Going on vacation as a couple can be a thrilling opportunity. Not only that, it's a great way to show you're making an effort — to really block out some quality bonding time. "If you're no longer making an effort or if there's a lack of interest in an attempt to find quality time together, it could be a potential sign of trouble in the relationship," Dr. Kathryn Smerling, New York City based psychotherapist, tells Bustle. "If you're becoming irrelevant to each other, the relationship is not worth finding time for. But if you find you're still trying to make it work and squeeze couple time into your busy schedules, there are ways to get creative and squeeze in date time without compromising each other's commitments and obligations." Going away together is a great way of saying, "I'm making it a priority to spend time with you."
And it can also be an effing disaster. I know more than one couple who's described going away together as make-or-break — and trust me, sometimes it's break. It's a lot of time together without a break, stresses can be high, and you're out of your comfort zone. No wonder people become tetchy and irritable.
So before you jump into your first vacation together with a month back-packing in Asia (I know a couple who genuinely did this six months into dating... and they came back broken up), look at how you can make it succeed.
Here are some tips for surviving your first vacation as a couple:
Choose Locations Wisely
Seriously, where you go is a big first step. If you're traveling to a city or somewhere you don't know the language, things will generally be more stressful than a beach resort. That doesn't mean you shouldn't go for it, just know that you may need to schedule in more time to do things and find your way around to avoid stressful situations. If one of you speaks even the basics of a language or has traveled somewhere before, that can help make things tick along more smoothly.
Talk Out Your Travel Styles Beforehand
You don't want this to be a nasty surprise. Does one of you love to check out every item in the guide book while the other just wants to have a three-hour lunch and wander? You're going to want to know this ahead of time and do your best to make sure you're compromising. Preparation is key. Having talked about it beforehand will keep you from having to negotiate when you're in the middle of things — and tensions might be high.
Water, Snacks, Toilets
I know, it's not super romantic. But you want to have these things covered at all times. Make sure you carry snacks and water and use toilets when you can. Why? You will get on each other's nerves 10,000 times more if you're hangry, dehydrated, or desperate to pee. And if you're all three, then not even god can save you. Seriously, having some almonds in my bag has saved me from total relationship meltdown.
If It's A Long Trip, Have Moments Of Alone Time
A weekend break is doable, but if you jump right into a week or 10-day trip things may get intense. I'm not saying you need to go and book separate rooms or anything, but give in to some alone time. Even if it's time that you spend reading while your partner is on their laptop in the mornings or evenings — or if your partner goes for a walk while you get some work done. Just having time here and there where there's no pressure to interact can be a little release valve in the travel time — and one that you may not have even realized you needed.
Traveling together for the first time can be an amazing way to get some proper time for the two of you together, but it also can be a total stress fest. By keeping the communication open, starting before you travel, you should be OK. Oh, and snacks. Always snacks.