After spending just over a year traveling Australia and North East Asia with my boyfriend, I feel that I’m a bit of a dab hand now at planning a trip and finding the perfect balance for our relationship. When Travel Supermarket got in touch recently to say that they were putting together a ‘top tips’ piece of content, to avoid any holiday disasters, I jumped at the chance to contribute.
My relationship with Stew got off to a unusual start. We first began talking back in 2012 when we met each other at our mutual place of work. He had already booked his ‘trip of a lifetime’ (traveling through South East Asia), and so we were under no illusion that a relationship would work at that particular time. Instead we spent the following year living our lives separately, but remained in close contact, Whatsapping each other every day.Once he completed his trip, visiting countries such as Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia, he headed to Australia. It was here that we decided to spend our birthday’s together, both being born in April. So I jetted out to Sydney! This was the first time I had ever traveled alone. I was nervous for the flight, nervous to see him again after so many months apart, and I knew that my parents were worried sick.
We ended up spending the most magical two weeks together, but then it was time to say goodbye again. I hopped on a plane back home and he continued with his year in Australia. Our commitment to each other became paramount and so when he completed his 3 months of agricultural work to secure his 2nd year visa, I decided to apply for a working holiday visa too.
When I joined him in Melbourne we of course had to immediately find somewhere to live, we both had to find jobs and make a life for ourselves. I’m not going to lie, it was a pretty stressful time to say the least! Considering we had only ever spent a maximum of 10 weeks in each other’s company over the previous 18 months, it was a huge deal to not only travel the world with someone, but to live with them and really be each other’s only friend in a foreign country.
It really was make or break. On the one hand we had nothing to lose, but on the other we had everything to lose – I had quit my stable job at home, he had spent a large part of his life savings. It was a crazy time, but thankfully it worked out for the positive… 2 years later we’re still together and we now live in a beautiful 1 bed flat in London.
However, I wanted to give some tips to any of you out there who are thinking about doing something similar, and how to avoid any disasters along the way!
- Keep stress levels to a minimum! This can be easier said than done, especially if like me you’re a compulsive worrier. Luckily for me, Stew is a very chilled person, so he is the perfect balance to make our relationship work. However, he’s certainly taught me to chill out more and I can’t thank him enough for that. If something goes wrong – you lose your passport, your camper van gets broken into, you take a dip in the see with a pocket full of cash – just know that it will be okay! I can’t tell you how many times I thought the worst had happened but it everything corrected itself in the end.
- No matter what, enjoy yourself! If like me, you are planning to move to Australia for a year or two, remember to enjoy it! It’s so easy to get bogged down in the practicalities – finding a job, opening a bank account, getting a sim card. We tackled these on the first day we landed in Melbourne. This meant that after day 1 of headaches we were free to enjoy ourselves. We didn’t find an apartment or a job on the first day, but once we had a bank account set up these aspects were a lot easier to determine. You always have to remind yourself as to why you are there and appreciate the incredible experience you are about to uncover. Even when it’s pouring with rain and everyone has told you that ‘Australia is hot and sunny all year’ (it’s really not!), appreciate the small things – being able to buy sushi from every supermarket and off license and it being GOOD sushi! Being able to drink the best coffee of your life for a fraction of London prices. Being able to travel on public transport for as little as £1!
- Be kind to each other. When you’re both feeling sad or annoyed about something, and you find yourself getting aggravated by the smallest of things, try not to take it out on each other. We found ourselves doing this a lot but we quickly remembered that really we were all each of us had out there! You’re not just boyfriend and girlfriend, but you become best friends too. You don’t want to push the one and only person you have in a foreign country away from you. Again, it’s easier said than done sometimes, and it’s easy for me to look back and reflect now, but it’s always good to take a step back and re-access.