Travel

Mistakes Every Couple Makes When They Travel Together

Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images News
Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images News
Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images News

Scroll through Instagram and get a load of all the traveling couples: mugging for selfies, star-jumping on piers, and cheers-ing over sickeningly romantic sunsets. If you’ve ever taken a trip with a significant other, you know this is, at best, far more rose-colored than real life on the road with bae, and not just because of the Amaro filter. Truth is, traveling together is hard, and comes with as many pitfalls as it does perks.
 
These are the mistakes to avoid when you go abroad with a partner, so you can travel the world together and not only live to tell the tale, but do so without bickering too much between sentences.

GEOFFROY VAN DER HASSELT/Stringer/Getty Images
GEOFFROY VAN DER HASSELT/Stringer/Getty Images
GEOFFROY VAN DER HASSELT/Stringer/Getty Images

Doing the deed all wrong

Sex is usually pretty high up the to-do list on a couples getaway, so make sure you’ve got everything you need to start your trip with a (*ahem*) bang. In many countries, you won’t have as easy access to birth control as you do back home — and even if you can find a pharmacy, good luck trying to mime out “prophylactic” in the local dialect.

So now you’ve got the kit, but don’t drop trou just anywhere simply because you’re on an exotic vacation. Make sure you’re on top of the local laws, as well as each other — in some countries, the authorities don’t look kindly on PDA. Get a little too affectionate on a Dubai beach for example, and you might get handcuffed and locked up in jail for the night (and not in the fun way).

Skimping on privacy

A dirty weekend in a tiny hotel room sounds romantic, but it’s actually a pretty intense breakdown of boundaries — especially for a new couple. For the first time, you’re basically obliged to spend 24 hours a day in each other’s company, and you’re finally going to find out if your partner does, indeed, poop like everyone else.

It’s tempting to book the cheapest room, but it’s worth shelling out for a bigger option just to ease yourself into sharing personal space. Go ahead and book a suite or a room with a balcony so you’ve got somewhere to get some fresh air, when the time comes.

Jack Taylor/Stringer/Getty images news
Jack Taylor/Stringer/Getty images news
Jack Taylor/Stringer/Getty images news

Getting caught short of a snack

The occasional mishap on the road can actually bring you closer together. Lost? No worries, it’s a sexy adventure! Missed the bus? Time to immerse ourselves in the local bus station culture!

But there is one thing that nobody sees the bright side of: hunger. Stefan Arestis, half of the Nomadic Boys, says getting hangry is a traveling couple’s greatest enemy: “I carry snacks to calm down my boyfriend Sebastien when hunger kicks in. That Snickers advert? It’s real in some guys.” Always — and we mean always — keep a piece of fruit or slab of jerky handy, so your partner doesn’t bite your head off instead. “Foreign delicacies are especially good, because they help you experience the local culture too,” says Adam Lukaszewicz from Getting Stamped.

Falling prey to scams and ripoffs

Walking around with your hands in each other’s pockets sure looks cute, but it screams “easy target” to people who make a living out of ripping off tourists. Before you can say “nah, nah, nah thanks, NAH,” you’ll be propositioned for average-at-best caricatures, $20 single roses, and upgrades to fancier cars at the rental place. You might feel awkward, like you’re obliged to stump up cash or look like a cheapskate in front of your beau. But that’s how these people want you to feel. The truth is, if your partner is halfway worth holding onto, they’ll be a lot more impressed if you politely tell the scammers to move along, sharpish. And have a conversation ahead of time about how you plan to handle any sudden big-ticket expenses.

Drew Angerer/Getty Images News
Drew Angerer/Getty Images News
Drew Angerer/Getty Images News

Taking crazy risks sans travel insurance

There’s nothing quite like a $50,000 hospital bill to sour a romantic trip. If you do get hurt abroad, it’s nice to have a spot of travel insurance, so your partner doesn’t have to play an absolute hero. Juliette Sivertsen, who writes the Snorkels to Snow blog, went exploring ancient burial caves in Fiji with her partner, John. “His first mistake was disturbing the hornets’ nest,” she recalls, “but then he tried to run away, and fell down a cliff, breaking his wrist and smashing the front of his leg on a rock. You could see the bone coming out — I’ve never heard a grown man howl and scream so loudly in my life.” Juliette’s top tip is “if in pain, get on a plane” — in their case, New Zealand was the best option.

Extra tip: Before you go, commit to memory all your other half’s vital statistics — birth date, medications, allergies, blood type, health insurer and so on. And make sure you’ve got a contact number for their family too, in case of hornet nest incidents.

Spending every single waking moment together

No matter how much you wuv your partner, don’t spend 24 hours in their face — you’ll get sick of it eventually, probably about 23 hours after your partner does. Jarryd and Alesha, who have been traveling together for nine years under the joint pen name Nomadasaurus, suggest that couples schedule that time apart. “Go for a solo hike, head to the shops on your own, hit up different bars one night,” they say. “Not only will you get a break from each other, you’ll also have something new to talk about.”

Mikhail Tereshchenko/TASS/Getty Images
Mikhail Tereshchenko/TASS/Getty Images
Mikhail Tereshchenko/TASS/Getty Images

Sucking at sharing

Sharing is one of the best and worst bits of a relationship. There’s nothing more infuriating than ordering a prime steak and then having your partner ask for half of it in exchange for some of their soggy mushroom frittata. But there are bonuses, too. Don’t stuff two sets of boring essentials (sunscreen, toothpaste, shower gel, etc.) in your already-too-heavy backpacks. Pack together, do a pre-trip shop together, or even agree to share some clothes to cut down on luggage.

Oversharing with the rest of us

By all means, post the heck out of that couples selfie at the Eiffel Tower — just be conscientious of your partner, who might start feeling like they’re on a trip with your followers instead of you. There’s a vast difference between being an obnoxiously happy couple and just playing one on Instagram. Lest you spend the better half of your trip staring at your screens instead of each other, make an effort to stow your phones and, I don’t know, talk or something.

Freaking out over the little things

All you need is love. And passports. And money. But everything else is pretty much non-essential, so don’t throw a hissy fit if you forget to pack your fourth-favorite sweater or leave your sister’s headphones on the plane. Frank and Cathy from Roarloud say “We’ve forgotten loads of stuff on our travels, but there’s always a way to figure it out. In fact, it has become a running gag for us to say, ‘Did we forget anything?’ when we set out on a trip. The answer always is ‘Of course.'” Cue chuckles all around, until it turns out Frank’s forgotten Cathy’s birthday.

Splitting up

Cathy offers their surest rule: “Whenever you go off to do different things, arrange a time and place to meet back up — and stick to it.” It’s no use having phones if you hit a signal dead zone, and nothing will melt down a trip like it becoming a missed connection. Of course, if your partner is driving you nuts, this is also an excellent way of making sure they’re elsewhere while you scroll through Tinder.Sign up here for our daily Thrillist email and subscribe here for our YouTube channel to get your fix of the best in food/drink/fun.

Jonathan Melmoth is Thrillist’s Travel Writer. 

Travel

Ditch your Phone for ‘Dome Life’ in this Pastoral Paradise Outside Port Macquarie 

A responsible, sustainable travel choice for escaping big city life for a few days.

nature domes port macquarie
Photo: Nature Domes

The urge to get as far away as possible from the incessant noise and pressures of ‘big city life’ has witnessed increasingly more of us turn to off-grid adventures for our holidays: Booking.com polled travellers at the start of 2023 and 55% of us wanted to spend our holidays ‘off-grid’.  Achieving total disconnection from the unyielding demands of our digitised lives via some kind of off-grid nature time—soft or adventurous—is positioned not only as a holiday but, indeed, a necessity for our mental health. 

Tom’s Creek Nature Domes, an accommodation collection of geodesic domes dotted across a lush rural property in Greater Port Macquarie (a few hours’ drive from Sydney, NSW), offers a travel experience that is truly ‘off-grid’. In the figurative ‘wellness travel’ sense of the word, and literally, they run on their own independent power supply—bolstered by solar—and rely not on the town grid. 

Ten minutes before you arrive at the gates for a stay at Tom’s Creek Nature Domes, your phone goes into ‘SOS ONLY’. Apple Maps gives up, and you’re pushed out of your comfort zone, driving down unsealed roads in the dark, dodging dozens of dozing cows. Then, you must ditch your car altogether and hoist yourself into an open-air, all-terrain 4WD with gargantuan wheels. It’s great fun being driven through muddy gullies in this buggy; you feel like Laura Dern and Jeff Goldblum in Jurassic Park.  As your buggy pulls in front of your personal Nature Dome, it’s not far off that “Welcome…to Jurassic Park” jaw-dropping moment—your futuristic-looking home is completely engulfed by thriving native bushland; beyond the outdoor campfire lie expansive hills and valleys of green farmland, dotted with sheep and trees. You’re almost waiting to see a roaming brachiosaurus glide past, munching on a towering gum tree…instead, a few inquisitive llamas trot past your Dome to check out their new visitor. 

To fully capture the awe of inhabiting a geodesic dome for a few days, a little history of these futuristic-looking spherical structures helps. Consisting of interlocking triangular skeletal struts supported by (often transparent) light walls, geodesic domes were developed in the 20th century by American engineer and architect R. Buckminster Fuller, and were used for arenas. Smaller incarnations have evolved into a ‘future-proof’ form of modern housing: domes are able to withstand harsh elements due to the stability provided by the durable materials of their construction and their large surface area to volume ratio (which helps minimize wind impact and prevents the structure from collapsing). As housing, they’re also hugely energy efficient – their curved shape helps to conserve heat and reduce energy costs, making them less susceptible to temperature changes outside. The ample light let in by their panels further reduces the need for artificial power. 

Due to their low environmental impact, they’re an ideal sustainable travel choice. Of course, Tom’s Creek Nature Domes’ owner-operators, Cardia and Lee Forsyth, know all this, which is why they have set up their one-of-a-kind Nature Domes experience for the modern traveller. It’s also no surprise to learn that owner Lee is an electrical engineer—experienced in renewable energy—and that he designed the whole set-up. As well as the off-grid power supply, rainwater tanks are used, and the outdoor hot tub is heated by a wood fire—your campfire heats up your tub water via a large metal coil. Like most places in regional Australia, the nights get cold – but rather than blast a heater, the Domes provide you with hot water bottles, warm blankets, lush robes and heavy curtains to ward off the chill.

nature domes port macquarie
Photo: Nature Domes

You’ll need to be self-sufficient during your stay at the Domes, bringing your own food. Support local businesses and stock up in the town of Wauchope on your drive-in (and grab some pastries and coffee at Baked Culture while you’re at it). There’s a stovetop, fridge (stocked as per a mini bar), BBQs, lanterns and mozzie coils, and you can even order DIY S’More packs for fireside fun. The interiors of the Domes have a cosy, stylish fit-out, with a modern bathroom (and a proper flushing toilet—none of that drop bush toilet stuff). As there’s no mobile reception, pack a good book or make the most of treasures that lie waiting to be discovered at every turn: a bed chest full of board games, a cupboard crammed with retro DVDs, a stargazing telescope (the skies are ablaze come night time). Many of these activities are ideal for couples, but there’s plenty on offer for solo travellers, such as yoga mats, locally-made face masks and bath bombs for hot tub soaks. 

It’s these thoughtful human touches that reinforce the benefit of making a responsible travel choice by booking local and giving your money to a tourism operator in the Greater Port Macquarie Region, such as Tom’s Creek Nature Domes. The owners are still working on the property following the setbacks of COVID-19, and flooding in the region —a new series of Domes designed with families and groups in mind is under construction, along with an open-air, barn-style dining hall and garden stage. Once ready, the venue will be ideal for wedding celebrations, with wedding parties able to book out the property. They’ve already got one couple—who honeymooned at the Domes—ready and waiting. Just need to train up the llamas for ring-bearer duties! 

An abundance of favourite moments come to mind from my two-night stay at Tom’s Creek: sipping champagne and gourmet picnicking at the top of a hill on a giant swing under a tree, with a bird’s eye view of the entire property (the ‘Mountain Top picnic’ is a must-do activity add on during your stay), lying on a deckchair at night wrapped in a blanket gazing up at starry constellations and eating hot melted marshmallows, to revelling in the joys of travellers before me, scrawled on notes in a jar of wishes left by the telescope (you’re encouraged to write your own to add to the jar). But I’ll leave you with a gratitude journal entry I made while staying there. I will preface this by saying that I don’t actually keep a gratitude journal, but Tom’s Creek Nature Domes is just the kind of place that makes you want to start one. And so, waking up on my second morning at Tom’s —lacking any 4G bars to facilitate my bad habit of a morning Instagram scroll—I finally opened up a notebook and made my first journal entry:

‘I am grateful to wake up after a deep sleep and breathe in the biggest breaths of this clean air, purified by nature and scented with eucalyptus and rain. I am grateful for this steaming hot coffee brewed on a fire. I feel accomplished at having made myself. I am grateful for the skittish sheep that made me laugh as I enjoyed a long nature walk at dawn and the animated billy goats and friendly llamas overlooking my shoulder as I write this: agreeable company for any solo traveller. I’m grateful for total peace, absolute stillness.” 

Off-grid holiday status: unlocked.

Where: Tom’s Creek Nature Domes, Port Macquarie, 2001 Toms Creek Rd
Price: $450 per night, book at the Natura Domes website.

Get the latest from Thrillist Australia delivered straight to your inbox, subscribe here.

Related

Our Best Stories, Delivered Daily
The best decision you'll make all day.