10 Tips for Travelling with your Partner

So, Craig and I had only been dating for 3 months when he announced he’d booked a beach holiday for us on our 6 months ‘anniversary’. It was incredibly nerve-racking knowing that: a) we’d never spent more than a weekend together as we were doing long-distance at the time; & b) we were so new that we hadn’t yet fully learnt each other’s quirks. In fact, we hadn’t even taken a local getaway by then as yet. Many people said that this could make or break our relationship. And secretly, I think it was a stress test to see whether I was in fact, wife-material in order to continue our relationship as he was getting to that age when we he needed to start settling down.

It is a story we have all heard – a couple embarks on the trip of a lifetime together convincing both themselves and everybody else that because they are in love they will conquer all and return happier than ever.

Well, we did. And then went on to do a bunch more trips together including London; Paris; a Canada trip; some local ones; Europe again for a whirlwind visit to Berlin; Paris again and Amsterdam; and most recently to Mexico and Los Angeles.

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So many people ask me how Craig and I how we manage together on trips – whether we usually want to pull each other’s hair out or are we one of the lucky ones that actually travel well together?

Travelling with your partner (and surviving) is definitely a skill. A skill that, for some, doesn’t come easy. When else have you had to spend all day, 24/7 with your significant other in your relationship? Unless, you’re working together, probably never. And even then, your social commitments, gym, act as valid excuses to take some very necessary time apart. Not on a holiday though. You’re about to learn how tiresome it can really be to spend every waking hour with someone else – even if that person is the so-called love of your life.

#1: Plan your holiday extremely well. 

My number one tip of all time? Try limit the travel stress as much as possible. When travel plans are going as smoothly as possible, there are less frustrations and inevitably, less reasons to fight or argue. That means, look up train times, ticket queries, double-check confirmations & have directions on hand. Rather be over prepared than not. I always have set itineraries, with opening times, street addresses, directions or a map and possible alternatives and back up plans. This also ensures you maximise your time on holiday rather than feeling rushed or panicked about time.

I also find that this tip applies more to cultural, sight-seeing holidays, rather than beach holidays. For example, our holiday to Mexico was a breeze, but our European holidays, like Paris, are usually more stressful.

#2: Make sure your travel plans line up with what you BOTH want to do.

Sometimes, you’re together because you enjoy doing the same thing, but sometimes, couples who are extremely different, find it difficult to agree on a travel plan of things they BOTH want to do. To an extent, this is also all about compromise, but mainly I think this just requires honest communication. Being upfront about non-negotiable must-do things for each of the partners, as well as a general idea of how you expect the holiday to unfold, is always a good thing to have in mind before you even reach the airport for your departure flight.

For example, Craig and I have, at times, had different ideas about whether a particular trip would be about relaxing, or whether it would be about exploring. These are two very different holidays and can result in frustrations and unmet expectations. This is something I avoid now by vocalising what I envision the holiday to be about, rather than assuming we’re on the same page.

Ask each other:

  • Do we want to relax or explore? Or a little of both?
  • How quick or slow should the pace be?
  • What are non-negotiable must-sees?
  • Are there things while travelling that usually upset one another?
  • What things should each partner be on the look out for, to ensure the other partner will be less stressed?

#3: In the planning stages, agree on a few important things, especially the budget. 

Finances is the cause of most disagreements for couples abroad. When unexpected costs come up, one partner inevitably spends the rest of the trip worrying about the budget. Plan for these.

Agree beforehand on:

  • Who will pay for what & try pre-book & pre-pay accordingly as much as possible.
  • Whether you will be splurging or skimping and on what.
  • How will you pay (Also NOTE that credit cards like American Express aren’t accepted everywhere & some ATMs don’t accept Amex either – prepare for that in Europe).

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#4: Have realistic expectations—everything won’t always go according to plan.

Understand that things can and will go wrong and try to roll with the punches. Don’t get caught up in the inconveniences that inevitably plague travel. Everyday won’t be perfect, so don’t expect it to be.

This is where I usually go wrong, and I find Craig has to manage my expectations A LOT. In fact, he does it in our daily life too. For example, where I’m craving a particular meal from a restaurant on a particular day and we make the mission to go get it – he will still talk me down from my expectations in case they don’t have it and sometimes even call ahead in case. Similarly, when I bought my car, he prepared me for the long wait at the registries before I actually got to the exciting part, driving my car out the lot. If you plan for inconveniences, it won’t affect you as much – or you will at least be prepared for them.

#5: Know your partner’s quirks and accommodate them in advance.

Poor Craig finds that ensuring I have gluten-free options at restaurants in a new country, one of the most stressful parts of travelling with me – and I don’t blame him. Hangry is a thing. He now ensures I always have a snack on hand, or that we have a meal plan before hunger sets in, well in advance of meal times, so that we aren’t forced to eat somewhere which provides few options for me to choose from. This to me, is the sweetest thing. So think about what stresses out your partner and try to accommodate them as much as possible (and in advance) and you’ll avoid most of these little upsets.

#6: Don’t try to jam-pack your days.

Don’t try to cram too much into your daily itinerary as things always take longer than expected and trying to make it in time for numerous reservations will only add stress.

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#7: Check in with each other often.

Constantly check in with your partner throughout the day. Things change, and so does your mood. Being aware of your partners needs and keeping an open line of communication will prevent any other potential stressors unplanned for. Do you still want to go out for dinner? Would you rather head back to the hotel now for a power nap? How’s your energy? How about a quick coffee to sit and regroup? This also enforces each other to be patient with their partner.

#8: When you do squabble, kiss & make up.

In the moment, it’s hard to be rational, but account of the environment change and outside stressors when giving your partner a hard time while travelling. Fights while travelling are usually as a result of things outside your control, so don’t let it ruin time that could be spent together exploring and making memories.

When you’re being unreasonable, call yourself out on it straight away and then laugh about it.

#9: For some couples, giving your partner space might be key.

Craig and I do generally need space. We both have our “me time” back home so you would think that this would be necessary on holiday, but we usually don’t outright plan for it – it just hasn’t been necessary when we take short trips and work on all of the above.

That being said, I think it is important to allow your partner the space to regroup without you breathing down their neck every second of the dayespecially if it is a particularly long trip. Sometimes this could just be a quick visit to the hotel gym, or leaving for breakfast a little earlier than you partner to give them time alone. Embrace some down time.

#10: Lastly, make a real effort to relax. 

Check yourself at every chance you get. Are you blowing certain things out of proportion? Are you letting silly things upset you? Don’ let yourself get too wounded up about the small stuff. I promise you – it’s more than likely not worth wasting the time on your holiday which you’ve likely spent a lot of money on. At the end of the day, you’re in a new city to explore it while enjoying time with hopefully the love of your life. Relax, and enjoy every moment. 

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In sum:

Agree on a pace that suits you both, with a budget that allows for some leeway. Do not let unrealistic expectations ruin a holiday and never prolong an unnecessary fight. Acknowledge the difficulties that come with travelling in a different country for what they are – inevitable. And realise, that your partner is the one that can make it a trip of a lifetime full of incredible memories. So, take in every moment and roll with the punches. One day the small inconveniences will be worth the good laugh when you’re reminiscing. Remember, you’re on the same team!

One half of a travel team,

Leigh

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