10 Tips For Traveling With Your Significant Other For The First Time
Traveling with anyone new may take some getting used to, but when it’s with someone you’re dating, there’s a different kind of pressure involved — after all, you want the trip to bring you two closer together, not further apart. From how you’ll spend your time to what types of activities you’ll do, there are ways to help avoid potential conflicts you may face. When it comes to traveling with your significant other for the first time, communication and some pre-planning are key.
“Even though the trip may be short-term, you’ll be getting an idea of what it’s like to live with your significant other longer-term,” Thomas Edwards, Jr., transformational coach, tells Bustle. “And while going away with them will be fun, keep in mind that this is your first time traveling together, which means you’ll see more of each other in ways you haven’t seen before.” He says this can include up-close and personal routines to how each of you define a vacation. “In any case, it’s important to manage expectations,” he says. “Communicate what you’d like from the trip and listen to each other so you two can be on the same page before the trip even starts.”
Below, Edwards and other relationship and travel experts chime in on how you can make your first trip with your partner a success.
1. Choose A Destination You’re Both Excited About
Anna and Matt Kiefer, a couple who are also the co-founders of Hostelgeeks.com, have plenty of experience traveling both alone and together. They tell Bustle that it’s important to choose a destination you’re both excited about. “Although this seems obvious, communication is essential here to avoid arguments and one person doing all the planning,” they say. “If both people are equally excited for the location, everything will run smoothly with little effort.”
2. Talk Through The Whole Trip In Advance
Before you book your plane tickets or reserve a rental car, Rachel Wright, licensed marriage and family therapist and co-founder of Wright Wellness Center, tells Bustle to talk through the whole trip and both of your expectations. “So much conflict and anxiety in relationships come from things that are unsaid,” she says. “We can sit quietly hoping that our partner can read our mind — or, we can express what we’re feeling and thinking.” She says that she often hears clients say, “It just didn’t live up to my expectations,” or “I wanted us to just lay low the whole time and my partner had the whole thing planned out minute-by-minute.”
However, if you and your significant other have a pre-trip chat, you can then go through what each day will look like, Wright says. “Talking about things like what types of activities you want to do, if you want to work out, and when you want down time will help when you arrive and are figuring out exactly what to do,” she adds.
3. Be Prepared For Changes
Julie Spira, founder of Cyber-Dating Expert, tells Bustle that after the excitement of booking your trip, things are bound to go wrong with your well-laid-out plans. “From a delayed flight to arriving to a hotel that’s overbooked, it’s important to talk to your partner in advance on how you’ll handle things, and come up with a Plan B,” she says. “If your flight is canceled, and one of you wants a free travel voucher and the other wants to board the plane, you need to be on the same page.”
4. Compromise On Decisions
Even if you’re a Type A personality, it’s good to allow your partner to have a say in how you’ll spend time during the trip, too. “The worst travel partner is the one who demands to make every decision,” the Kiefers’ say. “Traveling is about creating memories and having a wonderful time together; otherwise, you can just travel alone.” So, they say it’s best that both people stay involved in the decision-making process and compromise as needed so that the trip is an equal balance of what each of you want to do, even if that means doing some things that are not your first choice or doing things on your own.
Spira agrees and suggests taking turns making plans. “No one wants to go on a relaxing holiday with a control freak,” she says. “If you’ve decided to have breakfast in bed one day, let your partner decide where you’ll have dinner so it feels like a true partnership.” Similarly, she says that if one of you makes most of the reservations and handles the itinerary, ask your partner what they’d like to do, too, so it isn’t all about you and becomes more about “we.”
5. Participate In Events Where You’ll Meet People
Although you and your significant other will likely focus most of your time on each other and doing things together, it’s also good to do activities where you’ll meet others. “Sometimes, it’s necessary to add new people to the mix when traveling with a partner,” they say. “It’ll add flavor to your trip: You’ll meet people and can receive amazing travel tips for your next journey.”
One way to do this is by joining local tours and activities. “These days, there are many wonderful tours and activities to do in almost every destination,” the Kiefers’ say. They recommend taking turns choosing something fun you can both do — or split up for the day and share stories over dinner.
In addition, the Kiefers’ suggest checking out social events at hostels, whether you stay at one or not. They point out that there are great hostels for couples, and many these days offer private rooms. “So you have your privacy at night, but have the option to mingle and meet others at other times,” the Kiefers’ add.
6. Learn How To Share
Spira says that because you and your partner will be in close quarters on your first trip, it could be a sign to show you’re compatible — or could end up being your first big bump on the road. “You might have your own bedroom and bathroom at home, but when you’re on the road, you’ll be sharing a bathroom with someone else, and that’s pretty intimate, regardless of your relationship status,” she says. “The important thing is to give your traveling partner their space, especially if the bathroom door is closed.”
She says that to help prevent conflicts, don’t forget to pick up after yourself. “Put the toothpaste cap back on, hang up the towels, and clean up the bathroom as much as you can so your partner can have their time to get showered and cleaned up before you head out for the day’s adventure,” she says.
7. Decide On A Budget
Talking about money may not be at the top of your “something to do for fun together” list, but it’s important, especially when you and you partner are deciding what types of activities to do on your trip. “Make an agreement before the trip begins, and plan the itinerary around it,” the Kiefers’ say. “No one wants to have to discuss the awkward topic of money once they’ve started traveling.” If one person cannot afford a certain activity, you may want to do a lower-budget one instead or pay for your partner to join you.
8. Set Aside Alone Time
Just because you’re going away with your significant other for a set amount of time, whether it’s a weekend or a full week, it doesn’t mean you can’t have alone time. In fact, you should — and not just when your patience is running thin.
“Set aside alone time in advance,” Edwards says. “When spending a lot of time with your partner while on vacation for the first time, it can become a little much — and this is a good thing. But this also means you need some time to be with yourself, reconnect, and recharge.” He says either find a specific activity to go do alone or just relax with a book or by the pool. “Plus, this break will create a longing for one another, which will make the trip even more enjoyable when you two come back together,” he says.
9. Express Any Concerns You Have In Advance
Wright says that just like it’s important to go over the positive things you want to do on your vacation with your partner, it’s also important to go over things you’re worried about. “If you have a fear of flying, let your partner know before you’re on the way to the airport,” she says. “Or if you’re worried your partner is going to want to lie around all day and you’re going to want to explore, talk about that before the trip.”
10. Have Daily Check-Ins
In addition to discussing details of the trip in advance, Wright recommends having daily check-ins while on the trip, too. “Pick a time to check in with each other and talk about your favorite parts of the day and if there’s anything you want to do differently the next day,” she says. “My husband and I give our clients a weekly ‘family meeting’ that helps them check in on all areas of their relationship — and I’d recommend this, in a smaller-scale way, as a daily practice while away with your significant other, too.”
While the idea of going away with your partner for the first time can be exciting, it can also be intimidating. But with communication, honesty, and some compromise, there are several ways to make the trip go more smoothly and you’ll come back excited to plan the next one.
Thomas Edwards, Jr., transformational coach
Anna & Matt Kiefer, co-founders of Hostelgeeks.com
Rachel Wright, licensed marriage and family therapist and co-founder of Wright Wellness Center