It’s been said that you don’t truly know someone until you travel together. A two-month backpacking trip with your girlfriend may sound like a good idea, but you’ll be broken up by day three if it turns out she panics when she can’t Snapchat every hour and passive-aggressive sniping is her idea of a conflict resolution skill.
Travelling together can lead to your highest highs and your lowest lows, but do it right and you’ll learn to love each other in ways you wouldn’t have at home. Enter the adventure with an open-mind and a commitment to facing whatever challenges wanderlust throws your way. You’ll come out the other side with a stronger partnership and once-in-a-lifetime stories to share with the future grandkids.
Before you pack your bags and take a one-way flight to breakup town, arm yourself with these 8 tips for travelling with a significant other.
#1 Discuss Budget Beforehand
Finances are a top source of friction in relationships, and the pressure doubles when you’re in unfamiliar territory. Don’t forget to have a serious budget discussion while you’re floating in pre-trip euphoria. Consider living costs where you’re travelling, the length of time you’ll be away, and what kind of activities you plan to do, then create a realistic per diem budget. Make sure both you and your S.O. are comfortable with the amount you intend to spend. Pro tip: be guided by the budget of the lower income partner to minimise disputes.
#2 Communicate And Compromise
Anything that’s irritating at home will be magnified when you’re on the road. Open communication, tolerance, flexibility, and compromise are key. Start by determining your respective travel styles. Are you a foodie? A thrillseeker? A culture hound? Or would you prefer to spend the entire holiday vegging by the pool? If you and your partner’s styles match, you have it easy – if not, find a happy medium so you both get to experience some of what you want. Failure to communicate can lead to resentment, and that’s not a souvenir you want to take home from your trip.
#3 Manage Expectations
It’s easy to get swept up in a romantic vision of your holiday. Perhaps you’re expecting long walks on the beach, elegant meals, saccharine couple selfies, and twice daily sessions of hot vacation sex. It might happen, but it might not, and the fastest way to have a disappointing trip is to set expectations it’s impossible to meet. Understand that everything won’t automatically turn up to 11 just because you’re away. The more you try to force your vacation to live up to your fantasy, the less energy you’ll have left over to actually enjoy it.
#4 Prepare See Each Other At Your Worst
Travel brings out the best and the worst in everyone. You may see your partner homesick, angry, ill, impatient, stressed, and rocking their best ugly airport attire. It’s your job to support them through it all, and their job to do the same for you. Things can, and often do, go awry when you’re on the road, so prepare to have both of your true colours exposed. Consider it a powerful source of insight and a rare opportunity to assess whether you’re actually a compatible match.
#5 Enjoy Some Alone Time
As magical as it is to be a “we”, sometimes you need solitude. Don’t be afraid to carve out alone time on a couple’s trip. It could be something as simple as an hour spent people-watching in a cafe or reading a book in a park, or something more elaborate. Alone time is the perfect opportunity to explore something you know your partner isn’t into. The added bonus? You’re much less likely to get sick of each other when you’re not glued together 24/7.
#6 Take Mishaps In Stride
At some point, something will go wrong (blame Murphy and his inconvenient laws). How you handle it could be the difference between surviving the trip with your couplehood intact and flying home solo. As much as possible, roll through the crisis with calmness and a sense of humour. Lashing out at your partner doesn’t solve the issue, especially if they didn’t cause it. A delayed flight is no reason to threaten your honey with grievous bodily harm.
#7 Divide Responsibilities
Divide and conquer isn’t just a strategy for war. You have a unique set of strengths and so does your partner – put them to good use to maximise your power as a travel team. Divvy up tasks like booking flights, selecting hotels, exchanging currency, determining visa requirements, and learning handy phrases in the local language. The end result is a holiday that’s more organised, more time-efficient, and less stressful – leaving you with more hours and energy to enjoy the good stuff.
#8 Try Something New Together
The couple that grows together stays together. Try at least one new thing on your trip, whether it’s eating an exotic dish or crossing skydiving off your bucket lists. Experiencing something unfamiliar together creates a special memory, adds fire to your relationship, and strengthens your bond. Plus it could be your only opportunity to go to ninja school or play polo on a camel.