This is the story of two couples setting out on the road on a round the world trip. Both started their journey at roughly the same time, travelling through Asia, Australia, South America, before eventually meeting for the first time on their 10 week African safari tour from Cape Town to Nairobi.  It was uncanny. Both couples were the same age and had been together three and a half years; came from the same background, same jobs and were devoted to their relationships. At the end of the trip in Africa, one couple flew home engaged, the fairy tale ending to an incredible, once in a lifetime journey. 

The other couple? Well, their circumstances were a little different. The other couple were barely speaking to each other, and at the end of the safari, broke up. I’d love to tell you I was part of the golden couple, but sadly, I was the girl who got dumped in Africa, alone with nothing but a backpack crying at Nairobi Airport. 

In hindsight, it was one of the best curve balls life ever threw at me, but it was also brutal, and I wouldn’t wish that exhaustion and fear on anyone trying to clear customs at Kenya’s busiest airport. If you travel with your partner, you’re going to find out everything about them, and have the spotlight turned on your own flaws as well.  You’ll find out how they react to everything in every situation, from the intensely good to the bone-shaking bad. I firmly believe a long round the world trip will either make you or break you as a couple: after all, if you really want to know someone, try hand-washing the skid marks out of their underwear for 12 months. 

So what’s the key to coupled bliss on the road? Well firstly, there are a few things you need to have clear before you travel with your partner, and the number one thing you need to be black and white about is money. You want to work out before you go how much money you have and how you’re going to spend it. Then sit down and work out how much money the other person has and how they want to spend it. If someone is a big drinker and the other isn’t, this will affect your finances. If someone is a shopper and the other isn’t, this will affect your finances. If someone likes a comfy hotel while the other one prefers dorms, this will affect your finances. 

The key to dealing with these small, but potentially large issues is communication. You need to be able to talk about and discuss money before you go, and even more while you are on the road. In fact, communication is the key to harmony on the road when travelling with anyone, be it your mates or your mum. You need to be able to talk about what you want out of the trip and find out what the other person wants. After that, you need to compromise, and find a situation where everyone is happy.   

You also need space. Find your independence on the trip. Head out to that museum by your self, read a book in bed, grab a beer in the bar, head out for a meal with new friends. But also give the other person their independence and the chance to do these things without you. Oh, and don’t forget to have a little fun together. 

Travelling can be a liberating experience, but it can also be a claustrophobic one if you pick the wrong person to travel with. The good news? If it works out while you’re on the road, it’s probably meant to be. If it doesn’t, take heart: I didn’t know it at the time, but I met ‘the one’ on the third day of my round the world trip. It took a while for friendship to turn into something else, but now we can’t wait for our next round the world adventure.