The month of February arrives and everyone is getting excited about Valentine’s Day. There is nothing quite like travelling together to put any couple relationship to the test. I have previously written articles on “Survival tips for a fun girls’ trip” and “Building long-lasting friendships”. I am not a marriage counsellor, but having been married for 28 years and adding 5 years of courtship, my husband and I have gone on countless trips together. At times, the weeks’ long annual vacation feels like a “full endurance test”. On the home front, we all have our own space. During vacations, we are confined with each others company for a full 24 hours as long as the days last.
I took the opportunity to ask a few on their views about couples trips. Marriage is a lifelong journey. It will be interesting to find out the various stages, so here we are shared with newlyweds, couples having had young children, and a pair that have celebrated Ruby Wedding Anniversary.
Mrs. Pat Pibulsonggram and Mr. Teddy Spha Palasthira
This happy couple are newly married in June 2019 but they have been good friends for over 40 years. They have travelled together with their late spouses before, and enjoyed each other company for years. I am thrilled that they have become companions in their latter years
Pat revealed candidly, “We like the same things: culture (the theatre, culture and the arts), nature (out in natural surroundings, trekking, etc.), no rushing from place to place or organised group tours (we have never been on one), good quality food, and being with friends and family on the trips or visiting them.”
Mrs. Joey and Mr. Marlin Brown
Joey and Marlin have been married for three years and have a beautiful two year old princess Charlotte. As all parents with young toddlers, they travel together with their daughter for long trips twice a year, and short weekend breaks as well.
On how to make their trips enjoyable, Joey expressed, “We plan ahead before we go, make sure that there will be days we do what my husband likes to do, but Marlin will also accommodate time for my shopping. We do not get uptight if we cannot complete our planned itinerary.” As all responsible parents with young children, there are bound to be some sacrifices despite the enormous joy our children give. Joey shared one of her fond memories; “We went to Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam and so looking forward to see all the masterpieces. Before we started, Charlotte (was six months then) ran into a ‘sticky situation’. By the time we cleaned her up, we were hungry and ended up long queuing for seats at the café. Finally, when we were all cleaned and fed, the museum announced that it would be closed in 15 minutes. We did, however, manage to view one painting.” I echoed Joey’s sentiment as I have my fair share during my son’s early years.
Joey’s final notes were, “Always bring your phone and make sure it works. From my experience, I learn to be aware on the opening and closing time of museums. Bring a nanny to take care of the little ones. Don’t get uptight on the travel plan, but just enjoy on what you are about to see.”
Mrs. Nisanart (Gift) Dharmageisirattana and Mr. Christopher Chongstitvathana
Gift and Chris have been married for 13 years with three beautiful children, Lukie (12), Luna (10), and Lee-El (8). Balancing their couple and parent lives, they travel three times a year as a couple, and with their children as a family for another three times in a year.
I asked Gift what makes their couple trips enjoyable. Her straight answer was, “We find good restaurants to enjoy fine meals or explore local cuisine that we cannot experience in Bangkok.” Gift further added, ”Chris allows me to shop with some budgetary limits, I guess this is what makes every woman happy.” I totally agreed with her on this point.
The most memorable trip for them is their visit to India, where Gift found the country as a land of mysticism, culture and spirituality. As India is a new culture to them, the two enjoyed the spirit of adventure, tasting different cuisines to bargaining at local souvenir markets. Although at times Chris might have felt annoyed with Gift’s non-stop photo taking, she cherished all the photos they took together.
On sharing the Do’s and Don’ts on couple trips, “Follow your wife’s wish all the way, spend time together, bring a camera, prepare medicine, and plan your activity loosely. If things do not work out as planned, just roll with the situation, ask what another person wants to do,” Gift shared. On the Don’ts, “Don’t overspend on meals or shopping because it will ruin the fun of the trip. Try not to cross each other’s boundaries, or to take fast pace because it may get your partner to lose their temper. Don’t be together all the time, and find space to be alone at some point during the trip.”
Mrs. Radha and Mr. Akash Rathke
Radha and Akash moved to Bangkok from Hong Kong almost two years ago. They have been happily married for 26 years with one son (25 years old) and a daughter of 22 years. Radha described, “Both of us are impulsive travellers who make last minute decisions. We love to dig quaint places. If our schedules allow, we will make time to travel together as couple twice a year.” She shared excited, “Travelling turns you speechless and then turns you into a story teller.”
On making their couple trips enjoyable, Radha jokingly said, “We travel individually! Very early on, we have marked our domains. I will chalk out itinerary regarding sightseeing and hotel accommodation. Akash’s responsibilities are researching on the travel dates and hunting down the best places for local cuisine. This keeps us in a fight-free zone!” On the countless trips that they have shared throughout the years as avid travellers, Radha hesitantly admitted that they had lost each other so many times while sightseeing. She referred it, “It is such a recurring episode…”
From their own journey, Radha advised, “It is fun being away from home together, jobs and other mundane routine responsibilities. From very early on with our marriage, we realised and respected each other’s strengths and weaknesses as fellow travellers. The only thing that we cannot synchronise is our mornings. One is an early riser while the other is the totally opposite. Our fight happens first thing in the morning and then we both enjoy the peacefulness for the rest of the day. The truth is no one is talking anymore…. Lol….” Radha pointed out further, “It is really important to accept that there are times when individual trips work better than couple ones, and vice versa. We love history and architecture, so we will focus on travelling together to places that we have common interests in. Our hobbies complement each other with our love for art and artefacts. We truly believe in living our best life one plane ticket at a time.”
Mrs. Martina and Mr. Mitya New
Martina and Mitya are new arrivals to Bangkok, moving from Hong Kong to Bangkok. They have been married for 27 years since 1992. They adopted Hannah, their daughter during posting in Budapest. The couple generally goes on holiday at least twice a year, and always loves to experience travelling together to new places.
“We always try to stay in atmospheric, colonial-style hotels so that we always have an oasis to come back to at the end of the day. In particular, we like to travel off the beaten track and in ways that allow us to experience people and life in the place we are visiting. We find travelling by train or road a lot of fun and have crossed Russia, Mongolia, China, Europe, Uzbekistan, India, Laos, Cambodia and Thailand in this way,” Martina commented.
She added, “We have found that travel works well if both of us keep a good sense of humour, remain flexible, enjoy at least one good meal in a nice restaurant every day and stay in a hotel that you feel completely comfortable in.”
Mrs. Teresa and Mr. Gary Biesty
This lovely couple has reached a milestone with 31 years of marriage. With two grown-up daughters, they travel several times a year together to their homes in Hong Kong and London. Teresa shared, “Our trips to Hong Kong often become not really a holiday because we are catching up with family obligations. We then have one or two nice holidays a year in Europe visiting old cities. We enjoy skiing and our favourite destination is Whistler in Canada.”
I asked Teresa on her tips, “We discuss beforehand where we both want to go to visit before any booking is made. Take Barcelona as an example, we both want to visit so we will plan to do things together, while leaving time for each other to go about activities that we enjoy individually. I love shopping, so Gary will always be patiently reading a newspaper in a wine bar waiting for me!!”
With her most memorable incidents, Teresa imparted, “We were at The Temple of Poseidon in Greece for the sunset where no one else was around. Oh and I attempted to getting to the bottom of my first “black ski run” after my husband assuredly promised it would be a “blue” run. Luckily I survived and Gary’s only excuse was his poor eyesight!”
On advising the Do’s and Don’ts, “I think it is important that couples discuss beforehand where both wish to visit. Before booking any hotels or sightseeing tours, make sure your spouse is happy in particular accommodation arrangement. Planning for the journey should be as much fun as the trip itself.” Teresa further added, “Share the responsibilities and tasks during the trip such as researching and booking of local attractions and restaurants. Remember to arrange the flight itinerary at convenient time to avoid stress. Our own preference is to fly around midday. Do consider to visit popular destinations at off-peak seasons such as Athens in winter is peaceful and beautiful. Give each other space each day during the trip.” On the Don’ts, Teresa added, “Avoid forcing your spouse to go anywhere he/she does not want to go. I prefer not to go on holidays with other couples unless you are sure friendship will endure during the whole trip.”
Mrs. Annabelle and Mr. Cherdsak Daokaew
This wonderful couple celebrated their Ruby Anniversary four years ago, which is 44 years of marriage with three grown-up children. A true milestone! Although both are hardworking professionals, they still find time to travel at least twice or thrice a year as a couple. The family will match everyone’s schedule to travel together once a year abroad, and domestically in Thailand once or twice a year.
To make their couple trips enjoyable, Annabelle commented, “We plan way ahead to make sure our schedules match, and we explore various destinations we agree upon. We schedule our own itinerary to enjoy the sightseeing at our own pace, eat whatever we want, dine at both local and fancy restaurants. We choose comfortable hotels with good location, facilities, and services. Visit interesting historical and cultural places including museums.”
A memorable experience Annabelle shared, “In Bali, we queued for hours to grab the chance for a good table at a hill-top restaurant. While watching the beautiful sunset with a glass of wine, we expressed our gratitude together to our creator with the amazing nature that he has blessed for everyone to experience.”
With their long matrimonial journey, Annabelle advised, “Apart from the usual Do’s and Don’ts, I like to add to friends and readers that do plan your trip but make sure that you leave some time for unexpected places or restaurants that locals may recommend. Bond with relatives and friends if you happen to have some time in that country as you may end up joining a traditional ceremony or event that no tourist can otherwise experience. Note down the full address and contact details of your Embassy in the visiting country for any emergency such as loss of passport.” For the Don’t, Annabelle has only one advice, “Don’t stop travelling, explore the world….”
Couple trips can recharge and rekindle a relationship as we take the opportunity to focus on one another. After talking to the few who have wonderfully worked them out countless time, we learn that it comes down to planning and sharing responsibilities on new exciting adventures together. At the same time, we need to be relax and easy to “go with the flow”, and allow time and space for another.
Happy travelling everyone… treat every trip with your better half as the next “honeymoon”!