So you're moving overseas
You've made your plans and you're ready to hit the road. Chances are your spirits are high and you are excited about the opporunity to see the world together. You may be setting out on a nomadic lifestyle, an overseas working holiday, or being moved for work.
Regardless of the reason, travelling as a couple is a great opportunity to get to know eachother better and to share new and exciting experiences together. Unlike a holiday where you are just enjoying the sites, a longer holiday can often involve stresses such as work, missing family back at home and the cultural differences involved in daily interactions.
Whilst these may seem fun and exciting at first, there will be moments when one or both of you are a little down and finding life away from home challenging. This can be tough if you're a travelling twosome, particularly if you don't have a new network of friends or contacts in your current location. If care isn't taken, these stresses can accumulate and weaken, rather than strengthen your bond.
But never fear, these useful tips will help keep your relationship on track!
Essential tips for couples travelling long term
Alone time is important
When its just the two of you, the thought of your partner needing some 'alone' time can be a little hurtful. You can either see it as a rejection, or as an opportunity to spend some time on your own doing an activity you may enjoy that your partner may not.
Whilst away the diversion of your normal family and friendship circles aren't in play, you mayfind that most of your experiences are shared experiences and you start run out of things to say. It is also not uncommon to feel a little stir crazy, even around our most beloved! Variety is the spice of life, and as humans we do need interactions as a couple and as an individual.
Whether it is a simple act like taking a bath, reading a book, or going for a solo walk, we recommend encompassing these 'alone time' routines into your every day. We have also taken little solo side trips and enjoyed the time to explore in our own way. As they say, absence makes the heart grow fonder.
Don't forget to nurture your relationship
When you're travelling, or living overseas it is really easy to get wrapped up in what you're doing. If you've made a move overseas there will be lots of new things to set up and routines to establish. If you're setting out on an extended journey, you'll be busy exploring and seeing now things.
At home, most of us have a more of a stable routine. Planning date nights and time together as a couple is much easier. You're in a routine and can easily make time for it. When you are hopping from place to place, or finding your way in a new country it can be so all consuming that you can forget to take care of what may seem to be the non essentials.
We recommend keeping a diary whether it be electronic, a travel journey or the like to plan what you are doing. Think about where you are going to be and when and try and schedule in a couple centric activity. We have organised overnight stays in the city, special dinners, winter iceskating as well as more everyday activities such as movie nights and walks by the beach. Take time to be a couple despite everything that is going on around you.
Talk it out
Whilst you are a couple, you are still two individuals and your day to day experiences, as well as your emotions will differ quite remarkably. You may both be doing the same activity, yet one of you may be having the time of their life and the other is feeling homesick and not really present in the moment.
We have both gone through up and down periods. Sometimes they have matched and other times they have been mismatched. Knowing your travel mate has an open ear and is willing to listen to you when you tell them you didn't have a great day, even if they did, is really important. Being able to have your feelings validated, without the other person feeling judged or responsible for those feelings is really important, as more than likely the reason you're not feeling great has nothing to do with them.
Making decisions whilst overseas can also be a more hightened process. It can be more difficult to work out the pros and cons of a decision when you are in a new place. At home many decisions that are made are within set routines. What are we having for dinner? What are we doing on the weekend. Whilst abroad, these decisions are less routine and require more cognition. More cognition can equal more stress, which can lead to snapping or minor disagreements. We recommend that you set out time in the week to have these 'decision' conversations. Do it at a time when you are both calm and have time to talk it out. If you can't agree at the time, agree to disagree and come back to the decision later on.
If one of you needs to make an independent or snap decision that affects the two of you, have a little bit of faith that your travel mate has thought about you and has selected the outcome that they thought would work best for you. When we first moved overseas I went straight into work, so Pete bought all of our furniture and rented our flat without much involvement from me. I trusted his judgement.
Sometimes having to decide on your own may mean that your decision may not work out the best, (hey, this also may be the case for joint decisions) but if you can talk it out later and give a suggestion of what you would have liked better, rather than get cross, your travelling party of two will be much happier campers.
Stay in touch with home
Our long term travels took us to England for 2 years. During this time we made acquaintances, but no really 'solid' friends. This meant that most of the time it was just the two of us. At times we went off and had our own travel experiences, and met people to chat to along the way, but generally this wasn't the case. When you live together, travel together and for part of the time one of you works for home, it is the perfect recipe for 'stir crazy'!
Whilst all of this 'together time' really helps you to get to know eachother there's only so much conversation about cars I can have, and Pete isn't all that keen girl talk. This is where regularly scheduling in a bit of Facetime, or a surprise Skype call comes in. Head off into a room on your own and have a good girly gossip, chat to your nieces and nephews back home or just say hi to the olds. Hearing familiar accents, voices and seeing familar faces is good for the soul.
Vary your contact with home to conversations with just you and your partner as well. Whilst you're away you are changing as people and as a couple. It is nice for you and for those at home to get to know the changing versions of you, so then when you do return home they don't have a picture of you in their mind that is several years old. Regular chats also allow you to better reintegrate with your friends when you return home.
The round up
Travel is a fantastic way to see the world, expand your mind and experience new ways of thinking. Long term travel is a lot different than a holiday as your 'home' experience isn't back in the country in which you are familiar. This can take some getting used to, but by following our useful steps, you can be more conscious of your feelings and your travel mate.
If you are thinking of undertaking a long term travel experience, then why not take our couples travel quiz and see if you're ready for long term travel as a couple!
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