ANNABEL ROSS August 14, 2012
Just the two of you ... is travel is the first step on a lifetime journey together?
"My Mum always said, if you can travel with someone, marry them," my friend Alice said matter-of-factly, reaching for the tanning oil. I rolled over on my towel and considered this for a moment. Really? A few weeks of sipping pina coladas, free of the stresses of work and home, and if you can manage that together, you're ready to tie the knot?
I tried to relate her words to my own situation. Four weeks into a five-and-a-half week trip, my boyfriend and I were getting on OK, I thought. We'd had our hiccups, to be sure, but I thought we were doing pretty well, all things considered.
For a start, it was the most amount of time we'd spent together since we began dating two years ago. We live on the opposite sides of the city back home, and see each other twice a week, on average. Going from that to being in each other's pockets 24/7 was always going to be a shock to the system.
There were, inevitably, tensions. We're quite different people, my boyfriend and I, and our contrasting character traits were magnified during our travels. Sleeping is one of his favourite pastimes, something that already bothered always-active me at home. The daily battle of getting him out of bed every morning began to wear thin quite quickly. "Holidays are for rest!" he'd moan, pulling the sheets over his head. Yes, but when there's a choice between exploring a fabulous city you may never visit again, and spending the day cooped up in your hotel room, it's a no-brainer, no?
We butted heads again over the issue of shopping. I love it, he doesn't, and I can see how it might have been more than slightly annoying to have to wait outside every second shop while I ducked in for "a quick look" and then summoned him via text to the change room for a second opinion.
We soon reached a compromise – while I shopped, he could nap. I wondered if this was what travelling with a partner was all about, finding out what annoys you most about the other person, and working out whether you can put up with it or not.
In any case, there was never much point in holding grudges, not when we knew there was no real escape from each other. I might have walked off in a huff at the airport once or twice, but I always knew who I'd end up sitting next to on the plane, and when extreme turbulence made it seem like we might never reach our destination on one flight, I dropped the cold shoulder routine pretty swiftly.
Some of our happiest times were spent indulging in our shared passion, eating. Many a tiff was forgotten over a good glass of vino and delicious local dish. I'll never forget the misery on my boyfriend's face during The Sound of Music tour in Salzburg. A 9am start! A manic, wide-eyed guide dressed in a dirndl! A yodeling busdriver! It was almost too much to bear for my boyfriend, having never even seen the film, but a great apple strudel shared near the church where Maria married the Captain helped ease the pain.
"It will make or break you," said friends of our impending trip before we left. I'm not sure it has done either, to be honest, other than to reinforce what we already knew, or suspected we knew about each other. I'm not quite ready to follow Alice's Mum's advice and get married off the back of a six week holiday, but moving in together seems like the next logical step.