There are a few things that I’ve gotten pretty good at over the years: filling in my eyebrows, making brownies, and traveling with my significant other. While these are vastly different skills, they all require two things to perfect: patience and practice.
I’m willing to admit to anyone who asks that traveling with a significant other is by far one of the more hard-to-perfect skills (and yes, I do consider it a skill). That’s because traveling harmoniously together can be downright difficult. On top of the unavoidable stress that comes with travel, you’re supposed to figure out how to balance travel styles, decide on an itinerary, divvy up responsibilities, manage travel budgets, and have a good time together. That’s a tall order if you ask me.
I don’t say any of this to scare you. I say it to tell you that I’ve been there and—not to brag—I’ve gotten damn good at it, which means that you can, too. While practice has not made perfect, it has armed me with some helpful tips for traveling as a couple that I am happy to share with you. So without further ado, ahead are eight tips for traveling with your significant other that I swear by.
8 Tips For Traveling With Your Significant Other
1. Set a budget you’re both comfortable with
Whether you’re in a newer relationship or you have joint accounts, setting a budget for your trip together is one of the first things you should do. Get honest with each other about what you’re willing to spend, then discuss where you prefer to splurge and where you’d like to save some money. Having an open conversation with your partner and setting a budget as a team will be helpful when you start booking hotels, cars, restaurants, excursions, and more. We know that talking about money with a partner can be nerve-racking (especially in the beginning), but doing this ahead of time can save you from overspending or—on the flip side—going on a trip that wasn’t as nice as you would have liked.
2. Assign responsibilities for logistics
With so many logistics to plan, it’s crucial that you and your partner divide travel responsibilities. From the time you start planning until the time you get home, you should know your roles and stay in your lane. For example, if you’re in charge of booking the hotel room, your partner can handle booking the rental car. You can (and should!) talk about the options available and decide together what might be the best one, but the last thing you want is to arrive at the check-in counter and find out you don’t have a reservation because you both thought the other person was in charge of the booking. With clear roles, you’ll have more organized plans and fewer headaches.
3. Discuss your travel styles
If you’ve ever people-watched at an airport, you know that people travel… differently. What works for one person will not work for everyone, so discuss travel styles with your partner early on. If you’re flying, ask about preferred airlines, if they like to check bags, where they like to sit on a plane, etc. And if you’re going on a road trip, ask whether they prefer to drive or ride shotgun, what they like to do to pass the time (music, audiobooks, good old-fashioned conversation), and any road trip travel hacks they might have. These conversations allow you to understand one another’s travel style and ultimately compromise on what works best for both of you.
4. Plan your itinerary together ahead of time
I’m a firm believer that you need a plan (and a backup plan) when going on any trip, even if it’s a loose one. Here’s how I recommend tackling an itinerary: If there are specific things you need to prioritize during the trip (like work, family obligations, events, etc.), make sure the when and where of those things are clearly defined so you can fit in other activities around them. For example, if you are traveling together for a wedding, that’s obviously the priority, but you might plan some time to explore the city together beforehand or the day after to make the most of your trip. If you have zero obligations (love that for you!), make a plan for each day so you both know what to expect going into the trip.
5. Give each other space when needed
Odds are that you’re not used to spending as much time together on the day-to-day as you will when traveling as a couple. That’s why it’s key to either schedule in some alone time or recognize when it’s time to take a beat. For example, if you want to get a workout in before you settle in by the pool and your partner would rather get some extra shut-eye, go do you! Just because you’re on a trip together doesn’t mean you need to do everything together. Don’t be afraid to take the time you need and give your partner the space they need. That way, you’ll both feel relaxed and refreshed instead of jet-lagged and cranky.
6. Prioritize time for romance
Between the stress of travel and all the logistical details, romance can fall by the wayside. My best advice? Schedule it. This can look like booking a special dinner date during your trip or scheduling sex (and no, that’s not weird!). Especially if you are visiting people or traveling with a group, fitting in quality one-on-one time can be difficult. But prioritizing quality time together will make your entire travel experience more enjoyable and memorable. The same rings true if it’s just the two of you on a couple’s trip. You might assume that you’ll have plenty of time for true connection, but it’s easy to get caught up in the trip itself and not prioritize romance. Keeping it top of mind can truly make all the difference.
7. Socialize with other people
Whether you’re visiting old friends or jetting off to a country where you won’t know a soul there, socializing throughout your trip with friends new and old can make your trip even more enjoyable. It’s important to meet up with people, laugh, and enjoy the company of others when you’re away from home.
For all you “just the two of us” trip-goers, vacation friends are the best IMO, and they’re pretty easy to make, too. See another couple all the time at the pool? Always running into the people staying across the hall? Strike up a conversation! Experiences like this will give you two another thing to bond over and reminisce about together once your trip is over. Plus, you never know who you could meet!
8. Go with the flow
Canceled flights, room mix-ups, and flat tires are just the beginning of the chaos that can ensue on any given trip. Here’s one thing you need to make sure that you don’t forget: Go with the flow. As much as you might want to control every detail and make sure everything goes perfectly, the harsh reality is that some things don’t go as planned, and you know what? That is OK! And sometimes it’s better than OK.
If the restaurant you were really excited to go to lost your reservation, instead of wallowing about it, go with the flow and find another spot around the corner. You might stumble on a place you didn’t even know existed and make new memories you didn’t anticipate. These are the moments that make up a good trip—the unexpected, “we’re going to laugh about this later” kind of chaos, so embrace every second.