I love love love to travel. I haven’t been that many places, but I’ve made my rounds to Jamaica, Peru, France, Germany, Czech Republic, Canada (totally counts), and various states within the US. It’s been almost two years since I have gone abroad and I’m getting that traveling itch.
I have a good friend who moved to Egypt last year to teach English to missionary children in Cairo. Her term ends this August and I really wanted to visit while she was there, but just couldn’t justify it financially and with minimal vacation days.
So with that I was thinking, when we do actually get to travel, how do we make the most of it without turning it into something stressful. Let’s make a bit of a list, as that won’t be the right thing to do while actually out there.
1. 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? To me Scenic river surfing fits the bill quite well. And so we slowly think of more things and make a list of what 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.
2. 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. 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.
3. 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. 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.
4. 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.
5. 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.