Travel Guide, Travel Tips

The Ten Biggest Rules for Two-Person Traveling

Once upon a time, in a previous blog post, I quoted John Steinbeck:

“A journey is like marriage. The certain way to be wrong is to think you control it.”

For me, this is one of the most accurate descriptions of traveling. Traveling is a volatile activity. This statement becomes even more relevant when we decide to travel with a second person.

Traveling alone does offer great benefits but organizing a vacation with a friend or loved one can yield the rewards of shared memories that will last a lifetime and a resounding sense of teamwork.

Achieving this feeling with a second travel partner requires a lot of effort. A two-person adventure is one of the ultimate tests of the strength of the bond between those involved. In my opinion, one doesn’t truly know another person until they’ve each put on backpacks and stepped into the unknown together.

I’ve been fortunate enough to plan various two-person trips, the longest lasting four months, and have seen journeys go well and not so well. If you’re reading this now and want to embark on a future trip with a second person, then I have compiled a list of ten important rules to follow for people who are considering this sort of adventure.

This list does not guarantee a positive traveling experience, but I believe it will increase two people’s odds of coming back happy and more importantly together.

Here it is:

Know each person’s travel goals

My longest two-person journey was with my best friend Jack. This photo was taken at the Zhangjiajie Glass Bridge in China in 2019.

This is perhaps the most time intensive step. If you can get on the same page with the other person then your trip will have a really good chance of being successful. What do you want to do on this trip? What does the other person want to do? Maybe one person just wants to party while the other wants to wake up early to visit museums. If you both know in advance what the other person hopes to accomplish then you can make an agreement to please both’s desires and necessities for the trip. Trips are most fun when both people either have very similar interests, or are flexible to let everyone do some of the things they want.

Respect the other person’s budget

Photo by Micheile Henderson on Unsplash

We all have different financial limitations. Agreeing on a budget, or at least agreeing on which things to splurge on, will create a fluid system of planning. Knowing the spending habits of the person you’re with will also prepare you for what to expect while on the road. Being flexible and willing to meet someone in the middle will go a long way.

Establish a payment system

Unnecessary frustration can be avoided if both people are prompt in paying the other person back on random expenses. For example, if one person offers to put a dinner bill on their credit card then the other shouldn’t hesitate to either foot the next one or send a mobile payment via PayPal or Venmo. To keep finances equal then an expense calculating app such as Splitwise would be useful. The financial aspect of a trip can easily become a tangled mess if both parties aren’t keeping track of their split costs.

Decisions now involve “us”

When electing to take a vacation with a second person, all decisions must go through both individuals. Agreeing to share an experience away from home means that both travelers have formed a temporary bond similar to marriage. As both people are investing time and resources into the trip, then both are entitled to make decisions and be in the know of the other person’s ideas. Communication is paramount here and both people should be flexible. Everyone involved should be able to do at least some of what they really want.

Establish a clear sleep system

Photo by Alexander Possingham on Unsplash

Not every traveling duo will have the same sleep cycle or habits. One person might enjoy sleeping in while the other is an early bird. Before traveling they should agree on a system for staying out or sleeping in. This will avoid any potential resentment or frustration because their time-clocks aren’t in sync. The early bird might be ok with going to a coffee shop to let the other person sleep or the night owl won’t mind checking out a bar alone once in a while.

Establish general boundaries

Knowing what your level of comfort is before traveling is important. Will you be willing to eat a fried scorpion or go bungee-jumping? Will your travel companion have similar restrictions? Being aware of how far each person is prepared to go will be good for avoiding any potential miscommunication or conflict of interest. Having similar boundaries will allow both parties to travel with greater ease.

Keep it balanced

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

It’s a good idea to give each person a responsibility during the trip. To avoid future resentment, it’s advisable to split tasks at different stages of the journey. For example, if one person did all of the reservations or research, then they might feel frustration towards their travel mate. Taking turns to book flights, bus tickets, or accommodation will help maintain harmony between both people.

Be empathetic

As I said before, we truly don’t know a person until we travel with them. It’s important to remain empathetic and free of judgement. This might be the first time you go on the road with that special person. Their morning ritual, funny little travel good luck charm, desire to call their mom, or random habit of cracking their knuckles before breakfast might not be something you’re used to. We are all weird people in our own special way and if we’ve said yes to traveling with someone then we’ve said yes to their uniqueness. On the flip side, we also must be aware of the fact that maybe our habits while alone aren’t proper for a two-person trip so we must be respectful of the other person. Remember: This trip is to have fun and not focus on the things you find off about the person you’re with.

Be present

This rule can be true for solo travel as well. If we agree to travel with someone, then it’s ideal to focus on the experience with that person rather than other people we meet or our devices. An optimal travel experience should involve less screen time and more focus on the surroundings. We miss opportunities when pegged to our smart phones and chances for meaningful conversations. Two people will have a truly memorable trip if they can remember to adhere to this system.

When one person uses the toilet, everyone uses the toilet

The last and most crucial rule for traveling with someone else is to reduce the number of bathroom breaks as much as possible. Let’s say you both find yourselves in a remote village or hidden beach and suddenly discover a chance restroom. In many areas of the world restrooms are a dime a dozen so it’s best practice to take advantage of this rare opportunity. If your partner has an urge to go but you don’t, you should still do it. Bathroom breaks equate to slowing down and stopping for a moment. Sometimes, if you’re in a busy place, there will be a line so why not have everyone have a go at it? The goal while traveling is to wander and enjoy rather than wait in line for a toilet so it’s paradigm to be efficient with these respites.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this article and can use these rules in your future wanderings. Right now the state of the world doesn’t allow us to fully enjoy traveling but we are getting closer to that moment.

Hang tight, stay safe, and take care of yourself.

Also, what are your rules for traveling? Do you agree with me in this article? I’d love your feedback!

Advice, Coffee

The Recovering Coffee Drinker

Once upon I time I found myself in Missoula, Montana. The year was 2005 and I was a freshman at the University of Montana. I was the archetype of a typical freshman at an out-of-state school: An 18 year-old recently liberated from his parents. I was shy, self conscious, and awkward because I didn’t know many people.

This phase of my emerging adulthood could have been described as dorm-life because I shared a room with a guy named Jordan and a narrow two-foot walkway separated our beds. A more important marker for this phase of my life would be that I spent most mornings in a heavy curtain of mental fog. Caffeine was a foreign word to me at this time and the mere thought of consuming it didn’t make sense. I had grown accustomed to groggy mornings with a bagel and orange juice.  

Part 1: The First Taste 

On a chilly fall morning my wakeup ritual would be turned upside down. On this particular day I was groggier than usual, so cloudy in my mind that I felt delirious.  Desperation for a jolt of alertness ensued. In a deep stupor of fatigue I lurched my away through campus like a sluggish lemur and regained some form of focus upon arrival to a cafe called Just Chillin’. I needed a shortcut to waking up so I ordered a double shot mocha, my first ever espresso drink. 

The first sip was an invasion of flavors; chocolate, coffee, sweetness, slight bitterness. My heart started to pump a little faster and a rush of caffeine hit my brain. I felt alive. How the heck had been sleeping on coffee all this time?, I wondered. I was flying through campus, adrenaline pumped into my veins and I was living high in the mountains. At this moment I didn’t want to start the day with coffee, I needed it. Little did I know but this would be the beginning of a fifteen year steady relationship of coffee meets mouth. 

Part 2: The Loyal Dark Goddess

The love for coffee was so strong that it became part of my daily routine for years. The morning wouldn’t start until I drank my morning mocha. After a few years I replaced the rich whip cream and chocolate syrup for the bitterness of pure espresso. Americanos became the drink of choice and they fueled my inspiration on more than one occasion.  

My devotion to coffee transcended the act of drinking it. I dedicated blog articles and social media content to my affliction to the liquid goddess. I’d plan vacations on where I could drink this comforting black gold. As my dedication to this power liquid force grew stronger, so did my dependancy. The honeymoon with coffee reached its peak a couple years ago when I was averaging three or four shots of espresso in the morning (before 9am). The buzz wasn’t high anymore, it was necessary. I couldn’t face the world until I had consumed a few cups. 

Part Three: The Broken Heart

One morning I woke up exhausted. The fatigue was so heavy that I raced to the kitchen and started to boil some water in preparation of a french press. This was a habit that I started doing without thinking each morning. I drank a cup and nothing happened. I downed a second and nothing happened. I felt a dizziness from the caffeine but still was tired. This was a fluke I told myself and figured that I was simply in a temporary rut, until I took note over the next few months that indeed my body wasn’t favoring coffee like it used to. I noticed that the lows lasted longer and the highs weren’t fulfilling. Despite my continued fidelity to coffee I was mentally hoping for an escape. The dance between coffee and me was boiling over in my heart and I began to resent my need for this dark vice to fill my body in order to function. I was looking for my moment to jump ship. 

Part Four: The Breakup

Months later, I was on vacation with my girlfriend and her roommate in Klamath Falls, Oregon. I faced particularly difficult morning during this trip because once again the effects of a coffee buzz was absent even after a few cups from a French press. I was officially heartbroken by coffee. This cemented the desire to quit my coffee drinking habit. 

Two days later I found my window of escape. The three of us headed north to the Umpqua National Forest to camp for two days. This was it, I told myself, hold on to your boots. I decided to not pack any instant coffee or drink anything with caffeine during the camping trip. I couldn’t remember the last time I’d gone two days without coffee so I was already trembling just thinking about the withdrawals.

I was suffering, but two days in the woods, a hot springs, and topped off by a day in Crater Lake helped keep the urge to guzzle brown liquid at bay. Being in nature was very healing for my head and it served as a proper environment for recovery from coffee. Fortunately, no one was hurt during this process and I didn’t scream in yearning for coffee. 

Part Five: Freedom

It was only two days without coffee, but if I could go 48 hours without caffeine then I’d keep going. The momentum had started and with each passing day I felt more inspired to say goodbye to coffee. After only a few days my urges started to dissipate. My grogginess didn’t go away but the fatigue wasn’t as severe compared to when I was dependent on coffee.

I realized that I was trying to mask my natural sleepiness in the morning with too much stimulation. I decided that from that moment forward I’d embrace being sleepy. This last dance with coffee happened in early July so now it’s been two months without a craving. This was something that I never dreamed could happen, nor did I ever picture myself a non-coffee drinker.

I’m not totally free from caffeine: I’ve been converted into a matcha tea drinker and so far the relationship is very balanced with neither side becoming overly dependent on the other. 

Part Six: You Can Too!

The purpose of this article is not to bash on coffee. I still love it and have lots of fond memories from drinking it. I just know that I became too dependent on it and eventually I fell out of love for it.

If you feel the same way but don’t think you can quit, let me assure you that it is possible! I highly recommend starting your escape in nature and or among people who don’t drink coffee. My girlfriend and roommate are tea drinkers so this  helped me a lot. The first two days will be a challenge but if you can do that then the rest is a piece of cake. You might feel a sudden desire for coffee, but try to remember why you want to quit. I kept reminding myself this.

Try writing down why you’re leaving it and keeping the reasons on your phone, easy to access, so you can read them each time a craving arises. Finally, try to find something else that brings you that fulfillment. For example, the bitterness of matcha leaves has replaced the bitterness of a black coffee and this is a sensation that I enjoy savoring. Anything is possible if you put your mind to it. Coffee is a wonderful elixir and I happily drank it for many years, but I am really happy to not need it in my life anymore. 


Thanks for reading this blog post! Are you a recovering coffee drinker? How was the experience for you and how did you quit? I’d love to hear your comments!

Have a nice day,


Photo by Aron Visuals on Unsplash
Travel Guide, Travel Tips

Smart Overseas Travel Hacks (Part 2)

How can we create an amazing overseas experience?

For me, the first two factors that strongly influence the outcome of a trip are proper preparations and maximizing safety. I dove into these ingredients in my last blog post.

What else can potentiate fond memories? Personally, I feel that the next step towards having a meaningful adventure is being a respectful traveler.

How to be a respectful traveler:

A few years ago, during a trip, I encountered some friendly travelers from Egypt. During the course of our conversation, they admitted that I was the first American that they’d ever met in real life.

This blew me away and gave light to a fact we often forget about while traveling:

Whether we like it or not, we are unofficial ambassadors for our countries, cities, and states while overseas.

I felt obliged to leave a positive impression on these people and didn’t want to be known as that American asshole.

How can we avoid being viewed as jerks while abroad?

Firstly, when we enter foreign countries it’s important to respect the cultures of where we’re going as much as possible (even if we don’t comprehend them). There’s plenty of useful information online about taboos, laws, and culture points.

The second thing we can do is learn a few words or phrases of the local language. Even “hello” “thank you” and “goodbye” shows that we’re at least making an effort to communicate in the native tongue. Knowing proper greeting and farewell etiquette is useful as well. Seemingly mundane details like that can go a long way. If you want to get some extra brownie points with locals, read up on some current events for where you’re headed.

Another thing to remember is that even when we’re on vacation, we’re aren’t on vacation from using good manners. Use common sense about when to speak loudly, slowly, or on the phone. Listen to what people have to say and respect their viewpoint, even if we don’t share their way of thinking.

Perhaps you’re going to do the hostel scene during the course of your journey and don’t expect to meet any locals. That’s totally cool too, and a good way to create meaningful relationships with other travelers is to remember that we all worked hard to make this journey happen. We all have stories and can teach each other something useful.

Additionally, I think that if we set an intention to try and learn something new while abroad while accepting as much as possible this new place’s way of doing things we’ll have a better overall experience.  

How to have the most fun:  

After we’ve successfully packed our bags, researched customs of the country you’re headed to, and taken all necessary precautions to stay safe, the last aspect to an amazing trip is this:

We want to do cool activities.

If we don’t want to spend much time digging around for inspiration then the easiest thing we can do is consult advice from friends or family who have been to where you’re going. A quick Facebook post will probably generate lots of leads.

If you want to do your own activity investigation, then there are a throng of websites which specialize in helping travelers become inspired. My go-to’s are TripAdvisor, TripSavvy, Lonely Planet, Matador Network and Culture Trip.  These sites are packed with quality advice and can even help you reserve tours or various excursions. Additionally, Airbnb provides intriguing experiences for travelers. 

After reading up on various activities, I then like to dig through Instagram. Thousands of pictures will help convince you or change your mind about certain places/activities. It’s a solid way to wash away any doubts of what you think could be fun.

Some great ramen was once discovered in Sapporo, thanks to a helpful article from Culture Trip!

Also, reading up on cultural festivals for your intended destination can also offer an extra fun boost. For example, Valencia, Spain is a wonderful city that deserves a visit at any time of year but it’s at the apex of excitement during Fallas. Your future self might regret missing an incredible cultural event.

Murcia, Spain is fun at any point during the year. It’s even better in April during
Bando de a Huerta!

In a previous another blog post I shared ways for travelers to make new friends while overseas. If your goal is to meet people and you’re going to travel alone then this article might serve you well!


Thank you for reading! I hope some of this information helps you plan the most amazing journey ever.

As stated before, this is all based on my own personal experiences and might not be of use to you. Either way, I appreciate your time and wish you the best. If you have additional questions then feel free to connect with me.

Have a nice day, keep up the great work. 😉

-Daniel Catena