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Traveling with your other half can be a make or break scenario. On the one hand, the novelty and thrill of new vistas and new experiences can strengthen the bond between couples. On the other, being in such close quarters for an extended period of time can lead to petty bickering and unnecessary drama. It’s something married couple (and travel influencers) Renee and Matthew Hahnel know a thing or two about.
The Hahnel’s are currently on a seven-month road trip across America, making a stop at each of the country’s 59 National Parks. The journey, sponsored by EVOLVE plant protein, will take them through 39 states and two US territories, and is comprised of 26 flights and roughly 25,000 miles on the road. That’s a lot of quality time, which is why they’ve had to figure out some ground rules along the way. Here, Renee and Matthew explain how they keep the atmosphere inside Ruby—their cozy little red van—easy, breezy, and harmonious…
We’ve spent nearly every waking minute together these past six months, so scheduling alone time is a must for us. And keep in mind that alone time doesn’t always have to mean being in separate locations, it can simply be putting on noise-cancelling headphones or reading a book.
Don’t fall into the trap of navigating for each other, we all know that will end in tears. We rely on phone apps like Google Maps, Gaia and Maps.me for our road trip directions, then if we go the wrong way we can just get angry at the phone!
There will always be hiccups and changes to the schedule. Learning to laugh things off as a couple and come up with a new plan is super important. This seven month road trip has definitely taught us that it is vital to have a rough plan and budget, but to allow ample space for changes. Making decisions together allows us both to feel involved and respected.
Playing different roles in the van really helps us to stay organized and not step on each other’s feet constantly (literally, the van is tiny!) We split up tasks like driving, cooking, cleaning, laundry, washing the van, making the bed, putting away equipment etc. Doing this sets up realistic expectations and also allows us to be more efficient each day.
If someone gets hangry then an argument is inevitable. We always have a bunch of snacks and drinks ready to ensure that doesn’t happen. Our fridge is stocked up with EVOLVE protein drinks, which are our go-to for a quick breakfast or after-hike refuel.
Every couple argues and these moments can seem amplified in a small space, and when you have limited options to get away from each other. Go for a walk, take some deep breaths, say sorry and move on.
It seems like a simple task but when you spend all day everyday with someone it can be easy to fall into the trap of snapping at each other. Show appreciation, use nice words and don’t forget everyday things like saying “thank you” and “I love you.”
A silly car sing-a-long or sharing a joke will always make things better. We will often hit a “delirious” stage after a long day of driving and find cranking up our favorite tunes gets us to our destination in no time. We also try to not take each other too seriously because that can be exhausting.