Dear Travel Guru –
My boyfriend of 8 months and I are planning to travel together on a vacation. We haven’t really traveled much together before and I know travel can be a test of a relationship. We don’t always have the same taste in activities, and I’m a little concerned about how this will turn out. We haven’t even decided where we’re going yet, much less what activities we’ll do there, and we’re already fighting like an old married couple.
Any suggestions for how to protect our relationship on this trip?
Dear Jeanette –
You are right, travel is one of the most taxing activities you can put on a relationship. When you are at home, you’re on your own turf, know what to expect and can control your environment. When you travel, you’re at your most vulnerable and so much is beyond your control that it can be very anxiety-provoking. Because of this, people who get along fine on a day-to-day basis sometimes find they don’t travel well together.
In fact, two best friends from college who spent their junior year abroad traveled together in Spain at Christmas time. Two weeks of travel together almost ended their friendship.
When you travel together, it’s important to talk ahead of time about what vacation means to each of you and what you like to do. Look for mutual interests and focus on finding plans that tap into them. If you find you have few common interests, look for compromise plans. For example, if you’re looking for a relaxing vacation and he wants adventure, a compromise might be a cruise where you can relax in a lounge chair or on the beach and he can scuba dive and trek through a rain forest – while you’re both enjoying the same cruise.
Other things to discuss:
How social are each of you? If one of you is very social, but the other is not, look for lodging that gives you “space” (i.e., probably not a B&B).
How much time do you need alone? I find that one of the biggest mistakes couples make is to take a vacation and feel they have to spend every minute together. It’s okay for each of you to go off and do something you enjoy and then come back together to share the magic of your day.
Does one of you need regular meals and the other eat seldom? The person who doesn’t need to eat should be considerate of the one who does.
Traveling together can be a wonderful, growing experience for a new couple as long as each respects the other’s desires and needs. Communication is key.
Best wishes on your trip.
The Travel Guru
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