Google “traveling as a couple” and you will find article after article worth of recommendations on how best to avoid letting it “make or break” you as a couple. As a pair that’s traveled to more than 40 countries together, American Ronnie and Australian Phoebe of travel blog Many Many Adventures know a thing or two about how to avoid letting differences hinder their adventures. Read on for the couple’s top packing tips and recommendations on traveling together.
V: Between the two of you, you’ve done your fair share of traveling. You guys must be pros at packing your bags by now?
P: I have to be honest: packing has been one of my biggest flaws as a traveler! I agonize over what to bring and what to leave, and then just shove everything in a bag. I always end up with too much of the wrong stuff, having left the essentials behind. To be fair, that does have a lot to do with the fact that my plans tend to change according to my latest whim, so I very rarely end up on the journey I thought I started.
For example, when I set off for my year overseas, I planned to “move” to one city and live there for a year, so I packed a backpack, a duffel bag, and a purse! In reality, I ended up ditching nearly everything I’d brought with me, buying a whole bag of new stuff and visiting ten different countries in eight months!
R: She’s still terrible at packing. I, on the other hand, have always been a very light packer. When Phoebe and I met in Costa Rica, I had somehow managed to fit everything I needed into a 20-liter backpack with room to spare!
P: It’s been a bit different since you discovered your abiding passion for camping equipment!
R: That’s true! Now we tend to pack together and try to take as little as possible… unless we are going camping. We have both been on enough budget airline flights to know it’s always better to fly with a bag that will fit under your seat and (if you can help it) no checked luggage. It’s certainly much easier to do this if you are going somewhere warm, otherwise, save your bulkier items to wear on the plane.
V: What are some of the different luggage combinations you’ve come up with for when you travel together?
P: If we are going away for the weekend we will just take a backpack for our clothes and a handbag or shoulder bag for our laptops, books and toiletries. It’s always a challenge to choose just one pair of shoes, but I usually go for something I can walk in without getting blisters!
R: Our favorite kind of traveling is going by van or by car, stopping for the night and waking up somewhere new every day. When we can take a little more, we like a bag that’s sturdy and spacious, so we can shove all our hiking and camping gear inside and throw it in the back.
P: Since my family lives in Australia and Ronnie’s family is in Washington, we often have to fly for longer trips, and for those trips I need something on wheels. I find airports to be the worst places in the world, and lugging an unwieldy bag around is tortuous!
V: Apart from going home to see family, what are some of the destinations you plan to visit in the near future?
R: It would be a shorter list if we tell you the places we don’t plan to visit! In the near future, as in the next two years, we will be based in Chicago, so we plan to explore more of the U.S.
P: Definitely camping and hiking in Colorado and Yosemite!
R: Definitely. But we are also really excited to make it back to Central America for some backpacking. We met in Costa Rica, so that part of the world is pretty special for us.
P: That will definitely be a packing-light trip!
V: Where did you travel last time you were in Central America? Where would you go next time?
P: We traveled together for a week or so, around northern Costa Rica, Santa Teresa, Mal Pais – beautiful little surf beaches. We both went down to Panama separately and stayed in Bocas Del Torro, which is very touristic, but amazing.
R: It’s basically a bunch of beach huts dotted around a series of tiny little islands – you have to go everywhere by boat; and the nightlife is very cool. Phoebe was only there for a few days but I stayed for nearly a month!
P: When we go back we really want to go to Guatemala and stay by the lake. We have a friend who worked in a hostel there for three months a few years ago, and the way she described it made it seem so tranquil and beautiful. I also really want to go to Antigua for a few weeks and take one of the Spanish immersion courses they do – they’re famous for them!
V: So you both started out traveling alone, and now you travel together most of the time – are there any funny stories you guys have about times when it’s been hard to work together or compromise?
P: We’ve been really lucky for the most part because we’re both pretty easy going, but there have definitely been times when we are both tired, and broke, and the weather is terrible or we get lost, and one or both of us has just had enough. Those are the times when we have to remind ourselves that no matter how well we pack, or how much research we have done, there will always be something we have forgotten or something that will go wrong.
R: One time, it almost ended our trip before it had begun! Last year we had planned this amazing three week excursion in New Zealand; we had hired a van, we got all this camping equipment together, we researched different hikes we could do and places to visit, and we both packed our backpacks according to a very particular little check list. Halfway down the road to get the bus to the airport, I turned to Phoebe and said: “Do I need a visa to get into New Zealand?”
P: It was just something that I hadn’t thought of because, as an Australian citizen, I didn’t need one. There was some very panicky Googling at the bus stop, and luckily, it was all fine…until I realized I had no bus pass and no cash!
R: Miraculously we made it, and it was such a great trip. We want to go back to do a longer version of it one day: six months, and all the major hiking trails! There are plenty of moments when things go wrong and you feel like the world is going to end, but that’s not just traveling, that’s life! Figuring that stuff out as you go along is how you learn to plan better (and pack smarter) for the next time.
To learn more and connect with Ronnie and Phoebe, visit ManyManyAdventures.com or follow them on Twitter and Instagram @ManyManyTravels and @ronnietravels, respectively.