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Couples Travel – Why every couple should travel before marriage

We think that every couple should experience couples travel before marriage. It will make you stronger by helping you learn more about each other.

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Romance in San Sebastian Cole and Adela

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.

Romance in San Sebastian Cole and Adela

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.

Couples Travel

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.

Campervan, Couples Travel Tips, Cole, Camping

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.

Cole and Adela, Couples Travel, Scooter in Tuscany

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!

Couples Travel - Caving in Budapest

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.

Imagine this…

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.

Marrakech Snake Charmer, Morocco, Cole, Couples Travel Tips

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.

Indonesia Sunset Grim Lab

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.

Check out these Couples Travel Tips to learn how to survive travelling together. And if you want a “unique” Euro-trip adventure, you can always consider a holiday in Amsterdam to spice things up.

Have you travelled as a couple? Tell us about your experiences in the comments.

Cole is one half of New Zealand's leading adventure travel blogging couple who have been wearing out their jandals around the world since 2009. He loves any adventure activities and anything to do with the water whether it is Surfing, Diving, Swimming, Snorkeling or just lounging nearby on the beach. You can follow Cole on Google+. Or consider following us via RSS Feed, Twitter, Facebook and subscribe to our Newsletter.

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98 Comments

98 Comments

  1. Karen @ Trans-Americas Journey

    December 13, 2012 at 9:31 AM

    100% agreed. Eric and I spent 4 years backpacking in through South Asia together starting just a few months after we met. We came back from that trip having spent more time together than most married couples do in their entire relationship. Traveling as a couple isn’t all romance and fairy dust, as you rightly point out, but it is illuminating and since married life is also noteably devoid of romance and fairy dust most of the time we concur: test drive your serious relationship out on the road before you sign on the dotted line.

    • Cole Burmester

      December 13, 2012 at 10:12 AM

      Thanks Karen! I can’t imagine what it must be like to drive together as long as you guys have 😉

  2. Kirsten

    December 13, 2012 at 10:22 AM

    Hey guys. Firstly your blog is awesome and i have used your website loads over the last few.months. great for tips and ideas! this blog post is sooooooo true. i have been travelling with my fiance since april and it has definitely taught us loads more about each other even though we had been together for years already. we also did 8 weeks in a van and wow does that really test your personal space!!! Ultimately this trip has been fantastic and we still have few more months to go…..such good times and great memories that we will have forever.

    • Cole Burmester

      December 13, 2012 at 1:45 PM

      Hey Kirsten thanks for leaving a comment 🙂 So glad you have been reading our blog. Awesome to hear that you guys are enjoying your travels together. It can be VERY testing but well worth it in the end!

  3. Mich

    December 13, 2012 at 11:17 AM

    Awwwwwww that is cayuuute cole 🙂

  4. T-Dog

    December 13, 2012 at 2:59 PM

    Cole,
    Great article. What is the feedback from Steph and Bron?
    Tristan

    • Cole Burmester

      December 13, 2012 at 3:51 PM

      Thanks Tristan! Mum actually just commented at the same time as you haha. They aren’t putting too much pressure on though 😉

  5. bronwen

    December 13, 2012 at 3:45 PM

    Whoa yes I can totally relate to your blog and words of wisdom! I remember some of those silent treatment episodes (from me) and on a couple occasions overseas it did spoil our sightseeing. We have also spent 10 months in a 6m bus in NZ – brought us very close. Good luck together with your continued travels, love and friendship.

    • Cole Burmester

      December 13, 2012 at 3:52 PM

      Hahaha the silent game is pretty boring after a while! The best thing you can do is laugh about it, which we are pretty good at. Sometimes…

  6. EurotripTips

    December 13, 2012 at 5:52 PM

    I’ve been wanting to write about this topic for a while, you just took the words out of my mouth! I’ve been with my partner for 6 years now, and we lived as expats for the better part of it. And we got married last year! We survived a whole year in a 18m2 studio flat in London – we always said that if we got through that, we’d get through ANYTHING 🙂

    • Cole Burmester

      December 14, 2012 at 3:20 AM

      We have been lucky that we have been based in Edinburgh so our room is actually massive and probably half the price of those in London 😉 Congrats on the marriage last year and well done sticking together through it all!

  7. Edna

    December 13, 2012 at 6:58 PM

    Well said Cole! My fiancé and I met as roommates then immediately started traveling around Southeast Asia for a year while keeping Singapore as our base, so it was sink or swim right off the bat. We knew after we happily navigated through all the travel and living together that we could make it no matter what (including now being in a long-distance relationship that’s lasted over a year and might last a few more)!

    • Cole Burmester

      December 14, 2012 at 3:22 AM

      Cheers Edna 🙂 Congrats on sticking at it over long distance! It is always hard. Adela and I did it for our first year too BEFORE we started travelling. So must be doing something right haha.

  8. Vera

    December 14, 2012 at 6:44 AM

    Love your article – and agree very much!! Although, admittedly, Loz is naturally happy, while it’s always and only me who gets cranky when sleep-deprivated or hungry. Or loads of other things. Someone has to wear the grumpy-pants in the relation-ship, and I sacrificed myself and committed to it a 100%! Oh yes. Anyway, great article, and LOVE IS ALL YOU NEED:)! Apart from sleep and food, maybe;).

    • Cole Burmester

      December 14, 2012 at 8:03 AM

      Loz is only happy because he has you though 😉 And its not our fault if we get cranky when we are hungry, it is a natural reaction haha.

  9. Lane

    December 14, 2012 at 1:49 PM

    We have said the same thing. If you cannot take off six months, at least take several trips — long weekends, road trips, cruises or whatever. Mix it up. Nothing tests a relationship like traveling together, rolling with the unexpected and seeing how each other reacts in various situations.

    • Cole Burmester

      December 14, 2012 at 2:57 PM

      Good point Lane! You have to be in different situations to test what works and what doesn’t in a relationship. Just going to luxury resorts together for 6 months probably won’t test you much 😉

  10. Pete

    December 15, 2012 at 1:57 PM

    We did it backwards, as we married young and then found out we both had the passion to see the world. You’re right that it will either strengthen or create serious challenges. For us it has only brought us closer. Sure there are days where we annoy eachother, but that is expected when you’re with the other person 24/7. We’ve been together 13 years and it still feels like our honeymoon. Keep it strong you guys, hopefully to finally meet you at ITB?

    • Cole Burmester

      December 18, 2012 at 5:02 PM

      Not sure about ITB yet because we are spending the winter in the French Alps. Hopefully we get to see you guys! Congrats on going for 13 years too. You guys prove that long term travel definitely works.

  11. D.J. - The World of Deej

    December 16, 2012 at 3:58 AM

    This might be your best advice yet:) When MJ and I were about 4 months into our relationship, I took her to Europe to test how well we could travel together. It was a deal breaker if it didn’t work so I got it out of the way early. Thankfully, she passed the test, although she would say I did the same:)

    • Cole Burmester

      December 18, 2012 at 5:04 PM

      Pretty stoked with the post to be honest 😉 Congrats on getting through Europe together and now you get to share a passion for travelling!

  12. Cheryl

    December 16, 2012 at 8:26 PM

    You guys are awesome! Such a wonderful post and wishing you many more years on the road together. 🙂

    • Cole Burmester

      December 18, 2012 at 5:06 PM

      Thanks Cheryl 🙂 We have been lucky at times but there have been some blood, sweat and tears on our 3+ years on the road.

  13. Kate - CanuckiwiKate

    December 17, 2012 at 12:47 AM

    I whole-heartedly agree! My boyfriend and I have been together 2 years now, and have taken two trips together (to Rarotonga and Thailand) and next year start our longterm journey of driving across Canada from Vancouver to Halifax together. I can completely agree, especially with the vulnerability and being stripped bare while traveling – I got food poisoning in Thailand the night before we left, and that was the kind of situation that taught me Thom and I could handle anything curveball life will throw at us.

    Awesome work 🙂

    • Cole Burmester

      December 18, 2012 at 5:07 PM

      I really want to visit Rarotonga! And Thailand but without the food poisoning! Hopefully get to both in late 2013 or early 2014. Congrats on the 2 years together too 🙂

  14. Jade - OurOyster.com

    December 17, 2012 at 2:04 AM

    haha I have had many a relationship dissolve after travelling with them for extended periods of time… luckily I eventually found a person I can stand for long periods of time 😀

    • Cole Burmester

      December 18, 2012 at 5:10 PM

      Glad you found that special someone in the end! You guys have done some fantastic trips together.

  15. Rachel

    December 17, 2012 at 7:09 AM

    What you’re going to experience with your partner when you get married are the same or almost the same, or worse things you could experience when you travel together. Because living outside of your comfort zone will truly show the real you. If you’re able to accept and lived thru your bad times when traveling, you’re in doubt will get to do the same when you bind yourselves together for the rest of your lives. I’m not married yet, but this is also what I’m trying to do

    • Cole Burmester

      December 18, 2012 at 5:11 PM

      Totally agree with you Rachel! Travelling can be VERY stressful and lots of people don’t realise that when they first set out together. Good luck with looking in that special someone 🙂

  16. Ray Waruhari

    December 17, 2012 at 7:14 AM

    Hi Cole, Traveling together before marriage is healthy for the mental outlook of young people? It also makes couples to know each other better.

    • Cole Burmester

      December 18, 2012 at 5:12 PM

      Definitely agree Ray! Getting to know each other, especially what makes each person tick, is very important in our opinion.

  17. Stephanie - The Travel Chica

    December 18, 2012 at 2:32 AM

    Traveling together is the ultimate test.

    • Cole Burmester

      December 18, 2012 at 5:16 PM

      It is a tough one that’s for sure. And one that is constantly evolving!

  18. Jennifer

    December 18, 2012 at 10:19 AM

    Tim and I were on the verge of divorce back in 2007. We stuck it out and moved to Europe in 2009. I was so scared to make the move because once we got to Italy, we would literally have no one but each other. Travel has taught us so much about ourselves, each other, and our marriage. It has brought us closer together and the constant tests of dealing with things outside of comfort zones has only taught us how to better communicate, have more patience, and compromise.

    • Cole Burmester

      December 18, 2012 at 5:24 PM

      So glad to hear that travel brought you guys closer together Jennifer. Wonderful story and definitely encourages us to keep at it when we are going through the tough times too!

  19. Amanda

    December 19, 2012 at 8:06 AM

    Yeah, forget pre-marriage counseling or living together first – traveling together is the real test for a relationship! It’s definitely going to be a requirement in any future long-term relationships I find myself in.

    I’m glad it’s only strengthened your relationship – that seems to be the case for a lot of traveling couples, which is so nice to hear about.

    • Cole Burmester

      December 19, 2012 at 5:44 PM

      I haven’t heard of too many break ups from the road to be honest. But that is definitely a good thing!

  20. Jeremy Branham

    December 19, 2012 at 6:15 PM

    Definitely a great way to get to know strengths, weaknesses, likes, and dislikes. Nothing like being stripped bare on the road in front of your partner (I mean this travel metaphorically speaking of course)! 🙂

    • Cole Burmester

      January 14, 2013 at 8:49 PM

      Haha nothing wrong with being stripped bare in both senses Jeremy 😉

  21. Josie

    December 19, 2012 at 8:04 PM

    Hey Cole,
    Totally agree — to the point that travel should be required before marriage! It’s definitely a deal-breaker or deal-maker.
    Three months after meeting Conrad, my eventual husband, he asked me to go to Australia with him. We both knew the risk. What if we ended up hating each other after the first three days? We would be stuck for the next month with each other. But we took that leap of faith and soon discovered that traveling brings out the best in both of us. Now we live a house sitting lifestyle, traveling the world.
    I have traveled with girlfriends in the past and it turned into a disaster. Just because you get along with someone, doesn’t mean you travel well with them. When traveling you must have the same rhythm as your partner — the same pace, appetite, sleep needs, etc. It gets finely tuned as you travel and takes a great deal of compromise.
    You guys sound really cute and “together,” as they say. Thanks for a fun post.
    I wish you happy and safe travels always and all ways.
    ~Josie

    • Cole Burmester

      January 14, 2013 at 8:51 PM

      Brilliant comment Josie! I find the same thing with some of the friends I have travelled with too. It is kind of like living with a friend I reckon. Looks good on paper and then as soon as you start being in each others back pockets all the time, it can be really hard.
      Thanks for stopping by and appreciate the nice comment 🙂

  22. Mary @ Green Global Travel

    December 19, 2012 at 9:17 PM

    Great tips and insights. I 100% agree with you. I’ve traveled with two partners. The first was scared to walk around the block in India without a guide and his preferred travel destinations were all-inclusive resorts. I didn’t know it then, but that should have been a huge flashing warning light to run far and fast. Unfortunately, I didn’t pay attention soon enough and it ended in divorce. My second partner not only welcomes the unknown but also helps me become a better person by encouraging me to face my fear. I truly found my Mr. Love.

    • Cole Burmester

      January 14, 2013 at 8:55 PM

      It is amazing what you find out about a person when they are pushed into uncomfortable situations and out of their comfort zones. Glad you have found the Mr Right-Travel now 😉

  23. Candice

    December 21, 2012 at 2:14 AM

    I couldn’t agree more! I traveled for around 4 months with my now-husband before we got married, and it was a confirmation for me that he was the one:-)

    • Cole Burmester

      January 14, 2013 at 9:00 PM

      Better to find out before the honeymoon that you can travel together I think 🙂

  24. brandy bell

    December 21, 2012 at 8:36 PM

    what a lovely post, Cole. 🙂 Seems there’s no better test for a relationship than the test of extended travel. It’s amazing to me, still, how much one’s attitude can change towards a person on the road! Thanks for writing this, it’s good to be reminded of it.

    • Cole Burmester

      January 14, 2013 at 9:01 PM

      Glad you enjoyed the post Brandy 🙂 Even friendships get severely tested on the travel road!

  25. Matthew Karsten

    December 23, 2012 at 6:27 AM

    I’m taking notes. Any future Mrs. Karsten will have to pass the “travel test”. 🙂