How to Deal with Conflict whilst Travelling
If you’re lucky enough to have a travel companion who is also the love of your life, you’ve already hit the jackpot. Most of your time is spent trying new things and seeing new places, but as any good couple knows, being in love doesn’t mean that you’re 100% happy all the time. So, what do you do when there’s trouble in paradise and you have to deal with conflict whilst travelling?
Talk about it
It doesn’t matter which country you are in or how long you’ve been on the road, conflict whilst travelling can arise. Rather than address the issue, we often get the urge to push it down and forget about whatever’s bothering us so as not to ruin the trip. But pushing it down can do just that. Little irritations build up into a big problem, so rather than let it slide, it’s worth voicing your problem before it becomes something even bigger. Chances are it will fizzle out on its own accord and you won’t have any conflict whilst travelling.
All healthy relationships need communication and your partner wants to know if something is bothering you. It’s not something that they can fix if they don’t know about it. Law and I have this rule where we’re not allowed to go to sleep in a mood. If there’s something bothering us from earlier that day then we ensure we talk about it at bedtime. The last thing we want is to wake up the next day irate with each other which could ruin the day’s travel plans.
Take a walk
If you’re arguing whilst travelling, chances are the issue isn’t ‘out of the blue’. It’s likely that your partner has been thinking about it for a while but didn’t want to say anything to upset the mood. As such, don’t brush it off as a bad day; take some time to think about the issue.
Take a short breather to throw some shells back in the ocean and find the root of the problem. It might be something small, or it might be something that has been growing over time, but it’s important to think about why it’s coming up now. You might find that you agree with them, in which case it’s worth promising to work on it. If you don’t know where they’re coming from you can always ask for time. We both will have some ‘me’ time to think about the situation and its usually resolved by the time we go to bed. That short breather allows us to reflect on what exactly is bothering us and how we can resolve it together. It means any conflict whilst travelling soon disappears.
Make an effort
The little things can make a big difference. Slow down so that you are walking together, choose an activity that your partner will like way more than you, or even rub their feet after a long day. There are a million and one ways to show that you care. We sometimes get wrapped up in ourselves, even when our partner is right next to us. It might not make the problem go away, but a bit of selflessness reminds your partner that there are plenty of reasons to keep each other around. You work through things together, so focusing on the others’ needs can show that you’re willing to compromise.
If the problem is that this giving is all one way, even after you’ve talked about it, then it might be time to stop doing quite so much for them. You might only need to do it for a little while until they start pulling their own weight. A partnership is about working together as a team. Your partner may show they care in different ways to you though. Have you heard of The 5 Love Languages? Whilst I fall into “Words of Affirmation”, Law’s love language is “Physical Touch”. Hearing ‘I love you’ is so important to me, but for him a hug or being physically close to me is more important. Figuring out each other’s love language may explain some of the differences and help deal with your conflict whilst travelling.
Make different plans
When you’re living in each other’s pockets and spending every moment together you can hit a stale spot. You can’t tell your partner about the day you had because they already know. You sound like a broken record. Taking a day out to do something separately gives you a lot more to talk about and gives you some much needed time to reconnect with yourself. The benefits of solo travel in a relationship explains some of the reasons why travelling solo is actually good for you.
If you get into an argument about what to do next, making separate plans makes a lot of sense. You might be sick of hiking, or he’s sick of museums full of ceramics. You don’t mind doing what your partner loves, but sooner or later you’re going to lose interest. There’s no reason you can’t do something different every now and again. If you don’t like the idea of doing something by yourself you could always sign up to a day trip. Most hostels and hotels offer them and it’s a good way to make new friends too.
Find someone else
Okay, before you get your knickers in a twist, we’re not saying “dump them”. What we are saying is that humans are social creatures and it makes sense to talk to someone else. When you’re at home you both have friends. They might be the same circle or different friends, but either way, it’s nice to have someone else around.
There’s no reason you can’t meet new people whilst travelling. Shared accommodation is great for that and guided tours give you a chance to do something fun with others too. Not only will your new friends give you someone to talk to, but it gives you something to talk about. It might seem shallow but being around others can also remind you that you’re actually pretty great together. The break from each other might just be enough to deal with your conflict whilst travelling together.
We're Rio and Law of Opposite Tourists. A couple who loves to travel and blogs about our adventures and relationship. Check out our posts on Destinations, How to Guides and Relationship advice!
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