What A Year of Travel Has Taught Me About Relationships
One of the questions we get asked time and time again (besides the obvious "how the hell do you manage to afford all this travel?) is this: "What's the scariest thing you've ever done on your travels?" And while Matt and I have gotten terribly lost on leopard country, teetered on the edge of a crumbling 1,500-foot drop-off and come face-to-face with our own individual fears, perhaps the one true albeit unexpected answer to this question is deciding to embark on this whole travel thing together.
Like, as a couple.
It's true - we've never really been that traditional pair; Matt cooks dinner just as much as I do and, as much as I hate to admit it, he's the clean freak in the relationship, not me. For more than half of our relationship we've worked together, mostly on start-ups or passion projects, so when we finally decided to give this blog thing a go more than 12 months back, we figured it would be a seamless transition. And for the most part, it was.
Night after night, we'd sit side-by-side in our living room, hunched over our laptops, brainstorming and researching and drafting. Instead of arguing about finances (like normal couples), we'd disagree about templates, logos and font choices.
Though we've had a dynamite year in the way of adventure, 2015 has also proven to be an educational year to boot. With Valentine's Day right around the corner, we thought we'd take a step back and look at some of the most significant lessons we've learned about traveling as a couple.
Though we may travel as one, we are individuals first.
Yes, we're pretty obsessed with one another, but when we're spending every waking moment together on our travels, it's inevitable that there will be times when we get on each other's nerves. By nature, both Matt and I are fiercely stubborn and independent individuals and that's okay. We each bring something significant and unique to this relationship, so spending the occasional time apart is a healthy way for us to nurture those qualities.
Communication is key, but listening is better.
Neither Matt or I are particularly loquacious individuals, but we know that we need to communicate to make this whole thing work (particularly while traveling). Before I quit my job for a life of travel, I remember sitting down with Matt in the Cederberg Wilderness and confessing how much I wanted to change my career path. And when he was asked to spend three months out-of-state filming a tv series, he told me his reservations, but also his excitement, at getting the opportunity to work on the show. At the end of the day, it isn't necessarily what you're saying that's important, but it's who you're saying it to that matters.
Own your differences, but share your strengths.
Matt is a photographer by trade and I'm the writer. I can't in any way do what he does, making the fantastic imagery that you can see on tv, in exhibitions and across this site, nor can Matt replicate my love of the written word. But despite our different strengths, we have a shared passion to create. And that is what makes this whole journey so exciting.
Never go to bed angry.
As cliche as it may sound, this is a rule we stick to almost 100 percent of the time. No matter what happens during the day, whether it's personal frustrations or work-related ones, every disagreement we encounter needs to be remedied (or at least talked about) by the end of the day. I'll share my frustrations, then Matt will share his. More often than not, it's a simple misunderstanding or miscommunication. It’s not always an easy task to get to the root of a problem, but patience, respect and understanding will help to get you there.
Just be generally awesome to one another.
Hold hands. Smooch unabashedly on the street. Respect and nurture one another's quirks. Poke fun at one another. Try new things. Bring her flowers. Write him a love note. Enjoy a fancy dinner.
And laugh. A lot.