Bangkok (ANN) - You have decided that it is time to go on travelling with a partner after years of backpacking solo. And you don't mind being with someone this time because travelling as a couple could be double the fun. However, if you decide to travel with another person, whether with a friend or a partner, expect that it's not going to be as smooth as you think.
Many seasoned travellers say if you want to know your partner more, you have to leave your comfort zone and travel as a couple. Travelling can change people. They shed off their skin and show their colours. It's the ultimate test if your relationship is made of rock. I've heard a lot of stories of couples breaking up or friendships getting awry after their travel because they found out they can't even agree on simple things. Travelling has made them realised that they cannot be together, at least on an island.
It's always been a hard decision for couple to travel together especially when one or both are used to a solo flight. It is even harder when one or both of the couple have not travelled outside their home. I've heard of horror stories about honeymooners instantly wanting to get a divorce because their 'coupling' (couple travelling) didn't go as planned. They realised getting married was a mistake because they had so much differences--from food choices to idea of fun--and thought they should have taken the honeymoon first before the marriage to get to know each other better. Seriously, this is not fun. Take the story of a young American couple who went to the lovely islands of Thailand for their honeymoon. The woman was a control freak and the man wanted an easy-going island life. At the end, the man decided to stay behind for an extended holiday in Koh Pangan (for the monthly full moon party) while the wife went back to the US by herself.
But there are also good stories coming out from 'coupling'. Many couples have attested that their relationship became stronger because of the unusual bond they had while travelling. They discovered new things about each other and complimented each other's shortcomings. A British couple who were too bored in their London flat decided to go to Bali, Indonesia to recharge and get a much needed vacation. Together they discovered they both enjoyed biking around the winding roads of Ubud and amidst rice paddies. They enrolled together in meditation classes and found renewed love in Bali.
A successful 'coupling' depends on the couple. But these tips could sweeten the deal:
Whether going solo or as a couple, planning is crucial. You need to agree on a destination that appeals to both. Thailand and Indonesia appeal to couples because of diverse interests these destinations offer.
Your budget should also be taken into consideration. When you're married, it's probably easier to discuss the budget but for dating couples, it can pose a problem. Both should agree on money allocation on how you are going to split costs. Going to Asia might be more economical than, say, Latin America. It pays to have a good research about your destination, the weather and places to see. It's also worthwhile to check out language barriers. Language is not much of a problem in most of Asia. Even if English is not widely spoken in many countries, it is easy to find someone who speaks the language.
In any relationship, compromise is the best solution to any problem. You have to remember that it isn't solo travelling anymore. While you really want to ride the back of an elephant in Thailand while your partner has a fear of the mammal, you just have to compromise. You could agree to let the other ride the elephant while you stay behind your hotel enjoying yourself in the pool. But the best way to avoid fighting is to plan the things you both want to do and the places you want to visit.
Who's in charge
Always remember that it's 'coupling'. While one is a natural leader who takes all the decisions what kind transportation to use, where to go and where to sleep, the other should not just blindly follow. If only one makes the decision, the other partner gets annoyed and feels underappreciated. As a rule of thumb, men are generally better in reading maps so better leave this task to the man. But you can take turns in deciding what to do next and allow the partner to choose. One good tip I got from a couple is dividing the tasks and focus on them. For this American couple, communicating, finding ATM machines and doing most of the driving are left with the husband while keeping track of the itinerary (hotel information, places to see, restaurants) and navigation are the wife's responsibilities.
Don't fret over small stuff. An argument over who gets more luggage space is one of these. Better have separate luggages which contain only the most essential. The key is always pack light so you have more space for souvenirs. If you are going to Southeast Asia during the dry months and summer, you practically don't need much. Clothes are also cheap to buy so it's better to get some of the clothes you need in your destination.
There are annoying things that your partner will do during the trip that you don't see back home. You have to exert extra patience in dealing with one's quirkiness unless you want to end up fighting.
Relaxed mind, positive attitude
There will be unexpected events that will happen during your travel such as flight cancellations due to volcanic eruption or flooding in your paradise island. Having a positive attitude coupled with a sense of humour will make things bearable for both of you. If one of you gets impatient for waiting hours at the airport, one should remain calm. If you can make fun out of the dire situation, the better. It means you can weather all storms in your relationship. Travelling should be a wonderful and enriching experience.