As I watched the latest episode of the Amazing Race, I kept asking myself “how do these couples stay together under the stress that inevitably comes with traveling around the world”? So far, I’ve been in China for two weeks with my better half, and I have seen first hand how a relationship transitions and evolves while traveling in foreign lands. It’s challenging enough for me to navigate myself and satisfy my own needs (which have become basically the needs of an infant, food, shelter, and clothing) through China. I’ve also had to become extra conscientious that my loved one is taken care of also and is happy and enjoying our time abroad. Sometimes it’s a difficult balance to maintain. However, there are a few tips to keep in mind that will allow any couple to survive the ultimate relationship challenge that is “international traveling”.
When we first touched down in Beijing and realized we both, missed our connecting flight and needed to find a hotel (in a country we’ve never been before) I began to lose my cool. A quick argument ensued about what to do next and instead of us taking on roles that we were comfortable with in the states and resolving the situation calmly, we lost all sense of control. The most important thing when traveling abroad is to maintain and understand one another’s strengths and weaknesses. I may be more bold when it comes to speaking Chinese (a language we have barely any grasp of) but my girl friend is much better at budgeting and doing the mental math needed to purchase fruits and order meals. We recognize these strengths in each other and appreciate them in order to get by.
Queen/King for a day
Instead of arguing over seeing one site over the other, take turns being the king or queen for the day. Say every even day of the month you will make the decisions about where to eat and what to see. The odd days, your partner gets say. Both parties appeased!
When to be a couple and when to be simply world travelers
There’s something to be said about traveling with your significant other. You automatically feel safer and more comfortable to explore and see the culture and sites of a given region and you get to share this experience with the one you love. However, it’s also good to be independent and venture out by yourself and test your limits and see how capable you really are in vulnerable and foreign situations. I usually venture out daily to a new shop or restaurant, practice my Chinese, and try and be bold on my own. Also, be open to invite fellow travelers to dinner and make new friends and hear great stories about their travels. Don’t be one of those isolated couples!