I'm getting to that age where all my friends are big time "adulting". Growing up, getting engaged, getting married and moving all over the place. I have a friend who picked up with her husband after their whirlwind Paris elopement and moved to Asheville so he could pursue a dental residency program. A friend who married a Naval Academy graduate and a month after their wedding picked up and moved to Bahrain. Talk about true bravery, sacrifice and just plain TRUST. And of course while moving somewhere and traveling somewhere are two very different things, it got me thinking.
Call me biased if you must, because as a travel and lifestyle blogger of course it only makes sense that as I watch my friends in their relationships, as they grow and learn together with their partners, my one piece of advice to you would be to take the opportunity while you can to travel, travel and travel some more with whoever it is that makes your heart tick.
Travel truly teaches you about yourself. And if you've ever traveled solo then you know exactly what I mean. When you travel you learn how you overcome your fears, how you pluck up the courage to explore in a place that's completely unfamiliar. It teaches you your priorities, where you are willing to make sacrifices and where you are not, if you're an active traveler or more of a relaxed, casual traveler, if you can handle crowds or if you avoid them, if you're more of a commercial destination seeker, if you love all-inclusive or prefer something more low-key and authentic where you can make your own experience. And as much as all of this teaches you about yourself, when planning and experiencing these things with your partner, it adds an extra element, how you will tackle all these things, together. So here is my take on a few of the things you might learn and how they may apply to every day life with your partner AND if all goes well, there are also a TON of benefits which I'll also share.
1.) Do you share the same priorities? - What are you looking to get out of your travel experience? First let me say that there is nothing wrong with all-inclusive, relaxation and trips via tour guide. I am all for playing it safe when the right occasion calls for it. But it can be tough when one person wants to relax and the other can't sit still. It may also cause tension when one person prefers the expensive chain restaurant over the authentic street food. Heck, I really enjoy scoping out the hole in the wall dive bar down the street with some of the best tacos a girl can find for only a buck! Or the quirky coffee shop on the corner with super punny slogans scrawled across its tip jar. I like exploring for explorations sake because half the places worth visiting aren't mentioned in any travel catalog. I want to be in the places where locals go so I can talk with them about some of their go-to spots and seek out the hard to find places off the beaten path. And I need my significant other to be on that same page with me, I need someone who is willing to have dinner at the table of a local we just met only a few days earlier, someone who is willing to walk the extra mile to the underground pizza place that someone recommended, someone who is willing to bargain with the street vendors and haggle in a language they don't even know, or sing karaoke in a bar full of strangers for fun. These are the kinds of things you learn about someone when you travel with them. What makes them tick, how they want to spend their time. And if those same things match or compliment your own.
2.) Are you on the same page when it comes to spending money? - I have friends who really enjoy spending their vacations enjoying luxury dinners, fancy cocktail lounges and hotels with infinity pools. Again, don't get me wrong, I'm not hating on the occasional infinity pool, in fact, if you were to ask my boyfriend, without hesitation he'd tell you that in fact I'm a huge fan, but if I had to choose between the fancy pool or a cool budget hotel sans pool, I'd choose the latter. Mostly because any trip I go on, I'm on a budget. I'm looking for alternative hotel options, like hipster tiny houses for a fraction of the price or renovated trailers or even a friend who'd be willing to let us crash for a night. I'd also prefer to take cheap, smaller trips more regularly than big, expensive ones once a year. I always opt for rooms with a small kitchen area so I can buy groceries to avoid shelling out money for each individual meals and when possible I like to be within walking distance of the downtown area so there is minimal cost involved in transportation. It's my priority to be able to go more places, see more things and do it in a way I feel to be authentic and realistic for everyone involved, not just me. I need someone who is on the same page.
3.) Are you are willing to compromise and make mutual decisions? - Of course, because you and your S.O. are not exactly the same person, you are bound to disagree at some point about something. This is where the ability and willingness to compromise when making decisions is crucial. For example, wherever I am I typically seek out at least one decent vintage, thrift or consignment shop while I'm there and while I'm sure Tyler doesn't always feel like combing the racks with me, dammit if he's not a great sport about it every. single. time. I have strange and random cravings of which he is always encouraging and supportive, often enough to humor driving halfway across town to satisfy them (like the time we were in Puerto Rico and all I wanted was Chili's chips and salsa.... WUT). He took the smaller suitcase when we opted not to pay for an additional checked bag and never once complained. You get the point. It's important to know whether your person will park themselves nearby and wait while you shop or if they'll throw a hissy fit about it. I got lucky.
4.) Can you support each other when the going gets tough and the days get long? - Travel isn't always all butterflies and roses. In fact, some of the hardest moments come from long days spent flying, sitting in the car, on a train, en route to the next destination, when you're both beyond tired, more than a little annoyed and trying your darnedest to just get there already. And then.... you miss your connection, or the hotel doesn't have your reservation and oh by the way, they're full or when you sprinted to the tracks only to watch the very last train leave the station and you're stuck without any plans for the night at all. In these moments you learn a lot about how your person will react, how they will handle the stress and how it will affect the way they interact with you. Do they: A.) make a joke to lighten the mood? B.) Provide some optimistic insight? or C.) storm off in a huff? Instead of phoning a friend for the answer, wouldn't you like to find out for yourself?
5.) Do you enjoy the same experiences? - Do you both drink? Do you both like spicy foods? Do you both enjoy cooking? Do you both like to tear up a dance floor? Of course none of these should be deal breakers, but then again maybe they're more important than you think. Travel helps you uncover these small idiosyncrasies and decide what's most important to you and your identity as a couple.
6.) Do you travel at the same pace? - This is super important. Some people like to sleep in, others like to wake up early and get a head start on the day. Some need to work out every single day, others are okay with taking a break while they travel. Some need to eat every single meal and others are okay with snacking throughout the day. It's just important to be on the same page instead of occasionally finding yourself in a lull, waiting for the other person to get done doing whatever it is that they must do to start or fulfill their day. Again, some people can go, go, go all day and others need to take breaks, to slow down, to soak it all in. And sometimes in these cases, opposites can encourage and motivate eachother, sometimes not. It just depends.
7.) Are you both willing to step outside your comfort zone? - It's like that look you give each other when you're googling things to do whilst traveling, zip lining pops up unexpectedly and you both simultaneously say "eh fuck it, lets book it!" YOLO. OR when you're at a local restaurant that specializes in a dish that looks suspiciously like cow tongue.... do you order the special? Or the chicken tenders and french fries? If you're more the play it safe type couple that is perfectly okay too! But these experiences are often encountered whilst traveling and they are the perfect learning opportunity.
And if all of the things above fall into place, some pretty incredible stuff can happen. Traveling together and planning trips together can become your couple's "thing". You may end up enjoying the hunt for new destinations, planning out your excursions and daring to do the things you've never done before! That's the beautiful thing about traveling with your partner, it can be truly the best way to make memories that will last forever.
you may just learn that:
1.) It's sort of magical - Being in a brand new place with the one person you enjoy spending your time with the most. Holding hands high above the Golden Gate Bridge at sunrise or sharing a kiss on the catamaran as it sets sail for a small island off of the coast of Puerto Rico. Those are the moments that create some sort of magic bond, that only the two of you share. It's incredible.
2.) The memories will last a lifetime - It's true. These experiences with this person will last forever, you'll always look back on the time you missed your flight to California and laugh or the time you happened upon one of the best margaritas of your life in the most unsuspecting of places. You won't always have tomorrow, take advantage of today.
3.) It strengthens your bond and builds a solid foundation - Yup, sure does. Discovering things together is one of the greatest joys of devoting your life and your time to someone you love. Sharing those discoveries, expanding on them and learning how to work together applies to all aspects of your relationship, not just travel.
4.) It teaches you that together, you can do pretty much anything - That might sound cheesy, but I'm so serious. It allows you to problem solve together, make decisions together, enjoy experiences together and just be, together.
Especially before you settle down, take the time to travel. It is truly one of the best ways to enhance your knowledge, expand your mindset and enjoy all that life, different states, countries and continents have to offer. And spoiler alert, a lot of the time bringing your S.O. along just makes the experience that much better! Plus it gives you something to look forward to, plan for and be excited about :) What could be better than that?
Thank you as always for reading!