I don’t believe I’ve ever posted any love declaration to Tiago on Facebook. Nor have I ever made a public birthday speech in celebration of him. Anniversaries, birthdays, major holidays and even a period of long-distance dating have passed over the last 6 years of our relationship – and every display of love and affection have never left the intimate and safe space between the both of us. Yet, here I am, somehow willing to share with the world what it’s been like to travel non-stop with my partner for the last 58 days.

We’ve managed to go from spaced out weekend encounters to a 24-7 basis of interaction. And, surprisingly, we have not yet had the urge to murder one another in our sleep (although, I find it very distracting that he has just now decided to attempt juggling some balls he crafted out of rice and rubber bladder). So, what should one expect when taking the decision of traveling with a partner?

If the last few weeks were as a trial – after which you either choose to make the investment or abandon the project altogether – I’d say we have some pretty great months ahead of us. Traveling with Tiago has proven itself much more easier and easy-going than expected, and all I can hope is that he feels the same way in return (although I have heard some complaints).

Traveling with a partner means having a spare brain to help with all sorts of useful things. Some less important, such as coming up with meal recipes and traveling itineraries. Others more critical, such as what I like to call “crisis management”, also known as the “what-do-we-do-now?” moments, when things backfire or plans fail to succeed. When you’re unexpectedly dropped off in the middle of the night in an unfamiliar town or when you’re charged with a US$90 fine from the Uruguayan government for illegally trespassing international borders (true story), you’re going to thank tenderheartedly for having someone by your side.

When facing a crisis of this sort, each of us tends to sketch our own personal strategy and present our cases – and may the best one win. Should we pay ARG$180 each on a hostel tonight or risk sleeping under the Obelisk of Buenos Aires? Should we take the bus to the nearest town or camp on the side of the road and continue hitchhiking tomorrow? Do you really think we can walk 15km in the dark from La Esmeralda to Punta del Diablo? For each one of these questions, there was a solution – even if a non-conventional one.

This has also proven to be an advantage during our immersions with hosts from Worldpackers. Creativity blossoms through collaboration, and Tiago and I have been able to collaborate through content production. We both benefit from the different skills and qualities each of us brings to the table: Tiago is more organized, I’m more impulsive. He’s familiar with video-making, and I’m more comfortable with writing. I’m short-term oriented, and he likes to think things in the long run. In many ways, we couldn’t be more different from one another – but that’s what makes us function so well together.

A plus-one also means spare hands and resources. Someone to help you every single time you have to put on your 18kg backpack, or to alternate tasks with, such as cooking, doing the dishes, doing the laundry and even chatting with the trucker during long drives. It means having twice the social network to go through when you need a place to crash or when in search of locals to hang out with. It’s twice the chance of scoring a host and – when all goes wrong – twice as reassuring when your only option is to set up camp on the side of the road.

And of course, it’s twice the worldview. Sharing makes traveling so much more interesting. Where I see something, Tiago sees something else. And, at other times, we share the same opinion. I enjoyed the busy life of Cordoba’s city center, he preferred the calm streets of Rosário. We both disliked Montevideo during Carnaval and loved Santiago’s Bellavista. While we experience new things, we feel an urge to share our perceptions and thoughts with one another – a habit which, at times, generates some heated discussions.

If you’re expecting a honeymoon, you’re bound to be disappointed. Low-budget traveling is far from romantic. It’s better: it’s real. There is just no space for taboos. From menstrual cups to days without showering – we’ve shared it all. But that’s what partnership is all about.

I have had the opportunity of traveling alone and with a partner, and neither is better than the other. They are completely different experiences, each with their own benefits and downsides. For now, all I can say is that I’m pretty grateful for the decision we’ve made to travel together.

**Although travelling with a partner, I’d like to recognize and honor the amazing women who travel alone and who have mastered the art of facing this difficult dance of swaying from defiance to sheltering, from daring to self-conservation. Every step outward you take into the world is a political act.

 

I WANNA BE A WORLDPACKER JUST LIKE THEM

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