Like many other college students my age, I always dreamt of traveling abroad. Since high school, I had ideas about what it would be like to cross the Atlantic to all parts of Europe or head south to see Machu Picchu.
As I went through my first few years at college, more and more of my friends had begun traveling abroad, and more and more I ached to do it, too. I always thought that the first time I traveled outside the U.S. would be with family and friends. Instead, the first person I traveled abroad was my significant other.
There are many amazing aspects of traveling with your partner, but what about if you and your partner are traveling to their home country? My first time out of the country was special because I got to experience another culture through the eyes of a native. Not to say that traveling abroad with friends, school, or family takes anything away from the experience, but I will say that my experience had a different impact on me because of being there with him.
1. No worrying about the language barrier
Not everyone who travels abroad is fluent in multiple languages, and I am no exception to that. Having my partner there to translate everything from conversations to menu items to signs was a huge stress reliever.
2. You can confidently practice a new language
On the other hand, I was able to practice (very) small bits of the language with confidence that what I was saying was correct and made sense!
3. You (probably) won't get lost
Because we were easily able to translate road signs and directions, and my partner is familiar with the cities we visited, we didn't have any horror stories of wandering around aimlessly for hours trying to figure out where we are.
4. Avoiding all the tourist spots
There are some tourist spots that you just can't avoid, such as large monuments, cathedrals, and what not. What you can avoid, though, are the overrated and overpriced spots in city and head to a more hidden gem. For example, instead of heading to the top of The Duomo in Milan for a good view of the city, we went to the '900s Museum next door. Both offer a great view, but the latter was free and not crowded!
5. Eating authentic cuisine
Here's one thing I learned about Italy: cuisine is innately apart of Italian culture. You can drive from one town to another that's only a 30 minute difference, and you will find a dish that is unique to only that city. In all of the big tourist areas of Italy, and anywhere else in Europe, the restaurants promote tourist-friendly menu items. Having my partner along was a great way to dodge overpriced, inauthentic food.
6. You're fully immersed in the culture
The first part of my trip was spent with my significant other's family. What better way to get to know the culture than to spend two weeks living it? You get to see the day-to-day customs that you generally would miss out on by only traveling to tourist destinations.
7. Build a closer relationship
Last but not least, the best part about traveling abroad with your significant other is that it brings you two close to each other, and in my case, it gave me a better understanding of who he is and where he comes from. If you have a friend, family member, or anyone close to you that comes from a different cultural background, I highly recommend having them show you first-hand.