I met my now husband when I was 18. We started dating when I was 19, got engaged at 24 and married at 25. We were so in love and also in love with the idea of being ‘grown-ups’. For us that meant steadily moving forward through life. You date -> get your degree -> get engaged -> get married -> buy your first home -> adopt a pet -> have a kid -> etc etc. We didn’t realise back then that we should have taken a few detours along the way. What am I talking about? Travel. I’m talking about travelling. It’s what I tell everyone in their 20s. Travel as much as you can. See the world! Have a smaller wedding and go on holiday with the balance of your savings, you probably won’t keep in touch with half the people there anyway. Take a gap year and work in another country. The experience will help shape you as a person and change the way you see yourself and your environment. It will make you more open to cultural differences and change the goals that you have for yourself. You don’t realise how big the world is until you leave your bubble.
The reason I say that this is our biggest marriage regret is because the game changes once you have kids. Besides the obvious difference of the cost, it’s not as easy to travel and sight see internationally when you have a little kid with you. I struggle on my own with the 6-8 hour flights so I can only imagine how awful that must be with a little kid who has to sit in the same place for what must feel like an eternity. No one wants to sit next to the family on the plane. No-one. Your outings will also be ruled to a certain extent by nap and meal times. Kids get grumpy man, I don’t blame them, I also get grumpy when I travel. So this is why I say: travel as much as you can with your partner before you have kids. The memories you make together will strengthen your relationship. It will give you something to talk and reminisce about for years to come.
Make a list of places that you would like to see both locally and internationally then work towards getting that flight booking done. It only seems unachievable if you don’t have a set figure to work towards.
Top 5 Romantic destinations for couples
To help you along and give you a few ideas, here are some holiday suggestions. I highly recommend a trip to Europe purely because there are so many countries there that you can travel between while you’re there. To put this into perspective, flying between Italy and France is the same amount of time as flying between Durban and Jhb and possibly cheaper.
1. France (Paris or Nice)
Is Paris a cliche? Absolutely. Is it cliche for a reason? Without a doubt!
I always thought that the Eiffel Tower was overrated. I mean, it’s just a tower, what’s the big deal right? Well, it is a HUGE deal! There is something so breathtakingly spectacular about the Eiffel Tower when you are standing in front of it. Photos don’t do justice to the sheer size of this monument. Definitely a must see. Besides the Eiffel Tower though, there’s just so much to do in Paris. Don’t even get me started on the Louvre. What’s even better is that you can pretty much walk or grab a train to wherever you want to go. The public transport in Europe is amazing and very easy to figure out. I would recommend walking as much as you can though to work off the croissants and crepes that you will inevitably eat.
Nice is such a beautiful city and it has this very odd feeling of being fake but in a good way. It’s like you’re walking on a movie set. I can’t explain the feeling properly but if you have been there then you probably know what I mean. This was the first time that I saw a beach without actual sand. Instead they have pebbles which looks terribly uncomfortable to walk or lie on but does not detract for a second from the beauty of the ocean. The markets are spectacular and the sheer amount of fresh fruit and veg will have you drooling.
2. Italy (Rome or Venice or Florence or Milan or pretty much anywhere because this country is amazing)
Rome was my absolute favourite place in Italy. The sheer amount of statues that are just everywhere that you look is staggering. We are so used to seeing sculptures and stone statues in museums that it is quite disorienting to see them lining the streets of Rome as if it was an old piece of furniture that someone had discarded. You can spot the locals and the foreigners because the tourists are busy snapping pics on the road every few steps while the locals just walk on by. Visiting Vatican City is a must and you will be floored by the feeling of history that floods you as you walk through the Colosseum. Also, you can’t go to Italy and not have gelato every single day that you’re there.
Venice is another must see purely because it is insane that this city is built on water. You’ve seen the pics but the reality of it is something else. You won’t see cars in the city centre, they REALLY do travel by gondola or just walk everywhere. We were lucky enough to have an Italian friend hook us up with some of her friends who lived just outside the city and they took us around. Having a local show you their city will change your experience for the better. They showed us where the locals eat so that we didn’t fall for the tourist traps and the food was AMAZING!
Ahh the beaches of Barcelona..I would go back in a heartbeat! There is something about being in a foreign country that makes it easier to step out of your comfort zone. That being said, you should definitely check out the nude beaches 😉 The architecture in and around the city is so unusual. There are gothic buildings and churches that will make you want to walk by a little faster and then there are these crazy buildings designed by Gaudi (please do a Google search on his name and then sit back in awe). Did I mention how wonderful the food is in Europe? I pretty much ate my way through 4 countries and my only regret is that I didn’t have more.
We spent two or three days in Geneva in hindsight I would have rather visited somewhere in the countryside. This is such a distinguished city though. It’s difficult to not feel worldly when you are there. This is the place to take long walks and have deep conversations with your partner, everything feels so calm. The beauty of your surroundings will seep into your skin. Make sure you pay a visit to the Patek Phillipe Museum.
If you’re looking for a holiday that gives you maximum return on your budget then go to Thailand. If you want city life like you have probably never seen before then Bangkok is the place to stay. If you want Island Life and culture immersion then head to Phuket. I would suggest spending time in both places. The trip is worth it for the food alone. You will never taste coconut icecream as good as the one in Thailand. It’s been 9 years and I’m still looking!The food is so flavourful and there’s some real surprises like buying a cookies and cream ice cream then finding out that the ‘cookies’ are actually red beans, haha! so yum!
You may have gathered by now that we have been to these places and LOVED it. So why am I still fussing about not travelling enough? Because you can never travel too much! The two things that you won’t regret are kids and travel. So set that goal and work towards achieving it. Memories last forever! That new car or bigger house will just be another car and another house after a few months.
This post was sponsored by Travelstart but the thoughts and pics are all my own.