Travelling as a Couple – Top 3 Domestics
Ancient sayings and wise proverbs from most corners of the world talk about the curious case of the travel partner; a friend is not tested until you have travelled together. Travelling is an interesting phenomena which presents a range of revelations about yourself; what you like, what you hate and what kind of person you are. Travelling with a companion therefore really provides an insight into another person that little other shared experiences can offer. Many friendships have ended and many friendships have been forged by the experience of travelling with someone else – the little nuances that you may not notice day to day over dinner and social gatherings at home can suddenly exasperate you whilst away. The sweet endearing qualities you previously liked in a friend can drive you to insanity when on an 8 hour cramped bus ride to see an underwhelming waterfall.
Having a friend or companion who has successfully passed through the travel litmus test is a rarity that must be truly appreciated and utilized fully– provided of course you passed their litmus test too. So what then is it like to travel as a couple? Spending 24 hours a day every day with one other person who knows you best without any real respite and with whom you don’t need to feign the politeness and civility that mere friends, acquaintances and even strangers would warrant can be challenging.
For some strange reason when travelling together both Ali and I are actually the best versions of ourselves and are a lot more laid back and relaxed than when at home with the daily routine of life. We both take on our respective travel roles at which we excel and we mesh together (mostly) seamlessly; him the logistical master, the man power, the doer and the comforter when needed (when the travel exhaustion and jet lag makes me go a little cray cray). I on the other hand bring the research for him to translate into routes and timings, the food wish lists (huge responsibility, the outcome of which can really make or break) and some helpful language phrases along with charm, wit and generally exquisite conversation (maybe some slight embellishment there).
Nonetheless, we still have our (mostly ridiculous) travel domestics whichever country we may be in with consistent specific underlying root causes. Here are our most common 3 travel domestics and how we try to remediate them:
This is something that I cannot stress enough. Food is probably responsible for 90% of our travel domestics. I’m not sure if this is normal with most people (t must be, right?) however we both become agitated, easily frustrated and have a heightened sense of emotional instability generally when we are hungry. Our most common turn of phrase that we use is Hangry – a perfect word to describe the state of anger induced by hunger. This is especially heightened when travelling and food options are not necessarily always available where you expect or when you need them to be. Add into that some specific dietary requirements and language barriers and you could have a full blown passive aggressive tit for tat war of scathing underhanded comments thrown at each other.
Learning Point: Honestly speaking as Ali suffers from Hanger more severely than I do the responsibility lies on me to remediate, so whilst dealing with my own hanger I need to ensure I always have a full supply of preselected snacks I can throw at him when his hanger symptoms show (mostly brunch bars and crackers, crazy I know but he loves them). The problem with this however is that I lack the ability of foresight – when I am full I cannot conceive of a time where I may be in any other state other than full, even though experience has time and time again has demonstrated otherwise. I’m trying to get better at this as the consequences of not can be extremely damaging.
Appropriate clothing and footwear is such a key element for a general state of happiness. Packing appropriate clothing and footwear however is not a strength of mine. In day to day life I am what some may label a pessimist, however as soon as I am faced with an empty suitcase and a foreign destination this raging unrecognizable optimist breaks out who is intent on packing the most ridiculously weather inappropriate clothes. As I am the key advisor and reviewer of my husband’s packing this optimism then is imparted on him as he mistakenly trusts me on matters of weather and climate considerations. As a result we have spent a few holidays from Berlin to the Scottish Highlands to Tokyo freezing our socks off (well we would be if we weren’t wearing open toe sandals in torrential rains that is). As a result we now have a wardrobe at home solely for the hoodies, leg warmers and hiking shoes we have bought from our travels necessitated by a desire to avert pneumonia. This also means that whilst 15% of our photos show us wearing optimistic clothes and belligerent smiles the other 85% is of us looking like what Mr. David Cameron may categorize (incorrectly) as delinquent youths (due to the aforementioned hoodies).
Learning Point: We now, no matter what the destination, always take one bulky hoodie and a pair of sturdy hiking trainers each. Even if we were to go to Barbados in the middle of a drought and a scorching summer we will not be lulled into a false sense of security. “Experience: that most brutal of teachers. But you learn, my God do you learn.”
The concept of time on holiday is an interesting one of which there are two schools of thought. Those who treat time leisurely on holiday seeing a main purpose of said holiday to be relaxation and leisure. Others see every minute away as an opportunity and asset that must be fully utilized and ravaged. What’s interesting though is the proponents of each camp are not who you would expect. I remember going on holiday to Miami with my brother, someone who doesn’t even know what the world pre-10am looks like (and has managed to sustain a career with that integral belief). This is someone who was late for every single G.C.S.E exam (UK State examinations) he sat – both morning and afternoon due to sleep! When we were in Miami every single day he would be up, showered and ready to leave the hotel by 7am to get every last bit of beach swimming time in. He viewed me with such judgment and disdain for getting up at 9am as though there was a repugnant sloth before him.
Unfortunately my husband also fits predominantly in this school of thought. Now don’t misunderstand me, I am also up for utilizing time as well as possible especially with the kind of destinations we usually travel to which are rich in culture, history and landmarks. However I think a bit of lee way is necessary, say for example, on the first couple of days of your honeymoon in Vietnam after a manic month of last minute wedding logistics and the most challenging period of work in your career made up of intense 12-14 hour days. When two people are on different body clocks; one needing to recover from tiredness to be able to fully enjoy themselves and the other eager to go out and explore immediately, it can be extremely frustrating for both.
Learning Point: It is logical that what you do on holiday is determined by what kind of holiday it is – leisurely beach breaks at a resort lend themselves to sleeping in and a relaxed pace, whereas active holidays or short city breaks require more tempo and utilization of time. That being said, if you have travelled far for some people it is necessary to fully relax and recover from jet lag on the first 1-2 days so that you don’t go on to fizzle out. This is a compromise we have both come to and Ali now reigns in his eagerness to go go go as soon as we drop our bags off to the hotel to take some time to recover and be fully refreshed the next day. I now try to make sure I’ve relaxed and packed ahead of time so no more dashes from work on a Thursday evening to pack through the night and head to the airport on Friday AM already exhausted before our plane has even set off.
Travelling as a couple has its challenges but from my experience it is the best way to travel. Friends, relatives and definitely not colleagues (if you’ve ever been unfortunate enough to travel with colleagues I feel for you) are not down for whatever cray cray shit you may pull. From having nervous breakdowns on the plane when you realize you didn’t register your dietary requirements and lacked the foresight to bring any food with you and so you’re stuck eating bread rolls for the 10 hour flight to having the non judgmental support of your partner after you lash out at an old Chinese man who happened to be the straw that broke the camel’s back of random people shoving their cameras in your face to photograph you, it is comforting, empowering and most importantly fun to experience travel with your partner. Most couples have issues that sometimes manifest themselves most whilst navigating foreign lands and unfamiliar landscapes. The key is to understand what your travel domestics are mostly about, what the root causes are and how you can both compromise to deal with them. Helpful hint that may save you time, it’s most probably to do with food, 90% of issues usually are.