by Liberty Stembridge, Relationships Columnist
Published in Relationships on 7th August, 2018
Good planning will save your skin when you find yourself stuck in a sticky situation, or don't know what to do with yourselves. While there's a lot to be said for being spontaneous and planning very little, having an outline of where you want to go, how much you want to spend and where the nearby amenities are to your accommodation will help you out enormously if you're travelling as a couple for the first time. So sit down and research the area you will be in and discuss what you would like to do and also some backup plans for if things go wrong.
Studies have shown that one of the biggest factors in couples struggling to travel together is money. When you're two separate people with two separate bank accounts and different funds, there's bound to be a clash when you try to entwine your lives together in an intense situation such as travel. So sit down with your SO and have an honest up-front conversation about finances. There are lot's of different ways to do it, so figure out what's best for you. Some couples like to contribute equal amounts to a joint monetary fund which is then used to pay for everything on the trip, while others like to divvy up chunks of money so that one person may pay for the hotel while the other pays for the food. It's totally up to you.
When travelling, the key pillars that make a good relationship don't change, if anything, they become more important than ever. Communication with your partner about everything is very important, especially when travelling, because if there is a misunderstanding or lack of communication, your adventure can quickly start going downhill. You might get lost, or find that one of you is too tired or too hungry and this can start sparking arguments - which you want to avoid at all costs.
Chances are, if you're a new couple and you're going away on your first trip together, this will be the first time that you've spent extended amounts of time in each other's space, and when you're not used to this, it can cause problems. Rather than forcing each other to live and breath in the same space 24/7, listen to your body and mind and if it's telling you that you need some space, take it. Even if it's not telling you to get some space, still do it - it's likely do much more good than harm. Setting aside some time every day for each of you to just go for a walk or sit by the pool, completely alone gives you both time to recharge and come back with new thoughts and ideas to share.
When travelling with your SO, it's important to always think of yourself as a team. It is never one against the other, it is both of you against the world. Having this team mentality, where you are both there to support and work with one another rather than against can radically change the outcome of your travel experience.
Travelling with your partner is an amazing opportunity to bond and have fun, but it is also very challenging for most couples. Don't try to fight this. If you know what to expect, you'll be much better prepared to deal with it. This isn't to say that you should have a negative attitude towards your travel plans or expect the worst, just that you should accept that there will very likely be fights, resentment, annoyance and discomfort. It all comes as part of the package and in the end, all serves to help make you relationship stronger in the long run.
As challenging as travelling with your SO can be, especially for the first time, it's important to let yourself have fun and be grateful for this travel opportunity. Learning to let go of the difficulties or stress you might have faced and stay present and grateful for both your partner and the place you are in will greatly improve your experience of the trip.
When travelling with your partner, it can be easy to start doing absolutely everything together, even the most mundane and menial tasks. Not only can this become a huge time-waster, it can also start to affect your mental health by making you feel dependent on your partner. To avoid this, allocate tasks to each other according to your individual strengths and do these tasks individually. If one of you is picking up the local language well, they can be the one to go and get food, while the other heads off to do the laundry, this way you get some time apart, have a renewed sense of independence and get more chores done in the same amount of time.
While travelling, it's important to keep checking in with each other. Check up on how your partner is doing and have a mini-review session every day to look over finances and itinerary plans. This makes sure that you are both happy, healthy and on the same page for the entirety of your trip and everything will run a lot smoother.
If you're heading somewhere particularly exciting and you're only staying for a few days be careful not to overly saturate your schedule with exciting acitivities and adventures. It might sound amazing to spend all day exploring the mountains and going on a tour of a temple while you're sat at home in your PJ's, but once you're actually there, it's quite likely that one of you at least will be tired from all the travel. Travelling in general takes a lot out of you, and packing your entire schedule full will leave you very little time to recuperate, leading to almost instant burnout. Instead, balance it out with some casual relaxation time, even if that's just a nap.
One of the biggest inhibitors to couples having a good time while travelling together is electronic devices. As tempting as it might be to update your Instagram with all the incredible shots you got of a lion on safari, leave it for when you get home. If you want to get the most out of your trip with your partner, you'll need to be present as much as you can, so put your phone away. Without the distraction of phones and computers, you'll find it easier to talk and bond, and likely have a much better time.
Chances are, somethings going to go wrong, even if it's very minor, and this can put a lot of stress on your relationship. Prepare for this by packing an emergency bag, full of snacks, water, a first-aid kit and whatever else you feel you might need. Having quick solutions to the most common causes of arguments between couples (hunger, fatigue, injury, stress) can clean up a messy situation and leave you both with a much smoother and more enjoyable travel experience.