¨Constant togetherness is fine – but only for Siamese twins¨
Couples Traveling Long-Term Together
My Experience with Too Much Travel Togetherness
I find that if I spend more than six weeks straight with other people, particularly in group travel, all I want to do is be alone. While this is primarily a problem for couples, it can sometimes be a problem for almost any Fifty-Plus Nomad. Since I know this can be a problem, I plan my long-term travel to include at least a week every month where I am entirely alone. During these times, I usually pick the most anonymous, big city hotels possible, and I go out to eat and visit museums alone.
While I usually travel by myself, I have had several opportunities to travel in a couple during the last several years, generally for two to three weeks at a time. It was fun for a short period. I doubt, however, that I would be comfortable traveling this way for much longer at one time. It is too hard to accommodate the needs of another person for a long period.
Stories About Couples Suffering From Too Much Travel Togetherness
When I have talked to other long-term travelers, who travel as a couple, many say that sometimes, they wish they could spend some time alone. Travel tends to cause this feeling because you spend a lot of time with your partner in close spaces (i.e., cruise cabins, hotel rooms, etc.).
You also have to resolve problems that arise in your travels. Some of these problems are ones that you have not addressed before – i.e., how to deal with persistent vendors in third-world countries- and can easily cause conflict between partners. (Often, one partner is more generous and tolerant with vendors than the other, for example).
It’s also rare that two people have the same travel personality. Usually, they will, therefore, have to make some concessions to accommodate their partner’s needs. Making these concessions can get tiring after a while.
I have never met any long-term traveling couples personally that have broken up during their travels. However, I have heard stories of broken relations among such couples.
Most of these relationship breakups involve recently retired couples who then decided to embark on a long-term trip. Many of these couples spent a lot of time without their partners before retirement. For such couples, sending all their time with each other, traveling can cause a lot of friction.
How Couples Can Overcome Too Much Travel Togetherness?
Much of the advice from the section on loneliness also applies to too much togetherness.
That said, some responses to the problem are different from how to do with loneliness. The following suggestions are inspired by Planet D.
- Don’t forget that you are a couple. Take time to have body contact. It’s easy to become simply ‘pals’ on the road.
- Set aside romantic times. Occasionally, stay in a luxurious room, order in-room service, or eat out in a nice restaurant. Spend time talking about how much you like each other and all the great experiences you have shared.
- Communicate more than at home. When traveling as a couple (or as a group) you are like to notice more things that annoy you about your spouse than at home. You are spending more time together often in a small space. If you bottle up your frustrations, it could have worse consequences than at home.
- Be willing to give and take. Try to find activities that you can enjoy with each other. When that is not possible, do something one spouse likes one day and something the other one enjoys the next day.
- Be willing to argue but also forgive and move on. Once you’ve gotten it all out and made up, accept the apology and leave it alone.
Contrary Perspectives on Too Much Travel Togetherness
Here is a very thorough discussion of the realities of couple travel from Practical Wanderlust.
Here is an interesting list from Tour Radar of blogs of couples who believe that long-term travel together has helped their relationship.
Some Posts About Lessons that I Learned After Traveling for Five Years
- Learning Vacations: The Best Kept Travel SecretMy favorite type of group travel is learning vacations. No aspect of group travel has so influenced who I am as a person and how I view the world.
- 15 Tips for Finding the Best Guided Multi-Day Tours Worldwide for Long-Term TravelersOne of my biggest surprises in traveling around the world for five years was how much I enjoyed guided multi-day tours. It is nice to have other people deal with arrangements. Many of the tour guides are incredibly knowledgeable and friendly. My fellow travelers were usually kind and interested in learning.
- Couples Traveling Long-Term Together: Does it Hurt or Strengthen Your Relationship? (Under Construction)Under Construction
- My Temporary Home Base During Travel in Montreal: 10 Reasons I Loved Coming Home During My Five Year Trip Around the WorldDuring my round the world travels,, I was glad to spend tree months every year at a home base in Montreal. Not only did I grow very fond of Quebec and Eastern Canada but it was fun to just do day-to-day activities with friends.
- How To Avoid Travel LonelinessWhen I was traveling around the world as a young man, I frequently got lonely. When I was able to travel around the world again long term, I deliberately participated in group tours, cruises, volunteering, and learning vacations to avoid loneliness. It worked wonders for me.
- 3 Tips for Justifying Long-Term Travel: An Unexpected ChallengeI was surprised how often I had to justify my existence when I traveled around the world. Here are some tips in case you find yourself in the same situation.
- Paying More than Locals As a Foreigner: How to Deal with and Avoid ProblemsWhen I was younger being charged more for things than locals used to piss me off. Now I simply acknowledge it as part of traveling and living in third-world countries. I find the less it bothers me the less I attract aggressive vendors, too.
- Culture Shock: The Greatest Challenge for Long-Term Travelers and Expats?By far the biggest issue I had while traveling around the world as a younger man was culture shock. It even resulted in me making some major decisions, most of which I regret in retrospect. In my experience, many people suffer from culture shock while traveling around the world or living abroad but most don’t even know they are suffering from culture shock.
- Backpacker Syndrome: Why Travel Burnout is Usually Part of a Nomadic LifestyleEvery long-term traveler regardless of the budget will occasionally suffer from backpacker’s syndrome. I deal with it by slowing down, staying in my hotel for a day or two, or scheduling some new activities.
- Travel Church Overload Syndrome: When You Just Can’t Stand Seeing Another ChurchDuring my five years traveling around the world. I occasionally suffered from mild travel burnout. Only once did I succumb to church overload syndrome because over time I have learned how to appreciate churches. However, church overland syndrome used to bother me frequently and it seems commonplace among other long-term travelers.
- Independent Travel: Advantages and DisadvantagesDuring my five years traveling around the world, I spent about half my time traveling independently and the other half on group tours, cruises, volunteering, and learning vacations. I love the freedom to explore things in depth that comes with independent travel. However, I find exclusively traveling independently to get exhausting and lonely if done for months at a time. I also love the diversity of experiences.when I mix group and independent travel.
- 8 Advantages and Disadvantages of Third World TravelEveryone who can travel worldwide should visit countries in the developing, third world, and the developed world (Western Europe, USA/Canada, Australia/New Zealand, etc.). This post outlines the advantages and disadvantages of third-world, emerging country travel.
- 7 Hidden Pros and Cons of Traveling in the First WorldOne of my biggest surprises when I traveled around the world for five years was how much I loved traveling in the First World (USA/Canada, Australia/New Zealand, Western Europe, Singapore, Japan, the UAE, etc). Until I began to travel around the world for a long term, I always thought the developed world was less interesting than in the third world. Now I find both equally interesting and enjoyable.
- Round the World Travel: My Top 4 LessonsI learned four lessons from my five-year journey around the world: 1) Mix group and independent travel; 2) Travel to varied parts of the world; 3) Avoid travel burnout, and 4) Have a home base.