He had me at "I backpacked solo through Asia for two months."
I knew that my husband Liebling and his itchy feet were a perfect match for me early on in our relationship. On our first date, we talked about life as expats, counting extended stints in Hong Kong, the USA, France, the Netherlands, and Mexico among us. By month four, we had travelled to Taiwan and Vietnam together. And by that summer, eight months into our love affair, we had gone sailing together in Croatia, visited Stonehenge and Stockholm, and eaten currywurst together in his hometown of Berlin.
Now, five years and over 30 countries traveled together later, I don't stutter when I say that he is the best travel companion I have ever had. But let's get real, traveling with a mate ain't always rainbows and roses. Even the most solid of couples can have their foundation shaken by a domestic dispute on the road.
So, before you get into a screaming match on your way to the Grand Canyon, I offer my tips for ensuring your holiday with your boo is a peaceful one:
1. Talk about your vision and expectations for the trip... before the trip.
You may have decided on a destination but have very different ideas of what will take place once you get there. Person A in the relationship dreams of a romantic getaway spent parked in a hammock, fruity drink in hand, while Person B wants to engage in more adventurous pursuits like scuba diving, island hopping, and water skiing. Likewise, your plans to follow a jam-packed, super detailed itinerary may not jive with your partner's natural inclination to aimlessly meander around a city. So be sure to talk through your preferences and draft up a list of activities and experiences you both agree on before embarking on your journey.
2. Discuss budget... and work out in advance who will pay what.
Spats on vacation often stem from disagreements over finances. Your modest budget may not work around your partner's penchant for the finer things in life, and their spendy habits on vacation may incite your ire if you've already decided to go halfsies. With this in mind, it's important to have an honest dialogue about how much money you are willing to spend and how you will divvy up expenses. Liebling and I decide how much we are willing to pay for accommodation before we book, then divide food and excursion expenses by half while on the road since we more or less do/eat the same things. My suggestion for deciding who will pay what and when? Do like me and Liebling do: elect one person to pay for everything while on the trip and have the other person wire-transfer their share of the bill once back at home. Easy peasy!
3. Give each other space.
As much as you may love someone, hanging with them 24/7 is bound to be a strain at some point. Avoid getting tired of one another by slotting in times where you get to chill out all by your lonesome. I like to shop and Liebling doesn't, so the suggestion of an hour or so when I hit up the market/mall solo is welcomed on both ends. This way, I get to shop, he gets to miss me for a little while, and we both have time alone to rejuvenate ourselves. Win-win!
4. Figure out each other's rhythms and plan accordingly.
I am an early riser. Liebling loves to sleep in. In the beginning, this mismatch of schedules caused frustration: I was annoyed at having to wait for him to get out of bed, he was ticked that I wouldn't let him get his beauty sleep on holiday. Solution? I make good use of my mornings while he gets his rest: I surf the net, write emails, do my hair, read, pluck my eyebrows, and/or use the hotel gym. Understanding your partner's needs and taking advantage of the opportunities they present mean that both parties are happy.
5. Eat before you get hangry (hungry + angry).
Tempers often run high when one (or both) of you are hungry. Curb hunger (and anger) by discussing approximate meal times for the day before you head out into the world, and bring a snack that can tide you over until it's time to chow down. Make sure that you clearly communicate when you're hungry and reaching your breaking point.
Love is about compromise, isn't it? For example, while I couldn't care less about the view out our hotel room's window, it is very important to Liebling, so I smile and try not to grit my teeth when he asks the receptionist for the umpteenth time if it's possible to have a room on a high floor. Likewise, while Liebling is very easy when it comes to food, I am super picky about where I eat, so he puts up with having to walk around to look at the menus of 8,000 different restaurants before finally settling on one. My advice: try to keep your partner happy when it comes to the little things (without sacrificing too much of your preferences, of course). Trust me, it'll come back to you ten-fold.
7. Kiss and make up.
Despite my sage advice, you and your partner will inevitably have a blowout on one of your trips. Then what? Not to worry, it's the way you deal with the aftermath that counts. The golden rule: don't go to bed upset with one another. At the end of the day, your issue is probably a trivial one, and vacations are meant to be enjoyed with the one you love. Kiss and make up!
While traveling with a significant other can be trying, it can also be extremely rewarding. You have the opportunity see the world with your best friend and share experiences that will enrich your lives for years to come. Travel with a partner can also test the mettle of your relationship and help you develop stronger ties to each other than if you had just stayed at home. So don't hesitate, go out and book that next trip with your sweetie!
This article originally appeared on oneika-the-traveller.com.