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Backpacking Tips for Couples - Going the Distance, on the Road and in your Relationship

WORLDWIDE | Thursday, 3 March 2011 | Views [12934] | Comments [1]

Crossing the border between Ecuador and Peru

“Will we still be together after this trip?” we asked ourselves.  Aracely and I had never traveled long-term together.  A 10-day trip to Madrid in a decent hotel, while eating out for every meal doesn't test your compatibility or patience much, at least not compared to backpacking for a year in Central and South America.

Friends or Lovers?

2 Backpackers at Salinas Grandes in Northwest Argentina

Traveling with your friend or partner can both be complicating and lead to a parting of ways, but I still prefer to travel with a friend.  A friend is someone you enjoy spending time with, doing things like going out dancing or partying, watching a ball game, people watching or tackling a challenging adventure.  Strictly  as lovers, you might only do those things because you have to, in hopes that maybe there are other benefits involved.  Don't travel long-term with that person!  I would also advise, enjoy the fun, but don't marry that person either.  I guess that's a different article.

A friend is someone you spend time with purely because you enjoy being around them and that is the person you want to backpack around the world with.  And hopefully, that person is your partner too.

Looking for Privacy?

You won't find much privacy backpacking from hostel to hostel or guest house.  Depending on your budget limitations, paying for privacy might not always be feasible.  Private rooms with their own bathroom are limited and the most expensive.  Sometimes a dorm room is the only option, sleeping in your own twin bunk bed.  There will be no playing between the sheets tonight.

If you scored the private room with a bathroom, you may have escaped the rowdy dorm rooms, but let's hope neither has been infected with travelers' diarrhea, because that private bathroom might not be so private between the two of you.  There really isn't another room to escape to.

I Love Camping

Aracely camping in the rain during our trek of Torres del Paine in Chile

I truly do, even after hiking for 9 days in Torres del Paine, Chile.  It's a good thing Aracely enjoyed the long trek too.  You may not be aware of this, but your partners preferences may be different than yours.  Sometimes you don't really discover what your partner enjoys doing until you spend time with them outside of each other's comfort zone.  Has your relationship consisted of wining and dining, movies and social get togethers?  Have you been hiking, camping, sick or even lost with your partner?  These are the things that you will encounter on the road.

If you are excited about camping and hiking long trails, you better make sure they are too.  Will they experiment with street food or stay clear and feast from the corporate world chains?  It's true, you can find a McDonalds, TacoBell, Burger King and possibly Subway in many places you will visit.  And pizza has become an international staple.  

Don't get shocked when you have finally arrived to New Zealand for camping and your loved one says, “I don't do that.”

Squashed Dreams of Machu Picchu

Two friends flew in to Cusco, Peru to meet us for the tour of the great Inca Machu Picchu.  It was January 25th, 2010 and the Tourism Department of Peru just closed Machu Picchu indefinitely due to devastating floods in the region.  

I proudly admit my tolerance for pain, discomfort or just things not going as planned has grown during our travels.

Often things won't occur smoothly on the road.  There will be many bumps, pot holes and even sections of road washed away.  You can't do much to prepare for the uncomfortable situations that you will encounter, but you can and should take notice of how tolerant your partner is.  

We arrived at hostels at 2am to discover they don't have our reservation.  Machu Picchu was closed for months disappointing travelers' dreams.  Unrest in the Middle East has caused many tourists to pack up and return home.  These examples range from the petty to the devastating.  The ways in which each of us react can effect the severity of the situation.  Backpacking in foreign lands with foreign languages, foreign weather, foreign food, foreign behaviors and foreign cultural norms requires a lot of tolerance and patience. 

You could spend hours thinking of everything that might happen and guessing how you would react.  Instead, when the situation does find its way to you, think back to this article and remember that it's best to just go with the flow.

Money Effects Relationships and Travels

Larcomar Shopping & Dinning Mall in Miraflores Lima, Peru

I have read many times that money and finances are always at the top of the list of divorce reasons.  Don't think you can escape the topic when traveling.
Backpacking is typically for the budget conscious, so decide on that budget before you go selling all your stuff on eBay and Craigslist.  

Where will you splurge?  Where will you save?  Aracely and I saved on accommodation, rarely enjoying a nice hotel.  We prefer a good meal over a good bed.  Once we arrived to Lima, we indulged in our favorite, sushi.  In Buenos Aires, steak.  Understand what each other wants out of the trip and where they will argue to spend more.  

If you are completely in sync with each other, you can decide when it's right to book that hotel or spa treatment while on the road.  Another idea is to decide how often you can drop the big bucks before you get on the road.  

Things you might spend money on:  First class bus ride, flights, hotels, spas, better tours, fancy diners, renting a car, upgrading equipment, expensive souvenir, self improvement lessons (cooking, dancing, language).

Will Anything Happen Between the Sheets?

A lot can happen if you have your own private room.  Don't worry so much about whether or not you will have to practice abstinence again, you won't.  

Private rooms are available in most hostels.  If you just returned from 10 days of camping and can't wait to get undressed, consider booking that love shack ahead of time.  Busy season in traditional backpacker locations can make it hard to find that perfect love nest.

The walls will be thin and most bathrooms are shared, so be more considerate than the one-nighters that  turn hostel bathrooms into an echoing speaker of 70s porn.

Bullet Proof Relationship

Jason & Aracely Castellani getting engaged while on a road trip in Northern Chile

Many traveling couples out there will tell you they believe they have the best relationship.  If they have been traveling for several years and still love each other, there won't be many people disagreeing with them.  

Traveling as a couple can be the greatest bond you build with your partner.  It tests your compatibility in ways home life might never have.  You have seen the worst and best of each other.  You can brag about who truly has the tougher stomach, greater patience and the ability to learn another language.  Most importantly, you have something to share and reminisce about for your entire lives that will never go dull.

It won't be easy, but go convince your partner to travel with you.

Related Articles:

10 Things to Check Before Checking into a Budget Hotel

Backpacking checklist: Do's and Don't's on the Road

About the Authors

Jason & Aracely Castellani completed their first long-term trip together as a couple in 2010.  After experiencing nirvana while backpacking through most of Central and South America, they have now turned their attention to their travel blog at 2backpackers.com.  These 2 Backpackers travel around the world sharing their experiences through HD adventure travel videos, travel photos and writings.  Follow their journey for travel tips, insights, adventure, inspiration and entertainment.  Join 2 Backpackers on Facebook and Twitter.

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Tags: backpacking, camping, couples, experiences, food, macchu picchu, peru, relationships, tips, travel



Good article! I would suggest that traveling alone has as many (if not more) advantages. The freedom to do ones own things and time for introspection, and the ability to save money by booking dorms in hostels (plus it's seems like there is an endless supply of new friends in hostels!)

  David Pearlman Nov 17, 2015 10:33 AM

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