You might be wondering what it would be like to be with your spouse 24/7 and travel full-time. Married or not, you can probably imagine how difficult that could be, given how stressful travel is at times. I have been saying that this trip is a true test of our relationship. Constantly moving around can be frustrating and success of this adventure depends on how well we can work together.
Aaron and I have always considered our relationship a team – we even have a secret team name, which will not be revealed here due to its silliness and definition of a secret.
Even as I think back to our wedding and the vows I wrote for Aaron, I made the following promises that day:
“You are my best friend, and today I take you to be my husband.
I promise to support you in all challenges that you face.
I promise to teach you new and exciting things I learn.
I promise to always be a valuable member of our team.
I promise to continue dreaming big with you.
I promise to show you where I come from and share my goals and aspirations with you.
I promise to never forget that we are better together.”
Reflecting back on that day, it feels like I was writing these vows exactly for this around the world trip. You have to be constantly conscious of the other person’s wellbeing, mood, interests and needs. It is up to both of us to make sure that we are in sync and aware of what the other is feeling to ensure that we are both happy with our life of travel.
When we met up with a friend in Moscow, who met Aaron once before and discussed our trip, she made an observation that stuck with me. She said: “I don’t know much about your relationship but the two of you seem to be in harmony. No matter what happens in the future you will always have this trip: it’s your own world.” I think it’s very true. Still, we need to actively try hard to preserve our little new world and make this the best experience possible for both of us.
Just a couple of weeks ago we had a fight over something so silly that it’s not even worth mentioning in this post. What sat us off is irrelevant because the true reason was exhaustion after a sleepless night due to an extremely bumpy train ride into Odessa. This is not an episode of Amazing Race and while we need to work as a team and challenge ourselves on this journey, we need to take time for each other and our marriage. The only prize we will get at the end of this trip is our memories and I would like them to be as joyful as possible.
6 ways to stay a couple on the road, not just teammates:
1) Take time away from each other. After our blow-up, we gave each other space to cool down, clear our heads and not speak. Draw some boundaries and spend time apart participating in short-term activities away from each other such as reading, running errands, blogging or even taking a nap.
2) Find the time and more importantly the place to do…IT. Yes, yes – we are married and we are allowed to do IT. Without going into any detail, it turns out that it’s not easy finding the privacy for ourselves as a couple when we are constantly staying with new hosts or in hostel dorms. We consciously try to find a private room here and there.
3) Pay attention for each other. Making each other feel special is more important than ever when you travel to ensure that while you are constantly meeting new and interesting people, the person who is always by you is still the best. This can be as simple as not forgetting to compliment each other and steal kisses in public or on the subway (which turns out to be a very popular activity in Russia on the long escalator rides in particular).
4) Cook together. It’s a great activity that is familiar to you both and unlikely to cause stress. Preparing food together in a hostel kitchen can be relaxing and playful with an added bonus of saving money on the road.
5) Tell each other stories. Read new facts about the place you’re at or relevant information for your trip from a new travel blog and share what you learned with your spouse. It’s important to keep each other interested by engaging in stimulating conversations. Besides, most travelers like me think worldly nerdiness is sexy.
6) Show your commitment without wedding rings. As most other married couples, we exchanged rings on our wedding day to show our commitment to each other. It is ill advised to take such expensive personal items on an around the world trip. We found romantic ways to substitute our wedding rings:
Aaron wearing the celtic ring Lena got him on a trip to Ireland while they were still dating. Lena made some kind of uncomfortable joke about a wedding ring and after a few Guinesses Aaron was wearing it as his wedding band. Some older Irish ladies who were initially flirting with Aaron saw his ring and told me that I’m lucky to have him as a husband. We were both blushing but grinning from ear to ear.
I wear a necklace that was given to me by Aaron’s mother, who was kind enough to engrave our names on the heart charm along with our wedding date. While it’s not a band on my finger, it’s closer to my heart at all times.
I have chosen a partner in this journey that we call life who shares my passions and agrees that the best day of our lives was not our wedding day as most people choose to believe. How can it be with all the stress, hassles and unnecessary spending? The best day of our life is today: a day like today when we wake up next to each other in a new city and he smiles at me saying “What do you want to do today?”