While thoughts of dreamy destinations and romantic getaways tend to paint a pretty picture in our minds, traveling as a couple is by no means a bubble of bliss. In fact, it's flat-out hard work. If you want to have a successful, happy trip, you've got to remember to pack patience, devotion, and of course a whole LOT of love.
Let's face it, when you travel with a partner, you learn a lot more than just about the new destination.
You see new sides of each other. You uncover new moods, new emotions. You pull back new layers of vulnerability.
Because like a relationship, traveling to an unfamiliar place can be a rocky road full of ups and downs. But these kind of experiences are critically needed if you ultimately want to test your compatibility with someone — especially if you're thinking of spending forever with that person.
As someone who met my husband while studying abroad many years ago, traveling has served as the foundation of our relationship. Since that first date in China, we have since been fortunate enough to have explored over 16 countries together. While those adventures were filled with unforgettable memories, I'd be lying if I said there weren't times when I had to replay the famous words of Kanye, "what doesn't kill you makes you stronger," over and over in my mind. But thankfully, we persevered.
So whether you want to test the waters of a new relationship or you're on your way to tying the knot, here are six reasons you should pack your bags and set out on a new journey, together.
1. You will uncover each other's true personalities.
Stressful times will arise when traveling. It's inevitable. Just as with everyday life, situations will occur that are out of your control. Say you missed your train. Or your flight got delayed. Or worse, your luggage got lost. Ultimately, it won't matter what the problem is but how your partner reacts to the mishaps. Do they whine about the issue or propose a solution? How do they treat the person delivering the not-so-good news? Are they open-minded and respectful with the unfamiliar?
In the end, it's these types of reactions that truly shine a light on someone's personality. Remember, actions speak louder than words.
2. You will discover the beauty of communication.
OK, I'll admit it. Travel days tend to make me really anxious, aka not so pleasant to be around. And on the other hand, my husband, Derek, tends to get extremely "hangryyy" when he doesn't have enough road-trip snacks. (Sorry, Derek, but it's true!) These are just two examples of not-so-desirable traits that have been revealed when traveling, but it is through proper communication that we learned to cope with the highs and lows and move along with our journeys. He gives me the needed space to manage my nerves, and I leave the snack-packing to him.
The fact is when you're traveling with someone else, you are with that person 24/7. Unlike regular dating where you can go your separate ways if tensions start to flare, when exploring new places, you're stuck with each other — for better or worse, right? And because neither of you is a mind-reader, clear communication is essential for fully understanding the needs of one another. Whether you need an extra hour of sleep to shake off jet-lag, are yearning to see a specific exhibit, or simply not digging your accommodation situation, embrace the beauty of communication and speak up to voice your opinions and concerns.
3. You will cultivate an entirely new level of teamwork.
Unless your entire trip is planned out for you — and come on, where's the fun in that? — there is a lot of work that goes into planning an amazing adventure. From tickets, lodging, and transportation to all the exciting activities in between, the details can become quite daunting, especially if they all fall onto one person's plate.
Just as in a relationship, traveling with a companion requires teamwork. When you take the time to recognize each other's strengths and divide up the responsibilities accordingly, it makes the upfront tasks that much less of a chore. For example, my husband is a mastermind when it comes to figuring out all things logistics, while I greatly enjoy venturing down internet rabbit holes to scope out the cutest Airbnbs and bucket-list items we simply can't miss. By partnering together on even the tiniest level of detail, our trips are not only more successful, but we are also able to implement those strategies in our everyday lives as a couple.
4. You will recognize each other's willingness to compromise.
In order to have an unforgettable journey together, learning to compromise is a must. Despite how similar you and your partner's interests might be, I can guarantee there will come a time when you both will have to give and take in some degree. While meeting in the middle can be challenging, it is such a great lesson to master together, as compromising is a core pillar in any healthy relationship.
The key is to recognize your partner's willingness to find the happy medium, and make sure you're being open-minded as well. From deciding where to eat your next meal to what activities you want to spend your travel budget on, your ability to relinquish some of your own wants to make joint decisions will be an important factor when deciding the future of your relationship.
5. You will increase your own vulnerability.
No matter if you just started dating or you're traveling with your forever soulmate, chances are you want to put your best foot forward, especially when it comes to your appearance. Don't sweat it; it's only natural. But then it happens: you get sick. Like really sick. And suddenly, the last thing that's on your mind is how you look.
Before embarking on our trip to Peru, I thought my husband and I were pretty open with each other. Living in a teeny-tiny studio together, we were forced to tear down any protective guards we might have had up. I saw him on his not-so-good days, and I thought he had seen me at my worst. But no. When I caught a parasite during our trek to Machu Picchu, that took "in sickness or in health" to a level we had yet to experience together.
As much of a nightmare as those days seemed, he stuck it out and supported me. Well, he didn't have much of a choice since we were in the secluded Andes Mountains, but still, he was there to nurse me through it! And while I hope to never experience that kind of sickness again — especially while abroad — it is because of that trying time we are both more vulnerable with each other, which makes our relationship even stronger.
6. You will forever have memories to reminisce on, together.
Not only does traveling create once-in-a-lifetime moments, but having someone to share the good times with will make those experiences everlasting. Years from now, you won't remember the petty arguments or heated discussions. Instead, you'll look back on all the magnificent journeys and simply smile knowing it is because of those adventures you both were molded into the people you are today. You embraced newness together. You grew together. And you will forever have those memories to reminisce about together, even after your travels.