How Not To Ruin Your Relationship While Traveling Together
While vacations are expected to de-stress, it’s easy to see how they can have the opposite effect. For couples traveling together, the perils are multiple. First your bags got lost by the airline, then you’re running late for your evening plans because you had to take turns getting ready in the small hotel bathroom, then it takes longer than you expected for the Uber ride downtown and you’re in a full-blown fight about missing the start of the show that you paid primo $$ for tickets on StubHub and...the trip now takes a nasty turn for the worse.
How you two handle traveling says a lot about both of you and the state of your relationship. Thankfully the gf and I have come out unscathed after a few trips and it has left me with some solid insight.
#1: The Boy Scouts were right.
As in, “always be prepared.” You two need to sit down before this trip gets off the ground and get on the same page. I’m not suggesting you need to iron out a minute-by-minute itinerary for each day, but understand the broad picture. First and foremost, what’s the goal here? Is this a relaxing beach getaway? If so, what are your expectations for the trip? Perhaps your vision is simply sitting poolside catching up on that new crime novel while imbibing mai tais and evening out your tan. Perhaps your partner wants to do a snorkel trip on day one, take a horseback tour on day two, then spend day three exploring the nearby historical center. Not that one vacation idea is better than the other -- you two just need to lay out expectations beforehand. That word is key.
#2. Give & take.
The previous point leads directly into this -- the vacation, as a microcosm of the relationship itself, needs to be about mutually beneficial compromise. Nothing makes you happier than seeing your partner happy, right? So if you REALLY want to spend the full day exploring the Louvre’s extensive collection of 8th Century Islamic art, then tell him why it’s so important to you. In turn, try to understand why he wants to (in your mind) waste the entire next day in Paris at Roland Garros watching the French Open. This isn’t YOUR trip, it’s OUR trip. You want your voice to be heard in the relationship and to listen to what your partner has to say too, right? Same goes here.
#3. “Me time” isn’t a bad thing.
While the point of vacationing together is to vacation together (duh!) it doesn’t mean you need to be joined at the hip from start to finish. It can be cramped quarters in the hotel room, and vacation can also mean solitude so you can decompress. Perhaps he’s dying to get downtown to cop a pair of the new limited-release Jordans, while you’d really like to take advantage of the hotel spa’s thai massage treatment. You can love being with your bf/gf and still feel okay leaving them to their own devices for two hours while you treat yourself.
As in be loose and flexible. You want to hit the slopes until 4pm, enjoy some apres ski at the bar, take a dip in the hot tub and then get ready for dinner at 7pm? Great -- but understand that whole scenario might not be doable. You’re never as nimble traveling as a pair as opposed to traveling solo. You may not be able to work in everything you have planned for the day. So what? Take the opportunity to call an audible for something else -- drinks at the bar with the fantastically romantic setting you were secretly eyeing earlier? Whatever it is you didn’t see or do, it’s not a big deal in the grand scheme. If your gf wants to arrive at the airport 45 minutes earlier than you’d like to, fine. Yes, you lose those last few precious minutes at the pool before returning to reality, but your gf gets her much needed peace-of-mind knowing she’s not missing her flight (caused by that one traumatic experience when she got stranded in Kathmandu). And on the balance you both end up happier that way.
#5. Remember the big picture.
Again, as a microcosm of the relationship, don’t let the details get in the way of enjoying the vacation as a whole. Nothing in life has ever gone 100% according to plans, so why should the weekend getaway to Charleston be any different? But don’t let the small detours along the route distract you from enjoying the overall experience. You don’t totally sour on your partner just because they forgot to get more coffee filters from the grocery store. So don’t let one small issue ruin the otherwise great trip.