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Traveling with a Significant Other

By Jenny Williams

Traveling à la deux can be a lovely experience—but it can also be a minefield of lost luggage, petty bickering, and cramped quarters. Having spent more than two years on the road with my (still current) boyfriend, I know the ins and outs of being a couple on the move; here are my top recommendations for maximizing the good and minimizing the potential for a hotel room breakup.

Know what you’re getting into.

Even if you live with your partner or spend significant amounts of time together, traveling is a whole different beast. You’ll have to contend with reservations-gone-wrong and claustrophobic hotel rooms on top of the natural kinks in every relationship. Taking short trips first can be a good indication of whether or not you’re compatible traveling companions (it’s okay if you’re not—I know several people who love their partners dearly but wouldn’t travel with them for all the oil in Dubai). Find your groove and be prepared for the inevitable bumps along the way.

Get active.

It’s easy to do nothing but lounge around the pool, sipping cocktails and making moon eyes at each other. But while that’s great for a day, anything longer is just silly. Get outside, rent bikes, have a picnic in the park, go on a walking tour, jump off a sand dune—basically just take advantage of the opportunity to interact with your partner in a new and exciting environment. You’ll spice up your relationship and make great memories in the process.

Be selfless, sometimes.

With so many decisions to make on a daily basis (finding a place to eat three meals a day and enough activities to keep you busy in between), disagreements are bound to arise. Know when to let your partner have his or her way—and when to stick up for yourself. It’s your vacation, too, and agreeing to something that will only make you miserable is a direct path to bitterness and regret.

Don’t be afraid to splurge.

No one’s saying you need to go all out (unless your partner is filthy rich and paying your share, in which case go straight for the caviar). But setting aside some bucks for a fancy dinner or five star hotel once in a while adds a special touch to every trip. A few days of decadence—particularly if your budget constraints normally have you staying in less-than-deluxe digs—can bring out the romantic side in anyone.

Breathing space: it’s crucial.

Twenty-four hours of non-stop face time is more than adequate for transforming your partner’s adorable quirks into obnoxious habits. Don’t be afraid to go for a walk by yourself or ask for some solo time—your partner will probably appreciate it, too. Keeping a journal can also provide a good release for your personal thoughts and experiences, separate from your partner’s ruthless cynicism (or equally annoying cheerfulness).

Ultimately, traveling as a duo can be one of the most challenging but rewarding experiences in a relationship. If you can survive this, you can survive anything.



I agree wholeheartedly with the breathing space comment--doing something alone for an afternoon can make all the difference. Just because you're in love doesn't mean you like all the same things, and you don't want it to be a source of resentment that you didn't see or do something on your trip just because the other person didn't want to. Go alone then reconvene later!


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