Best Tips for Travelling as a Couple: Fun & Stress-free Journeys

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Embarking on a journey with your partner is an adventure filled with shared discoveries and cherished memories.

But let’s face it, travelling as a couple can also test the strongest bonds. Since 2017, we’ve been exploring the world together, learning the art of maintaining harmony and joy on our travels. We’ve had plenty of memorable travel moments and those that have tested our relationship.

Which is hardly surprising when you travel the world and spend every waking moment together.

Interestingly, a recent study published in the Journal Of Travel Research backs up what we’ve experienced firsthand. It found that couples with shared experiences during vacations, like effective communication and trying new things, report stronger relationships.

This isn’t just about the number of trips or their duration, but the quality of experiences shared.

Lars and Shelley with white furlined capes on
Getting ready to enter the Ice Bar before our night in the Ice Hotel in Sweden

This aligns perfectly with our own adventures. Whether it’s adopting the personas of Lady Penelope and Parker to diffuse stress, finding joy in the unexpected, or simply enjoying shared experiences, our travels have been a testament to the power of shared experiences in strengthening our bond.

Join us as we share our top travel tips for couples, including a humorous yet effective strategy we’ve adopted – stepping into the personas of Lady Penelope and Parker from Thunderbirds.

Join us as we unveil the secrets to making travelling together easy and extraordinarily fun!

Road trip Travel meme

Our Top Tips for Travelling Together as a Couple

We understand the excitement and the hurdles that come with being on the road together, from the need for effective communication to embracing each other’s quirks. Here’s a quick summary of our top travel tips for couples looking to make their travel experiences both easy and enjoyable:

  1. Using Lady Penelope and Parker to Reduce Stress: Adopt playful personas to diffuse tension and add humour to your journey.
  2. Plan Together and Compromise: Align your travel goals and embrace each other’s interests for a fulfilling trip.
  3. Communication is Vital: Keep the lines of communication open to deepen your bond and prevent misunderstandings.
  4. Set a Budget and Stick to It: Manage finances wisely to enjoy stress-free adventures.
  5. Be Flexible: Adapt to unexpected changes and make the most of every situation.
  6. Quality Time and Reconnection: Cherish simple moments together to strengthen your relationship.
  7. Respect Each Other’s Space: Balance togetherness with personal time for a healthy partnership.
  8. Capture the Moments: Record your experiences while being present in the moment.
  9. Learn From Our Mistakes: Embrace every experience as an opportunity for growth.
  10. Be Patient and Understanding: Navigate travel’s unpredictability with empathy and support for each other.

1. Using Lady Penelope and Parker to Reduce Stress on the Road

Have you ever found yourself in a bit of a squabble while travelling with your significant other?

That’s where our Lady Penelope and Parker personas come in! This is so fun – I’d go so far as to say this is one of our most fun tips for travelling with your partner.

Travelling as a couple is an exhilarating adventure, yet it’s sprinkled with its fair share of challenges. During our year-long Europe Motorhome trip, we discovered a unique way to lighten tensions – by adopting the personas of ‘Lady Penelope’ and her trusted driver ‘Parker’ from the classic TV show Thunderbirds.

These characters became more than just a travel hack; they became a fundamental part of our relationship.

Who is Lady Penelope? A lady of great intellect and quick wit, characterized by her adventurous spirit and disdain for the mediocre. She embarks on missions to uncover hidden gems and inspire others through her global adventures.

And Parker? He’s the epitome of loyalty and service, always by Lady Penelope’s side, ready for every challenge. Pledged to a life of international travel, Parker must follow where ‘M‘Lady‘ goes. Together, they form an unbreakable team, exploring the world with gusto.

photoshopped lady penelope and parker as lars and shelley
Notice the similarity?

These personas have woven themselves into the fabric of our daily lives. They’ve appeared in our wedding vows and playfully surface in our everyday interactions, like when Lars brings me a cup of tea, and I gratefully respond, ‘Thank you, Parker.

They remind us to bring humour and lightness to situations, especially when stress or tension begins to mount. A simple ‘Deep breath, Parker‘ or ‘You’ve got this, Parker‘ instantly brings a sense of calm and perspective.

Embracing Lady Penelope and Parker is more than just a quirky travel trick; it’s a testament to the power of humour and playfulness in keeping our bond solid and resilient, no matter where the road takes us.

Let me give some context...

Parker and Lady Penelope from Thunderbirds
The real Lady Penelope and Parker 😉

The Birth of Thunderbird Personas on Our Travels

Our journey into the world of Lady Penelope and Parker started quite unexpectedly. Growing up, I (Shelley) was a fan of Thunderbirds.

One day, after a long day out, I playfully said to Lars, ‘Home, Parker’. ‘To which he replied, ‘Yes, M’lady.’ And this somehow developed. Whenever travel stress began to mount, we slipped into these characters.

It began as a fun homage to a childhood favourite but soon evolved into our unique way of navigating travel challenges.

It all began quite spontaneously during the early days of our Europe road trip. Transitioning to right-hand lane driving was a significant change from driving in Australia. We aimed to work together seamlessly, like a well-oiled machine navigating unfamiliar roads.

However, theory and practice often differ. Tensions in the camper sometimes rose, with Lars taking risks or me (Shelley) not communicating navigation instructions. That’s when we would default to Thunderbird personas.

I embraced the role of Lady Penelope, and Lars became Parker. This wasn’t just about fun; it was a strategy to diffuse tension.

For instance, if Lars drove faster than I was comfortable, I’d channel Lady Penelope and say, “Parker .. drop your speed, please’” in my best posh British accent. And Lars, as Parker, would graciously comply and respond,  ‘Yes, m’Lady’.

Yes, it’s classic Thunderbirds oratory… and of course, we do the accents to give it authenticity!

Lady Penelope and Parker in Action: A Lighthearted Chat

Lady Penelope and Parker, The thunderbirds ... This is us!
The accents are brilliant!

Why It Works

It takes the ‘personal side’ out of the situation. Neither of us has to feel they can’t speak up, and there is no direct perceived fault. It’s focused on non-confrontation, and it works perfectly for us!

For those unfamiliar, the Thunderbird characters are part of a puppet-like international rescue team from a classic TV series and film. They battle against evil, and while it might sound a bit corny, it’s delightfully entertaining.

We even formalized this with ‘Parker’s Code of Conduct’ – a fun agreement that cements our commitment to tackling travel challenges with humour and grace.

Written contract with a portrait shot of Parker

Travelling as a couple can be an incredible journey of discovery, but finding effective ways to handle challenges and reduce stress is essential.

Adopting the personas of Lady Penelope and Parker from Thunderbirds provides a fun and non-confrontational method to communicate on the road. By taking on these playful roles, we reduce tension, improve communication, and maintain a perfect (…well, near perfect) equilibrium during our road trips.

Now, let’s dive into more tips that make travelling as a couple even more delightful.

2. Plan Together and Compromise: The Beginning of Our Journey

Our path to becoming travel partners began with a heartfelt conversation about our hopes and dreams. This led to a life-changing decision to sell everything we owned and set off on a shared adventure.

With our combined list of dream destinations in hand, we embarked on our first exciting travel plans together.

Effective communication is essential in any relationship and becomes even more crucial when travelling. Discussing and aligning your travel goals, interests, and expectations ensures enjoyable trips for both of you.

For instance, I wasn’t initially keen on visiting the Sossusvlei sand dunes in Namibia, but it turned out to be an awe-inspiring experience. Similarly, Lars was hesitant about the Keukenhof flower show in the Netherlands, but ultimately, it was a highlight of our travels.

These experiences remind us that travel as a couple isn’t just about places; it’s about discovering and embracing each other’s interests, often finding joy in unexpected corners.

Lars and Shelley at Keukenhof surrounded by a tulip display
Have a blooming good time at Keukenhof Gardens in the Netherlands

3. Communication is Vital

As Lars and I have travelled worldwide together, we’ve learnt how important continued communication is. These moments of heartfelt understanding and shared feelings have deepened our bond as a couple, no matter where we are.

Here’s a glimpse into our world of communicating on the road.

Expressing Feelings as They Come

In our travels, we’ve learned the crucial lesson of not letting things stew.

Whenever I feel a ripple of annoyance or unease, I’ve found it’s best to voice it out there, even though sometimes it’s the last thing I feel like doing – especially if I’m annoyed at Lars. I force myself to voice my feelings, using ‘I Statements’ to prevent a blame game.

This simple act of expressing myself prevents minor irritations from escalating into bigger issues. It’s not about pointing fingers; it’s about sharing what’s on your mind.

Shelley and Lars hiking the Aletsch Glacier
Hiking the Aletsch Glacier in Switzerland

Being Attentive to Each Other’s Needs

Being on the road for so long now, since 2017, Lars and I have become attuned to each other’s emotional states, even the subtle ones.

It’s important to watch for signs that your partner is stressed or upset. Sometimes, it’s a quiet demeanour or a certain look that tells you they need a bit of extra attention or care.

Notice if they seem uneasy – and be aware of their likes and dislikes. Support them if they are out of their comfort zone. I seem out of my comfort zone way more than Lars, but he is good at pushing me enough when needed and understanding when things get too much.

For example, he encouraged me to climb Kjergbolten in Norway, but he knew my fear of heights and didn’t pressure me to step out onto the boulder. … I did step out, by the way – well, half stepped out and then froze. One thing I won’t be doing again!

Lars and Shelley stood near the boulder wedged between two cliffs at Kjeragbolten
The infamous Kjergbolten – the boulder wedged between two cliffs that people stand on

Sometimes, we have to try things to realise we don’t like it – like driving down the infamous Sani Pass in Lesotho. Another thing Lars loved and I hated. He wanted to return but knew how much I hated it, so he passed up on that for me.

The Importance of a Hug

A hug’s incredibly powerful, especially when words don’t suffice. We find that a big hug often breaks the tension. For me, a hug can bring on the flow of tears, make me laugh, or a mix of both. Lars also appreciates a hug, often the catalyst for him to start expressing his feelings.

It’s our way of saying, “We’re in this together.”

Elevating Couple Communication

Travelling long-term has taught us that communication between couples needs to be more than talk; it needs to be meaningful and supportive. It’s about listening, understanding, and being there for each other through thick and thin. Whether it’s a moment of joy or a challenging situation, how we communicate significantly enhances our travel experience.

Through our adventures, Lars and I have come to realize that good communication is not just vital for travel; it’s essential for a strong, loving relationship.

These shared experiences and heartfelt talks keep our journey together as exciting as the destinations we explore.

Shelley and Lars wearing head torches and stood by an entrance to a cave
About to embark on an adventure into an underground cave on our Greece Road Trip … little did I know I was about to crawl into a spider fest!

3. Set a Budget and Stick to It: Smart Spending on the Road

Money matters can often become a source of stress for couples while travelling. Setting a realistic budget and committing to it is essential in preventing financial strains during your journey.

While road-tripping in Iceland, we saw firsthand how crucial budgeting is. Food was expensive, but we managed our daily expenses by including breakfast in our B&Bs and stocking up on essentials, i.e., making cheese and ham sandwiches at breakfast.

We always travel on a budget, so we naturally make choices that align with our economical approach, eliminating the need for a specific budget each time.

Explore cost-effective travel options, like travel packages or early booking discounts, and leverage travel rewards points to make your money go further.

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4. Be Flexible

Travel isn’t just about the destinations; it’s also about navigating the unexpected twists and turns along the way.

This is where the art of compromise and flexibility becomes essential. It’s about adapting to the changes that inevitably arise during your journey, whether it’s a delayed flight, a sudden change in weather, or an unanticipated global event like the COVID-19 pandemic.

Our experience in South Africa is a prime example. A 5-week house sit in Prince Albert was unexpectedly extended to 5 months due to the pandemic.

This unforeseen change led to an extraordinary opportunity – staying in a private bush camp in Klaserie Nature Reserve next to Kruger National Park. There, surrounded by African wildlife without fences, we experienced the true essence of flexibility and adventure.

Embracing these moments with flexibility and understanding can transform potential disappointments into some of your most cherished travel experiences.

Lars and Shelley stood by the Kruger sign
Exploring Kruger National Park, South Africa

5. Quality Time and Reconnection:

For Lars and me, travelling is our way of life. Whether it’s a tranquil beach walk, a shared moment of laughter over a game, coffee in a quaint café or watching the night sky.

Some holidays can be jam-packed, and you are so busy trying to fit everything into your schedule that you don’t slow down and appreciate those special bonding moments. So, even when we’re doing something simple like snuggled up inside the camper solving a crossword puzzle together – these moments feel special.

It’s more than just passing time; it’s about connection.

Sharing new experiences together and exploring new places – that in itself develops a bond, but it’s also those little moments.

Lars and Shelley making snow angels in the snow
Making a snow angel!

Tips for Strengthening Bonds While Travelling

  • Embrace Tech-Free Moments: Designate times to disconnect from technology, allowing you both to be fully present.
  • Surprises Go a Long Way: Simple gestures, like a surprise snack or a spontaneous detour, can add a spark of joy.
  • Engage in Varied Conversations: Beyond travel, talk, share stories, dreams, and thoughts, enriching your understanding of each other.

Pause and Reflect

When was the last time you enjoyed the pure joy of being with your partner, fully immersed in each other’s company, free from outside distractions? These moments are the ones that truly enhance our shared journey.

Shelley and Lars on a boat with the sunsetting behind them
Enjoying the sunset on the Okavango (also known as Cubango) River, Namibia

6. Respect Each Other’s Space

After exploring the nuances of quality time and connection, it’s equally important to address the balance of togetherness and personal space. While travelling together deepens bonds, respecting each other’s need for individual space is crucial in nurturing a healthy relationship.

Spending every moment together during a trip can be overwhelming. Respecting each other’s personal space and allowing some alone time is essential.

This could be as simple as a leisurely walk alone or enjoying a book by the beach.

When we were camping in Botswana, it was impossible to wander off alone as the camps were unfenced, and we were in the midst of the African Bush.

Even quietly reading while sitting by each other can transport you to another world for a while or listen to a podcast with earphones in. This gives you some ‘me time‘ even though you are still in each other’s company.

Lars and Shelley picking Blackberries
Taking a walk and finding the joy in little things … like picking blackberries! Excuse the red faces – it was hot!

7. Capture the Moments

Preserving cherished memories through photographs and videos serves as a beautiful memento of your travels and allows you to relive those moments together in the future.

Taking photos of ourselves can sometimes be challenging, as Lars and I often find ourselves more absorbed in capturing the breathtaking scenery and wildlife.

However, we value the few pictures we take of us together, reminding us of our amazing experiences.

We’re still trying to get better at this!

Collage of lars and shelley (Lifejourney4two) with similar selfies in each with just heads and background
Perfecting the ‘just heads and a hint of background’ selfie since 2017. It’s our signature style – who needs the full view when you’ve got our grinning faces to light up the scene? 😄📸 #SelfieGameStrong #TravellingHeads

Finding the Balance: Capturing Memories Mindfully

While capturing these moments is important, it’s equally crucial not to get too hung up on obtaining the perfect photo. Sometimes, it’s perfectly okay to be in the moment, experiencing it fully without the lens of a camera.

For those interested in enhancing their travel photography skills, we’ve shared some tips and insights based on our experiences.

Whether it’s general travel photography, capturing the essence of a road trip, or focusing on wildlife during a safari, these guides can help you capture your adventures beautifully:

elephant in the chobe river eating a waterlilly
The reason why we forget to take photos of ourselves!

8. Learn From Our Mistakes

As Lars and I navigate our way through various countries and cultures, we’ve had our fair share of missteps and learning curves. Sharing these with you is not just about recounting our adventures but also about providing you with the wisdom we gained the hard way.

Dealing with Jet Lag

One of our earliest lessons was about underestimating jet lag. Our experience in Germany, fresh off a 32-hour flight, taught us the hard way.

We now make it a point to rest and recuperate before diving into our travel itinerary. This small change has significantly reduced stress and made our initial days in a new country much more enjoyable.

motorhome parked on a green hill with mountains in the background
Our motorhome – our home for our Europe trip

The Germany Motorhome Mishap

One of our most memorable lessons in travel came right at the start of our year-long journey through Europe. After a gruelling 32-hour flight from Australia, we landed in Germany, eager to begin our motorhome adventure. The excitement, however, quickly turned into a test of patience.

I struggled to adapt to a new GPS system and tried to decipher German road signs, while Lars was challenged with maneuvering a large 8-foot long, left-hand drive motorhome.

To add to the chaos, I inadvertently directed us onto the German Autobahn, where traffic moves at the speed of light. What was intended to be a short drive from the depot spiralled into a 45-minute ordeal of wrong turns and mounting tension.

Raised voices and tears ensued – not the best start to our motorhome trip through Germany.

From this, we learned two critical lessons: firstly, the importance of allowing time to rest after a long flight to avoid the effects of jet lag. Secondly, the a need for more realistic planning, especially when adjusting to new environments and equipment.

Lars and Shelley on a boat laughing with fjord and mountain the background
Sharing a moment on this beautiful fjord in Norway

Overambitious Planning

A recurring mistake we’ve made is trying to pack too much into each day. It’s tempting to see and do everything, but this often leads to burnout and can diminish the enjoyment of the journey.

For instance, our trip through Ireland was filled with incredible sights and experiences, but we were absolutely knackered by the end. We tried to see too much, and some of the enjoyment was lost in the rush.

ars and Shelley stood by bridge adorned in flowers eating icecream
Some downtime on our hectic Ireland road trip

Similarly, we repeated this mistake in Iceland, not learning our lesson and zipping around the country in just two weeks.

And even during our last camping trip, six months in South Africa, Namibia and Botswana, we realised that constantly moving every two or three days, especially while camping, was quite taxing.

In our future travels, we plan to stay at each destination for at least three nights, if not more. This approach will allow us to absorb and enjoy each place.

It’s a lesson we’re still learning, even after being on the road since 2017!

Lars and Shelley stood by a blue icy lake
Jökulsárlón Lake is a glacial lake in Iceland

Embracing Flexibility

Travel is unpredictable, and rigid plans can quickly fall apart. We’ve learned to embrace flexibility, adapting to changes and mishaps positively. This approach has turned potential disappointments into unexpected adventures.

Open Communication

Keeping an open line of communication has been crucial, especially during stressful times. We’ve found that addressing concerns calmly and respectfully goes a long way in resolving issues and maintaining harmony. This is another of our most important travel tips for couples.

Through these lessons, we’ve become savvier travellers and strengthened our relationships. Remember, every mistake is an opportunity to learn and grow, both as a traveller and as a partner in this incredible journey of exploration.

9. Be Patient and Understanding

Travel brings its fair share of unpredictability and challenges – cancelled flights, changing schedules, language barriers, and tyre blowouts are just a few that come to mind. Being patient and understanding with each other is essential in navigating these moments.

Lars and Shelley Romancing it up in Venice on a gondola
Oh, look … more of our signature style selfies 😉 Romancing it up in Venice

Learning to Laugh at Ourselves

Looking back at that initial chaos in Germany, we now laugh. It wasn’t just about getting lost; it was a lesson in staying calm under pressure and supporting each other through frustration. These shared challenges have become humorous anecdotes, reminding us to take things in our stride.

Using Humour as a Tool

In these moments, our go-to strategy is embracing our humorous alter-egos, Lady Penelope (Lady P) and Parker. They’re our way of injecting a bit of light-heartedness into a tense situation.

Lars and shelley sat laughing with field of tulips behind them - laughing together is one of our travel tips for couples.
Travelling together and having fun

The Art of Staying Calm and The Importance of Empathy

Maintaining calm and addressing concerns empathetically is key. We remind ourselves to step back, breathe, and approach each situation respectfully.

Growing Stronger Through Adversity

Every challenging situation presents an opportunity to strengthen our bond. Travel isn’t just about exploring new places; it’s about the journey we share and the lessons we learn together. Being patient and understanding enriches not just our travel experience but our relationship, too.

Collage of lars and Shelley selfies for travel tips for couples
We really do excel at our signature style of just heads and a hint of background!

Travel Tips for Couples … That’s a Wrap

As we wrap up this treasure trove of tips for couple travel, remember that the essence of a successful journey lies in embracing each other’s quirks, communicating openly, and finding laughter in the unexpected.

Just like our Lady Penelope and Parker personas, it’s about bringing a dash of creativity and humour to every situation. Travelling together isn’t just about the destinations you explore; it’s about growing closer, creating unforgettable memories, and enjoying the ride, bumps and all.

So, pack your bags, grab your partner, and set off on an adventure that’s as rewarding as it is exciting.

For more tips, make sure to check out our essential road trip tips for couples. You might also like our travel couple captions if you post your pics on Instagram or look for inspiration with our huge list of road trip quotes.


These are the travel resources we recommend and use when planning our trips.

For a more thorough list, visit our Travel Resources page here.

Photo of author


Shelley, a former primary school teacher with a law degree, and her husband Lars co-own Lifejourney4two. Their adventure began in Perth, Australia, and has since taken them through Europe and Africa in motorhomes and bush campers. Shelley's travel guides combine practical advice with engaging stories, mirroring their shift from 'One Day' to 'Day One'. Together, they aim to inspire others to embark on their own travel dreams.

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