There are some landmark moments that you go through in a relationship. Some of them are exciting, like saying “I love you” for the first time. Some are stressful, like your first argument. But there’s one relationship landmark where’s it’s impossible to predict how well it will go until you get there — your first vacation as a couple.
Traveling with your partner for the first time can go really well or it can make you realize that there are 400 different ways you’d like to murder them. You learn a lot when you travel together and there’s not really any escape, so it can all feel very intense. So if you haven’t traveled together before, consider starting small. “You may want to start off with a shorter trip first, say a long weekend instead of a seven-day vacation, in case things should happen to go south for whatever reason,” David Bakke, travel expert at Money Crashers, tells Bustle. “That way, you can get back on your home turf and figure out what went wrong before lasting damage is done to the relationship.” Going on a three-week backpacking trip around Central America for your first vacation may not be the best idea.
Even though it can be nerve-wracking, some planning and thoughtfulness can help ensure your first traveling experience as a couple goes smoothly. Here’s what to keep in mind, according to experts.
1. Account For Both Of Your Personalities
Just because you’re compatible as a couple, doesn’t mean you’ll naturally fit together when it comes to travel. That’s OK, just make sure you plan ahead.
“Know your strengths and tendencies and plan accordingly,” Laurel Greatrix, TripAdvisor Rentals spokesperson, tells Bustle. “If your partner is a planner, but you like to wing it, use a shared list or app to communicate plans, such as the ‘MyTrips’ section on TripAdvisor. If you go exploring in separate directions one afternoon, having a shared app will allow you to efficiently review and collaborate plans, view a shared schedule, and add tickets bookings. This will also ensure you stick to your intended schedule and don’t miss any important planned activities.” Make sure you’re both getting a little of what you need.
2. Budgeting In Advance Can Save You
One of the biggest stressors that can come up while on vacation is money, so try to budget before you leave. “While vacations can be relaxing, they can also be stressful on relationships,” Dr. Paul Hokemeyer, J.D., Ph.D, licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, tells Bustle. “The reasons for this are several. First, they’re expensive. For couples who squabble about money, the expense of a holiday adds huge strain on the relationship. Eating and drinking out, spending money for the pursuit of happiness, can push couples to the point of angry outbursts and stress-related arguments.” Decide how much you can spend overall and then work out what that is per day.
3. Hunger Makes Everything 1,000 Times Worse
Don’t let hanger ruin your relationship. “Anticipate meals ahead of time,” Greatrix says. “Order groceries to arrive at your rental upon your arrival. This can limit ‘hanger’ after a long journey and you can go straight into vacation mode, rather than stressfully navigate a supermarket in an unfamiliar city. If you’re out exploring for an extended period of time, use your rental’s kitchen to prepare snacks in the morning beforehand, so when ‘hanger’ strikes, you’ll be prepared. And if you choose to dine out, ask your host for affordable local options and hidden gems.”
4. You Don’t Need To Start With A Super Romantic Trip
If you’re really intimidated about traveling together for the first time, consider doing it as a group. “An easy way to avoid those common fights about what activities are worthwhile and where to eat is to travel together on a group trip,” Maria Eilersen, Global PR and Communications Manager, Topdeck Travel, tells Bustle. “Particularly if you’re traveling together for an extended period of time, a group trip relieves the stress of planning, allowing you to just enjoy the moment and explore new destinations. You and your significant other can spend as much time together as you want on the trip, but will also have the opportunity to make new friends and participate in separate activities if you so choose, without being left to go explore on your own.”
5. Expectations Can Hinder You
It’s natural to get excited about your first vacation together, but try not to set unrealistic expectations. “Vacations are like New Year’s Eve — culturally created events that have artificially high expectations of fun and unbridled happiness,” Dr. Hokemeyer says. “This unrealistic expectation can leave couples disappointed.” Instead, just try to live in the moment and take things as they come.
6. You Might See A Side Of Your Partner You Weren’t Expecting
Be prepared, traveling together means there’s no escape, so you might see your partner in a new light. “Traveling together can be extremely revealing,” dating coach and resident sex expert for My First Blush, Laurel House, tells Bustle. People are often at their worst during flight delays or when they’re lost — plus you’ll just be spending a whole lot of time together.
“Traveling together creates an environment that encourages transparency,” House says. “Unlike Friday night dates, it isn’t about being ‘on’ all the time. Instead, it’s about being real.” Maybe it will be a great bonding experience — but you could also learn something you don’t like.
7. You Don’t Need To Document Every Moment
On your first vacation, you might be tempted to capture every single moment or constantly be updating to social media so everyone knows you’ve reached peak #RelationshipGoals. Try to resist that urge. “Cell phones put the world at our fingertips and because of that it’s almost essential to use on vacation, whether you need access to online banking, GPS or of course, a camera,” Heather Ebert, relationship expert at dating site, MissTravel.com, tells Bustle. “But for your first trip with your partner, you have to unplug, even if it’s just at dinner. Engage with your surroundings.” Your partner deserves your full attention.
Taking your first vacation as a couple is a big step and, though there may be some hairy moments, it should ultimately bring you closer together. Just plan for both of your quirks, be aware of each other, and take space when you need it. Once you learn how to travel together, things get a lot easier.
Originally posted on Bustle