I am probably not the first person nor the last to reveal this not so ground breaking information: backpacking with your significant other can make or break you. Regular travel with your partner has its own onslaught of complications, but take away luxury, insert a backpack, throw in some hostels and overnight buses and you’ve got yourself a disaster disguised as the anti-romcom. Don’t worry though; I am not focused on the business of breaking relationships, but rather making them.
Here’s the thing, backpacking with your partner has the potential to be awesome. But, not in the way you imagine it in your mind. You will not be walking hand in hand down beaches barefoot with floral crowns, looking like the sun kissed Coachella inspired hippie you long to be. You will, however, be carting a heavy back pack, doing your best to cover up burnt skin and sporting a matted top knot that you are too afraid to take down. In this time – where you can easily be described as “Crustifarian” – you will learn so much about yourself and your partner, bringing you closer than any other kind of adventure. I’m here to tell you the things no one reveals when you are about to embark on this journey with your significant other and how to prepare for them.
Don’t fill your backpack and for pete’s sake do not share a backpack
Yes, your backpack is not that big and sure you think you are “probably not going to buy much” so you go ahead and stuff your sack. This is a huge mistake. As your journey progresses you will start to resent the extra pair of shoes and the excess of books you decided you “needed” to have with you. Extra stuff means extra weight. If one person is forced to move significantly slower because of the weight of their pack, the other may will start to get frustrated. Plus, when you’re strolling through your tenth market in South East Asia and see yet another pair of elephant pants that you are “totally going to wear all the time back home” you need somewhere to store them. Don’t worry too much about having cute outfits for every day of the week, but aim for functionality. When you finish a book, leave it behind at a hostel; your back will thank you.
Create a budget, together
I am a firm believer in not over planning, except when it comes to money. Speak in great length with your partner about how much money you are each bringing, and where it will be allocated. This will avoid awkward situations where one of you just can’t afford an activity…or lunch. Be honest with yourself and with your partner. If you know you’re the type that shops or needs at least one night sleep at a reputable hotel, don’t be afraid to give yourself a little extra where it’s needed.
Think about the “type” of traveler you both are
There are so many different kinds of travelers. A quick and sure fire way to destroy your trip is to find out that your travel styles don’t mesh. Maybe you are all about adventure and your partner just wants to spend each day chilling on a beach. Talk about it before hand so there are no surprises. The easiest way to get the best of both worlds is compromise.
“Hangry” is a real thing; grumpiness is an inevitable part of the journey
You will not always be fully rested, fed and functioning on all cylinders. Grumpiness is very much a part of the ride. Not every moment of your trip will be filled with life changing inspiration. Sometimes you’ll feel crappy and that’s OK. Always carry a bottle of water and some snacks on you, even if you don’t think you will need it. These are small steps to take for huge relief.
You are going to stink
This may be contingent to the type of backpackers you become together, but it is probable that at some point you are going to smell, bad. Not all hostels have nice showers, working showers… or any showers at all. There will be times when the struggle is so real, Charlie Brown’s Pigpen will be the equivalent to Mr. Clean to you. If you are traveling somewhere hot, and need cheap transportation, you better believe the AC will not be great. It’s all part of the grand journey. Pro tip: baby wipes are your best friend.
You are always going to be around each other
You are each other’s travel companion, essentially the other person’s sanctuary away from home. And while the idea of spending every waking moment with the love of your life sounds ideal, it’s not always. In an attempt to keep the magic alive all through your trip, take time for you! Whether it be zoning out with your headphones on listening to your iPod, or taking a walk alone, absence – even if only for an hour – makes the heart grow fonder. Plan a dinner out, or an activity after your alone time so you have a new and exciting way to spend your renewed time together.
You will experience limited privacy; bathroom time included
Depending on the type of backpacker you are, how adventurous you are and where you are traveling you might be faced with a seemingly awkward bathroom situation. If food poisoning in Cuba has got you down and out, the least of your worries should be paranoia that your partner is in the next room “experiencing” it all with you. You’d be surprised at the amount of “quality” hostels that do not have bathrooms with doors that fully close. Pro tip: always carry matches and an extra roll of toilet paper!
All that being said, backpacking with your significant other doesn’t have to only be arduous but an exhilarating experience for your relationship. The things you will experience together on your journey cannot compare to any other adventure. I highly recommend it!