It was foresight that Dijo and I became a couple in the summer of 2009. At that time, the season meant taking a break from school so that typically equated to quick escapes to nearby beaches for us. Perhaps, the distinct natural high we felt during those first few trips ignited our move to, well, keep on moving. Fast forward to eight summers after, we are still together and have rooted our relationship in a shared passion for exploration.
In claiming that, it only makes sense that much of our dynamics can be attributed to how we’ve spent a chunk of almost a decade together – traveling. It comes as a semi-ingenious realization that how we travel is akin to how we are with each other. Since we celebrate our eighth anniversary today, I find it timely to give my pieces of unsolicited advice on how to survive a long-term relationship (or subliminal travel tips; call it what you want).
1. Know the culture and language.
Just as every place has a unique language and culture, each one of us comes from a distinct background and speaks a different love language. Spend time learning your partner’s roots to save yourself from getting lost in translation. Learn the other one’s talk and walk, and let him/her learn yours. You’ll eventually be accustomed to using context clues and this should wire you to make adjustments and when needed, speak his/her language.
2. Be wary of excess baggage.
We all have that friend who brings too much baggage when we travel and we know it’s pretty hard to move with that person in tow. It’s not too desirable to be with someone with a heavy load. It’s okay to have issues; everyone has them. But don’t drag it around. If need be, pack it right or buy a separate bigger bag; whichever would work best for you. Acknowledge the elephant in the room, sort it out and let your partner help you unload. You’ll eventually realize that it’s possible to pack light as long as you can find (almost) everything else that you need in the other person.
3. Keep calm during turbulence.
Turbulence occurs normally during flights in the same manner that rough patches are inevitable in relationships. There’ll be stormy episodes when all you ever want is a sunshine-y summer and a smooth-sailing ride. Don’t go ballistic when this happens. Obey the captain as he turns the “fasten seatbelt” sign on, stay grounded and try your best to relax until it passes.
4. Prepare a rough itinerary.
While it works for some people to have an empty slate for an itinerary, it’s always still a good idea to know more or less where you’re headed and what you want to do. It doesn’t have to be a play-by-play agenda. Leave wiggle room for spontaneity but prepare a scribbled roadmap for the two of you. Discuss plans with your partner – a glimpse of how you intend to spend your day, a hint of what’s in it for the weekend, a rough sketch of your future life together. This prevents uncertainty that may result to a possibility of arising arguments. This can also prevent finding yourself lost in the middle of a foreign train station, dead tired. See photo below.
5. Be adventurous.
Never stop being curious for it is in doing things out of the ordinary that we usually gain our most prized experiences. Doing new things together gives you both a fresh perspective and in some instances, a massive amount of good adrenaline. This has proven to be an effective way of keeping things new and never running out of stuff to talk about. Conquer your fear, learn a new sport, eat crickets, get to know a friendly stranger, take the longer route. It’s more fun that way.
6. Be patient.
There’ll always be long queues, bumpy tricycle rides, pesky humans, and irksomely slow airline websites but hey, patience can go a looooong way. In our case, I’d have to admit that he has a little more of this than I do and this has taken us to where we are now so I’m slowly learning to instill that virtue in myself. After all, I’ve been told that at the end of a godforsaken labyrinth is a beautiful place. So who’s not to love beautiful?
7. Stay in touch with family and friends.
At some point, we get homesick when we travel, especially if we’re away from home for longer periods of time. Admit it, we’ve all sent that goofy selfie to our family messaging group while we’re out of town. We start missing Mom’s cooking and our high school friend’s corny jokes she’s said a hundred times. Do not forget the people in your life who matter most just because you’ve gotten comfortable in your own bubble. These people remind us of who we are as individuals even before we decided to take a shot at romance. Point is it’s always a good idea to keep circles outside of your relationship intact.
8. Enjoy the ride!
At the end of it all, relationships shouldn’t seem like gruelling work. A lot of effort should be put into it but it definitely ain’t rocket science. Sing happy songs during long drives, bounce back from steep humps, keep your composure in traffic jams, find alternative routes if you encounter roadblocks, let the fresh air in, and always, always enjoy the ride. ✌🏽