Have you ever heard the phrase, "Before you marry someone, go on a trip together." I definitely think this is true. Even if you are only able to take a long weekend with a potential lover, I urge you to take at least a road trip with them. Once the initial excitement and anxiety has worn off, your true personalities are bound to come out.
“I have found out that there ain’t no surer way to find out whether you like people or hate them than to travel with them.” — Mark Twain
Traveling with a partner is kind of like moving in with someone. After the initial excitement of picking out a new lamp together and noting how cute your toothbrushes look next to each other, reality kicks in and you realize you are actually stuck with this person. The same thing can happen a few hours into an international flight when you may start to notice that your partner's snoring is sort of embarrassing. Or maybe your girlfriend just got up to go to the bathroom for the 4th time this flight (okay, this is me).
I have been to some of the romantic places in the world with my fiancé and the everyday stresses of a relationship are still there, even under the most beautiful sunset in the world. Five days into spending every second together when one of you is hungry and someone's flip flop breaks you are going to get annoyed with each other and a blowout will probably occur. How you handle this situation will determine how strong your relationship is.
Maybe you will learn how to compromise. Maybe you will learn to fall in love with how sensitive your partner can be. Hopefully you can learn to laugh it off together. But you will see a different side of them than you see at home.
Even if everything falls apart you will have great photos. You may fall in love with the city instead of the person you arrived with and sometimes that is better. If everything goes to plan you will have known you survived one of the biggest tests of a relationship. And you can start planning the honeymoon!
All of that being said, here are some tips for traveling as a couple (trust me, most of these are from experience):
- Carry snacks! This one is not just for traveling with kids. We could have saved hours of agony if I had just carried a granola bar or nuts in my purse
- Make sure every detail is taken care of before you depart Whether you trust a professional to handle your trip or you DIY, make sure you have every connection, taxi ride, hotel check-in time and reservation down. Even the strongest couple is going to be tested when they arrive at a train station and find out that all of the tickets are sold out because of a local festival you knew nothing about
- COMMUNICATE! What do you want to get out of a trip? What are you willing to save money on? Are you both comfortable riding public transportation or would you feel better spending a little more to take cabs? Make sure these details are covered before you leave so they don't cut into your limited vacation time!
- Take care of yourself so that you can be a good partner This one deserves a "duh" but wear comfortable clothing (especially shoes!). Drink lots of water, pack sunscreen and actually wear it. Stay healthy and try to be in a good mood, if only as a public service to your partner
- Don't depend on the other person to carry your stuff I have been in this situation with so many people and it can be summed up easily. MEN- women don't carry a purse so that you have a place to put your water bottle and wallet and phone. Bring your own day pack. WOMEN- don't pack more than you can physically carry! When you pack, leave room for souvenirs so that you are not struggling later. Again, this a general statement and I believe in equality so whatever arrangements you have about who carries what luggage and purse(s) are wonderful, just make sure you think about it before you leave
- Ask for directions and advice You will probably end up with a great story and/or amazing restaurant recommendation if you just suck it up and ask a local for help when you desperately need it
- Take time apart It's perfectly okay to spend a couple of hours away from each other. Offer to go get coffee for the two of you and use the time to read a magazine or chat with a local barista. You may even want to plan your own excursions apart from each other so you can indulge in your individual hobbies. A little space goes a long way!
- RELAX, have fun and make the most of your time away!