Travelling is a funny thing. It can test you, empower you, break you, and even fundamentally change who you are.
To travel is to leave your comfort zone, exposing you for you. You risk being vulnerable while someone might be watching.
Now, imagine sharing all of that with another person around who is actually paying attention to all of that.
That’s what couples do.
We dove into the world of “couple travel” pretty quickly, but we haven’t looked back since the first time we met in an airport.
Since we’re voiced (but certainly not experts) in the field, we wanted to share a few lessons we’ve thought of since our first trip together. Penguins are masters of self-reflection.
1. Travel is a Compatibility Gauntlet
Travelling forces you to learn pretty quickly whether or not you get along with someone.
Whether you’re wandering through the Old Town in Prague or running to catch a train in Krakow (we made that train, FYI) everything you do is a test of not only how you handle travel, but also how you are in real life.
Travel, like any other noble pursuit, is a reflection of self. You can learn a lot if you closely observe another.
2. Be Patient With Another Travel Style
“Travel Style” is pretty important to understand – and if you don’t know yours, ask a friend you’ve travelled with before.
If you’ve never travelled with someone before, ask a friend to look at your Instagram and stereotype you. Kidding, kind of.
When you travel solo, you tend to enter into routines that work for you…. and when you travel with another, you’ll quickly find out that other travellers might do things completely differently.
For example, Eric likes to stop and read airport screens thoroughly, while Lisa wanted to pass by them because she knew CPH airport very well.
While we didn’t argue, there was just a bit of confusion when Eric stopped to observe while Lisa kept pressing forward.
We later chatted about it, and once we understood that we had different expectations for that scenario, we were all set! This leads nicely into the next point.
3. Don’t Just Communicate, Communicate Well
It can be as simple as making sure you’re both on the same page with the game plan for an evening out, or figuring out if you want to read the airport screens or not. (They do hold valuable information, though. You have to admit.)
Talking about things that pop up as you travel is one thing, but understanding how the other person is interpreting your message is when real communication comes in.
And yes, it’s not always easy. It takes practice.
But if you’re not sure what you’re partner/travel buddy is thinking – simply ask. 9/10 times, you’ll be in the clear for wanting to better understand their perspective. Remember, seek to understand rather than to be understood.
4. Make Up Games
This one can also read “create/do things that are yours”. We’re a fun-loving duo, and as such, everything we do has an element of fun built in.
Whether Eric is hop-scotching the cobble stone in Edinburgh, or Lisa is stopping at each and EVERY cake store to simply observe the sweets in the window – there’s always room for fun. As such, we play a game when we travel.
Things You’ll Need: Peanut M&Ms.
This one might be a no-brainer unless you’re allergic (sorry). We chose peanut M&Ms as a travel treat in Krakow and, to this day, we play a game where we MUST guess the next colour we choose from the package. Then we can eat it. Every. Single. Chocolate.
The point is, create ways to be silly and have fun. In the process, we’ve ended up growing closer through laughter. Do things that are created by you, together.
5. Make Time for Yourselves
This one can be tricky, and seem a little hypocritical when you’re travelling with someone you love. But hear us out. We feel it’s still very important.
We’re not saying you have to leave the other person in another city for days on end – simply recognize that you’re both unique individuals who need time to “be you”.
It’s very likely you’re both processing the exact same experience very differently – and that’s okay! We once raced to catch our train leaving Prague, and by the time we boarded we needed the time to rest and recharge.
P&P Rule of Thumb: We leave “transport” times for ourselves. You know, planes, trains, buses – things that move us from A-to-B. Lisa typically reads a book, and looks out the window as the countryside passes.
Eric pops in headphones and dives into his own world through music. We both use the time to reflect on our journey – who we’ve met, what we did, the smells, the sounds, everything.
This time “apart” is important for grounding oneself. It allows us the time to reflect, recharge, and be the best version of ourselves when we enter the next city. Spoiler: We totally still hold hands, though.
The Penguin Verdict
That’s it – five lessons we’ve learned travelling as a couple. These are what work for us, and considering the crazy roller coaster ride we’ve been on as a couple, we like to think we have an idea what we’re talking about!
What things have you learned along the way? Can you agree with a few of these or add on any new ones? Let us know in the comments below! We’d love to hear from you.
As always, humble penguins – Happy Waddlin’,
-L & E