Adventures in Traveling: Party of Two


Jess and Tim grew up in Christchurch, New Zealand. They first met while studying at Otago University where they became good friends. After graduating, Tim combined his love of the outdoors and his career as a Land Surveyor by working in remote parts of Western Australia. Jess fulfilled her dream of living and working in London, England. It wasn’t until a few years later when Tim was travelling to Europe that he stayed with Jess in London and they became a couple. Since then Jess and Tim have travelled to many places, gotten married and moved to Australia. 

How does travelling as a couple compare to solo travel?

They are very different. There are the same differences as being single or married when not travelling. Travelling together has both advantages and disadvantages. The main disadvantage is the need to compromise on the many aspects of travel including where you go and what you do there. 

Tim travelled for an extended period of years ago while he was single. He was free to do whatever he wanted, whether it be hike all day, every day for weeks in Nepal or bicycling around Wales free camping on the side of the road as he went.

Now that we are travelling together we need to compromise on how we travel, where we stay and the activities that we do. On our current trip we have both had to make compromises on the type of restaurants we eat at, the places we sleep and even the countries we’ve chosen to visit. Where we cannot compromise. For example, when Tim hiked for months through the Himalayas. Jess spent time in other places in Nepal that suited her more.

We think that while we compromise where we can, sometimes when one of us really wants to do something that the other doesn't, the other person either has to just tolerate doing something that they don’t like or do something else instead. There are always going to be times when we don’t want to do the same thing so we think it’s fine and sometimes even nice to spend some time doing our own thing. 
Apart from the usual support and companionship of a partner the main benefit of travelling together is that we are able to share the tasks involved in organizing our travels. Throughout our trip Jess has researched all the VISAs and train bookings that we have required and Tim has booked our accommodation and planned our trip route. There can often seem like an overwhelming amount of planning and organizing when traveling around multiple countries so having two people to ‘divide and conquer’ can be very nice.

How important is cooperation from the family when you undertake such a trip? Was there any skepticism or fear or was it full-on support?

We are 32 and 33 years old so we had moved out of our family homes and became self reliant long ago. Because of this, our families are used to us being away and making our own decisions and therefore they were not worried and were supportive of our plan to go travelling overseas. 

Despite our independence it is very nice to have this support and the knowledge that if we somehow got into troubles overseas, our family would be there to help us out.
If you were much younger than us and less financially independent, it would be much more important to have the support and cooperation of your family. Having someone more mature to talk to and someone able to get you home in the case of an emergency would be very important. 

Tell us about the best moment so far. When have you stood in awe and through, “this is my moment forever”?

One of Jess’s most memorable moments was walking through Dhakmar in Nepal’s Mustang District. Dhakmar is a beautiful traditional village set amongst tall and strikingly red cliffs, dotted with the ruins of ancient cave dwellings and far away from western civilisation. After recovering from a period of sickness and feeling good about her fitness, Jess felt how special it was to visit a place so remote and see something so beautiful. The fact that you can’t easily take a plane or a vehicle to this place means you are one of a ‘small number’ of people to hear the silence and see the untouched beauty. It made Jess feel happy to have been hiking for so many days and lucky to be there.


Tims most memorable moment was when he was walking the Great Himalaya Trail through the Himalayas of Nepal. At this time, he and his father were completing a section of remote trail, crossing the tops of a forested ridge line. Their day had dragged on and they were looking for a place to camp next to a source of water. In their search, they found a small shelter where a girl was standing nearby so they asked for some water and in turn were offered to stay with the family on the floor of their small home. During their stay they were fed and entertained and given a valuable insight into the lives of these Nepalese people. 


Beyond seeing tourist sights and National Parks we always try to meet the local people from the places we visit and to get as good an understanding of how these people live. You usually can’t book and pay to have these genuine experiences, so Tim was very happy and honoured to have been given this experience by such generous and kind people. 

Was there any unique experience you’ve ‘accidentally’ stumbled upon while travelling?

When we travelled to Mongolia we booked the cheapest hostel at the last minute and ended up staying at a place called ‘The Garage’ run by a young entrepreneur called Bagi. This was our first stroke of luck as Bagi was a really nice guy and was very helpful in helping us organise a horse trek on a budget. We loved staying at his hostel with likeminded guests, travelling in a similar way to us. 


On returning from our horse trek, Bagi offered us the opportunity to stay with his nomadic uncle out in the middle of the Steppes of Mongolia. We couldn’t say yes to this offer fast enough and a few days later we were off on a bus to the middle of nowhere with a huge bag filled with vegetables as a thank you gift. 
Over the course of the next week, we helped the nomadic family heard sheep, milk horses and collect dried cow poo and immersed ourselves in their day to day lives. The nomadic life is as far from our usual life as is possible and we loved learning about how the family work, entertain and survive in this inhospitable place. After our week on the 
Steppe we were very sad to leave our host family and would love to stay in contact or see them again if possible in the future. This lucky and impromptu experience is something that we often talk about and which we will remember for the rest of our lives.

If you could become a local in one of the places you’ve traveled, which place would it be?

We have loved travelling through France in the past and love the people, culture, food, landscape and weather. Also, in a practical sense, France would allow us to continue our careers, providing we spoke French, and therefore maintain our current standard of living that we are used to.

If you ignored careers and income, then we would love to live the simple life in a place like on the coast of Greece where there is a slower pace of life, a lot of emphasis on family and socialising, enjoying good food and enjoying yourself. It would be nice to live in a country where the cost of living isn’t so high that your day revolves around making money, keeping your job, rushing around and stressing about our chaotic lives. We can easily imagine growing our own food, trading produce at the local market, socialising with friends at a small restaurant and swimming everyday in the tranquil sea. Its sounds pretty good and we would be less stressed and healthier than we are back in our normal lives.

Do you believe that travel teaches lessons about the world, about mankind that we wouldn’t have learned otherwise? Can you tell us what your most valuable lesson has been.

Yes. Every time we visit a new place, we are positively surprised by the people that we meet. We are constantly rediscovering that almost all people are inherently good. We have even found that the people from poorer places are often genuinely nicer and more generous than those who have more to give. We travelled to Turkey a few years ago and were overwhelmed by the kindness and generosity of the people. In one rural town we found it impossible to pay for anything we tried to purchase. It was clear that with our nice clothes and modern van, we could afford to pay our way but the locals all insisted on showing us what their town had to offer, free of charge. Since then we have been lucky enough to travel to many other countries and over and over again people have been so good to us and really proved that almost everyone is good. 

This is such an important thing to learn and remember in a world that often seems a little out of control and where the media only presents the bad and shocking. A lot of people who can’t or don’t travel overseas, only get to see the world through the lens of the media and therefore, for example, don’t like Muslims and are weary of Africans. Anyone who has traveled and actually met a Muslim or an African will quickly learn that none of the negative stereotypes are true. Despite having travelled a lot before reaching India, we still have learnt that so much of what the media has told us about this country, is simply not true because every person that we have met during our trip here so far has been nice, helpful and friendly. We shouldn’t have been surprised! 

What advice can you offer to couples who may be thinking of embarking on their own long-term journey?

If you aren't married yet, wait until after you have travelled together for a significant period of time. You will find out so much about each other in the process, as travel can be difficult and stressful so your true self will be exposed and both you and your partner will see who each other really are. 

While you are travelling, you will have to deal with many challenges and make hard decisions out of your comfort zone and away from your usual support network. You will also have to spend a lot of time together, often just the two of you and without the usual life distractions of work, sport and chores to allow you to hide any tension in your relationship. You will fight and blame each other when you get stuck in the middle of nowhere, in a country where you don’t speak the language and you don’t have a mobile phone. You will have to sort out your issues very quickly and you will soon work out if the person you are travelling with is good for you. 
If you have’t yet travelled with your partner then you may already know if this is a good idea or not. For some couples, they may know that despite loving each other, travelling together for a long period of time is just not a good idea. We have met couples who are happy to travel by themselves for the greater good of their relationship.

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