Traveling together is our favorite pastime. We love exploring new places, witnessing history in action, and learning about people and their cultures. We have been very fortunate to travel together to six continents, more than 75 countries, all 50 American states, all 10 Canadian provinces, dozens of world capitals and many amazing national parks. After two decades of traveling as a couple, we had an epiphany; as much as we love travel, we really only enjoy it when we can share the adventure. Our time together in planes, trains, cars, RVs, ships — even on camels — has been our most enjoyable time together.
We also realized that we work hard to make our travel enjoyable. Travel can be very stressful at the best of times. Traveling as a couple can significantly increase the anxiety, but only if you allow it. If you are in any doubt about this, just tune in to an episode of Amazing Race and watch how the strongest couples completely melt down, often over what appears to be a very minor issue. We have learned, largely through trial and error, that there are many little things we do to reduce the stress of travel.
We decided to take action and write about some of our experiences and what we have learned. These tips are offered without guarantee by laypeople who absolutely love traveling together. We do not consider ourselves travel experts or gurus; in fact, we get quite annoyed when people use those terms. Traveling as a couple is complicated at best, and downright complex in many cases.
Our collection, Tips for Two: Tales of a Globetrotting Couple (www.tipsfortwo.com), includes a series of helpful hints that we found incredibly useful. Some were designed to make our travel safer, while others focus on our comfort. Some help us learn, another group ensures we are respectful, and still others help us keep our costs manageable. More importantly, though, all of them help us enjoy each other. Remember, these tips are about making travel as a couple as enjoyable as it can possibly be!
Tip # 1: Bring a splitter so that you can share a movie
Let’s be honest. As much as we like the idea of visiting new places and experiencing new cultures, we could do without the irritations associated with getting there. We often dream about a Star Trek–type transporter that would allow someone to say Energize and we would magically appear in Petra or the Galápagos Islands. Unless or until transporters become a reality, all traveling couples must find ways to amuse themselves on lengthy journeys. We have found a number of ways to transform long flights from a necessary evil to a fun part of our adventure. We genuinely enjoy the many hours we spend together on long flights. Let us explain.
Perhaps it is ironic that our very first tip for traveling couples involves splitting. This is very deliberate because the metaphor of how splitting keeps us together reminded us that our travel adventures together have made us closer as a couple. This is an important message throughout the book; if you travel as a couple, and by that we mean an engaged couple, we believe you will have a stronger and more connected relationship. If you travel as independent travelers that just happen to have the same itinerary, well, to us that is not really traveling together. Although we make no promises, our experience is clear: Traveling together offers an amazing opportunity to bring people together.
Back to the splitter. We never leave home without our handy-dandy audio splitter. A splitter is a very inexpensive device that allows two people to listen to the same sound by connecting their headsets. We often use our splitter when we are in airport terminals, hotel rooms, or cruise ships as we watch videos from one of our laptops or tablets. Invariably, travel means spending a lot of time waiting, and it is very nice to have a way to escape from the surroundings. For us, few things pass the time as well as catching up on a movie that we have been waiting to see.
We have experimented with different types of splitters. The most basic version is a “Y” splitter that has one male audio jack on one end and two female jacks on the other end — it costs just a couple of dollars. For most couples, this will probably suffice. We have graduated to a splitter that allows each of us to control our own volume. It seems over time that one of us (John) has experienced some hearing loss — although it is not unreasonable to believe that one of us (JoAnn) has developed a rather rare, but certainly plausible, case of hearing improvement. In any case, we like the volume at different levels and the dual volume controls makes our experience much more enjoyable.
A splitter is a great example of how a small and inexpensive addition can improve the travel experience, with the added bonus of doing something together. Interested in more tips? Be sure to visit Tips for Two: Tales of a Globetrotting Couple (www.tipsfortwo.com).
This post was also published on Kiss from the World.