Happy Valentines Day everyone! In light of the day of love, I thought it would be fitting to write a piece on my 10 Commandments for successful couples travel (boyfriend, girlfriend, love interest…or ‘it’s complicated’). Having travelled with my boyfriend on numerous occasions, both domestically (around Australia) and internationally (around South America and New Zealand), we’ve learned a bunch of lessons (yes, sometimes these were hard) on how to happily travel with one another, without the inevitable split in interests and eventual fight. Some of these lessons presented us with awkward situations and took a lot of time to learn, but that’s all the more reason for me to share them with you – to spare you the heartache, as well as make sure that you have the best time abroad with the person you love most!
Couples Travel Commandment 1: Be clear about your expectations
This definitely my number one rule and if you enforce this rule right from the start – even when thinking about a holiday, this will almost completely prevent any conflict between you and your partner. From the get-go, make sure that you are completely clear about your expectations for the holiday. It actually helps to define it first – is your vacation going to be a lazy ‘chill on the beach with a constant flow of cocktails’ kind of holiday, or will it be an action-packed sightseeing adventure? You will need to ensure that the expectation is aligned (or there is at least a compromise reached). It also helps to be clear about what you want to see and do whilst on holiday, as well as the expectation around crucial things like splitting the bills (if you don’t have a joint bank account). The expectations conversation may be difficult and awkward at first, but trust me – it is better just to get it all out in the open!
Couples Travel Commandment 2: Be open about your SSB
Yep, Carrie said it in Sex and The City about 20 years ago – SBB, stands for ‘Secret singles behaviour’. We all have it, those things we do when we are alone that we truly love doing, or perhaps it is a habit or compulsion that you must fulfil – mine is always making my bed and compulsive cleaning. It is always a good idea to be open with your partner about this – 1) so they don’t get weirded out by the behaviour and 2) so you can feel comfortable being your true self on holidays! I mean, no one wants to be walking on eggshells for their entire vacation right?!
Couples Travel Commandment 3: Know each others strengths
This is actually a lesson I learnt early on, and is bar far one of the most valuable. If there is something that you are particularly good at, or perhaps a trait that you possess that is your strength, make your partner aware of this! Chances are that you will be able to leverage this with his/her strengths when you are on holiday. For example, communicating with others and learning languages are my strong suit, whilst my boyfriend is quite analytical and a complete problem solver! This balance was quite handy when our flights got cancelled in Chile (due to a random worker strike) because he was able to devise a solution for us with the airline to get on the next flight to Punta Arenas (Patagonian region), whilst I was able to assist with communicating to the flight staff.
Couples Travel Commandment 4: Devise a game plan for each day…
Devising a game plan for each day is so crucial! This will help you to ensure that you see and do everything that you both want to and generally leads to less disappointment. My tip is to always work with your energy levels. so if you know that you and your partner are more energetic in the morning, then go and do all of the sightseeing earlier and perhaps dive into that picnic and bottle of wine (or two) in the evening.
Couples Travel Commandment 5: but don’t ever make decisions when you are hungry!
This may sound like an obvious one – but just don’t do it! Hunger usually turns people hangry and the last thing you want to do is make a really awesome suggestion and get it completely shut down or perhaps give a snide comment because your partner or you are hungry. Just grab and bite and decide after,
Couples Travel Commandment 6: Communicate!
If there is something bugging you, whether it’s about your partner or not – let them know! This is a pretty simple one and yes this conversation can be awkward initially and (like commandment number 1) if done correctly will save you so much heartache down the track.
Couples Travel Commandment 7: Compromise is key
This commandment is one that is spoken about all the time in any type of relationship counselling and is completely true! Compromise is completely key. Being in a relationship means taking the other person’s thoughts, feelings and needs into consideration and sometimes this means a little giving up on what you want to make the other person happy (and vice versa of course!)
Couples Travel Commandment 8: Reciprocity – it’s a two way street!
Reciprocity leads on from commandment 7 – your relationship is a two way street. It may actually shock you but a couple does comprise of two people, who are equal in status and power within the relationship. If you do something for your partner, you can expect that they will return the favour (and vice versa). For example, in a recent trip to New Zealand, I wanted to see the art gallery in Christchurch and whilst I knew that my boyfriend wasn’t really interested, I also knew that this was okay because the next day I went with him to see the WWII air force museum (which I totally would have passed on if it were just me).
Couples Travel Commandment 9: Remember that you are both human
Remembering that you are both human – I know it sounds weird and you might even be thinking ‘what is this girl harping on about?!’ But just hear me out. Sometimes you will be annoyed with your partner. Sometimes they will be annoyed with you. This is part of life and it is okay to show emotion, this is what it means to be human. Just remember that you both have feelings and that just because you may not agree with them, doesn’t mean that they are not legitimate. You and your partner have every right to feel emotion, it is how you express it that truly matters!
Couples Travel Commandment 10: Most importantly, love one another!
This one goes without saying, but always remember why you went on holiday or travelling in the first place – you love each other and want to experience something new with your partner. No matter how tough or bad the situation is, think of every reason you fell in love with them in the first place. As long as you care for one another, everything will be fine.
I hope you enjoyed my 10 Commandments for successful couples travel. If you have a commandment, I’d love to hear it!