In the beginning of a relationship, your world is like a little fairy tale. Life is happy and love is wonderful. Your significant other can do no wrong! If their tastes differ from yours, it’s endearing! If they want to do something you’ve never done, you’re game! Anything is fun with you, darling!
Eventually, though, these love-colored glasses start to fade into a secure, comfortable relationship, and you start to notice that you are in fact, very different people with very different tastes. I realized this shortly after dating that J that we were really different. In so many aspects of our life.
We have very different agendas when we travel. He loves to get to know a place like a tourist — museums, tours, popular restaurants, organized fun. I, on the other hand, like to blend in when I travel and do what the locals do — eat at the hole in the wall places, shop at the one-of-a-kind boutiques, and study maps of cities beforehand so I act like I know where I’m going (sidenote: my proudest moment of our trip to Boston was when someone asked me for directions. Ha!)
We were long distance for two years, so every time we had a chance to travel we visited the other person, which was different than a real trip or vacation. So I was a little worried one of my favorite things in the world (traveling) would be ruined after we got married and I’d never be able to enjoy a trip again. (If I could go back in time to my 24-year old self, I would say: Ease up, princess. Marriage is a partnership. You love J and you love being with him, so you will enjoy traveling with him.)
It’s taken a lot of communication and a little practice, but we are finally at the point where traveling is our favorite thing to do together. Here are some ways J and I make it work.
1. Decide on a trip budget and how you’re going to pay for it.
Did you know that money is the number one thing couples argue about? Guess what, that applies when you travel together. There is nothing worse than coming home from a great trip and then paying for it for the next few months in credit card payments. Figure out what you want to do, where to stay, how you’re going to get there, how much it should cost, and then how you plan to save for it. If you can’t afford it, don’t plan it.
2. Spend as much money before the trip as you can.
The last thing you want to be thinking about when you are traveling is money. It’s a buzz kill. You are on a trip to relax or get away, not stress about whether your budget is going to break this month. For this reason, we try to pay for the trip in stages, and as much as possible beforehand. For our recent trip to Boston, we bought our flights in February, booked our lodging in March, bought our Go Boston pass (for all of the attractions we planned to visit) in April, and bought our Red Sox tickets in May. The only money we spent out of pocket during our trip was on food and two $5 subway rides. The trip was sooo much less stressful while we were there since almost everything had already been paid for.
3. Communicate expectations.
Half the fun of going on a trip is the planning, at least for us. We dream about what we want to do, places we want to see, and (maybe most importantly — for me), where we want to eat. When J and I are planning a trip, we communicate what our purpose is beforehand. What is the balance of relaxing to sight-seeing? We make a list of things we want to do and figure out why we are going and what we want to do in order to meet those expectations. Our trip to Boston was most definitely not relaxing, and we both agreed beforehand that we would be on the go most of the time.
4. Come up with your must-do items.
Before a trip, J and I each come up with a must-do or must-see or must-eat list. These are things that if they don’t happen, we would be disappointed. For our trip to Boston, J wanted to go to a Red Sox game. For me it was bike riding around the city and going out for a nice meal. If all of our other plans fell through but we ended up doing those things, we would be perfectly happy. Both partners get to choose at least one thing, then decide what else is on your list and prioritize the rest.
5. Make time to relax.
We like to pack in as much as we can when we are in a new place. But you can only go so long running around without losing steam or needing a break. And losing steam — or worse, getting hangry — is never conducive to a good time. Make time to relax and take it easy. Sleep in. Go out for a long, lingering brunch. Take a break at a quaint coffee shop and scroll through the photos you’ve taken that day. When I look back to the various trips we’ve taken, these are some of my favorite memories.
6. Do something you normally wouldn’t do.
The root of my hesitation in traveling with J was fear of losing my voice and only doing what he wanted to do. But that’s just silly — marriage is all about compromise, and I have learned so much through doing things outside of my little box. Our trips are so much fun because we each do things we naturally wouldn’t do, together. I would never buy tickets to see a Red Sox game by myself, but I had the best time and loved seeing J’s face light up when he entered Fenway Park. He would never choose to go on a 20-mile bike ride, but he had a great time and it made me really happy. We were riding around in the cheesy duck tour quacking around town at people we saw on the street, and I literally was laughing the entire time. These things make the trip fun, keep things interesting, and you learn a lot more about your significant other by experiencing things they love.
7. Let go of expectations and laugh when things go wrong.
Expectations can ruin a trip fast. Just let ’em go. And when things go wrong (like the time we got lost biking in downtown Boston during morning rush hour), the best plan of action is to laugh and work together.
What tips do you have when you traveling with your significant other?
Do you like to do more touristy things, or lean towards what the locals do?
PS – Day one, two and three from our Boston trip, in case you care to read more. :)