When we think of heading off on an adventure on our own, it's easy to focus on the main benefit - complete freedom to plan an itinerary, and follow individual whims. What about how to travel as a couple, though? While there are often compromises to be made, it can open up a whole new dimension to any trip - someone to share memories with, someone to share food with, and a much needed shoulder to nap on.
For Jess and Benoît - two London based photogaphers - it also means having a second pair of hands holding a camera.
Fresh back from their one-bag trip around central Europe, we couldn't think of anyone better to ask about how to travel as a team.
1. Be clear about what you both want out of the trip. What are you going on this thing for? What are your travel priorities? Sights? Food? Night clubs? Opulent hotels? Shopping? We’re lucky to share so many interests, but it helps to plan our time in each place.
2. Keep an eye out for fatigue and stress. Travelling for a few weeks is tough so you need to be mindful and kind with each other if one speaks out of turn or acts strangely.
3. Avoid things you know will stress one or both of you out. We both find crowds and tourists overwhelming, so if we want to see or do anything popular we go super early in the morning which helps us enjoy it more. The photos are better that way, too!
4. Don’t feel like you need to be constantly talking and interacting. You’ll have no real personal space on a trip, so let each other read and write, listen to a podcast or music, in peace once in a while.
5. We use Monzo to keep track of our spending. The exchange rate is usually the best possible, and we can track our spending as we go.
6. We also alternate spending days between us, and settle up when we get home, to keep things simple.
7. We rarely buy souvenirs while we travel, and we often share meals in restaurants (portion sizes are so big, neither of us feels like we’re missing out). We also try not to feel pressured into doing things: just because guidebooks say something is a “must see”, if it’s not in our interests we won’t spend money on it. This frees up our travel budget to pay for the things we know we care about, like good coffee.
8. That said, treat yourself occasionally. On long trips, we like to balance affordable meals and accommodation with something a little special, like our hotel in Budapest. It was wonderful, but above budget. And did we need to have a second or third stein in the beautiful Augustiner beer hall in Salzburg? No. Did we love every sip? You bet.
9. Go with one bag! We cannot overstate this. That way the world’s your oyster: anything you can do with a backpack at home you can still do on the road. We love our Storr Carry On Backpacks, but whatever you use, keep it simple, use packing cubes to stay organised, and live your best #onebagtravel life.
10. Share space. We carry a lot of camera gear so we tend to split that between us, depending on who has room for it.
11. Bring few clothes, think in layers, and use laundromats when needed. It’s not as clumsy as I’d first thought and means you’re never carrying around loads of dirty clothes!
12. Give yourself a fun project to do on the trip. Mine was to keep a diary, and together Jess and I documented our trip for Trakke. What could yours be? Maybe to find a Jazz bar in every place you visit? Who can say!
Benoît and Jess are London-based photographers, working across portrait, editorial, and travel photography. You can see their work on their websites www.benoitga.com and www.jessicabiggs.co, and their instagrams @benoit_ga and @_jessum_