I have traveled alone for years…which I highly recommend you try to do at least once in life.) I’ve also traveled with friends, in groups, with family, and with my boyfriend (now husband) and each type of travel experience has its challenges and benefits. However, the one that is often the most delicate is traveling with your spouse or significant other.
Many couples go into their travel plans with the best of intentions…but they find themselves in arguments, feeling tense and frustrated. And they don’t end up enjoying themselves as much as they could; which of course nearly defeats the purpose of taking the trip in the first place.
Here are some tips based on my own travel experiences and those of my well-traveled and married (or in a serious committed relationship) friends that can help you put your “issues” aside and simply enjoy each other and the experience.
5 Vacation Rules for Couples
Rule #1: Plan the Trip Together
Rule number one, never go on a trip that you both don’t cosign. Right from the gate, you will be dealing with direct resentment or passive-aggressive resentment (albeit in some cases sub-consciously) from the person whose trip idea wasn’t chosen.
A suggestion I have in terms of picking a trip you both want to take is that you each write down a list of 10 destinations you are interested in, then see if you have any destinations in common. If you do jackpot! If you don’t, find a place that has the greatest number of options available that will keep you both happy and fulfilled.
Or, one of my favorite thing to do is to pick a destination at random, throw a dart at a map, or close your eyes and spin a globe and see where your finger lands. The bottom line is you need to go somewhere that you both want to go to.
Rule #2: Vow Not to Bring “Baggage” With You
I don’t mean this in the literal sense. Of course you need to bring luggage. What I mean is don’t bring “baggage”. Don’t bring work, stress, worries about the kids, bills, or anything else with you.
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Come with the intention of focusing on and spending time with each other. Make a pact to keep your cell phones off and only turn them on when you want to check in on the kids or some other equally important reason. But other than that, turn em off.
Leave your problems on the shelf and use this time to release, relax, recharge, and reconnect, so that you when you return to “reality” you are stronger team and can tackle whatever issues you may have together.
Rule #3: Take Time for Yourself
As counterintuitive as it sounds, making time for yourself while you’re on vacation with your spouse can actually make the time spent together much sweeter. For example, on one trip I took with the hubby to Jamaica, I went to the spa and got the full treatment while he went charter fishing.
That night was especially fun because we both got to do what we wanted to do during the day and felt satisfied and in a place where we could just focus on one another. I felt like a million bucks and he was happy he got to do what he loved on his terms, which meant we were able to concentrate only on each over dinner and into the evening.
Rule #4: Do Things Together
In contrast to my last point, do things together. On a trip we took to Thailand, we got a couples massage and spa treatment, went river fishing (clearly you can see a trend to our travels — going to the spa and fishing are two of our favorite things. We rode an elephant together, went to a snake farm and had a boa constrictor wrap itself around our legs to see how tight it could squeeze. We ate out every night, went parasailing, did sightseeing, and chilled on the beach, among other activities. The idea is when you are traveling together do things together and engage actively with one another.
Rule #5: Be Flexible
One of the biggest argument starters in any relationship, whether you’re on vacation or at home, is inflexibility. One person wants to have things their way, or is only willing to do things they want to do, as opposed to compromising and giving a little to get a little.
In a vacation situation where much is left to chance and outside of your control (or even on cruises where literally everything is planned down to the minute), flexibility is key. Be willing to do what your partner wants to do and expect that they are willing to do the same for you.
The key to it all is to be flexible and have fun!
When we took a trip to Egypt, we decided that we would take turns planning our daily activities. I would take Monday, he took Tuesday, and on and on throughout the week. It made for an interesting and fun trip because we ended up doing things that we otherwise wouldn’t have if only one of us had taken the lead on trip planning or one of us had been inflexible and unwilling to go along with the plan. The key to it all is to be flexible and have fun!
Travel in any form can be a challenge without preparation and flexibility, but when you travel as a couple these tips can truly help make your trip the most enjoyable it can keep. Happy Travels!