How To Travel With Your Partner And Still Like Them Afterwards
Maximum fun, minimum friction.
You love your partner, sure – but most of the time, you see them in between other things like work and friends. If you’re going to travel with them, it pretty much means 24/7 exposure for the duration of the trip. Digital nomad VIVIENNE EGAN has spent a cumulative year and a half on the road with her partner, and she shares some of her hard won tips below.
#1 Figure out your travel goals
When my partner and I decided to go on our first holiday, we hadn’t discussed anything – even what we wanted most from our trip (a week in NYC). Sightseeing? Catching up with friends? Hitting up Broadway shows? Shopping? Luckily, we wanted to do most of the same things (mainly eating lots of burgers), but there can be friction when one person sees travel as a non-stop tourist extravaganza and the other is keen for sleep-ins and long breakfasts. Basically, have a conversation about what you want to get out of each trip you go on – and travel in general – so you can tailor your destination, itinerary and daily schedule so that everyone gets what they want.
#2 Sync your travel styles
If your travel goals are the tangibles of your trip, travel style is more about your expectations and behaviours. It’s useful to pin down and attempt to merge your travel styles in a couple, as it can lead to friction if not addressed. For instance, if one of you likes to get to the airport early because they’re anxious about missing the flight (me), and the other prefers to arrive just as check-in closes (my partner), it can lead to people storming off huffily in Bangkok airport (both of us). Same goes for packing: if one person shows up with carry-on backpack only and the other with a big wheelie suitcase to check, you’ve clearly got different priorities.
Budgeting is especially important to iron out early on. If one of you has more disposable income than the other, how you deal with money is a particularly important factor – no-one wants to feel like they’re dragging down the average or preventing someone from an experience they want. Have an honest talk about how much money you want to spend on your trip and stick to it to avoid guilt, debt and awkwardness.
#3 Get reaaal comfy talking about gross things
No matter where in the world you are, if there’s going to be any major change of diet (for instance a sharp upswing in your chilli intake), chances are that one or both of you will require urgent bathroom time. If you’re in a couple where one of you politely runs the tap while taking some me-time, or who saves that sort of thing until the other is far away, you might be in for a shock when confronted with a double serving of gastro requiring a night of toilet tag (it’s a shock even if you’re already comfortable talking about these things). My tip: learn to laugh about it. Same goes for farting.
#4 Schedule some alone time
Shared accommodation (dorms, friends’ living rooms and friends’ bedroom floors) – while fine for solo and friend travel – gets old really quickly when you’re travelling as a couple. I once knew a couple who shared a room for the entire 10-day trip with the woman’s mum. All of them. One room. Mum, daughter, daughter’s boyfriend. This is my idea of hell. If you can’t afford your own room, choose a cheaper holiday.
#5 Schedule the other kind of alone time
This time, I’m talking about time apart from each other. Even if it’s 20 minutes a day – one of you naps, one of you exercises, one of you goes to pick up snacks. Don’t be offended if your partner requests doing something alone; it’s just about recharging and it’s usually a very good idea. If your partner is someone who needs a lot of recharge time, be aware of this and create opportunities where you can spend some time separately. If you have some differing travel goals, it’s the perfect opportunity to achieve some of yours.