I have been with Mr Fluskey for roughly 12 years (….I know right!?) We quickly discovered that we were great travel buddies and encouraged each other to adventure more. Since then we have spent lots of time on the road together and so learnt a lot about what it means to be a couple that travels.
I am going to endeavour to share the pros and cons of being a twosome abroad. It would be an dreadful fallacy to tell you that it is all good all the time, so let’s start with the cons and get them out of the way.
The Couple Bubble
Whilst backpacking in Asia, we quickly realised that some people weren’t all that interested in getting to know couples. Groups of single friends don’t really have anything to gain from hanging out with you, and some people think they are interrupting if they get in between the two of you. It can really be tricky to break the couple bubble.
How long have you been together? Oooooh.
Are you married? Why not?
Do you have children? Why not?
Praying my boyfriend wasn’t preparing to run a million miles away, I smiled and lied through my teeth about living in sin.
OK, so we are married now, but for ten years we travelled together as boyfriend and girlfriend. Throughout Asia, there was always the questions about why we weren’t married and when we were going to make babies. It was a little uncomfortable sometimes. Luckily, Mr Fluskey didn’t scare easily!
The main joy of travelling solo is doing what you want, when you want. Add another person into that equation and you immediately need to compromise. This isn’t really a problem but it does lead to many a dull conversation where you need to choose where to eat, what to see next etc etc etc.
Then there are the times that you really want to try an activity, lets say its whitewater rafting, and the other person doesn’t want to. Sure you could go off and do it by yourself but that’s not why you came on holiday with your significant other; it was to spend time together. If you find things you both enjoy, you are onto a winner!
Heat, alcohol, exhaustion…this can only end well.
We don’t often argue but our drunken arguments on holiday are a sight to behold. Unlike an argument with a friend, you have a whole extra suitcase full of past bitterness and grudges to throw at your partner.
There was the time I slept on a hostel sofa because I had drunkenly convinced myself that Mr Fluskey had locked me out during a screaming row. I wasn’t even drunk at the Full Moon Party on Koh Phangnan when I spent two hours crying on Skype to my parents.. Oh, and the classic time that I stormed off to a bar by myself….we aren’t proud of these tiffs but they happen.
Have I bummed you out? Don’t worry, it’s time to look at the good stuff!
The Seat Lottery
The joy of knowing that you will be sitting next to your significant other cannot be underestimated. Let’s take a plane as a small example. Do you:
- A – Take the window seat and have to awkwardly climb over a stranger every time you need the toilet.
- B – Take the aisle and get a terrible sleep because you have to sit up straight to avoid getting banged by the cart/people en route to the toilet. Or worse, drool on your new seat buddy!
Being one half of a couple means always having a seat buddy that you can lean on, chat to, share snacks with and not have to apologise to every time you accidentally brush them with your hand/elbow/knee.
The Bathroom Breather
Have you used a squat toilet whilst wearing a backpack and day pack because the floor is too disgusting to put your bags down? Even just getting your shorts down your legs is a challenge. Trust me, when you really need a wee, it’s torture!
Luckily, as part of a couple you can take turns going to the bathroom whilst your other half watches the bags.
The Joy of Sharing
Staring at a menu, I am often thrown into a dilemma between two delicious looking dishes. Happily, I am sitting opposite a man who I can convince to split his meal with me. I convince him to get the other dish I want, and we can both try both. Win/Win! Plus, if you think you are too full for dessert, you can “share” one.
How great is it to know that the cost of every taxi and every private room will automatically be shared between two. I think travelling as a couple is much cheaper as a default. Budget travel is a very happy result!
The Conversation Default
Travelling solo can be lonely. Sometimes you just want to talk to someone. By that, I mean really talk and not just make small talk with someone new. It’s nice that that I can always turn to Mr Fluskey and go “Wow, isn’t this amazeballs!” I don’t think random strangers would always react so kindly to my random outbursts.
I also love that our trips give us the space from our everyday nonsense to step back and evaluate where we are in life. Some of our biggest “life talks” have taken place on the other side of the world.
So I realise that the above pro points can all refer to travelling with a friend too, but I think this one is slightly different.
Warning : Mushy words up ahead!
Sometimes, with a partner you can share an experience in total silence but somehow you know you’re there with someone who knows exactly what you’re thinking. A little hand hold is all it takes. This may even be too mushy for me….
Being away can be hard sometimes. Very rarely would you put yourself through 16 hour coach rides at home that play loud music, or share a room with 8 other snuffling, sleeping people.
We once did a trek that started at midnight. We sat, waiting until 02:00 wondering what was going on, and THEN we began the walk. The lack of sleep, and my lack of fitness led to a minor BF halfway up. “Leave me here and pick me up on the way back down”, I wailed. I don’t think I would have made it up to the top without Mr Fluskey who coaxed, ordered, and supported me up to the summit.
We have both had to support each other at different times throughout our travels, and I believe that our roles are always evolving. From dragging the other one from a drunken heap, to protecting them from unwanted advances. Even just to being someone to grin stupidly at at an inappropriate moment, we are always there for each other. We have put each other through the wringer, but luckily, being part of a couple means never leaving each other behind!
So yeah, don’t let all those perfectly taken Instagram shots of hearts in front of sunsets fool you. Travelling as a couple has its good bits,and its bad bits. As long as there are more good bits, you’ve found a travel buddy for life!