What You Learn When You Travel With Your Partner

by Natalia Lusinski

Everyone does it at some point. It’s inevitable if you’re going to stay together. Aside from seeing a cool new place, traveling with your significant other for the first time teaches you new things about each other—habits, idiosyncrasies, how they want to spend down-time—and whether your vacation styles match up and you two can compromise. Or not. Maybe you’re a museum person and he’s more of a let's-find-all-the-bars-in-town one. That’s OK, as long as you can agree on having varied interests.

Some people consider their first trip with their boyfriend or girlfriend to be a success if they didn't fight (especially about directions) when traveling together. Psychology Today says traveling as a couple is one of the best ways to make your relationship stronger. Others consider a few squabbles as par for the course. Yet others make traveling together a mission in life. Listen, there are bound to be misunderstandings. This is a big deal. It's a big deal traveling with anyone, let alone your significant other. There are so many things to figure out in advance—getting time off for the trip, budget, where you'll stay, what you'll want to see, and 101 other things we often forget to think about before reaching our travel destination.

This AskMen article by Heidi Muller says a couple should not travel together unless they’ve been dating for at least three months, “since by that point, each of you knows whether the other is relationship material."

“Remember, you're not going away with your buddies, whose idea of a good time is picking up different women in another language every night. Going on that first trip with a significant other is a milestone in every relationship, and is a great way to test your compatibility and ability to compromise before moving in together.” - Heidi Muller

Hopefully, the trip won’t tear you apart. Sadly, I know a couple who broke up while flying back from their trip to Europe. But if it does, it probably wasn’t about the trip as much as it was your personalities clashing.

After I took my first trip with a boyfriend, I learned so many things about him (and myself).

1. We preferred to spend our down time differently.

He wanted an afternoon nap every day, whereas I wanted to go-go-go exploring all day and night, getting the most out of every minute. I’m sure he’d say he got the most out of every minute, too, during his siesta.

2. I’m more spur-of-the-moment, the-last-tour-is-only-right-now while he wanted to stick to our schedule.

Even before our vacation, I knew I was the more spontaneous one in the relationship. So, pay attention to traits and habits each of you have now—then magnify them by 100. There's more pressure on a trip—after all, when will you ever get back to the Great Wall of China—so if you suspect your boyfriend or girlfriend won't be as willing to veer from your planned schedule, expect to do some things alone or with someone you befriend there. If we had to do it again, we’d probably make a more lax schedule, with things we had to see as well as optional ones.

3. He’s addicted to his phone.

A few years ago, I gave up texting (I’d been an addict), so now I can be fine not looking at my phone for hours at a time. NBD. However, due to this, I don’t know if my then-boyfriend actually spent a lot of time with his phone or if I’m just ultra-aware of people’s phone habits after doing a 180 with mine. He'd claim, "but we're together 24 hours a day now, I need some phone time." To me, "some" was a few minutes now and then. To him, it was "taking a five-minute break," which then turned into an hour of him on Facebook. Come on! We're on vacation! Facebook will still be there when we get back to L.A.! So, if possible, put the phones away (even as cameras—try using an actual one!) and enjoy the present moment.

4. He is very patient.

Not only do I have a small bladder, but I’m a bit (OK, very) picky when it comes to restrooms. This boyfriend would shrug—no problem—and we’d sometimes spend a while searching for an acceptable bathroom. Then again, maybe he just wanted the extra phone time! Sometimes, he’d even go look at it for me (if it was a single-occupancy one). Aww. So, see? Vacationing together brings out people's best traits, too.

5. He’s more laid-back than I thought.

My then-guy was laid-back when it came to our plans getting disrupted, like when we got lost en route to a tourist destination or when we impulsively took a couple buses to a certain museum, only to find it was closed on Mondays. Even though he liked when we stuck to our half-assed, pre-made schedule, he started to be more accommodating and doing spur-of-the-moment things (i.e., when it rained, our outdoor plans were cancelled, and we had to come up with a back-up plan).

6. We’re (travel) soulmates.

Though our relationship did not last, and had nothing to do with the way we vacationed together, we did make unbelievably well-matched travel partners. If only everything else had synced up the same way! However, if you can travel well together with your significant other, it's a huge step in your relationship. Now, stop reading this and book a trip someplace.

Images: Lilim/Flickr; Giphy (2-8)