Traveling as a couple is amazing and terrifying.
It’s wonderful because you get to spend time with someone you care about a lot, you get to do new things with them and see new places. But it’s also terrifying because travel can make or break a relationship. If you don’t travel well with your boyfriend/girlfriend/fiance/husband/wife, then that can be a big problem in and of itself. It can also help make the flaws in your relationship way more evident. I’d confidently say that if I didn’t enjoy traveling with someone, I wouldn’t be able to continue seeing them.
Fortunately, I do enjoy traveling with my guy, and he enjoys traveling with me. We’re both excited to adventure and we enjoy sharing those experiences with each other. We’ve taken a few trips close to California, like Santa Barbara and Vegas, we just got back from the east coast a few weeks ago, and we’re currently planning a winter trip to Iceland (!!). Can you tell I’m excited? (!!!!!!!!)
But just because we like planning trips and travel well together doesn’t mean that it’s not a challenge. Planning and traveling is stressful when you’re doing it by yourself, so when you throw another person into the mix it can be even harder. How can you best travel with a partner? I’ve got a few things to keep in mind when planning a trip and adventuring with your boothang.
Be prepared to compromise.
If you insist on deciding everything about the trip — from the destination to the lodging, food, activities, and more — you are a no-fun-to-travel-with-as-part-of-a-couple lone man wolf pack. It’s your trip and your partner’s trip, so you both should have a say in where you go and what you do.
Compromise doesn’t just entail agreeing to do something you wouldn’t normally be as interested in if it weren’t for your sweetheart. It means deciding on a location you’re both interested in, even if it isn’t the place either of you had in mind to begin with. It means giving certain things up and not holding a grudge. It means tending to your partner’s needs and adjusting your itinerary accordingly.
My dude and I have relatively similar interests and expectations when it comes to travel (which will obviously make compromising a bit easier), but we plan very differently. I prefer to schedule only a few things per day and let things happen from there, but since I think that things will take longer than expected I leave more time than is necessary for certain activities. He’s enthusiastic about seeing as much as possible and occasionally hopes that we can fit more in one day than we actually can, but he’s way more able to make quick decisions when it’s needed.
Bottom line: it’s okay if neither of your initial thoughts ends up being the final decision. Constantly work together to decide on the best options.
It’s not exactly the most enjoyable to discuss money matters, but unless you have a joint bank account with this person, it’s necessary to prevent any hard feelings later on. Decide beforehand how you’re splitting up the big expenses like airfare, hotel/hostel/airbnb, rental car, etc. Use Venmo, PayPal, or cash to even up. Easy as that.
It really is a simple solution, but if you ignore talking about who’s paying for what, then things could get messy. While I usually agree on splitting 50/50, you can divide costs any way you’d like. Just figure out what makes the most sense for your situations!
Travel can bring out the best and worst in people. Yes, it’s fun and exciting and even romantic to go somewhere with someone you care about, but it’s stressful and frustrating sometimes, too. If you find yourself less than excited about a certain museum, craving a particular restaurant one evening, or just irritated and needing a nap, say so. Your guy or girl cannot read your mind, and you won’t be loved less for voicing an opinion or concern. I find that when I have something on my mind, the sooner I get it out in the open, the better. Letting things fester inside will only make it worse for both of you.
While you might think that, as a travel companion, you must be ever agreeable and happy, you don’t. That’s an incredibly boring mindset that will not only slowly drive you crazy but also make you seem like a robot. You’re a human being with desires, different moods, and a variety of interests. Don’t be afraid to express that!
On top of voicing how you truly feel, you should also actively listen. It goes both way, my friends, and if you refuse to listen to someone’s wants and needs then you aren’t being a very loving partner. You know that saying, “we hurt the ones we love the most”? Yeah, that’s dumb, so please don’t be like that ever, and especially when you’re traveling.
Plan alone time.
Even after just one day of nonstop together time you might be irritated with your partner. It’s no reflection on your relationship; instead, it simply means you’re human and like to be on your own sometimes. There is nothing wrong with wanting a little time away from your guy or gal, and I actually highly encourage it.
When my dude and I were in New York, we separated for about 2 hours. He went to do some networking and I went to a museum I really wanted to see. Distance makes the heart grow fonder, so that little time apart during our week-long trip together did us good. I wasn’t particularly desperate to spend time apart or anything, but it certainly was a nice change of pace.
Whether it’s a day, an afternoon, or just an hour, find an activity you’re comfortable doing solo and that your partner isn’t also dying to do. The museum I went to in NYC is one of my favorites and my guy didn’t mind if he missed out. But your possibilities are endless: read a book in a park, grab coffee, go on a hike, take a yoga class, check out an interesting restaurant, go inside a beautiful church, get a foot massage, visit a brewery…you get the idea.
Get enough sleep, food, and water.
You know what’s sure to turn you into a cranky five year-old almost immediately? Being tired, hungry, dehydrated, or a combination of the three. To avoid pointless bickering, get plenty of rest and make sure you carry around water and some snacks.
Because sleeping situations may vary on the road, I always recommend a sleep mask and some ear plugs (these are my favorite). In my old age I’ve found that even the smallest noises wake me up, and these two items make such a difference to the quality of my sleep. Aside from making sure you sleep soundly, allow enough time to rest each night. I understand wanting to pack in every exciting activity ever on your trip, but you do need downtime.
As for snacks and water, stock up on some simple things like trail mix, energy bars, and fruit at a local grocery store. If you’re unsure of the tap water situation where you’re visiting, buy bottled water to be safe. I like using my own water bottle when possible — this one is nice since it folds up to take less space when you’re not using it, and this one is super durable.
Divide the responsibilities.
Who’s hanging onto the hotel room key? Who’s carrying the map? Who’s got the water? Who’s hanging onto important documents? Who’s bringing the camera? Who’s got the chargers? Who’s got Airbnb reservation information? Etc. etc. etc.
When you assume, you make an ass out of u and me (thanks to my mom for that wisdom). A quick discussion before you hop on the plane/train/automobile to your destination will make things go hundreds of times smoother. It will also be a bit of a time-saver, preventing you both from trying to take care of the same task. Most importantly, though, it prevents one person from doing all the legwork. If you’re the one constantly taking care of every little detail, you’ll get burnt out and start to feel resentful. If you’re the one not handling anything in particular, you might feel like you’re not needed. Talk it out — ask for help and ask to help when needed.
It can easily feel like your trip is just one long, extended date, but you should take a little time to actually date date. Taking a little extra time to make a small activity special will mean a lot. On the last day we were in New York, my dude and I decided to grab an early dinner complete with prosecco. We’d had plenty of meals together during our trip, but the nice drinks were just a small somethin’ extra that made our last meal in the Big Apple super memorable, and it was such a sweet thing to share.
You don’t have to go over the top, but choose a time (I recommend once a week) to do something unique together. After your trip as a couple, those will be the super warm and fuzzy memories you’ll have. 🙂
What advice do you have to people traveling as a couple? Have you ever traveled with a significant other, and what struggles did you encounter? What do you like and dislike about traveling with a partner?
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