In my late teens and early 20s, I did a lot of solo traveling.
As a married woman, I do less of that these days. Sometimes I’m envious when I see fellow female travelers blog or post Instagram photos about the empowerment that comes with traveling alone as a woman. Every once in a while, I miss those solo adventures.
However, I am also a huge advocate for traveling with your significant other.
I was afraid that when my boyfriend and I got serious, I would settle down and stop chasing my dreams. Stop traveling.
Now I’m married to that boyfriend. We live in China. Last month, we went to Taipei. This month, we are going to Tokyo with our friends. Life’s still pretty baller.
Whether you’re considering moving abroad with your sig-oth (that’s a shout-out to New Girl’s Schmidt) or taking a romantic weekend getaway, you should be prepared for what it’s REALLY like to travel as a couple. Sure, it’s passionate and exciting, but there’s more to it than that.
Here are my takeaways from years of traveling with the wonderful, wacky guy who is now my husband.
You grow together.
The Husband and I have shared so many experiences with each other that we’ve never shared with anyone else. Moments we can’t accurately describe to other people. Standing over the snowy Grand Canyon. Hiking a glacier in Iceland. Backpacking in a dangerous thunder storm in New Zealand. Landing in China for the first time and panicking about starting a whole new life here.
These experiences, and the intimacy of these experiences, have brought us closer together.
These trips have also made us realize everything we have in common. Now we know that we both love hiking, so we plan the occasional day hike on weekends.
We are both foodies, so we purposely book trips to places with renowned food. The food was definitely a factor in planning our trip to Tokyo in a couple weeks!
We both want to continue traveling the world, so we decorate our apartment with world maps and maps of China. Incidentally, if you’re thinking that the world map in the above picture looks cool enough to buy, don’t be fooled! We realized too late that it’s missing New Zealand, and we are too cheap to buy a new one.
You find your separate goals.
When we travel, we are intentional about how we use our time. What do we want to see? What do we want to eat? Do we want to hike? Shop? Lie on the beach?
After taking several trips together, The Husband and I have realized something: We don’t always want to do the same things. We consider different things to be “fun.” We have different priorities.
And that’s okay. I’m learning how to be my own person in this relationship.
We’ve also realized that while we both love to travel, we are different types of travelers. I love going to new places and seeing everything I can see. For that reason, spending only a week or even a long weekend in a new city is enjoyable.
The Husband, on the other hand, likes to take his time and relax. He prefers to have plenty of time to immerse himself in a culture. Moving abroad is his preferred type of travel, because he has all the time in the world to do everything he wants to do.
Due to our different traveling styles, I am taking a weekend trip to Beijing in June with a friend. I chose to go because it’s my only opportunity to see Beijing before moving back to America in July. The Husband chose not to join, because having only a weekend to see a city sounds stressful to him, rather than exciting.
Once upon a time, this would have been a conflict. However, we now understand and respect each other’s priorities enough that our decision to separate that weekend was easy. We don’t always have to travel as a couple.
Sometimes, it’s a strain on the relationship.
The Husband and I moved to China three weeks after our wedding. Three weeks.
I often have a “now or never” mentality about travel, which has its pros and cons. I wanted to move abroad together early in our marriage, because I was afraid that otherwise, we would put off doing so. Then careers, friends, and comforts may have kept us from taking the plunge.
Even now, we agree that we may not have moved abroad if we had waited. So we’re glad we did!
Many people have told me that the first year of marriage is the hardest. We definitely didn’t make that year any easier on ourselves by moving abroad right off the bat!
We were financially strained from the costs that come with traveling, we couldn’t communicate with locals, we didn’t know anyone but each other. The Husband and I were stressed, and it was easy to take our anxiety out on each other.
Our agency placed us at the same school, but we are the only two foreign teachers. We are around each other all the time. Initially, we got on each others’ nerves a lot.
After about three months, things got a lot better. We’ve settled into a routine, made friends, learned some Mandarin, and genuinely like our jobs. We still fight occasionally, as most married couples do, but we had to make it through that initial strain.
Even if you don’t move abroad with your significant other, just traveling together can take a toll on the relationship. One of the only times we’ve come close to breaking up was when we got stuck in a traffic jam in L.A. during our three-week cross-country road trip!
Sure, traveling together can make us want to scratch each other’s eyes out sometimes. But I can’t deny that more often than not, it’s pretty gosh darn romantic.
About once per week, one of us will say to the other, “Our lives are so cool!”
The twists and turns of frequent travel are exhilarating. That constant excitement makes us feel pretty mushy, too.
For our honeymoon, we chose to take a road trip across Southern Iceland rather than to take a typical beach trip. Going to Iceland just fit our personalities better. It was romantic to go to bed talking about all the amazing natural wonders we had seen that day, then wake up thinking about all the things that day held in store.
Whenever we travel somewhere new together, we try to get a private room, even if we stay in a hostel. Maybe that sounds high maintenance, but we like to cherish our time as a couple. Then, even when we spend all day with other people, we can come back to our accommodation and be alone.
How has traveling the world affected your relationship with your significant other? Or, how has your relationship affected your travels?
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