I first began travelling at the age of 21. I begged my parents for a overseas trip instead of a huge 21st party and they generously sent me to Argentina and Brazil. I’ve travelled with my cousin, with fellow dancers and moved to Asia alone. Last year I married my high school crush and we decided to pack it all up and live and work in as many countries as possible. Jetting around the world when you’re single and travelling as a married person are two very different experiences and I would really encourage everyone to do both. But here are some of the changes I’ve noticed 8 months on of travelling as a married woman…
1. Single Status
When you’re single, so much of your time is spent trying to attract the opposite gender and/or finding a life partner. The places where you choose to hang out at, the activities you engage in and your general behaviour is geared towards finding foreign hotties. Many people carefully select specific locations based on the looks of its population and chances of scoring or finding a wife/husband. But when you’re married, you’ve already found your ultimate partner and your energies can be spent elsewhere. You look for romantic restaurants with great views, beautiful countries or adventure activities and you get to do things you both really enjoy and not things which you assume will help you get lucky.
What generally tends to happen once you’re married is that the desire to make as many friendships slows down quite a bit. We are very sociable, outgoing people and have made some wonderful friends, but because we have each other, we have become a bit lazy about seeking companionship in others. Especially when finding totally new friends in a foreign land. When I moved to Seoul alone, making new friendships was very important to me and I left the country having made friends who are as close to me as family. Married couples definitely need strong friendships and because community is important to us but we have had to become more proactive about making and maintaining friendships along the road.
One of the benefits of marriage is being able to share things, whether financial, physical or otherwise. We each earn a salary and can split the rental of a house, scooter, food and other expenses. We can divide the responsibilities of cleaning, cooking and errand running. We can take turns to make flight bookings, plan itinerary and pack the essentials in next to no time. If you’re used to doing everything alone, it will however take some time to get used to the way it work together. Sharing can also be challenging at times as you’ll need your space after spending an entire day catching a ferry, taking a bus ride only to arrive at cramped hotel room. When you need your space whilst camping, on the road or living abroad, take it –your relationships will be all the better for it.
The crime rate, safety and ease of travel differs from country to country for women. For the most part my female cousin and I never felt threatened or unsafe in South America, I’ve wondered the streets of Munich alone, hitchhiked in Hawaii( which now I think was a crazy idea) and walked through many a dark alley in Seoul at all hours and felt safe. As a married woman there are still times I feel unsafe, like riding on a scooter in Samui. But for the most part, it’s almost one less thing I have to be mindful of. I come from South Africa so naturally I’m cautious and observant, but when travelling with my husband I can fall asleep easily on any form of public transport knowing I’ll be safe. I can walk past dodgy looking men and not feel terrified.
5. Saving and Spending
When I was single and jet setting around the world, I could shop to my heart’s content. I could spend money on every little whim or beautiful item of clothing that caught my eye. Spending money changed after marriage. My husband reminds me that we need money for more important things than turquoise earrings and yet another dress, which is good and bad. But when I look back on how much money I spent in Seoul on things I threw away afterwards, I’m glad I have someone to encourage me to save. Sure everyone needs a bit of retail loving occasionally (my hubby would give a fingernail or two for any new gadget, android or Mac) but travelling as a married couple means you to need to plan and prioritise together. Difficult at times, but oh so rewarding when you get to save it for something you really want or on a visiting a new place.
Most couples are not good at the same things and each brings their own skill set to the task at hand. This comes in handy when moving to a new country, navigating your way through a city or trying to negotiate with evil landlords. I am an excellent navigator, but now before we’ve even set foot in a new place; my husband has mapped out our route on his phone to save us some time. He is willing to ride a scooter on roads in Asia and I am not. I get to hang off the side taking photos instead.
Whilst I loved every minute of a travelling when I was single, I do admit to firmly enjoying travelling way more now. There is no one I would rather mission around the world with or experience the sad, scary and exhilarating that comes along with travelling. Maybe I got lucky, but my husband makes the best travel partner.
The first and the last photos were taken by Tiffany Burnham.
How has travel changed for you after marriage?