Important Tips When Traveling As A Couple
If you are looking for tips and lessons learned for traveling as a couple, you are in the right place!
Quick backstory, 3 months into knowing my now husband, Lawrence, I asked him to book a 2-week Europe trip with me.
I secretly wanted to test how he deals with stress, planning, and everything that comes with travel.
We were either going to be together forever or hate each other.
I wasn’t going to waste time.
He ended up proposing to me during that trip, so I guess you could say it went well.
BUT you have to remember that behind pretty pictures on Instagram, there are arguments, miscommunications, misunderstandings, and lots of lessons to be learned while traveling.
Traveling as a couple or with someone in general can bring the best and worst in people—it’s even more interesting if you are traveling with someone you barely know.
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They Have To Want To Be There
So you want to do a trip as a couple, then your partner, spouse, husband, wife, girlfriend, or boyfriend need to want to be there too.
This sounds like common sense, but you’d be surprised by how some people go just to go, but are not really interested in going.
Please don’t take someone who hates the outdoors to go camping. Bad idea.
Some couples travel for the sake of traveling when in actuality, they hate flying or they hate going on road trips.
Imagine looking forward and planning a whole trip, only to spend most of the time fighting and arguing with your travel buddy because they did not want to be there in the first place.
Instead of it being a fun adventurous (or relaxing) trip, you might come out of it even more stressed because the person that you are traveling with isn’t enjoying the trip.
One of the important lessons for travel as a couple is you have to make sure that they are also on board and you are on the same page.
Set Expectations When Traveling As a Couple
Unless you are planning a surprise trip, you and your travel companion have to be on the same page when it comes to expectations.
Yes, there will be bumps and plans always don’t workout, but you should always aim and prepare to set yourselves up for success by having a mutual understanding on expectations from each other and as a travel couple.
Examples of Expectations For Couples Who Travel Together
- How long to get to the destination?
- Is there driving involved? Who is driving? Are you willing to drive all the way through?
- Are you okay with walking a lot?
- Pee breaks?
If this is a road trip, it is so important to establish how often you will be stopping. I personally could be in the car for more than 4 hours without stopping, but my husband prefers to stop every hour.
Type of Trip
- Is this a relaxing vacation?
- Is this a hiking trip?
- Is there an itinerary?
Sights and Attractions
- Are there sights that you have to see?
- Are there things you absolutely don’t want to do?
- Are there things that you want to prioritize over others?
- What if it rains?
- Do you have to work during this vacation?
- Do you have paid time off to go on this trip?
- Do you need to allot some time for you to be able to work?
Children and/or Pets
- Who is going to babysit?
- Do you need pet boarding?
- Emergency contact?
- Is there a budget?
- Do you have savings for this trip?
- Is there an estimate as to how much everything is going to cost?
- Where are you staying?
- How far is it from everything? Is it in the middle of nowhere?
- Are you sharing this place with anybody?
- Do you need to save directions beforehand?
- How much are we spending on food?
- Are there restaurants that you are interested in?
- Do you need to buy groceries?
- What snacks will you bring?
Snacking Is Key
In my almost 30 years of traveling, I can tell you that the key to a successful trip as a couple involves constant sustenance.
Once one person is hangry and irritated, it’s game over. Might as well pack up and go home.
You know those moms who lug around big ass purses (my own mother included)?
Those purses are full of snacks because they know what’s up.
Annoyed? Here, eat a breakfast bar.
Lost? Sit down and eat some of these chips.
Anxious? Maybe these cookies can get your mind off things for a bit.
There is nothing more annoying than getting lost while traveling somewhere as a couple while being hungry.
Your brain just stops working and nothing makes sense.
- Baby carrots
- Beef jerky
- Hard candy (I’d suggest chocolate, but you don’t want it melting in your bag and cause more frustration)
- Peanut butter sandwich
- Protein or breakfast bar
Communication When Traveling As A Couple
Another important lesson for couples who travel together is nailing down how you communicate to each other.
You’ve heard it many times from everyone: you have to communicate what you are feeling.
Of course, this is a working progress and does not improve overnight.
It is a good idea to work on communication while traveling as a couple, especially for people who are starting to get to know each other.
Traveling and being in a new place that is not your home can sometimes cause stress and anxiety.
Different kinds of problems that can occur during travel:
- Missed flights/train
- Getting lost
- Losing wallet or important documents
- Getting scammed or robbed
- Unexpected weather
- Itinerary changes
- Family emergency
Traveling takes you out of your comfort zone because when unforeseen things happen, people react in different ways.
Please remember that you can’t control how things will turn out.
What you CAN control is how you react to the situation.
Couple Travel Communication Tips
- Ask yourself, are you both just hungry? (Seriously)
- Being passive aggressive does not solve anything
- Your significant other cannot read your mind
- Say what is frustrating you and what is the actual fear behind the frustration
- Think of ways you both can turn this around
- Instead of dwelling on the problem, figure out the next steps
- Blaming the other person for what happened does not solve the problem
REAL LIFE EXAMPLE
When my husband and I traveled to Europe, I dropped our brand-new camera 3 days into a 2-week trip.
My husband was pissed off, and I felt so bad.
We exchanged words of disappointment then headed to our next excursion of the day while we walked and stayed quiet for a good while.
I knew he wanted to be angry and yell at me, but he knew that I did not mean to drop our camera.
Instead of letting this incident ruin the rest of the trip, I proposed that we head to an electronics place where we can buy a new lens.
We moved on and moved forward.
I know it’s easier said than done, but you have to try really hard to not go straight to blaming and yelling at each other.
This was also a lesson learned from us because he started to realize that I am very clumsy and is someone who loses things easily.
From here on out, he became the person who looks after electronics and anything expensive and fragile.
Space Away From Each Other
When traveling as a couple, especially for long-term travel, you have to have space away from each other at some point.
I am going to be the first one to admit that it took me a very long time to accept this.
In my head, space meant that they did not want to spend time with me or they did not love me.
A hard travel lesson I had to learn was that this is not about me at all.
It is about the other person.
I discuss this topic more in depth in my Marriage Lessons We Learned From Our Therapist post. It is about the importance of knowing yourself and being your own person.
I always took time or space away from each other as a negative thing.
At the end of the day, even though you are traveling as a couple, you do not have to do everything together the entire time.
This applies to the relationship in general.
Just because you are a couple, it does not mean that you have to be together at all times.
How Can A Traveling Couple Get Alone Time From Each Other?
- One can take a yoga class, while the other can workout at the gym
- One person can visit a museum to look at art, while the other can stay in the hotel to nap
- One person can go and pick up dinner or groceries, while the other stays in the cabin
- One person can swim in the ocean, while the other works on getting a tan while reading a book
- One person can go golfing, while the other can get a massage
- One person can go to a cooking class, while the other can walk around in the park
This also does not mean to leave your travel partner all alone the entire day (unless that is what you agreed to). This can be for a couple of hours or 30 minutes.
Do whatever is best for your relationship.
It really doesn’t have to involve a fancy activity.
It could be as simple as stepping out of the hotel to walk around, while the other person stays in to watch tv.
You’d be surprise with what some time away can do for you as a travel couple.
Fights can easily happen when one person feels that they are doing everything in general, and it is even more intensified for couples who travel together.
REAL LIFE EXAMPLE
I am really good at planning, so I basically plan a whole trip and Lawrence tags along.
Don’t get me wrong, I do love planning trips.
At some point, I got so fed up because I was pretty much doing everything, and I felt like Lawrence wasn’t doing anything.
Going back to communication, I communicated to him that I hated that I do everything, and I wanted him to help.
He did not realize this until I verbally told him my frustrations.
He assumed that since I enjoyed planning, I was fine doing it all.
Ever since then, I have delegated the task of looking for accommodations and doing all the driving to him.
Yes, one person can do everything, but it could get too much.
Not going to lie, I do like to be in control of things, but it is so nice to not have make all the decisions once in a while.
Keep An Open Mind
An important lesson for couples who travel together is to always keep an open mind.
If you have read through the things I have said above, I talk about unforeseen changes and problems that might occur during any trip during your travels.
Traveling will challenge you as a couple in so many ways.
You and your travel companion have the choice of either letting it break you or choose to grow together.
Try All The New Things
One of the best things about traveling as a couple is that you get to try and experience new things while sharing it with the person you love! (or like if you haven’t said the L word yet).
It is so unfortunate when people travel, but do not try things that are outside of their normal routine.
Trying new things together make for the best memories because it is unique to you as a travel couple.
I suggest trying things that your partner wants to do and then vice versa.
This ensures that you are both benefitting from your adventures.
Having someone by your side to try new, scary, and uncomfortable things becomes less overwhelming because you have someone by your side.
Tip: you both should create a bucket list individually and as a couple and mark it off while traveling.
New Things to Try While Traveling As A Couple:
- New unfamiliar foods and drinks
- Thrilling activities like skydiving or canyoneering
- Crafty activities like pottery and painting
- Couples massage
- See a show
- Dance classes
- Stay in a haunted hotel
- Hike a volcano
- Get tattoos
- Dine at a Michelin star restaurant
- Go backpacking and camping
- Learn about cultural traditions
- Watch and/or join a game show
- Attend concerts and festivals
While you are busy exploring and trying new kinds of activities, do not forget to take pictures and document your favorite moments.
It seems like people either over document or don’t document at all.
Establish a balance to document beautiful, fun, and funny moments.
Even the not so good memories.
Keep the little memories that only the two of you as a travel couple would understand and remember.
Better yet, get it tattooed.
That might be a little extreme, but my husband and I might have gotten a spontaneous traditional bamboo tattoo in Thailand while traveling Southeast Asia.
Work On Being In The Moment
This goes out to the couples traveling who document and post everything on social media.
I totally get it. I am so guilty of this (while Lawrence not so much).
I love posting on social media and making sure that I get the best pictures.
Gotta get that content, you know?
How To Live In The Moment When Traveling As A Couple?
- Take pictures and record videos, but wait until you are back at the hotel or are done for the day before posting on social media
- Social media can always wait and you should prioritize being present with the person you are traveling with, so you do not miss out on precious time and actually experiencing the trip
- No phones during meals. Talking about your day (or your plans for the day if you are eating breakfast) while eating is a good way to slow down and be present. No distractions, just an intimate conversations with good company and good food
- Although documenting vacations and beautiful sceneries is so tempting, it is also beneficial to take trips as a couple without phones or cameras. Designate a trip where you and your significant other can be away from everything. We all need this.
Travel Couples Need Rest
When traveling, couples tend to plan itineraries that are jam-packed.
I totally get it.
If you do not get a lot of vacation days, I understand the need to schedule as many activities as you can when traveling as a couple.
However, just like my snacking advice, resting and slowing down are crucial for couples who travel together.
What is worse than being hungry? Being hungry and exhausted.
When you are both tired, you tend to be more irritable and you might not be able to enjoy what you are doing.
If you are someone who plans itineraries and need to have a schedule, I suggest that you schedule nap time or some type of chill activity that does not involve much movement or thinking.
I cannot stress this enough, traveling couples need to make time for rest. The more you take care of your bodies, the better you both will be mentally, physically, and emotionally.
As a result, you will be able to make better decisions, adjust to sudden travel changes, and be more open to what life throws at you while traveling as a couple.
I hope this Important Tips When Traveling As a Couple post helped and gave you some ideas the next time you travel with your significant other.
Let me know some challenges you have faced when traveling with a partner.
Do you have any advice when traveling as a couple?