Traveling as a couple: How to avoid killing each other

While most Instagram couple's pictures depict perfect tans and a sun-drenched island getaway. The reality for many couples can be very different.

Sofia Vallasciani
Sofia Vallasciani

Sofia is a sustainable travel writer currently exploring Indonesia. She loves finding local gems and uncharted spots.

Traveling as a couple: How to avoid killing each other

The majority of people traveling as a couple for the first time believe  their adventure will be all about holding hands at sunset, telling everybody how much love there is in the world, and admiring the sunrise from a sea view room. Yeah, that is not it at all. Long travel days bring out the worst in anybody. It’s easy to get into the “all is bad, I just want to complain” mood.

Problems arise when your already defeated-looking partner suddenly becomes the chosen scapegoat. Making it through 8 months continuously on each other’s shoulders can be very hard, especially if the expectations of this trip were all based on a pretty fake Instagram account.

Night Buses and Long Trips

Backpackers traveling around the world on the bus. Young handsome man with his girlfriend in a traditional bus taking a selfie on a smartphone.

Photo: Illpaxphotomatic/Shutterstock

The night bus is the greatest evil of all. Anybody crumpled in an Asian-sized seat with no headrest will be crying inside after 1 hour. This usually turns into a 10-hour overnight expedition through twisted mountain roads with no food, no sleep, and a consistent slight feeling of nausea. Nobody is expected to be excited about life when they get dropped off on the side on the road at 5 am, 3km out of the nearest town. Arguments during this sort of long haul can sometimes occur as both of you are tired and want to rest.

Don’t Be Hangry

Two men use maps to location

Photo: Jean-Frederis Fortier/Unsplash

The topic of choice for an argument in the middle of crowded streets is always hunger. Not that there is a lack of food in any major tourist destination in the world, but couples tend to decide what to eat when they have already been starving for over an hour. Things can get complicated when you want to eat. The restaurant is out of your budget, and it’s crowded, too dirty, and so on. The “what do you fancy? I don’t know what I fancy” conversation loop can be heard anywhere you are. You should bring sacks so you can fill up if you can’t get a good meal, so you don’t get on each other’s nerves.

Money, Money, Money

travel equipment - map, backpack, vintage camera, sunglasses, compass, passport and money

Photo: Osadchaya Olga/Shutterstock

No backpacker decides to stay in a bedbug-infested $1 hostel because it’s fun. Traveling on a tight budget is great to meet people and explore the real culture of a place, but it’s not pleasant to always worry about how much has been spent. You need to bring enough money with you or have it available at your bank.

Also, it is normal for two people to have different needs. One of the two drinks more, the other one likes new clothes, who spent more? If you spend too much, this can create arguments. Try to have a budget but have some money to spare if you need it to avoid arguing. You should expect money expenses to add up when traveling. Pool your money together so you can both use it equally.

Someone is going to get sick

High altitude sickness. Climber breathing oxygen from the O2 tank on the background of glacier and covered with snow and ice mountains

Photo:  Kirill Skorobogatko/Shutterstock

Traveling is a deal that comes with guaranteed stomach problems or cuts and scrapes that magically don’t heal abroad. Feeling ill in heavily air-conditioned 20 people dorms with nowhere to go and a bathroom apparently shared with the rest of the village, usually makes the situation worse.

When you are missing your family comfy bed, and stuffed animal 5000 miles from home, you’ll be on edge when sick. You will feel even worse if you’re arguing with your partner. Take some time to yourself, relax, and maybe watch a good movie until you feel better. Your partner will understand that you need some “me” time.

The magic

young man helping woman climbing mountain

Photo: Michaeljung/Shutterstock

Having somebody taking care of some of the unexpected traveling issues can be incredibly beneficial. Many situations are more easily solvable if two people are working on them. The 6ft boyfriend has a better shot at storing a carry-on suitcase on planes’ overhead compartments. Your wife might just have the gift to understand jabbering locals trying to tell you something important in very broken English. Getaway for a few hours if you have difficulties on your adventures so you can wind down from the headaches.

Do Hobbies

Lisboa, Portugal Romantic Dancing in the shadow

Photo: Ardian Lumi/Unsplash

A hobby could be anything that you love or perhaps what you like to do together like outdoor hike. Perhaps you could find a good bar, grab a beer, and watch a game. Sometimes finding time to switch the brain off and to get back in an old routine can be greatly beneficial. Do what you love, perhaps your spouse or partner could do something they love as well. Sometimes you need time for yourself.


Travelling with your partner can have its ups and downs, and sometimes it can be tough to get a lot of lovely shots together!

Photo: Louise Burton/Unsplash

It is an art, not a science, at least in this case. It needs time and practice. Nobody knows if the other person is happy with the result. However, one happy half is better than nothing. One person in a good mood will eventually lift the general morale, but this must work both ways. If one of the two is vegetarian, a vegan meal every night won’t make the other person excited. The key is in the balance. Make compromises on your trip.

Speak and Argue

couple best-friends travelers talking sunset

Photo: View Apart/Shutterstock

That women talk more than men is a given. With nobody else around for weeks at a time, there is sometimes nobody to talk to. Creating experiences together is what leads to the best beer-and-chat nights and long thoughts or sharing conversations regarding the itinerary or the budget. Sometimes this means an argument over a silly decision or the other person not taking the blame for choosing the worst place on the island.

Practice Gratitude

In Vietnam, Two mens traveled using motorbike along the hai van pass

Photo: Jordan Opel/Unsplash

Couples don’t go traveling unless the other partner does with them. Be grateful for being able to drive across Vietnam on a scooter or complete a diving course on a remote tropical island. Sometimes just appreciating the benefits of having somebody by your side in a foreign country can sort things out. Sometimes arguments will happen, but you’ll get over them. Travel can be stressful at times.

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