I remember our first trip traveling as a couple we went to New York City. At this point, we had been dating for several months and I knew Michelle always wanted to go.
I think it was the second day of our trip and it was time to eat lunch. Being in a new place, we wanted to find someplace unique to eat and settled on Shake Shack.
Unfortunately, the hanger struck before the nerves in Michelle’s stomach could tell her brain that food had arrived. The crisis was averted, food was eaten and we continued on our way.
The next day I started getting short with Michelle as I was trying to find the stairwell to get to The Highline. In the back of my head, I knew I needed to go to the bathroom but in New York, it’s not always easy to find and I tried to not think about it. I found a corner store with a bathroom and as we continued to look for the Highline, Michelle noticed I was suddenly much more pleasant.
It’s funny how small little things can cause issues on a trip when you are with each other 24/7 in a new environment.
It seems that every trip we go on as a couple we learn new things about each other, we get better at planning and things run smoother. These little issues that came up in our first trip together now come up less often and we both can deal with them even easier now.
Traveling together can either tear you apart or bring you closer together. I think the majority of couples will have some sort of conflict as they travel, but by following these tips from frequent travelers, you are sure to improve your travel experiences together.
1. Practice Empathy
In every situation and in every aspect of travel, put yourself in the other person’s shoes and try to understand what they are thinking or feeling.
Plan in a way so that your travel partner will enjoy the trip as much as you do. When a challenge presents itself, take a breath and try to imagine how the other person might be confused, angry, or thinking that you are in the wrong. This will make you better equipped to improve the situation and enjoy your couple’s trip together.
-Dan & Michelle
2. Prepare The Essentials (Especially Snacks)
Hunger, heat, and a dead cell phone are all ingredients for a squabble when you are traveling as a couple. Taking basic precautions, like packing snacks, water, and a phone charger, will help. But when all else fails, dig deep and find composure; getting mad never helps. Remember not to lash out at each other over something a granola bar could fix, and don’t confuse a bad mood with true feelings.
-Mike & Anne Howard – HoneyTrek.com, and Authors of National Geographic’s Ultimate Journeys for Two
3. Review Your Plans Together Every Day
For my husband Steven and I, it was a long-time dream of visiting Europe, and even though we have traveled as a couple for some time now, we knew, it was going to be our longest itinerary yet.
The important part was to discuss and plan it well. No time for nasty surprises! Once we decided on definite places, it was essential to negotiate on tours and activities each of us had in mind. The reality was we couldn’t possibly cover every attraction in such short period of travel, so the trip must be well organised.
After the initial stage of planning I started putting the schedules of the countries, cities, dates, flights and tours on a spreadsheet. Steven’s job was to go over and adjust whatever needed to be. We worked in unison because we wanted a perfect trip. Following both our approvals on the final copy of the itinerary, I emailed it to myself to keep it digital and printed one to take with us.
During the trip, the night before the next destination or a tour, we’d make plans about the time, length and ways to get there. No nasty surprises! We wanted a perfect trip and we got it.”
Alex Palombo – Laska Baby Travel
4. Plan Logistics Ahead of Time
When traveling as a couple it is important to have things planned according to each other needs to avoid misunderstandings and problems.
My wife and I try to discuss all the details when having a trip. Before we arrive in a city we have a clear idea about which places we are going to visit each day and how to get there.
For planning transportation, we use tools like rome2rio.com. Then we check online (or if we have a travel guide book like those from Lonely Planet) for a city map, analyze the main attractions to go to, and agree at what time to depart from our accommodations. We also find it useful to have a tour guide app on your phone of the place you are visiting and buy tickets for museums in advance, so in that case, you avoid long waiting queues and even get cheaper prices.
Leo – Safari Nomad
5. Plan To Do Things That You Both Love
When planning the itinerary as a couple for a particular city, I make sure to include things that each of us loves to do. We’re very different as people, with very different interests. However, we make sure that there’s something in the itinerary for both of us (so no one feels like they’re making a compromise).
For example, I’m a huge Harry Potter fan while my husband isn’t one. On the other hand, he’s a die-hard fan of soccer and the Chelsea football team while I couldn’t care less about them. However, while planning our London itinerary, we made sure to include a visit to the Warner Bros Harry Potter Studios as well as a tour of the Chelsea FC Stadium. It was the experience of a lifetime for each one of us!
These little things help us enjoy each destination to the fullest without having to argue or fight during a vacation.
Chandrima – Travel Stories Untold
6. Plan Some Surprises Along The Way
Remember that just because you’re on vacation together (which is in itself a special event), doesn’t mean you can’t go out of your way to do something nice for your partner. It’s easy to relax and get caught up in the excitement and busyness of each destination—but try to think of one small (or big) way to surprise your loved one each day. Make it into a habit.
Try to brainstorm new ideas every morning. What could you do to make them feel special today? Anticipate their needs. Make them feel like you’re always thinking about them when you are traveling as a couple. Doing so will fill up their “love tank” so when problems do arise (and they will), you’ll have built up so much goodwill with each other that all issues seem insignificant and easily solvable.
-Mitch Glass – Project Untethered
7. Be Willing To Do Something The Other Person Suggests (even if it doesn’t sound interesting)
Generally, we are both pretty much on the same page when it comes down to arriving in a place and deciding what to do, but we are inclined to prevaricate and make alternative suggestions and realize now that is not a good thing.
So, if we arrive somewhere with a “What shall we do now?” question and we are both undecided, we promise to say “Yes” to the first thing one of us suggests. We used to say, “Oh well yes, we could do that, but we could also do this – or what about that?” and that’s when the arguments and disengagement sets in.
So now, we do the first thing, because obviously the person suggesting it was quite keen on the idea and shouldn’t be talked out of it. Plus, taking action and doing something, and trusting in serendipity leads on to other ideas afterward.
Too many times we’ve talked ourselves out of doing something and become disengaged and fractious about making decisions.
Saves a lot of time and energy in the long run!
-Dave and Jo Castro – Lifestyle Fifty
8. Divide Up Your Travel Chores
The chores we take on as a couple on the road may be different than those at home–more logistical challenges of travel, fewer worries about washing dishes–but travel definitely comes with its own set of chores, and developing a divide-and-conquer strategy keeps our trips running smoothly and our relationship feeling easy.
Instead of worrying about who does what for each trip, we have a system: I book flights, he handles on the ground transportation. I find hotels, he deals with check-in. I sketch out destination options, he finds the best way for us to get there.
This teamwork keeps our life simple, and avoids confusion on the road–and it also acts as a constant reminder that our travels are something we work together to achieve.
Kate Storm – Our Escape Clause
Organizing a trip with your partner is not as immediate a task as it might seem. It’s not just about finding the best value for money flights and accommodation, you also have to find interesting things to do at your destination, organize the trip logistics, talk about your budget, follow directions, and many other things.
If you do not want to find yourself demotivated before you start traveling, establish which are the basic tasks you need to get done and assign them in a balanced way. Believe us, this is a great way to avoid further discussions as both of you will have something to do (distributing the responsibility, which otherwise would fall on only one person) and ensuring the trip is a complete success.
-Inma and Jose – A World to Travel
9. Treat The Logistics of Your Travel Like a Project
Traveling involves a lot of planning and staying organized so that there aren’t any significant mishaps. The best tip to avoid fighting with your significant other during a trip is to treat the logistics part of your travels like a project. For example, have someone assigned to a particular task and have a deadline.
When it comes to the itinerary and budget, using a spreadsheet to record the details is ideal so that both parties are on the same page. You can go as far as using Asana or another project management tool to stay super organized. This tip worked very well for us when we travelled together for a year as nomads and never once did we get angry at each other during the trip due to the logistics.
-Nancy – enSquaredAired
10. Accommodate For Each Others Differences
“Respecting each other’s likings and habits even while traveling. For example, my husband is a history and museum buff, I’m not. So everyday before starting we decide our plan & time schedule. While he spends time in a museum, I explore the markets and local joints (my area of interest) in the neighborhood, and we meet at a point at a pre-decided time to have meals together and discuss our plan of action further.
Another example is, when we are back to our hotel, he falls asleep fast while I do the social media, photos backup, charging the batteries, checking mails etc. He is an early riser, goes out to click some attractions at that hour, and comes back for breakfast while I get some extra sleep. This way we give space to each other and respect individual choices.”
-Nisha and Vasu – Lemonicks
11. Forgive and Forget Quickly and Truly
We’ve been married for nine years and love traveling together so much that a few years ago we decided to quit our jobs to travel full-time (you can read our complete world trip itinerary here!). Traveling continues to teach us not only about the world, but each other, and ultimately brings us closer.
We are the first to admit that travel can bring out bad behavior and negativity. This is especially true for couples not used to spending every minute of every day together. Most travel arguments are about trivial things (like forgetting to pack something or deciding where to eat dinner), but even the littlest disagreements can turn a happy time into something unenjoyable. We don’t have advice on avoiding these arguments.
We’ve learned over many miles that they will happen. So our biggest piece of advice is that once it’s over – let it go. Forgive and truly forget. When you’re traveling – especially on vacation – the time is compressed and you should make the most of every second. You might need five minutes apart to cool off, but don’t take much longer than that. You’ll just be stewing in your emotions instead of clearing your head. Once the issue is resolved and forgotten, you can resume enjoying being together, which for us is the best part.
-Sarah and Justin, Travel Breathe Repeat
12. Consider Planning For Some Time On Your Own
My best tip for avoiding arguments while traveling as a couple is to split up for part of the trip. I know that this might sound crazy at first, after all, you’ve been planning for so long to have a romantic getaway. But there are good reasons for wanting to temporarily take a break from your loved one.
As many as one in ten couples break up after a vacation, mostly caused by spending too much time together. No matter how much you love your significant other, it is not natural to spend 24 hours a day, seven days a week together. Also, you are uniquely different people, with different interests so it is natural to be drawn to different activities or even destinations.
For these reasons, my boyfriend, Max, and I spent three days apart during our trip to Vietnam. While I stayed in Nha Trang, he hitchhiked down to Ho Chi Minh City. It was an experience he had wanted to have for a long time and he kept me updated on Whatsapp with the progress of his exciting journey.
While traveling alone, Max was able to enjoy the backpacker life of staying in hostels and meeting new people which is always easier to do when you are solo. He sweetly told his new friends about me and my travel website, convincing them to follow me on Instagram (which some still do!). Then when he returned to Nha Trang, we had so much to share and talk about together.
Next year, Max and I plan to go back to Southeast Asia and will likely split again. As I traveled a lot more before we got together, there are some places he would like to visit that I’ve already been. It is a great way for us to keep our independence, have time to miss each other, and fully enjoy the times when we are traveling together.
-Chantell Collins – Budget Travel Babes
13. Learn From Your Mistakes
We keep a document of principles for adventure travel, inspired by Ray Dalio’s book Principles. We use it as a set of guidelines for how we operate together as we travel
We’ve been through our share of crises while traveling. Every time we get through a crisis—or avoid one by doing something right—we take note. And eventually, we distill those notes down into “principles”.
It started with one lesson born of a frustrating experience. An hour into a three-day hike, we realized that we had forgotten something critical to finish the hike—a portable water filter. We had forgotten critical items before and were annoyed that it had happened again. Luckily, we found it, but the almost-crisis gave birth to our first principle: that for critical planning and packing, we should “double-perform”, not just “double-check”.
More principles came over time. Appoint a “head chef” and “sous chef” in situations where we’d often butt heads if nobody was in charge (like the kitchen). Take the time to communicate extra-clearly when stressed, like the time I was inundated by swarms of ravenous mosquitoes and was, frankly, freaking out.
We’re sure we have much more to learn and look forward to doing so!
-Dana – Discover Discomfort
14. Plan Where You Will Eat Ahead Of Time
For my husband and I it is a perfect union of two travel junkies where both of us have travel tagged as No.1 on our wish list. As with every couple, certain disagreements have come along the way which hampered our explorations many times. The core issue causing disagreements has always been food. My better half loves to stick to traditional Indian food, while I love experimenting with local food.
During our international trips, finding Indian food is often difficult and we have wasted a lot of time searching for them, even causing us to miss pre-booked non-refundable adventure activities.
Therefore, we decided to plan the food joints in advance based on our itinerary and especially going to food courts and multi-cuisine restaurants, where each one of us could relish the food basis individual likings.
Chandresh & Jhilmil – Family On The Wheels
15. Have A Backup and Emergency Plan
There’s nothing that will teach you more about traveling as a couple than getting stuck in a hurricane on your honeymoon with no cell phone service on an island that doesn’t have the infrastructure to make toll-free calls.
That’s exactly what happened to us on our honeymoon to St Lucia when Hurricane Tomas hit in 2010. It was a valuable lesson in ensuring you have a backup plan in case of emergency, to minimize stress and strain on the relationship in the event that disaster strikes.
Three tips for preparedness include:
- Have phone numbers written down for key personal and travel contacts in case of emergency (This is also why it’s a good idea to use a travel agent for at least a portion of your trip so they can manage logistics in the event that something goes wrong.)
- Have 2-3 credit cards available in the case of unexpected purchases. Ensure card companies have been notified of travel so there aren’t issues accessing the funds.
- Have trip insurance of some sort and understand the coverage. With many credit cards offering travel insurance it may not be necessary to purchase anything additional, but you should understand what’s included and what’s not so you can make educated, cost conscious decisions if something goes wrong.
Amanda Emmerling – Toddling Traveler
16. Communicate Expectations Before Traveling
Traveling as a couple can either create wonderful memories or harness the worst fight between each other. Planning a trip together with your partner is a crucial task that can only be successfully executed if both of the partners are on the same page.
To plan a ‘fight-free’ travel, my partner and I always ensure to communicate with each other’s expectations beforehand regarding the activities to do and places to visit. Once that is sorted, we divide all the tasks, where me being the one who books for everything and my partner manages the immigration documentation, insurance, and trip finances ensuring that we never run out of cash.
Communication is, however, the most crucial element; therefore, every single action regarding the trip planning is communicated between both of us on a regular basis. By being aware of each other’s preferences and planning the trip together is the key to a lovely memorable trip as a couple.
-Rahma Khan – The Sane Adventurer
16. Learn Each Other’s Travel Styles
“There is nothing more special than traveling with your partner. However, it is not always sunshine and rainbows. One of the best tips we can give fellow travel couples is to know each other’s travel style.
You may know each other’s lifestyle at home, but traveling is another territory altogether. It is important to talk to each other about what you want out of your trip.
Does someone want to go with the flow and relax? Or does someone want to plan everything out by the hour and do enjoy every site? For us, it’s both. One wants to go with the flow while the other wants to make sure we optimize our time. Discuss our trip together on how we can accommodate both of our travel styles.
In addition, we have learned that Christina gets very hangry when we travel without eating. So knowing what she needs, we now take the time to always eat more frequently. Whether that be a packed snack or buying a cup of gelato in town. If your loved one gets hangry too, this tip is vital! Once you recognize each other’s traits when traveling, the trips become a lot more fun!
Christina and Adam – Our Sweet Adventures
18. Be Patient With Each Other
The key to planning and enjoying a trip with my husband of 10 years is to be patient with each other. Taking the time to get to know each other’s strengths and being forgiving of each other’s weaknesses is the key to a successful.
For example, if you are a planner but your significant other is not then take it and run with it. If your partner wants adventure while you are looking for something relaxing then figure out a way to make time for both kinds of activities.
Before your trip take some time to make a list of all the things that you both want to do. Then keeping each other in mind come up with a plan where you both get to do what you want.
Learning to compromise in the beginning will ensure that you are both having a good time. The goal is to give each other the opportunity to enjoy your vacation and travel adventures together.
Taima Ramsey – Poor In A Private Plane
19. Embrace The Chaos and Don’t Forget To Laugh
My husband and I are currently about halfway through a 14 month trip around the world. While it has been an incredible experience so far and has made our bond even stronger, there have been times where we have been fighting rather than revealing in the awe-inspiring sights in front of us.
A lot of times, this happens simply because travel is chaotic. It strips you of all familiarity with your surroundings, disrupts your routines, and constantly blasts you with new information to take in and challenges to overcome.
We have found that the best way to manage the stress of
Thea – Zen Travellers
20. Remember Balance Is Key
I would say balance is key. Don’t stuff your program so there’s no free time left because one of you will need a moment to breathe at one point or the other. It’s important that no party feels like they’re running after the other the entire time. For example, on our recent road trip through the South of France, my partner really had to sit me down and tell me it was okay if we didn’t go somewhere new every single day. This was a holiday and we were there to relax.
So whatever you plan, make sure you plan in your free time to move slower when you need it.
Many people will also say that compromise is key but I believe you shouldn’t go too far in that. If partner A is very keen on doing while Partner B the other doesn’t really care, it won’t be too much trouble for Partner B to join Partner A, but if Partner B really dislikes A, I’d never suggested they’d have to give in to the wishes of Partner A. You will never have a good time doing something if you’re partner is having a horrible time, regardless of how much you wanted to do it.
And remember, you don’t have to do everything together. It’s perfectly fine for one of you to go to the spa while another goes out running. Especially on longer trips, a break here and there can only be beneficial.
-Sofie Couwenbergh –WonderfulWanderings.com