1. Traveling tests fundamental incompatibilities: how you handle finances, stress, new situations, and spare time.
Traveling with someone will tell you most of what you need to know about your relationship. What’s true of them away will be true of them back home: how they spend money, how they want to spend spare time, how they respond to stress.
2. It tests how you respond to one another.
One of you is tired, the other wants to adventure for the afternoon; one of you wants to stay in each night, the other wants to go out; One wants to be frugal, the other doesn’t want to worry about a budget. These things seem small and reconcilable on the surface, but they’re really the tenets of incompatibility. It’s about seeing how similar you are where it matters, and how willing you are to compromise when it counts.
3. You begin to see whether spending more time together makes your relationship better, or worse.
Preserving each individual’s space and autonomy is essential for a relationship to thrive. However, eliminating that for a period of time truly tests whether or not you should be together. The easiest – and fastest – way to see whether or not you’re really “right” for each other is by how you respond when together for long periods of time. Do you get stronger, or do you deteriorate? It tells you what affect the person has on you, and shows you whether you could potentially spend the rest of your life with them.
4. You have to take care of each other.
When you’re traveling – especially long distances – things will go haywire. One of you will get a stomach virus, the other will be sick from jet lag, one of you will be swollen from the plane, another will lose a wallet and be lost. These things aren’t just bound to happen, they’re guaranteed. Being in these situations gives you the opportunity to show that you can care for the other person, and to see whether having them around makes things easier or more stressful for you.
5. You develop an “us against the world” mentality.
When it is, literally, just the two of you navigating some unfamiliar city or country, you start to think like a team. You start to cohere into having just one purpose and objective; it’s no longer solely about your own well-being.
6. Human beings primarily bond by being put in situations wherein they have to trust one another. Traveling does this constantly.
Going to another country – or hell, even somewhere far away in the one you already live in – requires an incredible amount of trust in a person. You need to believe that they will have your back, that they will look out for you, take care of you, help you navigate and negotiate. The more often you’re put in trust-inducing situations, the stronger your bond grows.
7. Human beings also bond over mutual aggravation.
Which, unfortunately, traveling also does constantly.
8. You’ll probably get a better look at your partner’s dark side, and whether or not it’s something that you can handle.
When you’re first dating someone, you put forth your best self. You’re trying to sell the person into believing you are always this great version of yourself, when of course, everyone’s personality is layered. Being thrust out of your comfort zone is the best way to put anybody on edge, and it creates a controlled environment where you can see how your partner is when they’re anxious, tired, aggravated, and so on. The point being: you’ll get to see their dark side when nothing is really wrong, so you can see how they will behave when something really is.
9. You grow together because you have unique, dark, funny, fascinating experiences with one another.
When you experience different things together, it forms a bond that only the two of you really know and understand. It deepens your relationship in ways that you wouldn’t really grasp if you only went through the motions of your daily routine together.
10. If you don’t live together, it will show you whether or not you actually like them.
Plainly put: being with someone 24/7 in high-stakes, high-stress situations will really make it clear whether or not you like them. There’s a reason why a lot of psychologists recommend doing either of these things before you make a lifelong commitment to them, and there’s also a reason why so many relationships end (or grow exponentially) after a trip.
11. You learn to have fun together.
Or, in many cases, you learn how your partner likes to have fun.
12. You return with a sense of comfort – even accomplishment – knowing that you can do challenging things together and survive, if not thrive.
When you get back, you will have a more resolute knowing that you and your partner are great for one another. You’ll be able to use it as a point of reference: if we could do that, we can do anything. Challenges aside, it gives you something to reminisce on, and helps you build your first powerful memories together. It bonds you in ways staying put never will. If you travel alone to “find yourself,” you travel with someone to find each other.