Sunday, June 16, 2013

He Said, She Said: Tips for Traveling Couples


My longtime beau, Andy, and I will be celebrating our ten-year anniversary next week.
We spent our first anniversary in Paris. Since then, we’ve taken a pickup truck across Texas, a train across Europe, and a plane to the Middle East. Travel has been the backdrop of our decade together.
Having visited 15 countries and almost two thirds of the States, we joke that we could win The Amazing Race, the reality show where pairs compete to be the first around the world.
At home in New York our schedules overlap far less than we’d like, with both of our jobs taking us to far-flung places at times. And while we’re happy to explore the world solo, each trip we take on our own reminds us of how much better it is to travel together. It’s not perfect, of course. Because travel forces you out of your comfort zone, it can bring unexpected challenges as well as unexpected joy. But I have to say that having my “pack mule” along — this wonderful man who won’t let me carry my own luggage — is my favorite way to travel.
Here’s what we’ve learned from a decade of travel together, from both sides:

Find Your Niche

Andy: Annie is the master of knowing all the possibilities for each location and how to squeeze the most into every day. When we first started traveling together, I would “tag along” more than help plan. But now, I have things I like to plan, like hunting down local beers that can’t be found anywhere else.
Annie: Restaurant reservations are my favorite thing to book, especially if it’s a big city like L.A., London, or Paris. But I also love figuring out tours, museums, events, guides, hotels, and pretty much everything else. And sometimes I do give Andy an “assignment” or two…

Challenge Yourselves

Andy: Within the first year of us being together, we realized we both prefer experiences to “things.”
Annie: No matter what, it is so important to leave your comfort zone. It doesn’t have to be overseas or a long trip away. But do day trips, or find a great B&B nearby to stay at for a night. Memories that are based on experience last longer than any gift.

Go Back to Places You Love

Andy: When you find a place that you love, don’t worry about wanting to go back instead of exploring somewhere new. The air of familiarity about a place makes it feel like home on the road and sometimes that is exactly what you need, comfortable but different.
Annie: I love when we visit familiar haunts like L.A., Long Island, and my home state of Arizona. The more exotic places we go, the more I appreciate places we know inside out — where neither of us cares about checking things off a list.

Enjoy the Ride

Annie: I can’t say that I love when something unexpected happens. But because of the nature of travel, we have to roll with Plan B, Plan C, and sometimes Plan D. I call Andy a content traveler. Nothing seems to faze him, from weather to delays. Our personalities complement each other.

Find Time to Be an Individual

Andy: At least once or twice each trip, we’ll head out on our own. Sometimes it is golf for me or an early workout for Annie, or I head out to find coffee while Annie sleeps in. Whatever the break is, there is something to be said for having the chance to have a little bit of space so that the break doesn’t come when you both realize you really need it.
Annie: I admit I need alone time more than Andy. But we both need it, and make sure we get it.

Remember That You’re a Team

Andy: The best advice I can give to couples who are traveling together is to remember that you’re on the same team. No matter what happens in the wild world of travel — whether she loses her luggage or he gets ripped off on currency conversion — it’s you two versus the world. When it’s all said and done, that rude waiter and crazy taxi driver are staying where you found them. Your partner is coming home with you.
Don’t Talk About Work
Annie: We are trying this on a short trip next week. Four days of no talking about work. I’ll let you know how it goes!
How do you find travel bliss when you’re traveling as a couple? Leave a comment to share your thoughts with the Intelligent Travel community.
Posted by Annie Fitzsimmons in Urban Insider on June 14, 2013