Five Years Together, Two Years Of Travel

Last weekend we celebrated the fifth anniversary of our first date. We spent it devouring delicious vegan pizza at Sfizy Veg again, talking over the amazing things we’ve done over the past few years together.

As we enjoyed slice after slice of our pizza of choice, we talked over where we were five years ago both figuratively and mentally in comparison to where we are in our lives in 2014. Obviously so much of what has changed has come from our travelling the world as a couple for the past two years, further tightening our relationship through the ups and the downs, but strengthened and more determined to make changes in our lives that make us happy.

Five Years Ago

Before we became the globehopping couple we are today, we were two highly independent people living very different lives in 2009. Franca was an Italian expat living in my home town in the United Kingdom as a combination au pair, babysitter, part-time waitress and team member at an alternative music venue in the nearest city of Coventry. I was working in a job that was forever verging on collapse, trying to climb a ladder that didn’t exist, simply treading water and spending the money in my pocket just as soon as it arrived.

Those two people we’re heading in different directions. Franca never had a career plan or desires for herself outside of doing a little bit of travel wherever she could, whenever she could afford it. She lived each day as it came, living them as if they were her last, without much of a care for other people’s opinions that she should be either buying a house, climbing the career ladder, or getting married and having a baby. The ‘Big Three‘ that all good Italians should be aiming for.

Meeting someone like that had huge implications on how I began to look at life over those next twelve months, especially after our first holiday together, visiting Berlin for the first time and getting bitten by the travel bug ever so softly.

Franca in Berlin - Five Years Together, Two Years Of Travel

Four Years Ago

Entering our second year together and having moved into our first home only a few months prior to our first anniversary, we went through all of the stages of moving in with your partner, learning all those little secrets about each other that never see the light of day unless you spend every hour in each other company. So much of those first months living together make up some of my fondest memories of our relationship, with time spent watching Twin Peaks on camping chairs our friends lent us in our living room with a cardboard box as a table being amongst those that make us both laugh the most when we look back on them now.

That second year together was when I learned that I’d never be happy until I’d helped Franca to forefill her dream to travel.

Since the age of eighteen Franca had spent her the following years moving across Italy for university, back again to Puglia for work, then to the UK to learn English and see what life throws her way. Staying in one place was very clearly never going to be on the cards for her, and the more I learned about her, the memories of amazing adventures she’d seen, plus the list of places she’d yet to discover for herself; the idea of her not seeing them began to be one of the problems I found myself with heading into our third year together.

First day in our first home

Three Years Ago

Heading into 2011 and I began to suffer from depression, and if it wasn’t for Franca at my side I don’t know how I would have handled it. I was unhappy and needed an escape, Franca gave me that and all of her support throughout. She surprised me with the trip to Venice that would become the first step towards the round the world adventure we’d begin in 2012 and our third year together.

If it wasn’t for Franca waking up the adventurer in me, who knows that may have become of not just myself, but our relationship. She made me see and realise that I’d barely scratched the surface of the potential exploration we could do together, that there’s a whole world to be uncovered and lived.

This was the moment that I realised that one person can make a huge difference, through support and encouragement, I began to see that there was so much of life to be grasped and made the most of, that we both together could travel the world, that there was nothing standing in our way but ourselves. Only we could make the choice to give up our jobs, sell all of our possessions, and start an around the world adventure without an end date in sight.

Dale and Franca in the Colosseum in Rome - Five Years Together, Two Years Of Travel

Whilst exploriong the Colosseum in Rome

Two Years Ago

October 18th 2012 and we celebrate our anniversary in our own way – we do nothing. Actually, we spend it in the company of our Couchsurfing host in Japan, but choose not to mention it as we don’t want to make any fuss about it. There’s no need to do anything fancy, it’s a day like most others after all, so we just shared some gyoza instead.

It had been three months since we finally boarded our plane from the UK to only our second Couchsurfing experience in Pisa, we’re still getting used to the idea that we’re now a full-time backpacking couple with little idea where we’re going to be in a months time, or even if we’ll still be able to afford this lifestyle in a year, but we keep plodding along.

This third year takes us through South Korea, Taiwan, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Laos, an unfortunately sad return to Italy and a little time spent at home before travelling the country.

Dale and Franca crossing from Laos to Thailand - Five Years Together, Two Years Of Travel

Tired faces whilst crossing from Laos to Thailand

One Year Ago

People always say that if you can travel with someone and not kill each other, then you’re set for life. I can attest to that. To be able to take our relationship on the road, to manage with the ups, downs and regular tests on your emotions that it brings; there’s no doubting that with the wrong person beside you that it can all end in tears. To reach a year travelling as a couple was something we were both proud to have completed together, but it wasn’t always easy by any stretch of the imagination.

The majority of things we learned about each other during that year we may never have discovered whilst living together. The previous twelve months taught us about our resolve, to be there for each other, to be patient (where emotion will allow) and to try to encourage the best from one another. To be able to adapt to the road and the changes that come along the way with someone to support you are unquestionably the best part of travelling as a pair, whether it’s as a friend or partner. Without each other we may not have been so easy to adjust to our surroundings, loosening up our expectations and requirements to be happy.

Our fourth anniversary was another quiet affair of just us and a few our our friends here in Berlin, again failing to mention that it was a ‘special day‘ right until the last minute and the wine had almost been finished.

Dale and Franca in Alexanderplatz, Berlin - Five Years Together, Two Years Of Travel

The Past Twelve Months

The past twelve months may not have seen us venture around such exotic countries as those we visited in South East Asia, but our time spent in Europe has brought opportunities for further self-improvement and developments that again, we wouldn’t have ever gone through if one hadn’t encouraged the other to follow their dreams two years beforehand.

We started to really appreciate life more, started to travel even slower than we had before, trying to live more like a local (excuse the clichΓ©) by doing prolonged periods of house and petsitting in Germany, France, Spain and briefly in the UK in 2014. These longer stops enabled us to talk and learn more about the things about us we’d love to embrace more and adjust, with our vegan diet being chiefly amongst them.

The past year has also seen our attitude to our futures change a little too. We’re still as keen as ever to travel and see the world, but we’re also quite aware of the fact that having somewhere small and personal to call home from time-to-time is becoming something we’re more keen to do, hence our trialling Berlin right now as a possible home base between our future adventures.

Though we both love discovering new countries, meeting new people and putting ourselves in social situations that bring out the best in us, we’re both aware that having a few little things like having our own kitchen full of worldly spices is something we’d love to have.

A pasta dish made by Franca - Five Years Together, Two Years Of Travel

The Next Twelve

Neither of us wants to stop travelling, so it’s quite plain to us that the next twelve months is going to be spent travelling in one way or another, and having asked your opinion about the future of the blog, we’ve found that your support for us to go more professional with our humble little travel blog has completely blown us away.

We’re still looking at our options, but already we’re starting to come to a much clearer idea of how to keep travelling and sharing our stories, without covering this site in adverts for companies we neither use or believe in, or sponsored content that not only bores you to death, but makes the both of us want to pull out our hair. Hopefully we’ll be able develop a business model based on honesty, openness and good travel writing.

The One Lesson

If there’s only one thing that we’ve both learned from the past two years of travel and our five years spent together, is that with the right support there’s nothing you can’t do, and no one you can’t be. No matter if it’s a friend, or a loved one, or someone writing a post such as this one, there’s always someone to support you.

Five years later and with two of them spent travelling, I count myself lucky that my best friend still supports me every day.

Where do you want to be in five years?