Some weeks ago, I read a beautiful article by Kate Rose, titled “Will you travel with me?”
While my hungry eyes were devouring every word, and her sentences were forming dreamy images of exotic countries, something in me was saying: “There’s more to it than this…”
You see, I’ve been travelling with my boyfriend, who I met in Portugal, for the last four months. We have already been in Germany, Estonia, Switzerland, and Italy. It has been wonderful.
It isn’t rosy, not all the time.
Once, in Estonia, we were inside a medieval castle’s walls. We were talking about our pasts when we started fighting. My boyfriend said something rude and I left, childishly saying, “Well, go to Japan with your ex-girlfriend then!” I walked back to our friend’s house, who was hosting us. He wasn’t home, and my boyfriend had the keys—and I had to pee. Urgently.
So there I was, squatting behind the blackcurrant bushes of our lovely host’s home, peeing and silently laughing at myself.
Travelling together is challenging—I won’t lie to you. You have to deal with your stress and the stress of your loved one. You have to deal with your and your partner’s disappointments. You have to deal with both of your exhaustion.
You’ll spend a lot of time with the person you love, but at a certain point you’ll need to analyze what’s of benefit to your relationship and what isn’t.
I needed two months to come to the conclusion that being with my boyfriend 24 hours a day, seven days a week was affecting our bond negatively. We talked about it and have since slightly modified our behavior and attitude. We gave up on the idea that we had to share every single instant of our travels.
The following actions have helped us maintain a healthy, balanced connection:
1. Split the tasks, spontaneously and naturally.
I don’t mean make a list of things that each person has to do while travelling. I’m talking about following your natural inclination and letting it complete that of your partner. My boyfriend likes to book things while I have no problem talking to people on the street, so he does the online stuff and I get to ask random people for information. We both get to do what we like, while at the same time, we relieve the other of something that would have been a burden.
2. Talk to your friends at home.
Chatting with people from your “home environment”—especially on video—means taking a break from the hectic pace of moving, unpacking, packing, and moving again when travelling. When they tell you about their lives, their relationships, and their work, it’s like dipping your big toe back into the daily routine you’d known until you left. It’s reassuring, and at the same time, it helps you realize that you are happy to be travelling and not immersed in a fixed, stagnant routine anymore.
I know it’s difficult to keep up with habits while travelling, but what better occasion to start or deepen a meditation practice than when sitting on a beach in front of a breathtaking sunset? Worst case scenario, you have a nice picture for your Instagram account (wink).
4. Meditate with your partner.
On Arrifana Beach, one of the most beautiful beaches in Portugal, my boyfriend and I saw a couple meditating together. She was sitting in front of him, his hands resting on her thighs; both had their eyes closed and their dog sat a few meters from them. It was a peaceful and inspiring image. We immediately imitated them and we felt the intensity of the moment right away. Sitting in silence with your partner with the unified intention of taking a break from the jumping monkeys in your heads is an effective way to cultivate alignment inside the relationship.
5. Meet people.
Meeting people while travelling is a big part of the experience. People are more open when they are away from home, and deep conversations and even strong friendships are often born while travelling. However, it is more difficult to get to know others when you travel as a couple, sadly. Nonetheless, I feel that it’s meaningful for us to talk to other people—when we get the chance.
6. Important: Make time for yourself!
My boyfriend and I took months to understand that travelling together doesn’t mean that you have to spend all of your time together. After a while, you’ll probably feel the need to be by yourself, and I suggest you heed that call. Go for a coffee and write in your journal. Go off alone to explore a part of the city you haven’t seen yet. I think about my time alone as something I’m doing to improve the relationship, and it makes me feel free and happy too. Our connection benefits greatly from these little breaks.
7. If you fight…
It isn’t easy to fight while travelling; you can’t just leave and go meet a friend for a latte to vent. You’ll probably feel lonely, especially if the time zone doesn’t allow you to call your mum or sis or best friend in that moment.
If you’re not on a plane and you can take a moment to collect your thoughts, do so. I take comfort in going outside for a walk. Being outside under the sky always helps me scale down what happened and remind me of what’s really important: I am travelling with my love! When I go back to my partner, my mood has improved, I am looking for reconciliation, and I’m ready to talk about the matter in softer tones and exchange apologies.
As I said, travelling together is challenging.
There’s nothing like arriving in a beautiful place, turning to your love, and seeing the same feeling of surprise and excitement in their eyes.
And yes, be ready to pee in your host’s garden—if you must.
Author: Giulia Panzeri
Image: Toa Heftiba/Unsplash
Editor: Catherine Monkman
Copy Editor: Callie Rushton
Social Editor: Nicole Cameron