Traveling with a partner is one of the best ways to find new depths in your relationship. Sharing a new experience creates shared memories, shared stories and a new understanding of both yourself and the person you’re traveling with. But it can also bring about new sources of tension, conflict and stress.
It’s very possible to have a stress-free travel experience while adventuring with a partner. It takes an extra dose of planning and communication, but it will be time and effort well spent, allowing you to set off with confidence and relaxation without the potential for conflict and stress. Read on for tips to help ensure you have a trip that is romantic and relaxing rather than stressful and tense.
1. Talk about expectations and goals
Like all good relationship advice, ensuring you have a trip with your partner where you both are at ease starts with good communication. It’s best to start off on the same page about the basics of your trip. Being in agreement on the kind of travel experience you’re looking for—be it luxury or budget, adventurous or relaxed, local or far-flung—will ensure there is no simmering resentment or unclear expectations. Is there a museum, beach, restaurant or activity you’d be devastated to miss? Are you hoping to spend as much time possible basking in the sun with a pile of beach reads, or are you hoping every day is chock-full of sightseeing and excursions?
Being aware of what is important to you and your partner, and making sure your expectations and goals are known, will help shine a spotlight on any areas in which you and your partner might have conflicting expectations, and will make sure you know where you both are and are not willing to compromise.
2. Agree on a budget
Whether at home or abroad, working from a shared understanding of budgetary restrictions and allowances is the best way to ensure you’re both feeling like you’re on the same team. It will also make decision-making more efficient. Particularly if you’re working with tighter purse strings, a budget can be a source of stress and concern for one or both parties, and travel can present an opportunity to stray from sensible limits that a couple might rarely encounter back home.
Have a conversation about how much you’re willing to spend on the trip overall, and then discuss particulars like flights, hotels and transportation, deciding where along the way you’d like to splurge and scrimp. It’s helpful to suss out your travel styles—you might prefer to spend more on a luxury hotel and less on expensive meals while the other person is willing to splurge on daytime excursions but would rather save on economy flights. It’s a subset of communicating expectations, but it can be a particularly poignant pain point so it deserves its own box on the checklist.
3. Share important documents and emails
When booking a trip, you accumulate lots of important documents along the way. From boarding passes to booking confirmations, reservations and more, it can often be the case that these end up split between phones, apps and inboxes leaving one person or the other struggling to remember who booked what and scrambling to track things down at the last minute.
To avoid the on-the-spot angst, make sure you each have access and copies of all important documents and bookings. The shared responsibility will help ease any in-the-moment stress.
4. Mentally run through the trip beforehand
A good way to prepare yourself and be proactive is to sit down with your partner and think through what could go wrong. It may feel like an exercise in pessimism, but it’s a helpful tool for stress-testing your plans.
What would you do if your flight is delayed? Do you have the contact information for your transfer if it does? How will you handle lost luggage? Do you have lost luggage insurance? If the weather won’t allow for the hot air balloon ride, is there an alternative activity you would accept as a substitute? Don’t catastrophize. Keep your what-ifs realistic and reasonable. The goal is to be aware of where things could go wrong so you don’t feel caught off guard if they do and to check for any blind spots you may be overlooking.
5. Be honest about your needs
Be honest with yourself about what you’ll need on the trip to be happy and comfortable. Are you really as up for a big night out as you think you might be, or could that end up leaving you grumpy and hungover the next day in a way you’d regret? Is a rented apartment really your most comfortable setting, or would you prefer the amenities and predictability of a hotel? It may seem simple but knowing your needs and being realistic with yourself and your partner will set expectations and make sure you are set up to be your happiest self while traveling.
Make plans that allow for adequate sleep, which could look like taking a slower start to the morning after a late-night show and packing supplies like earplugs and eye masks. Make sure you plan mealtimes accordingly and have snacks with you to avoid hanger-related squabbles and complaints. Have an idea of where you’ll go to the bathroom before you adventure out on a day of sightseeing. If you’ve planned a lot of walking for one day, follow it up with plans that let you stay off your feet the next. Taking care of your body will make sure you’re physically, mentally and emotionally at ease, which are huge factors in having a stress-free trip.