There are many experiences to share with your partner before marriage, one of which is travel. Unless you and your partner are 100% content and committed to being total homebodies, chances are you will likely find yourselves traveling at some point in your relationship.
You might travel for fun and leisure or for a specific event. Whatever the reason, it’s a revelatory experience that uncovers personal traits and habits, interests, and compatibility.
Traveling with your partner will give you an idea of what you could be in for for the rest of your life when you say, “I do.” It is one of the best ways to understand your partner better before marriage.
In fact, I asked Brian to join me on a trip to New York City about six months into seeing each other. Travel was and still is a large part of my life; I wanted to see how we’d explore together.
Needless to say, it certainly gave me a ton of insight into how we saw and experienced the world.
Reasons to Travel Together Before Marriage
Travel can bring out the best and the worst in all of us. Are you and your partner compatible? Hit the road to find out! Here are the top 10 reasons to travel together before marriage:
1. Reveals Spending Habits
Are you a budget-conscious traveler or more of a splurger? Travel is a great way to experience how each of you spends money. It’s an opportunity to determine what you both value financially.
It also teaches you how to budget together. Costs can vary greatly when you consider accommodations, transportation, things to do, and food. Is your partner more interested in saving a buck than keeping you both comfortable? How comfortable of an accommodation is necessary? Do you really need a 5-star hotel, when a 2.5-star one is adequate?
When you travel together, you begin to see how each of you handles your finances. One key observation to make is whether your partner is the type of person to explore within their means or recklessly use financing to fund a trip.
2. Joint Decisions and Compromise
Joint decisions will need to be made on the road. They may be small and seemingly insignificant, such as what time to eat and where. Other times, you will face bigger decisions, like choosing to navigate busy city streets on your own versus hiring a tour guide.
Two people traveling together with two different backgrounds can lead to some big differences. However, with good communication and good spirits, you’ll both learn how to make decisions together.
When Brian and I first started traveling together, we quickly realized that we were pretty different from one another. We eventually found balance and learned how to adapt to each other’s preferences. I might not be able to convince him to shark dive with me, but he’s been my PIC on so many other adventures, including visiting the Capuchin Catacombs of Palermo, flying low-cost, no-frills airlines, and driving on the left side of the road.
Though Brian frequented the beach when he was younger, he’s keener on adventure nowadays. Together, we’ve compromised and discovered that we both enjoy exploring different cities, cultures, and foods more than a beach vacation.
3. Stress Threshold
How does your partner react under pressure? Everyone has a different stress threshold. Travel grabs hold of you and winds you through unexpected circumstances and uncomfortable situations.
Some of these moments might be avoidable, while others are completely out of your control. How one reacts to these moments can affect the tone of the trip. Would you want to spend your days with Mr. or Ms. Cranky Pants? I definitely wouldn’t!
While it’s true that people have good days and bad days, I ultimately believe how someone handles stress speaks volumes about their ability to adapt, lead, and compromise.
4. Test Patience
When you’re traveling together, you’re spending a lot of time with one another. This means that any little annoyances you might experience can sometimes seem magnified during the course of your trip.
You will absolutely get on each other’s nerves and test each other’s patience. This is an incredible opportunity to learn more about yourself and your partner, especially before marriage.
It’s an interesting phenomenon to me when examined from a sociological and psychological perspective. Patience, like other behavioral traits, is often learned via environment and observation.
Ultimately, when your patience is feeling tested, it’s important to ask yourself, “Why?” Pinpointing your frustrations can help you communicate them in a healthy and constructive manner to your partner. At the same time, when your partner is struggling with his or her patience, it’s helpful to understand that it might not exactly be personal but rather stem from something else. Choosing to see it from this perspective will help you both de-escalate frustrations and move forward as a team.
5. Interaction with Others
Travel offers the chance to see how your partner interacts with others, particularly in the service and hospitality industries. You can find out a lot about a person by how they treat others, especially during stressful moments. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather find out if I’m spending time with a miserable, unkind human sooner rather than later. This reminds me of that Friends episode in which Ben Stiller plays Rachel’s boyfriend…
6. Depth of Conversation
Some people are content to be in relationships where they hardly ever have meaningful conversation. I am not one of those people. If you’re not either, then do yourself a favor and hit the road with your honey.
There is nothing like spending endless hours together, diving into shared experiences, and being uncomfortable to unleash the depth of conversation.
I would not be in a relationship with someone who could not hold a conversation, much less keep up with interesting debates and random brainstorming. As an introvert, avid reader, and researcher, my mind collects and parses information and subsequent thoughts throughout the day. I love a good convo – even when I’m playing devil’s advocate.
Travel gives you the time and space to truly notice how your partner thinks and communicates. It opens your mind to new and different perspectives. If you find yourself appreciating the depth of conversation you share, then imagine how much more you get to talk and laugh about when you add in your travel experiences over the years.
7. Strengthens Decision-Making
Sometimes, when you’re traveling, you have to make split-second decisions. If you can do this together as a team, then you’re in good shape!
All kinds of decisions knock on your door every day. Travel puts you in different situations where you might not react as you normally do, especially when it comes to decision-making. You might find that your partner is better equipped to make some decisions while you’re better at others. When you travel together, you get to see a different side of each other, particularly when it comes to making obscure decisions.
8. Energy Levels
Learning how to gauge energy levels will help create a happy relationship. While opposites can attract, such as an introvert and an extrovert, it’s important to observe and adjust to each other’s energies and needs.
Is your partner ready and willing to hit the pavement despite feeling super drained after a long travel day? Or does he or she need a day to adjust before heading out? Perhaps you’ve had enough of being out and about. Are you comfortable voicing that you need some time to yourself while your partner continues exploring?
You might not share the same energy levels all of the time, especially when you’re on the road. What’s ultimately key is whether you and your partner can respect and adjust to each other’s energies. Would you be okay if your partner preferred a slow, quiet way of traveling? Or would you prefer to be with someone who thrives on a sun-up to sun-down, jam-packed itinerary? Traveling with one another will help you better learn each other’s travel preferences, energy levels, and response styles.
9. Fosters Appreciation
When you’re part of a twosome, the idea is that you don’t have to do everything on your own anymore. Travel is simply another outlet that allows us to see how our partner has our back!
From trip-planning and booking to transportation and navigating, travel maps out different scenarios for supporting one another. You become aware of your partner’s and your own strengths and weaknesses. You can learn to play off of each other’s strengths through open and healthy communication, which fosters appreciation and trust.
10. Clarify and Adjust Boundaries
If you’re traveling, you’ll definitely be put in situations that test your boundaries. There are many things you’ll learn about yourself, your values, and your beliefs. There will be moments that push you outside of your comfort zone. It will be up to you to express and clarify your boundaries while you’re traveling with your partner, just as it will be up to them to express theirs. You may even help each other discover new experiences and activities that could further explore boundaries.
I believe that every relationship should encourage and celebrate growth. Still, it’s important to recognize that a relationship is two individuals coming together with different backgrounds and different boundaries. To grow with another, you must acknowledge your own boundaries and adjust when your experiences allow.
It’s incredibly fun and inspiring to experience change as life changes around you. Travel, specifically, can thrust you into many different environments and lifecycles. It will challenge you, exhaust you, excite you, and, if you let it, change you. As you change, so will your boundaries. I find relationships to be more fulfilling when a partner is by your side as you grow separately and together.
Pack Your Bags
If you really want to see if your partner is right for you, pack your bags and head out for an adventure! Travel is a phenomenal way to challenge yourself and your relationship. Marriage is a big step. It’s an adventure all on its own, with its own challenges, compromises, and joys.
Wouldn’t you want to see if you can spend a few weeks together on the road before you commit to each other for the rest of your lives?