Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Traveling with a Significant Other: Are you Ready?

The image of traveling to new, exotic places with a [handsome/beautiful] loved one by your side is exceedingly romantic. Definitely high on the list of most coveted travel fantasies (perhaps bested only by meeting a mysterious foreigner to show you his/her city and teach you a few passionate words in the local language).

If you are looking to fulfill the first fantasy, you need three things:
  1. YOU: willing and ready to travel 
  2. A significant other willing and ready to travel
  3. An intimate understanding of the contents of this blogpost --> read on for the secrets of a successful trip and to discover whether or not you and your sweetheart are ready to take the plunge into couples' travel!
First of all, let's answer some questions:

  • Why might you want to travel with your s/o?
    • Obviously, the aforementioned romantic fantasy 
    • Traveling is an intimate experience, sharing it with someone you love can make the colors more vivid, food and wine more rich, and language more beautiful. 
    • The intense highs and lows of travel can strengthen a relationship, increasing shared experiences and emotional connections- it's basically lovers' bonding. 
    •  You'll never be lonely on the road
  • What kind of couples should consider traveling together?
    • New couples: Jump start your relationship by creating a solid base of common experiences during the fledgling stages of your romance
    • Established couples: You know each other well, but there is a side of people that only comes out when you travel; you can support your partner through travel mishaps and share the incredible wonders you discover with your favorite person
    • Married couples: Take a step back from the routine of your daily life- a trip away will reinvigorate your relationship and remind you why you fell in love in the first place.
  •  At what point in a relationship are you "ready" to travel together?
    • There isn't a timeline with a mark on it "take a trip" after a certain number of months, and if anyone tries to tell you otherwise, ignore them!
    • If you are both people who already travel often, the right time might be whenever you were already planning your next trip, or whenever tickets are affordable
    • If you don't travel often, it can be a bigger deal. Even though I insist there are no hard and fast rules, many people see taking a weekend trip together as a sign that "things are getting serious" or you're ready to "take the relationship to the next level"- just make sure that expectations and understanding of what a trip together means are clear for both partners. Open communication is the key to every relationship!
  • Who takes the lead?  
    • There are lots of online women's magazine quizzes you can take to determine your "couple style," and as cheesy as it sounds, it's actually a useful thing to consider (with or without the magazine quizzes) 
    • A leadership formation naturally arises in any social relationship. Maybe one person generally makes the decisions, or maybe it's more collaborative. Maybe you tend to compromise, or when you disagree you each just do your own thing
    • It's useful to think about, before your trip, how you will make decisions. Daily life is a routine built on a set of pre-made decisions, but traveling is a constant stream of new choices 
    • Some traveling couples trade days (or weeks) where they take turns being the decider, others kind of go with the flow, but in any case, remember to always take your partner's wishes and desires into account and try to come to a decision that will satisfy you both. 
    • Once again, open and honest communication is key!
  • Is this is a test? 
    • Many people see taking a trip together as the ultimate evaluation of a relationship's potential or as a test to see whether you should move in together. Sure, it can be a useful barometer- if you can't stand sharing a hotel bathroom, you probably won't be happy sharing an apartment. 
    • On the other hand, try not to read to much into it. There are many compounding factors that affect a trip's success that have nothing to do with the relationship. So if you go on a beach vacation and it rains the whole time, or you miss your flight, or someone gets sick- don't assume it's the relationship's death knell
    • What you SHOULD take into consideration, is how your partner reacts to setbacks and his or her style of planning and leadership. Ask yourself:
      • If something goes wrong, does being with them make you feel more secure or more stressed?
      • How does being with them affect your reaction to stressful situations? Do they encourage you to be the best version of yourself? Do they bring our ugly traits?
      • How do they treat the new people you encounter together? Service people, people of other ethnicities and nationalities, people of dramatically differing social and political opinions

General Tips

Remember, there is no magic formula to a happy couples' vacation- it's completely dependent on the dynamic of your relationship and individual personalities.

Planning the trip together beforehand is a fun bonding activity, and the perfect opportunity to discuss your expectations- for both the trip and the relationship in general.

Lena + Kostas 4ever
There are certainly varying levels of difficulty for a couple's trip: if you don't travel often, I wouldn't recommend starting with backpacking Southeast Asia. A weekend getaway to see the foliage in Vermont may seem cliche, but there's no harm in starting with something simple and less risky.

Two of my favorite travel blogging couples:
Trav and Heather at EPoP   http://www.extrapackofpeanuts.com/
Mish and Rob with their various successful ventures   http://www.makingitanywhere.com/

If you still need more encouragement, check out this steamy study  ;)
After all is said and done, you might be saying to yourself, "but who are you to be giving me relationship advice?" and I would say, "well I've traveled pretty significantly with my long-distance boyfriend and we're still together" and despite that, you still may not take anything I say to heart- and that's okay. Every relationship is different and there is no pee-on-a-stick test to determine if a trip together would put too much stress on you, or be the perfect pick-me-up...so, regardless, best of luck and happy travels!

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