How Travel Strengthens a Relationship
When Mr. Economical Excursionist and I decided to move to Germany, our primary focus was to travel, travel travel. And then, if we could travel a little bit more, that would be grreeeaaat.
In the last five years, we have been to almost 40 new countries and countless new cities together. Traveling together has brought us together in so many unimaginable ways, allowing us to grow both as a couple but also as individuals. Here are just a few ways that travel has brought us, as a couple, closer together and how travel makes couples closer, too
Let’s just get it out of the way early:
When traveling, you are sharing an already teeny tiny room with your beloved. Unfortunately, there is often only one teeny tiny bathroom as well and, more than likely, the sound proofing is not high quality.
Especially while traveling in Asia, Andy and I took our turns having tummy troubles. Nothing is more embarrassing than kicking out your partner…only to have him or her still hear, smell and experience it all regardless of any attempts you make at disguising it!!! Nothing will make your significant other seem more human and nothing will humble you quite the way that diarrhea in close quarters will.
Now for the more legit items:
Needing and Learning to Communicate
In order to have a smooth and successful trip that ends in you still speaking to your loved one, learning to communicate is vital. Nothing can make a trip turn sour like being passive aggressive or just assuming that you are on the same page only to find out you are in different novels.
Don’t want to eat pizza one more night? You need to speak up.
Sick and tired of walking and need a taxi? Don’t just drop hints and clues hoping he’ll catch on (he won’t!)
Rather shop for the afternoon than go to a museum? Have that conversation and come up with a game plan.
The point is that neither of you are mind readers. If you are tired, hungry, frustrated at a situation, or worse, at each other, instead of bottling it up or dropping horribly passive aggressive hints, just TALK!
I have heard more couples say, “I didn’t know if we were going to return still married (or together)!” and a lot of those frustrations could have been handled if they were just open and communicated.
I’m convinced that every couple should be forced to canoe with one another before progressing their relationship. It takes way more communication and working together than one would expect…something we learned the hard way in Cesky Krumlov, CZ. A very wet LeAnna emerged from the canoe more pissed at Andy than I had been our entire month-long European backpacking trip. This was a valuable experience for us to learn that if we wanted to get things done, we needed to talk, communicate, stay calm and listen to the other one. And I mean actually LISTEN, not just hear. This one experience has helped us in countless other events when things easily could have turned into an argument, but because we were able to stop and listen to one another, everything turned out great….unlike that canoe trip.
Learning HOW the Other Communicates
I’m making this a seperate item than just your basic communication. Andy and I are great at talking through things, figuring out difficult situations and moving on. However, in the heat of the moment with the stresses of traveling on top, you have to know HOW the other communicates. Andy and I could not be more different in personalities, therefore, how I want situations to be approached often will differ from his preference. Learning how the other receives instruction, criticism and how they handle stress can take you a long way during travel.
For example, while in Bali Andy flew off the handle because he absolutely despises having to barter and haggle to get decent prices. I only made matters worse by telling him to calm down (TELLING him to calm down only made him MORE mad!) Things escalated quickly with him yelling at the lady for ripping us off. Had I remembered his hatred for bartering and started the whole thing with asking him if he’d rather just wait by the car while I went and handled the transaction, we could have avoided an entire ordeal. Needless to say, our next bartering situation, instead of me pushing him to take the lead, he asked me to just go ahead and get the best price that I thought was appropriate, while he hung by the sidelines.
Another example of learning how to communicate was a little more situationally specific. We have been certified SCUBA divers for almost three years now but on all of our dives, we always have a guide with us. However, guides were not included in our Great Barrier Reef Live-Aboard package, so we jumped in for our first Buddy Dives. Now, of course there are certain standard ha
nd signals that all divers know and use, but it was quite terrifying being 100 feet under water in the middle of a vast ocean by ourselves for the first time. We quickly realized that to actually fully COMMUNICATE, we needed a game plan! After almost every dive, we briefed each other on the dive, came up with new hand signals that we thought could help us “talk” underwater and we reviewed what signals did and did not work. After a few dives, we were communicating fully underwater, basically having full conversations simply because we had talked about what needed to be done instead of remaining extremely frustrated underwater, which could have easily ruined our entire dive trip.
Does your partner like to talk things out, who is the one that takes charge in situations when dealing with others, can you read each other without having to talk? Knowing all of these things before traveling abroad can help make for smoother events, but you will surely learn these things on a deeper level than if you never chose to travel. Andy and I’s communication (verbal and nonverbal) with one another has transcended the level it was on prior to our first trip together
After so much travel, Andy and I have gotten into a groove. We make a great team when it comes to travel. I love planning out things to do, what to see and where to go but Andy deals with all directions and GETTING us there. Once we are in a destination, I turn over the reigns and it’s up to him to steer us in the right direction. (Does this stop me from being my opinionated self if I think we took the wrong turn? Ahem, not necessarily)
We’ve also gotten into an unspoken pattern about our pre-travel routine. Andy does certain things to help us get out the door like getting the tech gear assembled and prints off any directions we need while I do the finishing touches on making sure the cat has enough food for the weekend and having the house in order. It is amazing how helpful splitting up those responsibilities are to kicking off a stress-free trip.
But needing teamwork while traveling is vital as well. As you travel, you will find situations where you will need to find the best in each other and encourage those traits so that you have the best experience possible.
If you are the adventurous type, like us, you are sure to encounter other situations where teamwork is essential. Whether you are canoing down a river, hiking in the mountains or just trying to tag team the local touts for the best price on that knock-off purse, the more you travel, the more you will learn to work together seamlessly as a team.
You Be Yourself
When you are traveling with someone, you are in close quarters for long periods of a time. Travel can be especially great for new couples because at a certain point, your true colors are going to shine through. Travel is the perfect time to let your inner child come out and play, for your inner Buddha to sit back and reflect on the beauty of the world and for the introvert in you come out of your shell. You don’t need to put on airs and pretend to be someone else. When traveling, you can really see your partner at their best and worst moments and get to know the REAL them.
Experiences and Memories
Nothing brings people together like a shared experience; both positive and negative. Of course there will be the memories that you can look lovingly back on like the moonlit walk on the beach together or sipping wine under the Eiffel tower that are going to be wildly romantic, bringing you closer to your partner.
However, even the negative experiences often will bring you closer together because it was still a shared experience that you went through together and one that only you two can fully understand and appreciate. With negative experiences, you can learn from your mistakes making future situations easier to tackle.
Traveling isn’t just about checking off bucket list items. No, instead it is about living in the moment, experiencing a local culture and trying new things out of your comfort zone. Each time you experience these things with your partner, it will bring you closer and closer together, creating memories that will last a lifetime.
Travel is a wonderful thing for so many reasons. For us, it is something that has shown how travel makes couples closer.
Tell me a story in the comments about a time that travel brought you and your significant other closer.
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Author and Creator at Economical Excursionists
Former teacher turned blogger turned mom turned full time travel addict, LeAnna has never been one to live life by the rules. Whether she is moving to a farm in Switzerland to learn to make cheese (Yes, CHEESE), jumping off a mountain to paraglide over Cinderella castles, or taking her baby all over the world with nothing but a backpack on their backs, LeAnna designs and defines her OWN life. LeAnna, her husband Andy, and kiddo, "Lil B" love to live a minimal lifestyle, not only for the "thrill" of pinching pennies but in order to save for traveling the world. Considering over 40 countries and 90+ cities have been explored, we'd say they are doing something right!
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