13 lessons you’ll learn from travelling with your partner

They say you never really know a person until you’ve lived with them – but what about when you’ve travelled with them? That’s how you truly get to know a person’s quirks and foibles, how you discover the truth about a significant other.

Travel the world with your partner and you’ll get to see this person you think you love at their best and their worst. You’ll see them strung out on no sleep, fighting to speak a foreign language, battling to get you a ride on that rickety old bus. You’ll see them completely at ease too, toes buried in sand, drink clutched in sunburned fingers.

Travel is the great revealer when it comes to relationships, the teller of truth. And the worst thing is, you’ll learn just as many harsh lessons about yourself as you will about your partner.

One of you snores

tra12-online-partner Woman covering ears with pillow as man snores snoring


It may not be the one you expected. It might be you. But when you spend a long time sleeping next to someone in odd places, you usually discover that at least one in your party of two makes some pretty weird noises at night.

One of you is not very good with directions

tra12-online-partner Couple arguing in car over directions


Again, I’m not saying which one. But … buy a GPS.

You’re not as chill as you thought you were

tra12-online-partner tourist couple arguing while on holiday


This is one of the harsh lessons you learn about yourself. You might assume you’re calm and sanguine in any situation, that you always roll with the punches, but at some point on your travels you’ll probably have a meltdown and make a total arse of yourself in front of a loved one. You just have to hope they’re understanding.

You have different ideas about hygiene

Some people turn out to be clean freaks when they travel. Some reveal themselves as being total grubs. There will definitely be arguments about what level of accommodation is acceptable, which food you can safely eat, and how long it’s reasonable to go between doing loads of laundry.

Some toilet doors are frighteningly inadequate

Who designs these rooms, you wonder, when you check into a hotel and find that the toilet door is totally see-through, or doesn’t reach the floor, or doesn’t exist at all. In cheaper bungalows and the like you’ll also find the doors are far too flimsy to cover up any embarrassing sounds. You just got to know your partner a whole lot better.

One of you talks quite a lot

You never realised it at home. Sure, he or she was always fairly chatty, but this? This is a never-ending word vomit, a stream of noise that just doesn’t abate. How long can you put up with this?

Amusing quirks soon become deal-breaking annoyances

The difference, I’ve found, between an amusing quirk and a deal-breaking annoyance is about two or three weeks.

There’s nothing romantic about a youth hostel

It’s true. If you’ve just met someone, it might seem a little thrilling having covert liaisons in empty dorm rooms, or even not-empty dorm rooms, but the novelty wears off pretty quickly. And if you’re travelling with someone who’s been your partner for years, you’ll discover this is no place for holiday romance.

One of you is a tight-arse

To haggle or not to haggle? To tip or not to tip? To splash out on a glass of wine at a fancy restaurant, or to stick to the $1 supermarket beers you’ve been drinking up until now? It’s pretty rare to find someone who has the same attitude to spending money as you do. If you find such a person, hold onto them.

Yes, you do have to put that in your bag

Technically, you don’t have to put that bag of “secondary toiletries”, as my partner calls them, into your suitcase to carry. But your life will be a lot easier if you just do.

World-weary cynicism is seriously boring

That fellow traveller you met who’s all cool and cynical, who sees things “the way they really are”, who’s not afraid to call out pretension or ridiculousness when he or she sees it? Yeah, that becomes old pretty quickly. Travel with positive people. With people who love life and love the world. It’s a lot more fun.

Before Sunrise is just a movie

SPECTRUM. Film Stills. Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke in Before Sunrise. Supplied

You might have seen the seminal ’90s travel film and assumed you’d meet someone on your travels that you would have an amazing intellectual connection with, someone with whom you’d endlessly stroll foreign streets talking about interesting, high-brow stuff in sexy accents. In reality though, you probably just got drunk and hooked up with another Australian.

Compromise is key

This is the most important lesson everyone learns from travelling with a partner. It might not be an enjoyable one, but it’s essential. You have to compromise. You have to chill out about snoring and directions, you have to spend money when you maybe don’t want to, you have to ignore the noises coming from the toilet, and you have to accept the person you’re travelling with for the quirky, sometimes annoying travel partner they really are. That way, you’ll enjoy a lifetime of adventure together. Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone.

What have you learned from travelling with your significant other? Have they all been harsh lessons?

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