The Trials of Tandem Travelling

“Where is that little fecking orange pill?  You repacked – where did you put it?”

Picture this scenario: You’re at a large Asian Airport after a difficult flight from Auckland. The plane was packed to the gunnels, dominated by groups travelling in packs and a child kicked your back consistently through the 10-hour trip from hell. Now you are searching through your luggage with a panicked urgency.

You are not at all prepared for the next leg to Europe. In fact, you know your head will definitely explode if you don’t get some sleep soon. Your travelling companion (in this case, my husband) has misplaced that precious pill you made a special trip to the doctor to get. And without it you know you’ll never get any rest.

Travelling with your partner/spouse can be very enriching. It can also throw up some incredible challenges and real tensions that are not usually part of your relationship. It can be very fraught when you are both over-tired (especially OAPers like us), lost or losing things. And let’s face it, all of the above usually does happen.

And when your partner/spouse has the audacity to fall asleep before your flight leaves the tarmac at Auckland Airport, resentment can set in. You are grinding your teeth and trying to watch film with a dreadful sound system. Everyone else on the flight seems splayed out in peaceful slumber. You can’t sleep, drink bad wine and try to meditate. Nothing works, So you’re hanging out for that magical little pill on the next leg.

Finally, after an hour or so in the busy airport, you’ve managed to wash your face and start to feel marginally more human. Then voila! the magical sleep tablet is found and a truce is reached. Then your husband sleeps some more under the  departure board.

You finally reach your destination after about 36 hours and the foreign atmosphere is intoxicating. But, then navigational issues raise their ugly heads. As you enter a large roundabout for the fifth time it’s difficult to be jolly and appreciate the scenery. The language becomes more colourful and even his family is being cursed.

Then when you’re sharing costs, but definitely not singing from the same song sheet on financial issues, more arguments can ensue. How can he appreciate just how much money you are saving by buying three bags ad six pairs of shoes? Of course, the saving is immense and you do so need them.

But, of course, there are those glorious and unforgettable truly blissful moments together – watching a spectacular sunset, basking in history or eating fresh gourmet food – that make it all worthwhile.

If you’ve been travelling regularly with the same companion for many years, you’ll appreciate that you iron out problems on each trip. After 45 years of travelling tandem, we know each other’s foibles and how to eliminate the inevitable tensions.

Here’s some tips to help:

  • Laugh lots
  • Ignore annoying habits
  • Tread carefully when over-tired
  • Compromise
  • Mix with other travellers
  • Make time for shared activities and then for your individual pursuits


First published NZ Herald






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