“Constant togetherness is fine – but only for Siamese twins.
Victoria Billings

Fifty Plus Nomad offers personalized workshops and courses in Spanish, English, Living and Traveling in Mexico, and Long-Term Travel Book a Two-hour Free Sample Introductory Session

Long Term Travel as a Couple

My Experience with Too Much Travel Togetherness

While I usually travel solo, I traveled as a couple several times between 2012 and 2019, generally for two to three weeks at a time. It was fun for a short period. It was nice to share experiences and memories with my partner.

I could not travel with Claudette, my travel partner, for longer than a month because our interests and personalities did not mesh well enough to withstand the travails of prolonged long-term travel. (I also spent only three to four months a year with Claudette at her home in Montreal. I am unsure if we would have made an excellent full-time couple, though I enjoyed sharing time with her in my temporary home base, Montreal).

I am not sure if I would be comfortable traveling as a couple with anyone full-time. I am used to being alone and doing what I feel like daily. It is a treat to change to travel as a couple for a change of pace. Still, as a permanent thing, I would have to find someone more flexible, curious, independent, and open-minded than Claudette (or about 90% of the world’s population, for that matter). My partner would also have to allow me to do things by myself regularly.

If I spend more than six weeks straight with other people, even in a language school and especially on multi-day group tours, all I want to do is be alone. That said, I also get lonely when I travel alone for more than a month. That’s why I am a big fan of mixing independent and group travel.

I always plan my long-term travel to include at least a week alone and another week in a group every month. If I have been in groups for more than a month when I travel solo, I pick the most anonymous, big city hotels possible and go out to eat and visit museums alone for at least ten days.

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 much time with your partner in tight spaces (i.e., cruise cabins, hotel rooms, etc.).

You also have to resolve problems together that arise in your travels. Some of these problems are ones 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 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 some stories of broken relations among such couples. (It is not rare, however, for couples to encounter problems when one spouse has to spend long periods, usually for business away, while the other spouse stays at home).

Though seemingly relatively rare, relationship breakups from long-term travel mainly involve recently retired couples who then decided to embark on a long-term trip. Many of these couples didn’t spend much time with their partners before retirement. For such couples, spending all their time with each other traveling can cause a lot of friction.

Long-Term Travel Can Bring Couples Closer, Too

I have also met and read about couples who forged better relationships through long-term travel. These couples enjoyed having a partner to share their experiences and help them work out problems on the road. Many couples also report they got to know each other better on the road, free from work and family restraints.

Whenever I had a chance to explore these couples’ lives more in-depth, I could see that they always enjoyed each other’s company before they hit the road. They also shared a lot of the same interests and temperaments. Most wanted to spend more time with their partner before leaving on long-term travel adventures.

Several of these couples spent time alone during their travels. They sometimes spend time alone relaxing because they need more time than their partner to recharge their mental batteries or recuperate from physical ailments. These couples would devote part of some days on the road to exploring interests they didn’t share with their partners.

Overcoming Problems When Couples Spend Too Much Time Traveling Together

The following are tips for avoiding problems with too much togetherness during long-term travel (inspired by Planet D).

  • Don’t forget that you are a couple. Take time to have body contact. It’s easy to become ‘pals’ on the road.
  • Set aside romantic times. Spend time talking about how much you like each other and all the incredible experiences you have shared. Occasionally, stay in a luxurious room, order in-room service, or eat out in a nice restaurant.
  • Communicate more than at home. When traveling as a couple (or as a group), you will notice more annoying things about your spouse. You are spending more time together often in a small space. If you bottle up your frustrations, it could have worse consequences than home.
  • Be willing to give and take. Try to find activities that you can enjoy with each other. When that is impossible, do something one spouse likes one day and something the other wants the next day.
  • Argue but also forgive and move on. Accept the apology and leave it alone once you’ve gotten it all out and made up. 

Different Perspectives on Couples Traveling Together

Here is an in-depth discussion of the realities of couple travel from Practical Wanderlust.

Here is an exciting list from Tour Radar of blogs of couples who believe that long-term travel together has helped their relationship.

Some Posts About Long-Term Travel from Fifty Plus Nomad

Paul Heller has been a lifelong avid traveler and language learner and teacher, Even as a child, he told Santa Claus that he wanted to visit all the children worldwide. At seven years old, Paul wanted to retire to Mexico. At eight, he memorized the name, capital, location, and some facts about every country worldwide. At twelve, he found a book "Lonely Planet: Southeast Asia on a Shoestring" and started developing his own itinerary for a future round-the-world trip. He remained obsessed with travel; after getting a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from the University of Southern California and working as an administrator, He spent his vacations going to different countries around the globe studying language, touring, and volunteering. In 1994, he quit his job and lived in Russia as a volunteer English instructor. He discovered that he loved teaching languages. In 2004, he decided to make a living out of his travels and founded a community of people who love to travel just like him. He developed 5 three-hour classes about living and traveling long-term worldwide which he taught in over 50 adult education programs throughout the US. After his parents passed, he realized his dream of traveling around the world; cruising and touring some of the most remote places like the North Atlantic, Patagonia, and Oceania; and learning new languages (he knows Spanish, Italian, French, and Russian). Paul encourages everyone to learn foreign languages. He knows that it can be frustrating and slow but that anyone can learn a language if they put in the work and, most importantly, learning a language is well worth the time and effort because it opens up a whole new set of people, ideas, and cultures. He is currently spending the next chapter of his life in Mérida, México. He is excited about using this blog and his classes and workshops to inspire and equip fellow Fifty Plus Nomads with the language, cultural, and psychological skills necessary to be successful and happy long-term travelers and expats over 50.

Write A Comment