The post that many of you have been waiting for. I know this because I have gotten the same question from most of you throughout this trip. “How are you and Jake? Are you both still getting along?” These are valid and important questions. And to be honest, at times my response can shock myself just as much as those who have followed our journey so far. Jake and I are great and we are getting along better every day. Crazy isn’t it? Almost 200 days of traveling together and we are still happy. I’m still trying to figure out how we did it. Here are some of my reflections:
Traveling teaches you a lot about yourself. However, I would argue that traveling with another person teaches you even more. Especially when the other person is your boyfriend/girlfriend. It all starts with learning to be honest with yourself and the other person about absolutely everything. The tough conversations have to be discussed and no stone can be left unturned. Including the dreaded question- if we break up, will we continue the journey? For Jake and I there was no discussion, the answer was automatically yes for both of us. The plane rides would be awkward but our desire to travel reached beyond our relationship. This journey is a personal experience for us both that we have decided to share together, and if our relationship couldn’t make it, that wasn’t going to stop us.
Deciding to travel with the person you are dating is an exciting and romantic thought when it begins. However, once the excitement settles, reality hits. Not only must your relationship last throughout the planning process, but you are about to spend every waking (and sleeping) second around this person for as long as you decide to travel. For someone who loves her alone time, this thought was daunting. Boundaries and compromises had to be made early on. “When I have my headphones in that means leave me alone,” “If I am still asleep when you wake up please don’t wake me up.” Without being verbal about our needs, we wouldn’t have survived a month of this trip together.
What we have done and are doing isn’t easy. I can count the number of couples we have met along the way on one hand. Many people have told us about their attempts of traveling long term with a significant other and having it not work out. I find these facts alone to be very telling about how this lifestyle is not made for every relationship. It does test your relationship more than anything else I could think of. How many people actually spend 24 hours a day around their significant other for months at a time? I would argue very few. For those thinking of doing the same as us, please know this. Pictures of smiling faces and funny snapchats can make it seem like everything is perfect all of the time. And most of the time it is, but when you spend 24 hours a day around someone things can get hard. We’ve had arguments and said words we didn’t mean. I am not going to pretend that we haven’t. However we have grown to handle these situations much better than before. It’s necessary to get over things quickly or talk about the feelings you have when you are stuck next to someone all of the time. I think this has helped us resolve conflicts much healthier than ever before and I am thankful for that.
Despite those tense moments, which were really few and far between, some amazing things have happened. Our relationship has strengthened more than I ever thought possible. We have become a team juggling this crazy unknown lifestyle together. We understand the other person’s feelings better than our own and focus on trying to make each other happy 99% of the time. We can communicate without saying a word (this still kind of freaks me out). Jake is my rock, and truly the only one who understands me after this journey. No matter what happens between us once we come home I know one thing is certain- I wouldn’t have wanted this trip any other way.
Being around Jake for the past six months has been an amazing experience for me. Not only has our relationship grown and strengthened, but I have learned more about myself than I could have if I was on this journey alone. Life is more fun with him by my side. From eating gelato three times a day on the streets of Florence, to swimming in three different seas, and dancing at a music festival, having someone to share those memories with makes it all worthwhile. We both anticipated starting this trip together and spending time apart, but we have grown so much closer during this time that we choose to spend all of our time together. We make an amazing team. He is my best friend and understands me better than I ever could have expected.
Traveling with a significant other can have its challenges, but is worth every second of the journey. If you are honest, kind, and willing to compromise, I encourage you to try it out too. I know I wouldn’t have it any other way.