Advantages of Couples Travel

Posted by Ted on Nov 30, 2012 in Philosophy, Travel, Vagabonding

Some might think that long-term travel as a couple is a recipe for drama. However, this is usually not the case. More often than not, it is both a rewarding experience, and can be an easier journey than if traveling solo.

Surrounded by tea in Longjing, China

A few weeks ago, I was invited to participate in the annual Meet, Plan, Go : National Event. I talked about our extended trip to Southeast Asia, and on Couples Travel. In this two-part series, I’ll highlight what we talked about and more.

Dispelling the Myth

Traveling with a partner isn’t crazy.

The fear that many couples have of traveling together is just that – fear – and most couples actually grow closer.

Advantages of Solo Travel

There are two very important benefits to Solo Travel;

  1. Freedom
    You get to go where you want, when you want, and you don’t have to negotiate with anyone.
  2. Overall cost
    One person can certainly travel cheaper than two.

Traveling alone is simpler and cheaper, and there’s nothing wrong with it. There are thousands of solo travelers out there right now, exploring the world on their own terms and loving it.

Advantages of Couples Travel

A simplistic view might make it seem that traveling as a couple is both more complex and more expensive. While technically true, one needs to look at a number of other benefits to understand the differences more fully.

  1. Individual cost
    A couple traveling together can do so for somewhat less than twice the cost of a single person, as they can share things such as food, lodging, and local transportation. There are exceptions – air, bus, and boat fares, and per-bed dorm-style lodging at hostels – but per-room lodging, taxis, and sharing meals can allow two people traveling together to travel cheaper than they could individually.
  2. Combined resources
    Leading up to a trip, two people can work and save more than one person alone, perhaps reducing the time needed to accumulate the necessary funds. On the road, two people can work to offset daily costs or extend a trip.
  3. See more
    With two sets of eyes, and two ways of interpreting the world, a couple traveling together can see and experience more.
  4. Safety in numbers
    Even two people traveling together are less likely to get scammed or robbed.  Of course, there are no guarantees – taxi drivers and gas station attendants can be experts at the craft of hoodwinking tourists.Also, in some countries, attitudes towards women can be dismissive or aggressive, especially when traveling alone.
  5. Collaborative problem solving
    Whether on a short vacation or an extended trip, “something unexpected” is a matter of when, not if. With two minds thinking through a problem – getting lost, communicating with a local, dealing with an accident, getting sick – a couple can weather those difficulties better and avoid having to be alone.
  6. Builds intimacy and trust
    Hand-in-hand with all of the above, sharing the experience of exploring the world, learning about different cultures, and solving problems can bring a couple closer together. While there may be the occasional argument, over the longer time of an extended trip, a couple becomes more efficient at being partners. They begin to understand how they complement one another, taking advantage of their individual strengths, and compensating for weaknesses, becoming better travelers and companions.

Success Stories

Don’t just take my word for it, there are plenty of couples who are making longer-term travel a reality.

For over two years, I have been curating a series of Vagabonding Case Studies which feature real people going on, currently on, or whom have returned from extended trips.

Out of almost 80 profiles, 25% of vagabonding travelers are couples and families.

What is most interesting about the studies are in the similarities. When asked about challenges on the road, couples would respond similarly to those traveling solo – safety, money, and missing family.

Here’s what a few of them have to say..

  • ..on planning;
    • “The more flexible you are, the more open you can be to amazing opportunities.”
      The Talbots
    • “Say yes as often as you can, to anything. When you’re open to life, good things happen to you. Try new things. Don’t be picky. Get your hands dirty.”
      Aron & Mariana
  • ..on relationships;
    • “As a couple we were worried that being together, 24 hours a day, every day, would be very challenging for our relationship. But the opposite happened – we were confronted with each other’s weaknesses and issues and, in the end, came out as a stronger couple.”
      Los Fogg
    • “We wondered if we’d all kill each other. Instead we had a ball.”
      The Redpaths

As these and many other stories show, traveling together as a couple isn’t scary. Far from the worst idea ever, it can be a recipe for success, allowing people to grow individually and together, sharing the beauty and wonder of the world.

What are you waiting for? Grab your partner and GO!

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An adventurer at heart, Ted Beatie is at his happiest when he’s off the beaten path. His deepest passion is sharing the world through photography and writing, found at The Pocket Explorer. He is also managing editor for Rolf Potts' Vagabonding, where he curates a Case Study series. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook.

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