I can show you the world…
The above is a strongly accurate representation of my boyfriend and I for the entire six months that we spent travelling together, stuck on grim coaches for hours and not being able to pee as there were no toilets together, inadvertently drinking tap water in Peru and having food poisoning together, getting lost in the jungle and screaming at each other. Together. Also he’d never been away before really so I prefer to think of myself as Aladdin in this scenario.
Now I understand that sadly many people aren’t as lucky as us and don’t have our (or Aladdin and Jasmine’s) perfect, dreamy Disney relationship. SO I thought I’d be generous and share some tips that may stop you from killing each other if you do decide to take a trip together, for a week, a month, a year, whatever. You may not like each other by the end of it but I can’t work miracles guys. Also if any murders do occur, not my fault, thanks.
First tip. Don’t talk to me in the morning. PLEASE. That’s actually just some advice to anyone who wants to be or wishes to remain my friend. I am totally a morning person; I just like to spend those mornings alone. In silence. If I am disturbed I can’t be held responsible for anything I say or do to the inconsiderate human being who tried to wish me a cheerful hello.
I digress. The point I think I was going to make is to try to understand the person you’re travelling with. I can’t handle talking to people in the morning, my boyfriend (let’s call him Alex, because that’s his name) can’t handle most things if he’s hungry — I think we can all relate. Learn these facts early on and it’ll save you from feeling like a wounded animal and thinking your partner has abruptly fallen out of love with you for no reason at all. The real reason: WHERE ARE THE BURGERS?
The being hungry thing leads to another great piece of advice, in that you are probably going to face loads of stressful situations that would make anyone slightly pissed off. Jet lag, no food, no sleep, sunburnt, insect bitten to shit, trying to sleep on a coach while Portuguese men are having a party in the seats across from you, lost in a creepy village at night and no one speaks a word of English (more advice! Learn a bit of the language of the place you’re visiting, it actually helps), can’t go anywhere without a toilet because diarrhoea, trapped doing a seven hour hike down a canyon and thinking you’re going to fall into it and die etc. etc.
There are two of you so try to support each other. Face challenging circumstances together as a team. You have each other and that’s awesome! So, keep the other person calm if they are stressed, look after them if they are ill, let them deal with with the Portuguese men because you are too non-confrontational and British to do anything other than shoot them evil glances and sigh lots. Also being a pair is great because one person can look after your backpacks while the other sleeps/vomits/eats their rice and beans/negotiates buying the train tickets from an angry Bolivian man three minutes before it’s due to leave.
Of course, the best thing to do in a traumatic or testing situation is to laugh. So you have horrendous food poisoning and need the toilet NOW? It’s ok! Shit on that mountain! I would also give this advice if you were alone HOWEVER in this case your partner will be there to keep an eye out for other hikers/wild animals/anyone with a camera. This has happened to me with two boyfriends now, I really hope it’s not some kind of theme. But it’s ok, because I could laugh about it, because they could laugh about it — whilst being super vigilant of course. And now so can you! …Please don’t judge me.
Ok more tips. A really useful one is to play to each other’s strengths. I am one of those weird people who obsessively reads 50 reviews about several restaurants on Tripadvisor, Yelp and Foursquare before deciding to eat at one. This meant we ate AWESOME (and cheap!) food, a lot. Alex is good at directions, which got us to the aforementioned eateries and also everywhere else. We had at least 50% less arguments over how lost we were because of his internal GPS. On a side note, I think these arguments largely stemmed from us being lost AND hungry. So maybe some really good advice is to always have snacks with you!
My fourth and final tip, because you don’t need more than four when they are all so effective (plus I gave you bonus advice), is to remember to be sassy and independent. The sassy part is really important. It’s super cool to have someone to enjoy all the amazing moments of your travels with, but you should definitely do some things apart. In fact, it’s likely you aren’t going to want to do absolutely everything together. Some would say to compromise, I say you should both try to do as much as you can of what you want, but understand that sometimes this might be without the other person.
Example: Waking up at 4am somewhere on the Californian coast to listen to a spiritual healer I fondly nicknamed Papa Smurf babble about cosmic energy for an hour and a half. Alex was basically like HELL NO, so I got up and went by myself and loved it. I think. I was mostly asleep but his words probably reached me on a subliminal level. Anyway BE SELFISH, go to different places, meet back afterwards, it’s fine you don’t have to live in each other’s pockets.
That’s it. I have saved all of your future travel-based relationships/this wasn’t really that helpful was it? Sorry! Also I think I was meant to tell you to make sure to have lots of sex and candlelit dinners and champagne in hot tubs and air balloon rides but surely that’s obvious?! Come on guys, I can’t do everything for you!