It's the moment you've been waiting for, and perhaps dreading (a bit) — traveling with your significant other. Maybe it's the first time you're traveling together, or maybe it's the hundredth. Whatever the case may be, there are several common fights couples have when traveling, and here's how to avoid them. After all, you're used to doing things your own way, but now you'll have to compromise. Maybe one of you is a night person while the other is a morning person, but if you want to actually spend time ~together~ on your trip, one or both of you will probably have to adjust to the other person's schedule.
"I highly recommend that if you haven't traveled with your partner, that you go on your honeymoon BEFORE the wedding," Johnny Jet, celebrity travel expert, tells Bustle. "You really get to know someone's true colors when you travel with them. Especially if it's a more difficult destination, say India," he says.
Genius idea, right? A recent study, too, discovered the importance of being travel-compatible, so to speak. Liligo, a travel comparison tool that helps travelers find the cheapest and fastest routes to their destination, did some research with YouGov last July. Over 1,000 people 18 or older were surveyed, with Millennials being in the 18-to-34-year-old range. Over one-third of Millennials agree that travel habits could make or break a relationship. As an avid traveler, I agree! And if you think back to trips you took with exes, or with your current partner, perhaps you agree, too!
So What’s The Solution?
One answer is going on a practice trip first. "You may want to start off with a shorter trip first, say a long weekend instead of a seven-day vacation, in case things should happen to go south for whatever reason," David Bakke, travel expert at Money Crashers, tells Bustle. "That way, you can get back on your home turf and figure out what went wrong before lasting damage is done to the relationship." Again, genius advice — starting with a small trip could literally determine your future travel compatibility. I like it!
Below are common things couples argue about when traveling, and how to avoid them. Because, TBH, the whole point of vacationing — vacating from your regular life — is to have fun, not to fight. Right?!
1The Money Fight
Of course, money is a stressor whether or not you're in a relationship. So add a vacation to the mix, money you're not normally spending together day-to-day, and things can get out of hand, financially and emotionally. "While vacations can be relaxing, they can also be stressful on relationships," Dr. Paul Hokemeyer, J.D., Ph.D, licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, tells Bustle. "The reasons for this are several. First, they're expensive. For couples who squabble about money, the expense of a holiday adds huge strain on the relationship. Eating and drinking out, spending money for the pursuit of happiness, can push couples to the point of angry outbursts and stress-related arguments."
How To Fix It: So, like with any money matters, making a game plan, i.e., a budget, in advance is key. Who's buying the plane tickets? Who's buying food and drinks once you're there? Did you save for this vacation together in a "Fun Fund," so you'll just use money from there to pay for everything? The sooner you know the answers to these questions — preferably, before you even buy your plane tickets — the better off you'll be down the line.
"I have always said that having a financial plan is key to avoiding debt — including vacation debt," Alexa von Tobel, Certified Financial Planner™, CEO & Founder of LearnVest.com, and New York Times best-selling author of Financially Fearless, tells Bustle. "Put together a plan that looks at your whole financial life and that gives you a clear picture on how much you can spend on the things you love — like going to the beach and renting bikes — while also protecting your money and your future."
2The Poor Planning Fight
According to Liligo and YouGov's aforementioned research above, one in 12 Americans have actually gotten into an argument with their significant other over poor travel planning. Plus, this is more common among females, with more than double the amount of females (one in 8) revealing they have gotten into a fight with their significant other over poor travel planning compared to men (one in 20). But, of course, this can be avoided. Not only are there plenty of travel apps out there, like HipMunk, where you plug in your desired flight details and it updates you when prices are lowest, but communication with your partner is key.
How To Fix It: "Know your strengths and tendencies and plan accordingly," Laurel Greatrix, TripAdvisor Rentals spokesperson, tells Bustle. "If your partner is a planner, but you like to wing it, use a shared list or app to communicate plans, such as the 'MyTrips' section on TripAdvisor. If you go exploring in separate directions one afternoon, having a shared app will allow you to efficiently review and collaborate plans, view a shared schedule, and add tickets bookings. This will also ensure you stick to your intended schedule and don't miss any important planned activities."
3The Packing Fight
When it comes to packing, perhaps you pack light but your significant other doesn't, or vice-versa. Maybe he or she thinks you should share one bag — after all, you only really need your bathing suit for your trip to Thailand. However, you may insist on bringing your Om The Go Asana Pillow, because where would you be without your neck pillow/yoga mat/beach towel in one?! It's perfect for Thailand!, you tell him. So, what to do?
How To Fix It: If you and your partner make a loose itinerary of what each day will be like, you'll be able to see what outfits you'll wear to what, which tops and bottoms you can mix and match, and when you can use your neck pillow/yoga mat/beach towel (i.e., Every day, you say!). You then discover that one suitcase between the two of you is plenty (and your Om The Go Asana Pillow even fits inside)! Lately, I'm obsessed with YouTube videos by the Vagabrothers, two traveling brothers, and they have great packing tips, too. Hint: They don't check any luggage!
4The Different Vacation Goals Fight
Communication is everything in a relationship, whether you're on your home turf together or on a beach across the world. Do you want to spend all day on the beach, or would you rather go on an island-hopping cruise but your partner prefers the former?
How To Fix It: To avoid fighting once you're on that lovely white sand across the ocean, talk about your vacation goals in advance. If you discuss as much of your vacation as possible in advance, how you'll spend your scheduled time, free time, when you will sleep and get up, it should make for ~way~ less disagreements later, on that white sand (unless you leave your partner there while you island-hop, which is perfectly OK; see #6). "Even if you've agreed upon a destination, you should still aim to manage expectations," Greatrix says. "Before takeoff, talk about what activities are a priority by researching reviews and selecting attractions that best fit your mutual interests. For instance, you can pre-book activities on TripAdvisor and skip the line, avoid waits, and spend downtime elsewhere."
5The Bad Mood Fight
Everyone gets hangry sometimes, right?! But that can be avoided! Traveling can be stressful enough without letting hunger + anger = hangriness seep into the equation!
How To Fix It: The solution? "Anticipate meals ahead of time," Greatrix says. "Order groceries to arrive at your rental upon your arrival. This can limit 'hanger' after a long journey and you can go straight into vacation mode, rather than stressfully navigate a supermarket in an unfamiliar city. If you're out exploring for an extended period of time, use your rental's kitchen to prepare snacks in the morning beforehand, so when 'hanger' strikes, you'll be prepared. And if you choose to dine out, ask your host for affordable local options and hidden gems."
6The Spending Too Much Time Together Fight
Yes, too much together time may not sound like something couples fight about on vacation, but if you start fighting about a lot of other things, chances are, you can use some time apart. "Most couples are used to spending time apart," Dr. Hokemeyer says. "Vacations mean 24-hour togetherness, and this can take a while to calibrate."
How To Fix It: Whether you go for a walk alone or go to the hotel gym, some down time alone is healthy. Plus, perhaps you have different vacation interests, as mentioned above. If you want to island-hop one day and they do not, it's OK to each do your own thing and regroup later.
Another vacation option, which can help reduce what-do-you-want-to-do-today conflict, is traveling with more people. "An easy way to avoid those common fights about what activities are worthwhile and where to eat is to travel together on a group trip," Maria Eilersen, Global PR and Communications Manager, Topdeck Travel, tells Bustle. "Particularly if you're traveling together for an extended period of time, a group trip relieves the stress of planning, allowing you to just enjoy the moment and explore new destinations. You and your significant other can spend as much time together as you want on the trip, but will also have the opportunity to make new friends and participate in separate activities if you so choose, without being left to go explore on your own."
7The High Expectations Fight
Vacations add a lot of unexpected and unnecessary pressure. "Vacations are like New Year's Eve — culturally created events that have artificially high expectations of fun and unbridled happiness," Dr. Hokemeyer says. "This unrealistic expectation can leave couples disappointed and depressed."
How To Fix It: So what do you do? Have low expectations and then be pleasantly surprised? Or go into it thinking, "Whatever happens, we're going to have fun"? The latter, right? Because even if one of you gets food poisoning while on your honeymoon and the other person plays nurse and the only TV channel is some local soap opera you cannot understand, you two will still create a memorable time.
All the above said, traveling with your partner can and will be fun, but the more you anticipate the above, the better time you'll have.