3 Months on the Road: A Reflection

We have moved on to the second phase (and continent, for that matter) of our trip: we’re in Egypt!

Many people have said we’re crazy for going to the Middle East right now, and they might be right. Africa and the Middle Eastern region in general is uncharted territory for me. Chris has been once before, as a teenager – but, as we’ve both realized, travel in your late 20s is totally different from travel in your teen years. You just soak things up more when you’re a bit older and your travels are self-driven. It’s difficult to put into words.

We were both a bit nervous during our last days in Europe, but we’re hoping to be able to prove to you all that the perceived “danger” is all media hype, and that travel to this region – within reason, of course – is perfectly safe for tourists. So far, so good!

We have taken the first few days relaxing and reflecting on our travels through Europe. We are continuing to brainstorm ideas for new blog posts, and reflect on what worked well, what didn’t, and make a list of our favorite destinations for future reference.

Before I rehash any more destinations for you, I wanted to take a moment to reflect on some of the personal aspects of traveling as a couple that may not have shone through in my previous posts.

Travel is amazing, and Chris and I agree that it’s the best decision we’ve made in each of our individual lives, in retrospect. Being on the road, not having a permanent residence, and exploring uncharted territory yields a unique opportunity to get real with yourself, your internal dialogue, reflect on your life thus far and the road that lies ahead. Not to mention your relationship, if you’re traveling as a couple like we are.

In just 2 months on the road, we feel like we’ve grown a thousand times closer. Being with someone 24/7 is extreme enough togetherness to either drive you closer or apart, but thankfully, our engagement is still afloat. 🙂

We’ve definitely had our ups and downs, though, and we’ve learned the following:

This way of life is not for the faint of heart. I can definitely see how long-term couple’s travel might be disastrous if you’re with the wrong person. You need to be secure in the relationship and able to trust your partner’s judgment as challenges arise. It requires maturity, because the two of you need to be willing to work as a team, which not only involves the obvious division of labor, but open communication as well. You owe it to your partner to verbalize when you’re feeling drained and in need of a break, because if you don’t, and you try to push through, you’ll make both of your lives miserable in the process.

Being on the road long-term, especially on a budget, is more work than you might realize. It’s constant planning, financial management, time management, and self-awareness. Some days we don’t want to go outside, and that’s okay. We do a TON of walking, and we need to pace ourselves if we want to last a year without burning out. We try to take advantage of the days we have the most energy, and expect that there might be at least one lost day in each destination. We haven’t been homesick, probably because we’ve made sure to weave in time to keep in touch with family and friends back home.

It’s nice to have someone to lean on, and to talk it out when I start to feel overwhelmed.

We have learned that we are slow travelers. It’s exhausting and a lot of pressure to move as quickly as we’ve been, spending a few days here, a few days there, and not really having a chance to breathe and soak in each destination. In the future, I’d choose fewer cities to see and spend more time in each. Making the most of your 90-day Schengen visa is a balancing act, something that I’ll post more about in the near future.

I can also see how traveling as a couple can be a great strategy to test your relationship before committing to further stages of life together. Will Ferrell’s comedic quote about relationships became web-famous, probably because of how true it is: “before you marry a person, you should first make them use a computer with slow internet to see who they really are.” Well, I’d argue that you should see how they handle racing to the gate to catch an international flight, while simultaneously repacking after having their bag eviscerated by an airport security officer who speaks a different language. But that’s just me. (Yes, this has happened to both of us, separately!)

If you can endure the many trials and tribulations brought by world travel without bickering, or even laugh them off, as we have learned to do, then you’ll undoubtedly be more than capable of handling what life throws at you in the future (at least that’s my theory). It definitely can’t hurt, right?

Is there anything you want to hear about that I haven’t already touched on in the blog? Let me know, and it could be my next post topic!

 

 

One Reply to “3 Months on the Road: A Reflection”

  1. Rachel and Chris I can not express enough how proud and happy for the two of you. You just summarize marriage. I love you both very much and wish you the best.

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