Wifeys & Gentlemen,
I woke up yesterday morning feeling kind of ‘blah’. Maybe it’s the weather or something in the air, but occasionally, I have moments where I cannot tolerate being where I am. I long to get into my car and just drive until I figure out where it is I’m going (or miss where I came from enough to go back). Luckily, these wayward feelings of mine tend to creep up when I am on the brink of reprieve. Starting tonight after work (ugh), I get to do a weekend getaway with 2 of my favorite gal pals and follow it up with some much needed time away for wedding dress shopping and QT with my magical, unicorn-mama (hey mom!).
Planning a getaway without my fiancee got me all nostalgic about the trips he and I have taken over the years. I started thinking about travel and what it takes to do it successfully in a relationship. I’d like to think that he (the fiancee) and I travel really well together, so leaving him behind will actually be a bit of a bummer this go round; we have good travel compatibility and I always have a great time braving the trails and tribulations that occur in between all of the fun!
The reality is, as many seasoned couples will tell you, travel can sometimes either make or break a good relationship.
…I honestly don’t know.
Before doing the research, I always just assumed that vacationing and travel were an easy part of being ‘coupled’. Apparently, not everyone can be so lucky in the travel department! So, here are a few things to consider before deciding to take a trip with your mate (or even a friend or loved one):
- Understand his/her travel behavior!
Does she like to get to the airport 3 hours ahead, buy some food, and take advantage of the ‘duty free’ shopping malls before take off? Does he like to fill long flights with casual conversation? Do you need someone to keep you company on a road trip, or do you prefer the company of good music? These are all seemingly simple things to talk about when planning any kind of trip. Trust me when I say you both will be much better off if you have an idea of what to expect and what compromises, if any, need to be made. If your S/O really likes to sleep on the plane and you’re dying to talk, knowing that upfront can be really helpful to avoid surprises and unnecessary disappointment that can lead to arguments and bickering.
- Discuss your ideal ‘itinerary’
I discovered, somewhat recently, that I am not much of an adventurer. While I love to experience the best parts of traveling somewhere new, an overly active vacation, for me, isn’t a vacation at all! My ideal itinerary when going away involves sampling local food, drinking the wine, visiting the MOST important tourist attractions, shopping, napping, exploring the nightlife, and playing it all by ear. If you’re the type of person who wants to see and do as much as humanly possible when on vacation, then I might not be the travel buddy for you! For some of us, the idea of going to a new place and NOT seeing everything is a waste of time and money. While I completely understand the sentiment, I know that I am not alone when I say that, for the most part, I’d rather just go with the flow and see what happens.
Have chat with your partner about all of the things you’d like to do and see on your trip and then decipher which ones are most important to both of you and what you are willing to make time for. There is nothing wrong with having a general plan, even when you want to be spontaneous (which is something I find really helpful despite my resistance to planning too many activities)! Make sure everyone’s needs are being met in some capacity each day; if you are polar opposites in the ways you like to vacation, then settle in and prepare to make some mutual accommodations. Both of you should feel relaxed and energized after a getaway, and as they say, a failure to plan is a plan for failure!
- Know when to take pictures and when to ‘soak it all in’
This one might seem silly to some of you, but in this day and age, it’s actually kind of a big deal. While I will be the FIRST to admit that I practically live on my iPhone, I am not one for taking a bunch of pictures and videos and capturing every single moment of my life on Instagram. My fiancee, believe it or not, is the exact opposite! He loves taking and posting pictures. He loves checking in. He loves food photos and occasional silly selfies. He is the kind of man who will take a picture of artwork on the streets or in a museum; and it’s fantastic! While this has never been an issue where we butt heads (I allow him to live his life with minimal intervention…for now 😉 ) I know a handful of couples who have had all out brawls over this very thing.
For some, taking pictures and videos and sharing moments online is the way they express joy and make memories! For others, the only memories they need are the pictures and videos stored in their own brains. If you are a couple who has had issues in the past with this concept, spend some time thinking about which moments you’ll deem camera worthy and which ones you’ll keep to yourselves. Since this isn’t the kind of thing you can exactly make a concrete outline for, it’s a good idea to remember what you know about your partner and use that information to dictate your photo-behavior.
If she’s a more private person, for example, don’t post photos and check ins during a romantic dinner or walk on the beach. Alternatively, if he’s the type to get excited about the fun designs in his morning latte, don’t mock or hassle him for sharing the joy with his friends and followers!
Let you S/O be themselves and only intervene if they are doing something that really upsets or bothers you.
- Have a ‘safety plan’ for a variety of scenarios
Many of us forget that there are a handful of bad things that can happen to us on a trip. While I pray that no one ever finds themselves in serious peril, when traveling (especially somewhere new to you or out of your home country) please please please anticipate and plan for ‘worst-case’ scenarios. What is the plan for if someone gets lost? Do you have a safety plan for drunken night on the town if everyone is impaired? What are your back ups if you lose important documents (passport, ID) or money? What happens if you are robbed? Injured? Get sick? What do you do if one of you is arrested?
No one wants to think about these things when gearing up for a good time, but if you search some of the ‘horror stories’ of couples and friends who were blindsided by negative experiences, you might change your mind. Of course, no plan is fool proof! There is a slight chance that, even with a solid safety plan in place, the worst can still happen. However, isn’t better to be safe than sorry? Take the time to at least consider your options in a vacation crisis, you might be glad you did (but knock on wood because I hope not).
- TALK…to each other, and strangers 😉
This might be another easy/obvious point, but I have to assume that if you’re planning a getaway with your sweetie (or parent, or child, or friend) it’s because you want to get away from the hectic demands of your day to day lives and spend time with your love! Vacation is a time to have those stupid conversations that you don’t have time for during the work week. It’s the time when you can catch up on each others lives and current events. It’s a time for reflection on the things we are most grateful for; each other. Don’t forget to actually communicate with each other during your getaway. Failing to do so is, in my opinion, a seriously wasted opportunity to get to know your partner even better!
You’d be surprised how much you can learn about someone when they are at their most peaceful. Capitalize on this notion, friends! Let your special someone know you find them interesting and dive into the details.
- Remember: There is nowhere to hide on vacation (mostly)
You’ll be in close quarters for a longer than average amount of time! Be it in the car, on a plane, in your hotel room, or on a ship, there is no real place to hide from your travel partner and no real sense of separation or “me” time. You’ll get exposed to the underbelly of your partner’s physical presence and be confronted with each others habits.
Moreover, traveling with someone narrows the emotional space. Some couples say that you learn to speak your own language; every sigh, grumble, or frown begins to make sense in ways that you did not know were possible. Successful travelling couples eventually get to a point where they will accept each other for who they are, warts and all. If not, you’ll know pretty quickly once the arguments and tears begin! It might seem obvious, but travelling together gives you a chance to bombard your lover with all of the irritating idiosyncrasies that you’d otherwise bicker over in a normal setting; wet towels on the bathroom floor, leaving the toilet seat up, being late to a tour or a show, being indecisive about food choices, all of these are examples of things that will become routine when you see each other 24 hours a day, every single day!
You can choose to bitch and moan, turning everything into a fight and making each other miserable, or you can learn to accept your partner for everything that they are, even the gross, annoying, embarrassing crap that makes you want to scream!
Listening to these tips, and cultivating some of your own, will contribute to developing an amazingly strong travel relationship that is based on a genuine acceptance and appreciation for each others strengths and weaknesses.
Still, try to remember that every couple is different! If you find that you and your love aren’t so good on the road together, that doesn’t mean you can’t ever have amazing getaways and trips. It’s about adjusting and adapting to your unique situation in a way that makes you both feel comfortable and safe.
I, for one, am really excited to plan a honeymoon with my favorite travel partner; 239 days and counting!
Until Next Time:
Carry On, Wifeys!