7 Tips for Traveling With Your Partner That Will Minimize Stress
My husband and I have the travel bug. We’ve traveled to over 20 countries together including a year of living in the Caribbean and a two month, around-the-world trip. In November, we took our biggest leap yet — long term travel abroad. Since then, we’ve lived with family in Prague, in a luxe (at least by our standards) hotel in Indonesia, and a miniature camper van in Japan. We’ve survived the stresses of trying to make money on the road, a bout with dengue fever, and the biggest fight (by far) in our relationship.
As you can imagine, we spend a lot of time together. We eat every meal together, exercise together, and sightsee together. There is a rare minute when we’re apart, which has been wonderful and dreadful. Before we left on this excursion without an end date, I read my fair share of travel advice and, as a true Type-A personality, spent time coming up with a plan that would leave our fairly new marriage intact. After five months, we’ve gotten this traveling as a couple thing down to a science. Here’s what we’ve learned.
1. Know what to expect
If there’s one thing that can ruin a romantic vacation, it’s unrealistic expectations. Before you book your trip make sure you and your partner are on the same page. If you envision a week filled with scuba diving, volcano hiking, and bungee jumping while your partner is planning on being a permanent fixture at the pool, you’re going to run into trouble. Talk about your individual visions for the trip and come up with activities that you’re both interested in. Be ready to make some compromises.
2. Do what you’re best at
Dole out responsibilities based on your natural strengths. If you’re great at reading maps, take on the role of the trip’s navigator. If your partner is picky about where they stay, then let them take on the role of booking lodging. Not only will having your own jobs make you feel like a valued member of the team, but it will force you to work together on everything from taking the plunge and booking tickets to the trip’s mundane tasks, like choosing what metro line to take to dinner.
3. Remember every day won’t be perfect
Just because you’re on vacation doesn’t mean that every day is going to be filled with endless laughter, sparkles, and macaroons (and all that other good stuff). Traveling is hard. You have to figure out how to get around, learn a city’s transportation system, manage with minimal language skills, and decide how you’re going to spend each day. Some moments will be stressful and intense. There will be days when you and your partner disagree on the best route to the museum or where you should go for lunch. Fights will happen. Keep your day-to-day expectations in check so that you’re not devastated when things don’t go as planned.
4. Give yourself space
Remember that when you’re at home, you and your partner have your own lives, so the adjustment of being with each other 24/7 can be a difficult one. Don’t be scared to go off on your own one afternoon or take a nap while your partner goes sightseeing. Just because you’re on a romantic vacation or the trip of a lifetime doesn’t mean that you have to be joined at the hip. Being apart will clear your mind, help you reset, and may even make you miss your partner a little (which is always a good thing). This one daily habit may ward off those trivial arguments that come up when you spend every waking second with someone.
5. Don’t let yourself get hangry
Hanger is what happens when hunger meets anger. Don’t let it get there. Unless you’re posted up on a beach somewhere, you’re going to get stressed, and when stress meets hanger things can get lethal. Make sure you and your partner have plenty of snacks on hand so when you take a wrong turn and can’t find that ramen place Lonely Planet raved about, you don’t kill each other.
6. Talk about money
How much are you willing to spend on lodging? Are you planning to eat out three meals a day or are you thinking of living off Clif bars? If you and your partner aren’t on the same page when it comes to spending before you leave, you might resent their extravagant lifestyle or penny-pinching ways. It’s also important to make a plan for how you’ll pay for things. Splitting everything can be complicated, so consider putting everything on one person’s credit card and sorting out the finances once you’re home. Depending on your individual financial situations it may work to have one person pay for food while the other takes care of lodging. No matter what your solution is, make a plan before you leave so you’re not stuck arguing over the bill.
7. Go easy on each other
When you’re in a foreign country on a bus to the middle of nowhere and your partner realizes they left the wallet at the hotel, you may explode with rage. Don’t forget that no matter what impossible situation you get into, you’re a team. It’s the two of you versus the big bad world, so when your partner makes a mistake, go easy on them. Chances are the roles will be reversed before the trip comes to an end.