“I see all these couples travelling together but I always wonder what they have to say to each other every day, I would get bored !”.
Antoine and I were walking past a group of girls at the Pont du Gard when I overheard their conversation. It honestly made me laugh. I felt like it was so narrow-minded to say something like that. But it stuck in my head nonetheless.
I am writing this as I am relaxing on my mum’s balcony, taking in some sun while she is making dinner. Antoine is enjoying a weekend with his childhood friends in the South. We are apart for a few days.
I am quite independent. I enjoy being by myself. Of course I also enjoy company, but I frequently need to be alone. Even though not everyone is like that I still think it’s important to spend some alone time with yourself.
When we met, Antoine and I have already had experiences of going abroad but not really backpacking. We went abroad for our studies or on holidays with friends. We went on a few trips by ourselves.
But it didn’t feel like the adventure of our 3-months backpacking trip from France to New Zealand we did in 2014. At least not for me, mainly because it was my first time leaving Europe.
Visiting the Great Wall of China when we were in Beijing
Travelling, actually backpacking, because there is a slight difference. Backpacking as a couple is a challenge and a wonderful experience.
I always thought, as a girl, that you can easily test a relationship when you start living together. Then you know if it’s going to work out or not. It was before I travelled with a partner. Now it’s even more of a challenge.
Wild camping on the Isle of Skye in Scotland
You spend your days together, you sightsee together, you ride buses, trains and planes together, you eat together, you sleep together, you wake up together.
If you ever travelled long term, you will understand this. When backpacking as a couple, you share a lot of things, to make your life easier and your backpacks lighter.
Now that’s one of the perks of travelling with someone. That someone being your partner or your friend. You can bring only one shampoo and one soap for two ! How relieving.
We used to share one camera, to travel light. There are lots of travel accessories that we only have in one copy because we wouldn’t need to each have our own.
In the Trans-Siberian train from Moscow to Irkutsk.
Travel is a road full of bumps. You will encounter difficulties and problems on your travels, that I promise you.
After 2 weeks that we left France, on the same day, my credit card got stuck in a ATM machine in Saint Petersburg and my phone suddenly died for no reason.
We had to spend the rest of our trip sharing a credit card and a phone. Which was actually stupid, when you think about it I could have bought a shitty phone just in case. We tried repairing my phone in Asia but nobody would do it. And we were moving so often that my bank couldn’t really send me a new card, I had to wait until we got to New Zealand.
In a way, it’s a good thing I wasn’t alone as I could count on Antoine’s card and phone. But in another way, we were always together because it made things easier.
If we had the key to the flat we were staying at, we would only have one. So we either had to be organised or we had to stay together. If we were Couchsurfing and didn’t have a key, then it was easier for our host if we were leaving and coming home at the same time.
Those little details may seem futile but they are real issues when you travel long term with someone.
Couchsurfing at Will & Al's in Scotland
No matter if you’re travelling with a friend or a partner, there is one thing you need to remember : it’s important to take time apart. Go do something different during the day and meet up in the evening.
You will happen to want different things anyway. Either it is a place to visit or something to eat or an activity you really want to do but the other one doesn’t.
Do not feel like you have to spend all your time together on your trip. And I would even say, force yourself to go separate ways. Sometimes you feel so good and connected to that person, why would you spend time apart ?
Being apart makes you appreciate being together.
If you do spend all your time together on a backpacking trip, you will probably end up like the couple the girls were describing. Nothing to say to one another. At least I don’t want that.
Throw back to the time I was a Erasmus student in Edinburgh !
I love travelling by myself, even if it hasn’t happened in a while. I would love to travel long term solo. For so many reasons. It would force me to solve my problems on my own. Travel teaches you to be an expert in problem solving !
I would become more brave, more resourceful, less introvert. I would meet so many people ! Do you know how hard it is to meet people when you travel as a couple ? They usually never come to us, we have to come to them. When you travel solo, you meet people. You’re never alone for too long.
Having said all that, travelling long term as a couple has a lot of upsides of course. I love the fact that we share all these experiences and memories together. That we have stories to tell and pictures to show.
Passing by Mâcon on our Tour de France by bike this year
I guess you just need to find the balance in your travelling life. And not get to a point where you don’t have anything to say to each other at night.
Find the balance between sharing your travel experiences with your loved one and experiencing a life of travel on your own. Because both experiences are amazing !