Improve your relationship…travel with friends

Travelling with your other half is fantastic, and seeing the world with someone you love is up there on a lot of people’s favourite things to do. But today I’m going to turn that upside down and show that sometimes mixing up who you travel with will let you see the world differently. Funnily enough, I’ve also found that travelling with friends inadvertently also improves your relationship.

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I’ve been on a few different trips around the world with friends without my boyfriend at the time. There were hiking trips in my younger teens with friends to complete the Tour de Mont Blanc, leaving behind my boyfriend at the time, who really didn’t fancy coming too. There have been university reunion weekends away, visits to old friends in other cities, college trips to Eastern Europe, a month touring the west coast of America just 3 weeks into my excitingly new relationship with Adam. Then there are also the family trip to Poland with my grandparents and more recent adventures with one of my best friends Sally, touring Sicily, and exploring as much as we could possibly squeeze into a four day trip to Barcelona.

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I can see the negatives of not taking your other half – since entering the working world, time off is limited and with only 20 days holiday per year, you want to be able to make the most of it. There’s also the extra impact of our current situation where I work away during the week, driving down each Friday night to stay with Adam and commuting back early on a Monday morning. If you disappear off alone for just one weekend, you don’t end up seeing each other for a fortnight.

There has to be a balance in the relationship, an understanding that as much as you would love to spend every waking minute with that one person, you also need to nurture and develop your friendships. Some people don’t necessarily rely on their friends as much, and that’s really not a problem, everyone is different. I, however, am incredibly sentimental. About everything really, but especially my friends. I find it hard to think of those I no longer am in touch with after sharing significant chunks of my life with them. How did we lose touch, why do I no longer know what you’re up to this weekend or why you had a bad day today?

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Therefore, I put effort into maintaining contact with as many people I can, though sometimes sporadically, trying to tell everyone I care about that I’m thinking about them, even if it’s just a little text or call every few months to find out the latest gossip and catch up with their life.

Seeing someone in person is so much better than just a 10 minute discussion every few weeks, and so the effort has to be made to make yourself available for people. With, or without your boyfriend. Luckily for me, Adam completely understands my need for this, and encourages me to see my friends, sometimes with him included in plans, sometimes without.

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When you travel with your partner, there’s many pros – they know your likes and dislikes inside out, you get to experience everything with them, you won’t miss them as they’re right there with you…

However, when you travel with friends, many of these pros still apply. You find out the little intricacies of your friend that you wouldn’t have otherwise known, you deepen your trust and friendship, you create memories, share clothes and stories and experiences. In the case of travelling with Sally, we have very similar food tastes and it’s become a habit at restaurants to order two dishes and swap half way to try twice as much of the delicious local cuisine. Something I’ve tried to since adopt with Adam, but he’s having none of it!

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I think it’s also really healthy to see your friends without your partner on occasions – whilst you want your friends to love them as much as you do, having time alone to sit and natter, or reminisce times before they were around in your life does make a difference. I’m so pleased that all of my friends love Adam, as much as I love their boyfriends and husbands, but spending time alone with your friends is sometimes the food that your soul needs.

There have been multiple times I’ve come back from an evening out with my best friend, or weekends away with people I haven’t seen in ages and it’s felt exactly that. Plus, taking time away from each other as a couple actually gives you the space to miss each other, making you appreciate your relationship when you’re back together.

I look at my parents, who have always taken trips away both together, and apart with their friends, and it works. 30 years of marriage shows it works.

It gives you space to be yourself, not just the you as half of a couple.

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When Adam got stuck in a job rut over the summer of my second year and was offered to opportunity to work on a yacht in Turkey for four months, I initially hated the idea. We’d only been together for 3 months as it was, and how are you supposed to maintain a new relationship with so much distance between you. Still, it was also something I knew he wanted, in fact, needed, to do, and so he did.

The funny thing was, it actually did us both the world of good. I cracked on with my third year without distraction, he had the chance to adventure on his own. We skyped and emailed and I took a break from my dissertation to fly out twice for quite possibly some of the best holidays of my life. The four months actually flew by and he was back before we knew it. After all that time of barely seeing each other, we were better than ever.

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Whilst I’d hope we don’t spend that long apart again, taking time to travel on short breaks with alone with friends is one way I think we work as a couple. We won’t always spend 5 days a week apart, and I look forward to a time when we see each other daily. In the mean time I fully intend to keep travelling. Whether that’s travel with Adam or travel with friends, to grab any opportunity to see as much of the world as I can.