So you’ve taken the plunge and decided to start backpacking as a couple for a year
Instagram and Social media can make it seem magical and like the perfect trip. Sometimes it is exactly like that. But other times you just want to strangle each other.
Don’t get me wrong I LOVE travelling with my boyfriend. He is my perfect trip companion and we are completely compatible when it comes to travelling long term with a partner.
After 3 years of travelling together, we know exactly what annoys the other person so it has made us both easier to travel with – since we know how to handle each situation.
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This thought is a little bit cheesy, but you know how some people believe everyone has a soul mate? Well, I don’t. Instead, I believe everyone has their own perfect travel partner.
Travel companions can truly make or break a long term trip if you travel with the wrong person.
Even if you are super close, it doesn’t mean you & that person necessarily travel well together.
There are negatives to literally anything you will do in life. That doesn’t stop you doing them. The same goes for a couple who are going backpacking together. In order to enjoy the overall travel experiences you can’t let a few small annoying things ruin your whole trip!
That being said, let’s get to the realities of backpacking as a couple below.
You might have different travel styles
One of you wants to sit on a beach 24-7. The other wants to get up bright and early to hike everyday. When travelling together you need to make compromises. If you don’t try to work with the other person then you will probably fall out.
You need to pick destinations and activities that both of you can enjoy. Don’t book an adrenaline fuelled trip if your partner is scared of heights for example.
Here’s me with a cut on my back from a cave & 2 giant mosquito bites on my face. Talk about sexy!
They’ll see you at your worst
Maybe that dodgy street food made you sick and now you have the dreaded ‘Delhi Belly’. Or perhaps you got caught in a wave and swallowed sea water and end up vomiting for 3 days straight (This happened to me in Cambodia).
You could just be awful with hangovers and you’ve been staying at a party hostel. Either way, you’re feeling (and looking) pretty terrible. This is when you really have to rely on your travel buddy and hope they’re kind enough to take care of you.
You just need to deal with the fact they’ll see you during a potential sickness or looking like a bad version of you. The same goes the other way. You will also see your usually super hot partner in some bad way when you’re travelling for months on end together.
Sometimes you will need space
Anyone who says backpacking as a couple long term is a piece of cake, is a damn liar. You WILL get fed up at least once along the way. It’s not natural for people to be with another person 24-7. Even when living together, you normally have space when one or each of you are out at work.
This gives you at least 8 hours a day apart. You can’t always get that space when travelling full time together so you need to take time out to explore alone.
Don’t feel guilty. Take that time to see something new and then regroup and chat about your day! It’ll help prevent you from getting irritated and give you new things to talk about!
End up dressing the same
When you spend all your time with someone you start to pick up some of their traits. This includes dressing the same. You’d think matching outfits would make it easier to find your partner after getting lost in a busy market place. But you would be wrong.
In South-East Asia it’s a common thing to see ‘the banana outfits’ that EVERY tourist will buy at the market. We were included in this stat. Here we are above about 3 months into a trip wearing the same damn outfit. Believe me, we might look ridiculous, but we matched the whole tourist population. So they all look ridiculous too!
You may have different budget expectations
Having a different budget in mind is only a problem, if you don’t talk about it. If you’re planning on backpacking as a couple, you need to have a time frame and cost expectations figured out in advance.
Nothing is worse than wanting to travel for 8 months with a partner when you can actually only afford 3 months. Plus, money is one of the number one topics couples fight about in everyday life – let alone abroad. Don’t be part of the statistics.
Be open and discuss your expectations before you leave. It’ll make for a happier holiday. Consider checking out this budget planner if you need somewhere to start with long term trip budget planning.
Your version of long term travel could be different to theirs
In your eyes long term travel is anything over 2 months. He doesn’t class long term as anything under 1 year. Similar to the budget expectations, you really need to plan ahead and make sure you both agree what long term means to you.
Some people are happy to drop everything and disappear around the world for a year, and others may want to be away for only 3 months.
Make sure you have this chat during your planning stage so you stay on the same page!
End up fighting over little things
Until you’ve experienced an 18 hour sleeper bus with no AC in 40C degree heat, you’ll never quite get it. When there’s two exhausted people in stressful situations you’re going to snap at each other.
It’s going to happen. (I blame the dorm rooms where your bunk mates had loud sex keeping everyone awake all night). You could be angry because your bus broke down in the middle of nowhere and it’s now a 4 hour wait for help to arrive.
Or maybe you’ve been staying in a party hostel and have not slept in 5 days. You will fight over little things, but it’s how you handle these things that really matter.
You can’t have money and sex. You’ll have to pick one.
Unless you’re filthy rich you’ll probably have a fixed budget for your trip. Accommodation is the most expensive cost so you’ll need to make some sacrifices. This could mean staying in hostel dorm rooms with bunk beds instead of private rooms. If you want to travel long term and actually have money for fun things, you have to make a choice:
- Have money for the rest of the trip
- Or Share a bed with your partner.
You’re basically having to put some of your intimacy aside to afford the longer trip. Some couples will even treat the dorm room like a private one and don’t care who’s watching!
It won’t be like a romance movie
Check out my post on the Ways travelling can strengthen your relationship
That’s not to say you won’t have romantic moments while backpacking long term with a partner. You definitely will. It just won’t be 24-7. There is nothing sexy about sweating your butts off on a coach for 9 hours or being stuck in airports when your flights are delayed.
You will need to make time for the romance but you have to fit it in around the journey planning and travelling itself.
You may be in a destination where PDAs are frowned upon
This one depends on where you are. Some countries who follow a strict religious belief believe that holding hands in public with a person of the opposite sex is wrong.
In some places, PDAs are completely forbidden. In other places it may not be forbidden but deeply frowned upon. It is always worth doing your homework before you arrive at a destination with your partner so you know if you need to keep the physical affection to the hotel room instead of being affectionate in public.
Side note: Some countries even forbid unmarried males and females from being seen in public together (unless siblings or parents for example). If unmarried, please use caution and be respectful if you visit these places if you intend on leaving the hotel or resorts together.
In conclusion to travelling/backpacking as a couple long term:
Long term travel with your love isn’t going to be perfect every second of every day. But that’s not to say they won’t be some of the best moments of your life. Travel is special and can be enjoyed in an infinite number of ways.
Enjoying a trip with someone you love can be so rewarding – even if you do experience some of the issues above.
Be prepared. Have realistic expectations. & Work through them. What could go wrong?
Now go book your trip!