“If you survive a trip like that, you’ll stay married forever.” -Said by a random person, while we cycled around the world
Bike touring with your husband, wife or partner certainly has its advantages. There’s always someone to talk to. Luxuries like a private hotel room become more affordable and, when the cycling gets tough, your best friend is there to help and encourage you.
But life isn’t all roses. We’ve been together for 14 years now and we rarely fight but bike touring forced us to develop new strategies for travelling well together. Here are some tips to help you get through a bicycle trip à deux, with relatively little stress.
Andrew – Reading maps, navigating, maintaining bikes and camping gear. Friedel – Food shopping, cooking, bargaining, asking for directions, keeping water bottles topped up.
With a clear set of tasks, things get done quickly and easily. Each person knows what they have to do and takes responsibility for their own area. There’s less chance that you step on each other’s toes as you try to get the same thing done in 2 different ways, and no one has to be stressed out by a task they strongly dislike. There’s also less chance that you forget something because the person with that task should make sure it’s taken care of.
#2. Set Clear Expectations – We all deal with adversity better when we know what to expect. Before jumping on your bikes, make sure both of you are thinking about the day in the same way.
How fast and how far will you cycle? Is there something you want to see along the way? Do you want to bike at all? Maybe one of you wants a rest day.
Each person has to take responsibility for communicating, rather than expecting the other person to be a mind reader! If you’re hungry, make sure you suggest a snack break. If you can’t keep up, suggest that you ride in front and set the pace. If you’re navigating, let your partner know when a detour or other problem might make the route longer than originally expected.
#3. Plan On Bad Days – No two people are the same, and no one is happy all the time, so be ready to support your other half when they’re having a bad day. As one person said on our Facebook group:
Supporting your partner might mean taking on a few extra tasks that you don’t normally do, setting a more relaxed pace or deciding to treat yourselves to a luxury day on the road (a meal out or a hotel room, for example). It might also simply mean giving the person a bit of space and quiet time to work through whatever is bothering them.
#4. Have Time Alone – Even the best of friends will struggle to be together 24 hours a day, 7 days a week so work some alone-time into each day. This might mean riding slightly further apart, so you can get lost in your thoughts, or you might just want an hour or two in the afternoon where each person goes off and does their own thing.
Time alone is a good idea even if you’re getting along well but it’s essential if you are frustrated. Just having a bit of space to blow off steam can save the day from turning into a big grumpy mess, as Janyis points out.
#5. Have Long Discussions At The End Of The Day – If something is really bothering you, sometimes it’s tempting to let all your frustrations fly in the middle of the day but we find this generally isn’t a good idea.
Finishing an involved discussion about a sensitive topic isn’t easy when you’re also trying to get somewhere or possibly distracted by things like traffic on the road or the heat of the midday sun. Instead, we prefer to take 30 minutes at the end of the day to sit down with a mug of tea and talk about how the day went for each of us.
This is our chance to bring up any problems and to find solutions, and we can do this much more calmly once the tent is set up in a peaceful spot.
Here are some of the other handy tips for getting along that people shared with us via our Facebook Group:
And via Twitter:
If you have a tip, please share it by leaving a comment!