Posted 01 Sep, 2012 | 22 Comments
Posted in: Travel Blogs

How do you travel the world as a couple and manage to stay together?  This question is one that we get asked a lot. Being in a relationship and backpacking the world for over 2.5 years can be trying at times and can lead to disaster if you’re not careful.  Just so we’re clear, we’ve been together 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year x 2.5!

You’ll find yourself in stressful situations, you’ll have no alone time and sometimes you’ll probably disagree on where to go or what to do.  Then there’s the travel relationship rules in social situations, completely different from the ones at home.  For some, this type of stress on a relationship it’s totally unfathomable, for us, it has been amazing.

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Enjoying a perfect end to a perfect day in the Philippines

Here’s some of our travel tips for couples:

1. The number one most important thing to remember is:  you are a team.  There’s no “I” in couples travel.  You have to constantly think of not only yourself and the ideas you may have, but what is best for the both of you.

2. If there is something that your spouse wants to do, but you aren’t interested in it, definitely support their decision and ‘allow’ them to go.  Either that, or suck it up and join in!  Compromising is key.  For example: Nick scuba dives, I do not.  He will go out for the day diving and I will have no problem with that.  It gives me time to work on my tan, read and do whatever else I want.  Plus, even though it’s only a few hours apart, it makes you excited to see that person when they are back.

Nick going in for a dive in the Red Sea, Egypt

3. Even though you are together all the time and eating at restaurants, that is not considered dating.  When at home, you would go on a special date night or have private time, why should it be different when you’re on the road?  There needs to be something extra in order to keep the romance alive.  Whether it’s splurging for an a/c room and having a movie day, enjoying a bottle of wine, going for a picnic in the park or spending a little bit more money and going out to a nicer restaurant.  The wallet may not thank you, but the relationship will be a happier one.

enjoying a bottle of wine at sunset, Koh Phangan, Thailand

4. Support and take care of one another.  When travelling, you only have each other to lean on and go to for, for anything and everything.  There’s no one else.  For example: we always look around for one another and make sure to stay close; Nick always makes sure I’m comfortable and safe (ie: in India where men can be inappropriate!), we cross dangerous roads together and if one of us is sick, the other is there with medicines and is running around to get whatever is needed.

on a train in India – Nick made a perfect curtain for privacy!

5. Try to leave the stubbornness at home. You’ll need to be able to apologize quickly in order to get through the day!  There’s no time for arguments to be dragged on and on.  If you’re wrong about something, admit to it and get on with things.

6. Eat! Arguments will for sure happen if you are hungry and grumpy.  We carry a “grump sack” stocked full of crackers, fruit and nuts for emergencies.

7. Have duties designated for each of you so that one person isn’t feeling like they are carrying the brunt of the work load.  Nick will run out by himself if we forgot anything, he will load the backpacks onto the bus/boat, he takes care of the money and the budgeting.  I pack certain bags, keep the room clean, plan and organize all of the travel documentation and get us good seats on the transportation.  We help out one another whenever possible and whenever needed.  It just makes it easier to know what your ‘jobs’ are.

Nick loading our backpacks on a bus in Nepal

8. We’ve met many couples that have “days off” from one another.  If they feel that they need some alone time, they will split ways for the day and meet up at dinner.  Time off can be something as simple as listening to your Ipod alone, or reading a book.  This can help immensely.

Nick reading a book on the rocks at sunset, Koh Phangan, Thailand

9. Don’t place blame.  So you missed the bus; so you thought you had a hotel room booked, but you don’t; so you lost the camera; so you stepped on the laptop…whatever.  Take it in stride. Take the blame together, even if it may be his/her fault.

Travelling as a couple can make or break a relationship.  It can bring you closer, or completely pull you apart.  You really get to know a person when you travel.  If you allow each other to be themselves, compromise and learn to laugh things off, then it can be a completely joyful experience.

Luckily for us we are perfect travel companions and have enjoyed every (good & bad) minute of it.  If you can travel together, you can do anything together!


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Nick Wharton and Dariece Swift are the owners and founders of Goats On The Road. Together they have been travelling and working abroad since 2008 and have more than 20 years of combined experience in online business, finance, travel and entrepreneurship. Their expert advice has been featured on the Lonely Planet, CNN Money, Business Insider,  WiseBread and Forbes and they also spoke at the World Tourism Forum in Istanbul about the business of travel blogging.

Learn more about Nick Wharton and Dariece Swift on their respective author archives on this site and on the Goats On The Road About Us Page.

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22 thoughts on “Travelling As a Couple – Budget Backpacking Survival Guide

  1. I know! It was like being in a tin can…but at least I had some privacy 🙂 Thanks for the comment.

  2. Love this one! My husband and I love being in Korea together… even though we spend 24/7 together, we haven’t gotten tired of each other. In fact, life’s gotten so much smoother now that we can completely understand where each other are coming from. It’s so much fun to experience new things together! 😀

  3. Couldn’t agree more! We now live together in China, which is even more different than travelling together, we now work together also! Like you said though, you can talk to one another about what you do all day and totally relate. It just brings you closer I think 🙂

    Cheers for the comment!

  4. Hello! My boyfriend and I have been on the road for the past 2 years now, although the last year we have been in money saving mode working on the Superyachts. I have been enjoying reading your website even though we are traveling on motorbikes there are still a lot of similarities.
    I couldn’t help but comment on this page…I love your idea of a ‘grump snack’!! Lack of proper eating is the source of 95% of our disgruntlement’s on the road!! I am definitely going to use this when we head off on the next adventure to South America!
    Happy traveling and maybe one day we’ll meet on the road 😀

  5. Hi Kristine!
    It sounds like you guys are having quite the journey. Working on Superyachts would be very interesting, where are you?

    And yes, being hungry is the source of arguments for sure, you can’t think straight, are easily annoyed, etc. Having some bits of food in case of “emergency” is a great idea!

    Enjoy your trip through South America as well! We plan to go there next year.

    Cheers from China

  6. We are currently in Palma de Mallorca, Spain. It has been quite something trying to get into the Superyacht industry, and unfortunately last season we had to work on separate yachts for 3 months. But it was worth it, because now we are set up on a couples position for the summer and will definitely have enough experience to pick up on the yachting later when we get low on money again!

    Although, it must be said.. working on superyachts is not as luxurious as it sounds 😉

    Happy planning for your epic Mongolia trek…I’m going to enjoy reading your progress!

    Till later….

  7. Sometimes you’ve just gotta do what you’ve gotta do in order to make money and stay on the road!

    I hope your position in the summer is a great one. Maybe you guys could become English Teachers 😉

    Cheers and thanks for following us!

  8. Amazing blog, and this article is especially great. My husband and I have been backpacking through Eastern Europe, the Middle East, Central America and South America for the last 12 months and everything you have written is true. We even have the same ‘jobs’ you guys do! I love the idea of the grump sack too – we call it getting ‘hangry’ (hungry angry) and is always best to avoid. You have travelled to the countries we are planning on visiting on our next long trip so your site has been a great help. We only have 3 weeks until we head home and while we are not quite ready to go, we know the last 12 months has definitely brought us closer and will make readjusting a bit easier. Keep up the great work and look forward to reading about your next adventure!

  9. Hi Katherine!
    Thank you for the kind words.

    It sounds like you guys have had quite the trip over the past 12 months. It’s hard to think about going home after such a long trip, isn’t it?!

    I love how you call it “hangry”, we may have to steal that saying 🙂

    It’s great to hear from another traveling couple, thanks for the comment.


  10. My boyfriend and I are just about to embark on our first trip together and I came across this. The video you made was beautiful and I loved seeing how well you guys work as a team!! Awesome inspiration and advice 🙂 Thank you!

  11. Aw, thanks Jasmine! Glad you liked the video. I’m sure you guys will have a great trip together, just work as a team and be patient! haha.

    Cheers 🙂

  12. I get Hangry a lot. My bf knows this and will hopefully have snacks by the bucket load!

    Great advice… I plan on sticking to it.

    I look forward to trying to make those special date nights. Thanks!

  13. Enjoy your travels Sarah 🙂 Date nights abroad can be pretty romantic!

  14. I agree it doesn’t have to be that expensive to enjoy traveling as a couple. Doing research together and agree on the places that you can afford is the best way when you plan. Like they said, “It takes to to tango”. Thanks for sharing your experiences as a couple.

  15. I’m planning an indefinite road trip with my man at the moment. He is absolutely prone to being “hangry”, so I love the idea of a grump sack! Thanks for the A+ tip 🙂

  16. Me and my partner are going to south east Asia for 6-9 months at the end of the year.

    Your advice has been insightful, and reassuring too as many of these suggestions we do already!

    After reading this I am a few % points more certain (and I was already in the 90’s) that this is going to be an amazing experience for both of us.

    Travelling goals – Look as happy as the two of you in your photos

    Great website – keep it up guys!

  17. That’s fantastic! I hope you have a great trip. No one who ever went travelling wished they hadn’t 😉

  18. Seriously, how do you afford to travel so much? I understand backpacking makes things cheaper but still the cost to just leave the country is a massive stumbling block.

  19. Hi Rhett,

    We talk about this a lot on other sections of our site. Please have a look here:

    Thank you!

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