Traveling with your significant other or friends? Here are some tips to stay sane!
Boyfriend and I had our first fight/argument/frustrating discussion on our first trip together. Looking back, it’s like a scene out of a comedy or the climax of a drama.
We had arrived in Costa Rica about an hour before and we were driving our rental car to our hotel. Sitting in the passenger seat, I was hopelessly trying to get Google Maps to work but the internet connection was cutting in and out. I think the conversation went a little like this:
Me, stubborn: “But Maps is saying to turn here and go down this road!”
Him, more logical than I in the moment: “This is not a road!”
Tensions were high as we tried to get back on the main road and not get stuck in a dirt road ditch. Comically, as we were stopped off to the side of this pothole/ditch road, trying to figure out what to do, a local’s car went past us and up and down through the ditch like they were off-roading, probably laughing at the wide-eyed tourists that had no clue where they were going and how they ended up there. 😀
That first fight was frustrating, and many trips later, we’ve gotten better at being travel companions and communicators. Our wanderlust and love of adventure definitely help with making sure we travel well and on the same page. With these tips, we survive traveling as a couple and enjoy the whole experience, from planning the trip to savoring the memories. (Side note: this list will also help when traveling with friends and family!)
10 Tips to Save Your Relationship When You Travel With Your Significant Other, Friends, or Family!
1. Know Your Travel Desires, Habits, and Strengths.
This is the basis of traveling success! It might take a few trips to figure this out or hash it out before deciding to go on a trip together. Here are some questions to talk through:
- Where do you want to go, for how long, and what makes sense for our life/work schedules?
- What kind of vacation do you want? (i.e. sitting on the beach for a week or city-hopping in another country?)
- What do you absolutely want to do or see on this trip? (Food and history/culture are big for me.)
- What are your travel strengths? (i.e. reading a map, creating an itinerary, finding off-the-beaten-path sights?)
- What are your travel habits? (i.e. waking up really early to see a sight vs. sleeping in and leisurely starting the day? hour-by-hour itinerary vs general schedule of the day?)
- How much do you want to spend on travel? Budget travel, luxury travel, or somewhere in between?
2. Plan Together.
The joke around here is that he keeps me around to plan his trips. 😉 Planning a trip can be overwhelming but it mostly makes my type-A personality sing. But more and more, I’ve found it’s much more fun when I find the options and we both agree on the details rather than me saying, “here’s what we’re going to do.” You could divide up the tasks, like one person can find the hotels and the other finds restaurants. Or you could each plan a city’s itinerary if you’re visiting more than one place. Planning a trip gives you a lot of excitement, and it’s nice to have that shared feeling before the trip.
3. Set a Budget.
It’s good to know who’s paying for what and what to budget. Your answers to tip number one will help plan your budget. For our trips, we usually split everything down the middle. One person usually books the hotels, flights, etc and the other pays him/her back. Ahem, whoever books also gets the credit card points. 😉 During the trip, we casually switch off paying for things.
4. Make a general schedule and/or set up expectations.
If you’re wanting to go explore the city but your travel companion wants to sit on the beach all day, you might have a problem. Hopefully, your preferences from tip one align and you have similar interests and desires for your trip. Having a schedule or knowing what you’re aiming for puts you both on the same page. That means there’s less opportunity for argument and disappointment later!
Before frustration and anger flare uncontrollably, take a breath or five. Unless you’re traveling with an awful person, remember it is not his/her goal to “ruin” your trip. In the moment, you both are wanting or understanding different things or things out of your control have happened. You’ll be much more productive if you’re taking it slow and thinking about it logically.
6. Go with the flow.
In the (likely) chance that unexpected things happen, get ready to flow to the next best option. Things like your rental car breaking down, your flight getting canceled, or arriving at the restaurant and realizing it’s been closed down can put a wrench in your plans, but sometimes things out of your control will happen and they may even turn out all right if not better.
After your breath, talk about what you want to happen and what you need. Say you’re sorry if you’re in the wrong. Talk it out nicely. Don’t spend your vacation time and money being upset when you could be enjoying the trip!
Chances are, you won’t be able to fit in every single activity you and your partner want to do. What are your priorities for the trip, one or two things each of you absolutely must do to make it a fantastic trip? Compromise also comes in those tense situations when a solution is needed immediately, like in times of hangry. Is trekking across town to eat at a restaurant you want to visit more important than satisfying your partner’s hangry at the restaurant next door now?
Because isn’t this what the trip is all about? Hopefully, you’ve included some downtime in your schedule. Leisurely meals or walks around the neighborhood can give you time to re-connect on a deeper level.
10. Don’t drive in a foreign country together, especially if the roads aren’t consistent.
Are we the only ones with this tip on our list? We’re going to avoid putting ourselves in stressful situations for now. 😉
Luckily, Boyfriend and I are very compatible when we travel, and I’ve had great experiences traveling with friends, too. I hope you have stress-free experiences traveling with others, but in case you don’t, it’s ok to spend time apart doing different activities. Good luck!
What tips would you add to travel fearlessly with others?
P.S. One of my first experiences traveling with friends happened years ago. Remember this post?
P.P.S. Yes, that’s Boyfriend in that photo from our Belize trip! Out of respect, I very rarely post his face on my blog, but you’ve probably seen his hands in plenty of the food photos. 🙂