I have said it before and I will say it again. Before every couple settles down and gets married they should experience couples travel together for at least six months.
And I don’t mean just going somewhere relaxing and romantic.
I mean that you have to really travel together. You have to step outside your comfort zones together to see if you are going to go be able to go the distance.
While we may not be married, we do know what 3+ years of couples travel will do to a relationship. There is nothing that will strengthen, or break, those intimate bonds of a couple in love quicker than couples travel.
Travelling as a couple can be one of the most rewarding experiences of any couples lives. It can also be one of the greatest challenges you will ever face.
Living out of each others back pockets for months on end in foreign countries can be tough work. You might not be able to speak the local language fluently which means that you often have only one another to talk to for a few days.
Or you might be driving 18,000 km across North America in a tiny car that is also your bedroom, kitchen and living room. There is no escape and nowhere to hide if you fight.
The silent treatment for 8 hours tends to get quite boring.
You have to be able to make it work.
Yes we lived in that for 8 weeks.
So why should you travel as a couple before marriage?
Getting to know one another
During couples travel you quickly learn what makes another person tick. We have learnt a lot of life lessons while travelling as a couple and the ones that we stick to the most, are the ones that keep us both sane.
For example, I know that if Adela goes without a decent amount of sleep for a few days then she will be extremely cranky. And if I don’t get food on a regular basis then I am going to turn into something resembling the incredible hulk, just without the green tinge and muscles.
It is being able to spot those little changes in one another quickly that will help you overcome much larger hurdles later in life.
Good sleep + food = Happy couple
Facing your fears
Fears. We all have them. Whether it is a fear of heights or perhaps you suffer from claustrophobia, your partner can help you face those fears and overcome them.
We have a series on here about facing my fears where we deliberately put ourselves in situations that we are not 100% comfortable in. We think it helps us grow as individuals. But it also helps us grow as a couple.
When I suggested an adventure to go caving in Budapest, I knew that Adela would struggle with going underground. But she was willing to give it a crack. After we had walked just 50m underground, the door slammed shut behind us and Adela freaked out.
But knowing I was there to comfort her and help her out kept her calm until she got back to the surface. It of course didn’t stop me from carrying on afterwards and having an awesome adventure either!
Being stripped bare
Being stripped bare in front of someone you love is not the same as facing your fears. It is much worse than that. It is allowing someone to become so close to you that they see you at your most vulnerable.
Couples travel will open up your most vulnerable sides.
One of you falls victim to a sneaky snake charmer throwing his pet snake around your neck. 12 hours later you can’t control the liquids coming out of either end of your body because of salmonella poisoning.
Not only do you wish that en-suite bathrooms with cowboy saloon style doors had never been invented. But this is also one time you don’t want to be alone.
For two weeks I was horrendously sick and lost a frightening 10 kgs. So far from home and without the support of my family I had only one person to rely on. Adela. Luckily she put up with the sounds, smells and stress, and supported me through it all.
For that I am so thankful because I will never forget how vulnerable I was and how she never exploited my vulnerability.
Perspective: It’s not all bad
Travelling as a couple is all about putting perspective on different events.
While you may become vulnerable, sick, frightened or angry, being there for one another is what counts to get you both through each situation. Because at the end of the day the good always outweighs the bad.
We never have to think too hard to remember the good times.
Sitting on a beach together watching the sunset. Drinking a coffee in a cute cafe in Paris or mountain biking in Canada. All of these experiences were made special because we did them together. They are treasured memories that we will share together forever.
Plus the bad can always be laughed at in the future.
In my opinion, if you can survive couples travel, you can survive anything. Including marriage.
Have you travelled as a couple? Tell us about your experiences in the comments.