Could you spend 24/7 with your partner for the next year? How about if you weren’t at home and were subjected to constant stress, unknown circumstances and outcomes beyond your control? No breaks, no ‘see-you-after-work’, no cool down period, no-one else to rely on. Although there were plenty of things we were worried about before our trip got underway, spending all our time together was not one of them.
We Like Each Other
We genuinely enjoy each others’ company and have tons of fun together – that can make all the difference in the world. We have similar interests and spend a lot of time together even at home so being with each other non stop was not something we had to get used to. There are plenty of times when spending so much time together that nerves can get frayed and patience tested – the fact we like each other makes us take a moment in these situations and stops us from saying things that can’t be taken back – I don’t want to hurt someone that I like this much.
Knowing What Is Priority #1
We are number 1 priority, the trip and everything else is number 2. We talked about this before we left and were very clear that if anything should go wrong between us we would return home to deal with it under more familiar circumstances. There would be no breaking up on the road for us – we’ve been together almost 12 years and consider ourselves to have a fabulous relationship – there is no way that traveling was going to come between us. In the end that is why we left India. We were miserable, not talking to each other and barely being civil – our decision to leave was about remembering Priority #1.
Set Up Task Responsibilities
Jason is amazing at navigation. I have been thoroughly impressed by his ability to find our way around any number of cities, either on foot or on the myriad of confusing public transportation systems (Note to self: never piss off the one person in the whole world who can get you back home!). I check out all the accommodations on-line and do all the route planning. J took care of finding and booking all our flights, trains and buses while I managed all the pictures, writing the blog and keeping up on email. We each have our strengths and weaknesses and we used them to our advantage. We also didn’t duplicate tasks – we trusted that we would each do our job and so didn’t have to waste time checking up on each other. It’s a system that worked really well and we use it now that we’re home too.
Meet Other People
Being introverts, this one was hard for us but still important. Although we may not have met as many people as other travelers do, we did meet some great people, had some good laughs, and learned a lot too. Some travelers eschew tours thinking of them as too ‘touristy’ but we thought of them as an easy way to learn about where we were and a great way to meet other people. While on a tour we would rarely be together – it was a great opportunity to chat with someone other than each other! We would almost immediately separate and start learning about the people we were with. Many times we would meet people who had been where we were planning on going and got some excellent recommendations of places to stay or sights to visit. Meeting other people and sharing stories also helped us to understand our ‘traveling selves’ a bit more too. Hearing about other travelers ups and downs showed us that our ups and downs were perfectly normal and helped us relax into it a whole lot more.
Agree On The Plan
We’re planners and so did a lot of research before we got underway. We left plenty of room and possibility for spontaneity and changing of plans but we pretty much stuck to the original plan. It would have been madness had we not agreed on how we were going to travel, or where we were going to go, or what the expected budget would be. Things were easier for us when we had a plan. I know that’s not the case for everybody but we were less frustrated and uneasy when we knew what was coming up.
It’s Not Always Easy
We were not the same couple while traveling. We lost some of the ‘lightness’ and ‘playfulness’ that is part of who we are. The first three months were definitely the hardest, while we were still figuring out who we were on the road. There certainly were times when we were ripping our hair out with frustration over the seemingly tiniest things. Sometimes we were just ‘done’ with each other and there was nowhere else to turn. We would just have to let it simmer for a while and wait it out. It’s not like at home where there is a chance to get some distance by going to work, or the gym or seeing friends and using the time to gain some perspective on the situation. On the road it really is 24/7. It did get easier though and we find that now that we are home we have returned to our normal selves.
But It’s A Lot Of Fun!
There is nothing like traveling around the world with a best friend. The giggles and the laughs, the knowing glances, the inside jokes, the endless games of cribbage and backgammon…having someone to keep me warm or tell me how cute I am even though I’m wearing the same outfit for the 276th day in a row and haven’t showered in 5 days…the memories we will share with each other forever. It was totally worth it!
We are lucky to have had a chance like this. We still love each other tremendously and have learned how much farther we can go together.