Backpacking is an amazing and life changing experience, one which we as a couple had dreamt of for years. Saving and making sacrifices for this huge global adventure. Having someone to share these once in a lifetime moments and unforgettable experiences can make the journey that much more intense and special. But be warned, bringing along your partner is also a huge test of your relationship! You will be tired, stressed and fed up at times…so here’s a few tips to make it smooth sailing!
Practice what you pack…and pack as a couple!
Packing as a couple is important, if you are going to be travelling together there is no need to buy double of everything and you can spread the load fairly (not always equally!) between each pack. We also have different sized backpacks too to fit our different shapes, sizes and strengths.
You also need to practice packing too and do it a few times. We made the mistake the first time we set off backpacking to leave it until the last minute. Walking around Milan trying to find our hostel we soon realised our error and had to shed kilos! Pack what you THINK you need and then get rid of as much of it as you can. Take a walk for at least a mile and see how they feel, you probably need to get rid of even more or distribute better!
Stay in dorms and get out of your bubble
Travelling as a couple is amazing and sharing everything is something so integral to the experience. But at the same time it can be easy to live inside a bubble and miss out on so many amazing friendships and opportunities because of this.
We made a point of staying in dorms, speaking to as many people as we could and because of that we met some awesome people and did some things we never would have done.
Taking a day trip to the impressive Transfăgărășan highway with 4 complete strangers and hiking to one of the tallest mountains in Romania, exploring the abandoned Sarajevo bobsleigh track and heading into the secretive self declared communist republic of Transnistria all happened as a result of being open and interacting with other travellers.
Give each other some space
Travelling together is intense; every emotion you go through is magnified by a million. Spending 24 hours a day, 7 days a week in each others pockets isn’t always perfect. Travelling brings out the best and the worst in us, the bumps in the road we come across, the long night buses and stresses that come with backpacking make us resourceful and great problem solvers, but they also make us grumpy as hell at times!
Sometimes we need to make time to be alone, go for a walk to clear our minds or even hang around with different people occasionally. Time alone is healthy and helps us catch a breath from time to time as well as experience things in a different way.
Forget the budget and get a room occasionally
When you are backpacking budgets are tight and splashing out on a private room might seem like a luxury too far. Staying in dorms is great for socialising and even better for the bank balance. But as a couple travelling together you need to make time to be together as well as time apart.
Making time to take a step back and have some time alone is important. Maybe even treating yourself occasionally to a nice hotel to relax, unwind and reflect is just as key to happy travels as giving each other space. Don’t neglect your relationship!
Backpacking together is a big commitment far from home: try before you buy!
Heading off to the other side of the world with your partner is a big commitment. You will potentially face dangers together, depend totally on each other in the middle of nowhere and put your dreams in the hands of someone else. With such an important decision you need to know who you are going with and if they have your back.
Don’t just run off with your backpacks on the long-term trip of a lifetime with a relative stranger. Get to know your partner first, how they deal with situations, trouble and being away from home, take some shorter trips first and make sure you are compatible travel companions!
Be prepared to compromise and try new things!
Travelling as a couple also means compromises along the way. Finding someone whose travel style suits your own makes this easier and compromising too much is never fun. But at the same time compromise also means making time to maybe try something new or different that you might not normally have even considered.
Who knows, it might turn out that you love visiting art galleries or have an undiscovered passion for hiking. Compromising also allows you to take pleasure in allowing your partner to indulge in their passions and sharing that with them. Pushing yourself out of your comfort zone for your other half is a romantic gesture they will remember!
Listen to each other and make sure its what you both want in your relationship
Backpacking is an amazing, eye opening and life changing experience. But not everyone wants it. Often it means making sacrifices, saving up for years, quitting jobs and putting careers on hold, for us it even meant renting our house out and leaving our beloved dog at home with the parents. Going travelling might seem like an adventure you can’t turn down, but you have to come to the realisation that not everyone either wants it or is at the stage in life where they are ready yet.
Don’t force your partner to follow your dreams if it’s not what they want. Communicate with each other, be patient but also don’t sell your own dreams and yourself short for anyone else!
Share the responsibilities and not just the fun!
Backpacking is all about being free, taking off from routine and the social norms back home people feel they need to follow. Be it a career break, a gap year, retirement or a new life on the road it is all about getting out of your comfort zone, learning about new cultures and seeing the world in all its wild and untamed glory.
But…there are still responsibilities, no matter how hard we try to flea them! You need to book flights, organise visas, sort out accommodation, make a budget and keep an eye on your money!
Go for it!
The only way you will find the answers to all your questions is to go for it. We had so many worries before hand. How would we cope day to day, how soon do you book accommodation, how will we get from one country to another, will we be able to do all those things we dreamt of and see all those amazing places.
But the main thing we learnt is that it all just somehow comes together. You learn along the way that it is easier than you think and not to stress too much about planning and to go with the flow!
Live for today we say!
Follow our crazy adventures around the world!