Travel Tips for Couples

Bon voyage! Whether traveling just across the state or across the world, there are both ups and downs when traveling with your significant other. With the stress of planning and the anticipation, travel is a big test for every couple. Now after traveling to over 30 countries together (and living together in 5 so far), here are our top TRAVEL TIPS FOR COUPLES.

travel tips for couples

My first vacation with Ryan was within the first few months of us dating. We had dated for 4-months in Minnesota before I moved to Shanghai. A few months after that, Ryan visited for a whirlwind trip around Shanghai, Hangzhou, and Beijing.

Like with any couple, there was a lot of anticipation for our vacation. On top of seeing if we would travel well together, we also had to make hard decisions about our relationship. As you may have guessed, it all turned out well. Ryan fell in love with China and moved to Shanghai the following year.

Now, years later, we’ve traveled over 30 countries together across 5 continents and have lived in 5 of those countries longterm. We’ve been through so much and wanted to share our off-the-beaten path tips for duo-ing travel as a couple. Travel can be stressful enough so it’s always important to support each other and roll with the punches.

1. Turn “Hangry” into “Fungry.”

We’re not joking! Ryan has a history of hanger so we rebranded it into “Fungry.” FUN!-hungry? Effing-hungry? Yes, both, but mainly the former. We recognized that if Ryan is pissy, my immediate reaction was to get pissy and moody too (and yes, it took years for us to recognize this.) So, we are now more cognizant as we travel to keep snacks on hand and to make frequent food stops. No judgement allowed. And when Ryan is feeling “fungry,” he lets me know in a fun, silly way.

You or your partner’s trigger might not be hunger – it could be traffic, over-populated areas, an unexpected change in plans, forgetting to pack an item, or finances. Take some time to recognize the stressor, rebrand it into something much lighter as not to change the mood, and then work to fix it!

2. Let the guy get his rental car.

Ryan and I always negotiate how to get around. I always like to use the local modes of transportation (long distance buses here in South America) but Ryan has strong feelings about getting a rental car. He likes the freedom of it and enjoys the experience of driving in new countries. I used to put up a fight but I realize now that I’m more ambivalent. While a rental car seems excessive at times, we’ve never regretted getting one – in fact, our only regrets have been when we don’t!

Like with above, a rental car may not be a big deal for your vacation but it’s one of our triggers. Yours might be different – like hiring a tour guide or wanting to hit every taco truck in the city. Whatever it is, if one person feels very strongly about doing something, just let them do it and be happy. Play to each other’s strengths.

3. Know that scams/incidents will happen.

This, without a doubt, can be one of the biggest stressors with travel. Just recognize that scams, petty theft, and other stressful incidents can happen while traveling and use it as a learning experience. We’ve had a full gamut of them from being overcharged for a taxi to having a corrupt police officer steal Ryan’s driver’s license. Thankfully, nothing has been serious.

Our tip here is never to play the blame game. Support each other and do your best to fix it (if possible) and learn from it. We always like to remember one of our favorite phrases from Jamaica, “Everyting irie mon!” meaning all is well, so chill. This is just a part of travel/life and don’t let it ruin your trip.

4. Leave time for spontaneity.

Ryan and I used to research endlessly on each destination we would go to. Now, we’re much more relaxed and leave time for spontaneity. We both find this fulfilling and enjoyable, less stressful, and gives us permission to take naps when we need them!

We’ll arrange our flights and typically a few hotels but leave the rest of the trip open. We like to figure it out once we get there and have input from the locals. Of course, we’ll make reservations in advance for big-ticket items that sell out fast like a top restaurant or a famous site like Machu Picchu.

Despite being spontaneous, we do typically verify whatever we want to do on TripAdvisor before committing to it. Why go to a subpar restaurant or a below-average tour operator? So, we take a quick few seconds to look it up online and read a review before going inside.

We find this strategy to be a big win-win because we won’t feel so rundown from “hitting all the sites.” This leaves us time to focus on enjoying ourselves instead of our vacation feeling like a regimented business trip.


extra credit reading

Peru in 10 Days, DIY – Ryan and Alex Duo Life

Galapagos Island on a Budget – Ryan and Alex Duo Life

Americans Visiting Cuba – Ryan and Alex Duo Life

Travel Guides for 16 Countries – Half Half Travel

Another favorite duo of ours, Becca and Dan, have been traveling throughout North America, South America, Europe and Asia and writing up stellar travel guides. Don’t forget to check out their awesome photos!

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