Posts Tagged ‘moods’

The Challenges of Being a Couple Abroad


2011
01.03

I often say that I couldn’t have made it to Europe without my boyfriend.

Moving there had been such a hassle that many times, I wanted to simply drop the project and curl up under my covers. But we were a team. My defeat implied his defeat. Although many things have not gone the way we hoped they would, we still managed to get on the plane to London and build a life there for a year. Many people told us this adventure was either going to break us, or make us stronger - I’m happy to report that it definitely made us a stronger item, but it wasn’t all that easy. Here’s a few chapters of our story as a couple abroad.

Photo by Lost.In.Time

Chapter 1 : The Bathroom Incident

Having lived together before moving to London, we had already sorted the bathroom situations and had created many means to maintain our private individual moments, hum, private, so this chapter does not have anything to do with bodily functions (although me yelling at him to not look at me when I was being sick on the plane is quite funny). It is instead about the lack of space in a studio flat. Let me explain.

When a couple lives in a 10 m² flat 24/7, occasional quibbles are only natural. But some days were worse than others and on quite a few occasions, doors needed to be slammed and sulking had to be done (he told me I talked like my mother, what else was I supposed to do?). The question is: how exactly do you sulk in a studio flat? How powerless are you when the only door you can slam is the bathroom door? I had no other choice but to stay in there for as long as it would take to make him feel bad. But trust me, once you’ve done your nails and showered, there isn’t much to do. Luckily, our shower curtain is a huge world map, so now I can tell you  the exact location of Djibouti. What a girl’s gotta do to keep her pride.

Chapter 2: The Unit

Travel is all about meeting new people.  While being a couple abroad certainly has some advantages, it’s quite a bummer in this topic. That creates two problem: difficulty to socialize and lack of individuality.

It’s not easy for couples to meet new people. Being a team of two people often creates the illusion that you do not need or want to socialize with the people around you. Couples really have to make an extra effort to mingle because people will not go to them naturally like they would with individuals. And if they do get to talk with someone, that someone’s probably in a relationship as well.

That’s exactly what happened to us.  The people we really got along with are couples, and more often than not, Canadian couples. Hello, travel experience.

Couples tend to befriend other couples for obvious reasons. If however, you happen to overhear one of their conversations, all you will hear is ‘we’. We are from there, we just visited this museum, we sleep at that hotel. Everyone gets referred to as a we rather than as separate I’s. And sometimes it can get blur the limits of individuality of each person. Most travelling couples create a merging bond that keeps them stronger as an item on given situations, but that bond needs to be loosened up on social gatherings.

Let yourself be for one minute!

Chapter 3: Sacrifices

That problem is not avoidable whether you travel with your partner, your friend or your parents. At one point, someone is not going to agree with your itinerary.

Of course, travelling with your significant other probably means that you have the same, or at least similar interests. But when the day comes that you won’t agree on something, and trust me, it will,  it’s crucial that you seize up just how much you are sacrificing. Because as opposed to a friend or a parent, you will be with that person 24/7 during the trip and, most importantly, after.

My tip is to always have a first look at your itinerary beforehand. It’s what we (see, I don’t even follow my own rules) did when we planned our trip to Dublin. I don’t like beer and needless to say, I wasn’t to keen on spending a whole afternoon at the Guinness Factory. I went anyway to please my beer-obsessed-but-not-alcoholic boyfriend. But guess what? It ended up being one of the best activity of my whole year abroad.

Planning is the key. No need to have a tight schedule, but at least have a rough idea of what you will be doing. That way, shall there be an argument, it will happen before the actual trip and save you lots of time and energy on location. Spontaneity is overrated anyway.

***

Have you travelled with your other half? Have you experienced difficulties or challenges? Do you have tips or anecdotes? Speak up!

 

How to get angry by reading your RSS feed (or the story of a frustrated travel blogger)


2010
12.30

Photo by Patrick NG

That’s right.

I hate reading my RSS feed. Not only because it’s always an overwhelming task due to the hundreds of sites I’m subscribed to, but also because it reminds me of how incredibly powerless I am when it comes to travel right now.

I’ve had the chance to travel for most of 2008 and 2009 and of course, I have been addicted since then. I even created this blog so I could vent my desire to travel and share my stories. So far it’s been great. I love the interactions with the travel blogosphere - I’ve had the chance to connect with amazing people. I even have a few other projects up my sleeve too.

But it’s not enough.

I am still thirsty for adventure and discovery. I desperately want to hop on the next transatlantic flight, tie my walking shoes and start exploring. You get the picture.

And there I am, sitting in my living room with my RSS feed open, reading the great on-location stories and thinking ‘God, I hate these people’. Hatred purely created by envy and jealousy, of course, but still, profound hatred.

I guess the same thing can apply to anyone not related to the travel industry. I know most of my friends sigh when they see other people’s travel photos everywhere on Facebook (don’t we all?). Isn’t the very fact of having all these adventures thrown in our faces without us asking a bit aggravating?

But on the other hand, if travelling is so important to me, shouldn’t I be making this my top priority, you say?

Of course, the answer is yes. I should be making this my top priority. But I have come to realize that I love living in Montreal too, and eating out, and buying CDs, even if it means less money in the travel bank.  Said bank being, by the way, slightly exasperated by the fact that every trip is a click & credit card number away. That, and the fact that I have a line of credit to pay back and a student fiancé to support. Oh, and did I mention I’m only 23?

Autumn in Eastern Townships, Quebec

So I decided to live my life and save for travel in a way I know works with my budget and my goals. My goal, for 2011, is to adjust the balance between the needs of my everyday life and my longing need to travel. I have processed the thought that I am not a professional travel blogger nor a nomad. I have also stopped thinking of travel as an airport-passport-and-jetlag kind of thing - you can travel in your own city and region. It doesn’t have to be in another time zone to be new and interesting (although I am somehow anxious about the moment when I’ll run out of Europe-related stuff, which is kind of my niche, you know - then I’ll really have to start thinking about getting a second job and return to the Old Continent).

I’m not sure the travel bug will cure itself soon, but I have it in control.

And it’s okay.

However, I still hate all other travel bloggers. A little bit.

***

Do you also get frustrated to see all the adventures of travel bloggers? Or even your own friends showing off their travel photos on Facebook? Or really, am I just a big whiner?

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