you will have to compromise when travelling as one half of a couple.
Unless you and your partner are unlike most of us, and share the same interests, passions and goals in life, you will have to make compromises to ensure that both of you are happy and get the most out of your travelling experience.
This can be as simple as tagging along to an art museum even though you don’t like museums or going to a seafood restaurant for dinner even though the smell of fish makes you gag.
Seeing your partner happy should be enough to make you want to make those little compromises.
Again, it has to work both ways. One person consistently making compromises for the other and getting nothing back is more like a dictatorship, and dictatorships don’t last the test of time!
It involves a lot of arguing
(For the most part!) I’m not talking about breaking plates against the wall kind of arguing when I say this.
I’m talking more about bickering which results from spending so much time in one another’s company and being forced to work as part of a team, even when you want to be left alone to wallow in your own world.
I know that bickering is also a part of the relationships of couples who don’t travel, but those that do will know how feelings can be enormously heightened and situations magnified when you live, work, eat, socialise and sleep with the same person day after day.
Simple things that would be so insignificant in normal circumstances can turn into big issues that lead to bickering.
I once (embarrassingly) sat with pursed lips and didn’t talk to Carlo for over an hour because he ordered me a cappuccino instead of a latte. In my defence I told him I wanted a latte 3 times before he went to the counter to order.
And through a combination of his sometimes-questionable road rage and my pointless sense of direction, things got so bad during the road trip in Vietnam that we had to make a rule of “what happens on the bike stays on the bike!”
Yes, little things can become that intense! To make travelling as one half of a couple work well, you have to be prepared to deal with the arguing by making and accepting apologies and not holding grudges.
It’s sometimes hard to make friends
This isn’t always true, but I think it is true for a lot of couples. A huge pearl of travelling is getting to meet and make friends with locals and other people from all corners of the globe, and it’s made harder when travelling as part of a duo.
I guess the reason is that it’s easy to become comfortable in one another’s company – so comfortable that making an effort to start conversations and get to know other people can sometimes feel like a bit of a chore.
Also, most people find it easier to approach a solo traveller or a pair of girls or guys than they would to walk up to a couple and say, “hey, what are you guys doing tonight – mind if I tag along?”
I totally get that as I’d be the very same.
It’s nice to have that special person to connect with, but it’s so important to get out there and make that effort to harness new relationships and create lasting memories with other people that you meet on the road.
So, as you can see, it’s not all holding hands at sunset and romantic meals on the beach; couple travel is bloody hard work at times.
That said, and despite all that has been outlined in number 2, 3, 4 & 5 above, I wouldn’t have it any other way.
To have someone that you want to travel with despite having to put up with diarrhoea emergencies, the side effects of jetlag, the strange food cravings, the annoying habits, the mood swings, the sleepless nights, the unnecessary shouting when on Skype and the homesickness has to count for something, right?
I certainly think so. 🙂
I totally agree with these! Especially the part about not making friends. I feel so much more open and myself when I am alone. When I travel with Josh, most of the time I would rather stay in and watch a movie than go out and try to meet people. I need to work on that!
Glad I’m not the only one that needs to work on that Shannon!
I’m terrible for it, but just have to make that little bit of an effort and it then becomes less of a ‘chore’ than what I make it out to be.
Enjoy your time at home and look forward to more of your posts x
Lots of arguing….I hear you! So glad we meet last year and become great friends, it’s hard to meet people while traveling. Hope to see you guys in 2016!
For sure Hannah – we’re glad to have met you guys as it’s so hard to find people that you actually connect with! Hope to see you both soon 🙂
Florence, you nailed it. I’ve been married for 44 years and we’ve done a fair share of travelling. We argued over snowmobile rides in Wisconsin,( he refused to ask directions while I froze my socks off 4 miles from our destination) donkey rides on Santorini (all I did was suggest it) and once while flying standby (his choice) he almost missed an important event that somehow became my fault. While I, too, am convinced I travel best on my own, I must admit to having a great time with the old guy most trips. Keep writing, I thoroughly enjoy following you two.
Thanks so much for your comment Rosemary. 🙂
First off – 44 years of marriage – huge congrats to you both!
Sounds like you and I have been in very similiar situations. Getting over the bickering and dealing with the sheer stubbornness is all part and parcel of travelling as a couple, eh?
Glad you enjoyed the post and nice to know you’re following our journey on here.
P.S. Of course it was your fault for him almost missing that event (would hardly be his!?!) ;p