Couple Travel: Why every couple should take an extended trip together before marriage

I truly feel that international travel is the perfect catalyst in a relationship to determine whether or not you are going to be compatible long-term. I once read a Bill Murray quote that really stuck with me:

“If you have someone you think is the one, take them and travel around the world. Buy a plane ticket for the two of you to travel all over the world, to places that are hard to reach and hard to get out of. And when you land at JFK and you’re still in love with that person, get married.”

Bill Murray

I was dating this really amazing guy for about 6 months when we decided to go on a three week trip and travel around Europe a bit. Half way through our trip at some little cafe in Amsterdam, I knew I didn’t have to wonder anymore or feel any doubt about our relationship. I knew when we got home that he and I could build our life together.

Three years later we are happily married! We ended up moving in together shortly after our first trip and never looked back. We have kept travelling together to this day and every trip continues to bring us closer. Learning more about each other and appreciating him as we experience new and exciting places together is my favorite part of traveling as a couple.

Paul and I in Bordeaux, France

After some reflection on how important travel has been in our relationship I decided to write a post sharing what I have learned and why I think couples should take an extended trip together before marriage. Now I understand that this is not a realistic goal for every couple, but if you can incorporate travel into your lives- I highly recommend it. So below is my ultimate list for travelling as a couple.

You find out how long you can be alone together.

When we went to Iceland, we rented a car and drove around the island for 12 days. We discovered that there was about an 8-day stretch where aside from checking into our hotel rooms, we didn’t interact with another living soul. We learned so much about one another during our road trip. We learned how to appreciate the beautiful landscapes we took in, how to communicate when the only GPS we had was an actual map and how to entertain ourselves when we played through all of our music for the day. I conjured up memories I hadn’t thought of in years and Paul told me things about himself that he never told anyone. We figured out how to enjoy the quiet moments together by just holding hands and enjoying the peace and serenity of togetherness. 

Learn how they deal in stressful situations.

Traveling is stressful. You can’t avoid it. At one point or another a train will be delayed, you will get lost or your airline will go on strike and cancel all flights indefinitely (YES- that actually happened to us). The important part about the stress that traveling brings, is how you guys deal with it. Does your partner turn into a nutcase, unable to handle the slightest deviation from the plan? Can your boyfriend still love you if you miss your connecting flight because you messed up the Uber pick-up? These are the types of situations that will unfold and you will learn so much about your significant other’s behaviors and threshold for stress. 

Do your interest align and if not can you work together to create an itinerary that you will both enjoy?

Now this isn’t necessarily going to be a deal-breaker but more of a learning curve for your relationship. My husband hates to shop and I am not crazy about checking out disc-golf courses overseas, but these are both things that we compromise on and work into our schedule. We take a minute to realize that we are in a part of the world we may never come to again and we certainly cannot deprive our loved one of something that they want to do. Being able to work together to make us both feel like we are checking off bucket-list items is something I love about our trips. The cool part is that the other person ends up finding some part of the activity that they love and that is something that allows us to solidify our bond even stronger.

Pay attention to how they treat others.

When you travel around larger cities and airports you meet a lot of interesting and unique people. Sometimes tense moments happen or uncomfortable situations. Finding out how your S.O. treats people he has never met and who can be very different is a huge benefit of traveling. My husband always treats people with kindness and respect even if they do not deserve it. This is a quality I learned while traveling and have always loved about him. While traveling I have seen him take uncomfortable or stressful interactions with people and make them positive and relaxed.

Do they make you feel safe?

Something huge that I learned about my spouse while traveling is that he always has my safety in mind. He never loses sight of me when we are traveling through new marketplaces and will make sure I have a handle on my luggage when we are in the airport or train station. He always makes sure I am secure and this is something that has translated into our everyday life. I love that he would never put me in an unsafe or uncertain situation.

You learn about their spending habits.

I think having conversation about money habits are so important. This helps to determine how you guys will handle your finances if you do get married and is something every couple should discuss before they get married. When you are traveling as a couple it’s pretty easy to see who is more conservative with money and if you guys value food/ experiences the same. It’s a great first step to talk about personal finance.

Are they adventurous?

You are traveling to parts of the world you have never been before so undoubtedly opportunities for new experiences will open themselves up. Do they shy away or get adventurous? When we went to Thailand on our honeymoon I was so nervous for us to rent a motorbike. I kept thinking about worst-case scenario outcomes. However I trusted my husband and we ended up exploring parts of the country that we wouldn’t have been able to access otherwise and it was such an amazing experience. I love that we could create that memory together and love even more that he pushed me to try it out.

Are they too obsessed with social media/ phone?

Are they chasing wifi passwords your whole trip or are they capable of being off the grid most of the day? This is something I love about being out of the country is that you truly can enjoy the sites and sounds of your surroundings. However, some people have mental breakdowns if they have to be without internet all day and I think this could be a huge deal breaker for me.

One of the greatest joys in life is booking my next adventure with my perfect travel buddy. I think having such beautiful shared experiences together is one of our greatest strengths.

What have you learned while traveling with your S.O.? Did you ever get back from a trip and realize you just weren’t compatible?


Check out some article on places we have been and travel tips here.

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