How To Travel With Your Partner (Without Losing Your Mind)
I recently moved to the UK with my partner and we have decided to travel in Europe while we have the chance to do it for under a bazillion dollars. (Last time I checked, that’s how much it costs to fly from Canada to anywhere in Europe, but I’ll admit, I’m not very good with numbers). We now spend lots of time running through unfamiliar airports and train stations shouting at each other (“Left! Go left! No, the other left!”) and exploring new and exciting global terrains together (also while shouting directions). Travelling is stressful at times for everyone, but if you’re not careful, facing that stress with your significant other can be a grueling test of your relationship. Here’s a few things to keep in mind to make sure you get back from your trip with your relationship, and your limbs, intact.
Plan hotels in advance or you’ll go crazy
One of the worst things you can say before heading out on a trip is, “We’ll just find a place to stay when we get there.” (Other terrible statements include, “Look, I’m sure the water is safe to drink, don’t be a wimp” and “Who cares what sports team you support?”) When you get to a new location, you want to dump your bags, relax a little and wash the travel dirt off, so you can go out and explore without too much effort. Trying to find a hotel when you first arrive may lead to arguments and the overwhelming desire to find separate ones, so plan in advance to avoid spats and stress.
On that note, pick some restaurants in advance, too
I like to think that I’m usually an even-tempered and sane person, but when I get hungry I turn into a cranky, indecisive mess that will both complain about needing food and refuse to pick a place to eat. If either of you are prone to getting “hangry” (hungry + angry) then, for the love of God, research your dinner options in advance. Breakfast and lunch are easy meals—people are much more willing to eat on the run or settle for fast food, but dinners can make or break a day if you’re not careful. To avoid eating dinner in silence or getting stuck at the Parisian version of Denny’s by accident, do a little prep work—find a few places you both like, and locate them on your map.
Don’t be afraid to do things separately
You know what’s great about travelling with your partner? You have someone you love to share all the exciting trip adventures with. Isn’t that great? You know what’s not great about travelling with your partner? After about a week, you’ll be done sharing expereices: “What do you mean you want to see another cathedral? Haven’t we seen every cathedral in the country? Ugh, you are just like your mother!” Don’t be afraid to split up now and then, especially if you’re on a long-haul trip. Take some alone time, because even the best relationship is going to be strained after spending 500 consecutive hours together and it’s best to avoid outbursts like, “I am just so sick of your face, okay?”
What part of compromise do you not understand? That’s it, I’m getting dinner alone
To be honest, I’m always shocked at the number of people who don’t get the whole “compromise” thing in relationships. Either they must be the winner in every situation or they think that the only way to avoid a fight is to be a total doormat. Travelling can be super bad for amplifying these behaviors. Everyone has things they desperately want to do or avoid, so sit down before you go and draw up a plan. You might take turns picking a gallery or site each day, or maybe you split up for a few hours so one person can go looking for knickknacks while the other looks at Baroque paintings. Either way, talk to each other in advance and figure out your game plan so that you can avoid standing in the middle of Champs-Élysées waving a map and shouting, “But you SAID we could go to Cleopatra’s Needle! WORST VACATION EVER.”
Don’t hold grudges (just realize that some people cannot handle stress)
Even if you’ve travelled a ton, any journey can be stressful and annoying and still bring out the worst in you and your partner. Remember that if your partner tends to be much more short or snappy when stressed out, there will be times when you just have to take a step back, let them relax, and then deal with stuff after you’ve both calmed down. As tough as it might be, you can’t take it personally.
But if they keep it up, then ignore everything else I’ve said and get your own hotel room. Travelling with buzzkills is the worst.