Travel is all about uncertainty. It involves change of itineraries, missed flights, bad food, lost luggage, horrible hotel and so many other unpredictable things which can make your travel plans go haywire. And when you are traveling as a couple it’s so easy to point fingers to your better half. I know all those couples who go on vacations with their spouses and then in the middle of the holiday, they so regret it and find it very difficult.
Travelling with your partner is much more challenging than traveling solo when you’re the only BOSS. Travel puts stress and strain on a relationship, as it forces you to spend close to every second of every day with each other. You’ll soon discover the bad habits of your partner, learn what makes them angry and have more arguments than you ever thought possible. Sadly, travel causes far more friction than everyday life. So how to travel as a couple without killing each other on the road?
There are people who have mastered the art of traveling together as a couple. Meet Megan – an Australian journalist who has been traveling and blogging around the world for the last 7 years with her American travel photographer husband – Mike. Her very successful blog – Mapping Megan is one of the Top Adventure Blogs today. Mike is from America, Megan is from Australia, they met in Africa and finally got married in Hawaii!
Today we talk to Megan about her secret of traveling together as a couple for seven long years without killing each other.
Travel Genes: Tell everyone about yourself!
I’m an adventure traveler, an adrenalin junkie, and have never let anything stop me from traveling the world. I truly believe travel is for everyone, and run a blog to inspire others to embark on their own worldwide adventure. I believe if more people were to travel the world might be a better place.
What inspired this unique name of your blog?
Well I’m a stickler for alliteration and thought “Mapping Megan” had a great ring to it! My blog was once called “Where in the World is Megan Claire”, because apparently none of my family or friends ever knew; though once I made the move to a “professional” blog with my own domain name I decided I needed something shorter and catchy. “Mapping Megan” maps my adventures around the globe!
How do you stick to a budget when you travel?
I kind of don’t!! I’ve always travelled very frugally – sourcing out the best value deals on hotels, flights and tours, and hardly ever eat out, instead opting to save money by shopping locally and cooking meals myself.
Though while I’m very good at traveling for less, I’ve never really had a set a budget for any of my trips. It’s a horrible strategy and I don’t recommend it at all, but I usually spend what I spend and pay it off later if I end up going over what I have in the bank account!!
I’ve always been of the opinion that you’ll only ever regret the things you didn’t do so if that means going slightly over budget to squeeze in another experience then so be it!
How has travelling changed you as a person?
I don’t know that traveling has necessarily changed me as a person, however as I started traveling fairly young, it has definitely moulded me into the person I am today, and for that I couldn’t be more thankful.
Because of traveling I like to think I am a very grounded, well-rounded person, able to accept and listen to all points of view, appreciative of all world cultures. Travel taught me how to survive by myself – taught me to become street smart.
It taught me that kindness exists in the world, and that strange cultures should be explored and not judged. It continually teaches me new skills, and has opened my mind to new perspectives on history and politics. Because of travel I will forever be curious, and forever be intrigued by different cultural norms, and forever have a thirst for world knowledge and new experiences.
I believe I am truly educated because of travel – the lessons I have learned from being on the road are far more applicable to life than anything I learned from 5 years of university/college.
But most importantly, travel makes me thankful. Thankful for having never gone hungry. Thankful for the comforts of the Western World we generally take for granted. The amazing opportunity to travel through poverty-stricken lands really gives you perspective as to what is truly important in life, and reminds you to be thankful everyday for the life you were given.
What advice do you have for others who want to do what you do?
The only things you’ll look back on and regret are the things you didn’t do. Just go!
Fear is a big factor which stops people from traveling – actually booking the tickets, asking for leave or quitting your job; actually deciding to go; is usually the biggest obstacle.
What is the one thing you know now that you wish you knew when you started traveling?
That you never use/wear half of what you pack! I have a horrible problem with over-packing when I travel, and taking WAY too much stuff.
I’m slowly learning techniques for slimming down my suitcase; my bag was once so overweight that I had to unpack and wear 5kg of clothes onto the plane in order to avoid ridiculously expensive excess baggage fees!
Did you find planning a trip as a married couple difficult?
I find it incredibly easy, because Mike usually does all of the planning! Traveling is definitely one of those things which can make or break a relationship. There are so many things which can cause arguments; over money, how to spend your time, the destination, etc, not to mention the fact that you’re with each other 24/7 while away and that can often be stressful.
Luckily Mike and I travel really well together; we have the same interests and the same passion for the outdoors; however of course we get on each other’s nerves from time to time!
Best tips for planning a trip as a couple: (a) Manage your money – have the discussion about money and budget BEFORE you leave. Nothing can cause more arguments than money. (b) Don’t cram too much into your itinerary. Things always take longer than expected and stress can really ruin a vacation. On this note, always plan for a “Plan B”, and keep an open mind while you’re away. Not everything will go according to plan!
What is it like traveling as couple? Did you have any “I’m going to kill you” moments?
For sure! Traveling with someone constantly and spending literally every waking moment together, you’re bound to get on each other’s nerves! Though the benefits of traveling as a couple for me far outweigh those rare “I’m going to kill you” moments.
There is absolutely nothing better or more rewarding than experiencing the world with your best friend. There are just some experiences that are better shared with another person.
Traveling as a couple generally means you see more – two sets of eyes have proven to be better than one, and two different ways of interpreting the world has led to more enriching travel experiences.
The biggest tips for traveling with your spouse I can give you include: (a) pay more attention to your partner than you do to technology; and (b) Take a break from reality – don’t bring up work related issues while you’re on vacation. Take this opportunity to really talk to your partner.
Lots of couples have conflict. It’s normal. How do you handle conflict while traveling?
Walk away to calm down and then continue the discussion after you’re both more level headed. This is a little difficult if you’re on a roadtrip and stuck on a highway, for instance, and in this case I normally put my headphones in and blast some music until I’ve simmered down!
Every relationship, traveling or not, requires compromise, so you need to learn when it’s important to stick to your guns and when it’s not.
From all of the countries that you have visited, what is the one place that has fascinated you the most? The place that left you speechless? That place you found most inspiring?
Every new place we visit is inspiring, and it’s incredibly difficult to pick a favorite. Though amongst the most inspiring are Italy, Iceland, Easter Island, the Galapagos and the Faroe Islands. Italy is fascinating because of its history – ancient ruins dating back to the days of Gladiators – it’s such an interesting place.
Iceland and the Faroe Islands have some of the most inspiring and spectacular scenery and natural landscapes I have ever seen in my life, and snorkeling in the Galapagos Islands left us speechless due to how close we got to some of the most extraordinary wildlife and marine animals.
Very hard to pick a favorite from the above locations!
Do you believe that “home is where the heart is” or that “wherever you lay your hat, that’s home?”
I’ve been traveling for so long that if I’m in a hotel for more than 7 days, I unintentionally start calling it “home”. I’ve called so many different places “home” over the last 10 years that it really is a case of “where I lay my hat”. Though the true meaning of “home” for me will always be Australia where I was born and raised, and where my family resides.
Connecting with local people is one of the most rewarding aspects of travel. What’s your most memorable moment connecting with locals?
Part of my time volunteering in Kenya was visiting local schools, and playing games with the children, teaching them a little English, and planting trees around each property.
The children were the most beautiful, kind-hearted souls – they had almost nothing, yet they seemed genuinely happy to be in school, and were ecstatic just to spend time with us. It really put into perspective just how much we take simple things like education and having clothes on our back for granted.
We were literally mobbed by hundreds of children as if we were celebrities, and after having bonded with them for a day it was incredibly difficult to say goodbye.
Sometimes married couples need some space. How do you go about making some personal time when you are with someone all the time?
We set aside some “alone” time just as we would schedule our activities. For me my “alone” time means being on my computer catching up on my blog, so generally while I’m doing this, Mike will be out hiking, which is what he loves to do.
Activities we both enjoy, we make sure to do together, however we then schedule some alone time around this. It’s fairly important to have some personal time if you want to avoid divorce lawyers at the end of your trip!
Your worst travel experience.
Catching a mild case of malaria while in Kenya. Mild in that I wasn’t hospitalized but it did take me out for a few days—and a tent in the scorching African sun with not much access to proper sanitation and clean water wasn’t the most ideal scenario to fall sick in! Honestly, who knows if it was malaria or not—but it was a pretty severe sickness!