If you haven’t traveled together on a longer trip (a month or more) as a couple, especially a trip to a foreign country, we recommend taking a shakedown trip before you decide to plan longer trips of 3-6 months or more. There is nothing like traveling and living together closely for a month or more in an environment where you may be each other’s sole companion and conversation partner to discover that you need more space from your spouse that travel isn’t going to give you.
I recently read an article which said that 16% of 30+ year marriages end in divorce and most of these divorces occur after retirement. One of the biggest issues cited by divorcing couples was the stress of being together 24/7. Often spouses have lived their entire married lives with either one or both of them working apart from each other for 9 or 10 hours per day, plus perhaps time spent individually doing other after-work activities with friends or kids. If you think being together 24/7 is difficult at home, try it in a foreign country where you don’t speak the language and you have only each other to rely on for “everything”.
You may also find out that traveling reveals things about your spouse that you weren’t aware of. For example, Ger is extremely sensitive to noise, particularly when she is trying to sleep. I grew up with brothers and sisters and shared a room with a brother most of my childhood, so noise doesn’t bother me at all. I didn’t discover this until we were in a hotel in India and we had very noisy people in the rooms next to ours. She made me disassemble our bed and move it into the bathroom where it was quieter so she could sleep. At the time I found this to be more funny than annoying, but some spouses might not.
I also found that I tend to want to travel around a lot more than she does. She appreciates integrating into the local life and taking her time, while I like to explore and discover new places more. We have to compromise to satisfy both our needs for stability and adventure.
The only way to determine your travel compatibility is to travel. If you haven’t, then we recommend taking a shakedown trip to a foreign destination, preferably to a country that is significantly different from your own, where locals speak a different language (i.e. someplace like Mexico or Thailand, rather than Canada or England), for a duration of at least a month. You should try to duplicate the lifestyle you are planning for longer trips. Don’t travel for a month like a tourist, staying in hotels and eating in restaurants and moving from city to city if you are eventually planning to live for a month or more in one place, renting an apartment, and cooking a lot of your own meals. You want your shakedown to be realistic.
After a month of traveling together, if you both find yourselves wishing the trip could continue longer, then you are in good shape. If you find you both can’t wait to return home, then you may want to evaluate what about the trip didn’t work for you and whether there are problems you need to work out before attempting longer trips, or whether you are cut out for a mobile lifestyle at all.