Traveling with a partner can be ridiculous amounts of fun (take it from us!) You have someone to split that crazy giant sundae with, someone to take those long train rides with, someone to complain with, and best of all, someone to take photos with. It’s always reassuring to know that someone’s got your back when you are traveling, whether it be your romantic partner or best friend. On the other hand, traveling with the wrong partner can spectacularly ruin your trip. Picking your travel partner is in some ways very similar to picking your life partner, as you navigate the ups and downs of your journey together – it’s just presumably a little easier to call it quits with your travel partner than your life partner! Is it possible for you to evaluate whether you and your partner can survive a trip together without ruining your relationship? Discussing the issues below beforehand might help you figure out if you want to take that month-long tour of Asia together next summer (and hopefully avoid a painful conversation mid- or post-vacation!)
What types of vacations do you prefer?
Picture yourself on your ideal vacation. Do you see yourself sipping Pina-Coladas while tanning on the beach all day, or on a more active hike of a volcano? In other words, do you prefer a beach vacation over hiking lush natural forests, or prefer to explore cities instead? Do you prefer more relaxed vacations or more adventurous ones? If it’s a mix of both, how often and with what intensity do you prefer to hike/dive/be adventurous versus lie on the beach? Any vacation can have varying levels of activities. You can snorkel, dive, play beach volleyball, and take boat tours on a beach vacation. On the other hand, you can also read and tan while having nice cold beers all day at the beach as well. The same goes for any other type of holiday: would you like to spend your time learning about the history of a city and visit all/most of its museums and monuments or take in a few and relax at the hotel and cafés for half the day? It’s good to know what your partner has in mind for your vacation beforehand, so that you’re not in for any surprises.
Is shopping an important part of your vacation-ideal? Would you like all your accommodation and activities booked before you travel or do you prefer booking one or two places and winging it the days after? These are practical questions that should be addressed before you jump on a plane with your partner.
A practical way of going about this is to discuss what activities you’d prefer to do on your trip together. Sightseeing all day? Museums or open-air sightseeing? For how long? Do you want to see everything/most things or just one or two sights? Do you want to dive? Tan? Hike? Read? Will you rent a car? For how long? Will you book all your accommodation beforehand? Addressing these questions will help you see if you’re more or less on the same page when it comes to the kind of vacation that you both will enjoy!
What kind of accommodation are you looking for?
From camping, to “glamping,” to hostels, to apartments, to apart-hotels, to apartments, to budget hotels, to high-end hotels, the choices are almost endless when it comes to choosing the accommodation for your trip. Are you looking for a simple place to just rest your head at the end of the day or somewhere with amenities and comfortable beds? Where you sleep can really factor into your trip, especially if you’re exhausted at the end of the day and you come “home” to a place you can’t stand. Cue the fights! While you can always mix and match depending on your budget (see below!) it’s important to think about and discuss what type of accommodation you have in mind for your vacation, so that there are no awkward, harrowing surprises during your trip (you’ll have plenty of those in other scenarios while traveling, without it having to do with your partner or living space!)
In our case, we always prefer hotels and private apartments to hostels and camping, for a variety of reasons. Our choice of hotels range from basic to upscale, but we both agree on the level of hygiene and amenities that we require from a place we choose to book for a trip (hygiene is a super, super important aspect for me personally!) The size of the room/apartment and services offered are pretty irrelevant, as long as we have a comfortable, clean place to relax in (and even cook sometimes!) after a long day of touring.
What kind of budget are you both on? Do you both agree with each other’s budget for the trip?
This may be one of the most important discussions to have before you journey together. Being strapped for cash can cause significant cognitive stress, and you want your partner to understand and hopefully help alleviate your situation, and not complain that you’re holding them back in any way. On the flipside, you don’t want to miss out on activities if your partner is low on cash. It’s a good idea to be completely transparent about your travel budget with your partner, so that you are on the same page from booking accommodation and activities to the end of your trip
Make sure that you and your partner agree with each other’s budgets for the trip. This goes hand in hand with the type of vacation and accommodation that you’re looking for. If you’re on a very tight budget and your partner clearly is used to, and prefers, high end hotels or renting cars over public transport, taking that two-week trip through Europe may not be the best idea. If however you both have discussed, are clear about, and agree with, each other’s budgets for the vacation together, you hopefully shouldn’t run into any problems. Discussing whether s/he is open to cooking versus eating out every day/what types of activities s/he is looking to do during the trip can help you get an idea of what kind of budget they have for the trip (and what they may expect you to have as well!)
How do you handle your finances?
We’ll start this extremely important section off by reminding you of one mantra that you should know, and remind yourself of, on your journey together. You are on the same team. You should both hopefully have the same end goal: Have a safe, fun trip together. How you handle your finances can play a huge role in facilitating your trip, so remember that while you may be different in your approaches when it comes to paying, being reimbursed et cetera, you both have the same goal of having a safe, good time together.
Now to practical questions you’ll need to address: how do you want to go about paying for things? Will you split the bill at every restaurant? Would you rather have one person pay and the other reimburses them? Do you prefer to simply pool the money at the beginning of the trip, disregarding the possibility of one person paying a little more than necessary for him-/herself? We even know one married couple where one person pays for recreational activities (including vacations) and the other pays for all household expenses. Do you have that kind of an agreement (if you are living together)?
When it comes to splitting things, do you prefer to split it to the cent or do you round up? (We know of a couple who split up because of this fundamental difference in splitting the check – after a while, it can get annoying!) Do you feel awkward talking about money/asking to be reimbursed? If you “treat” others, on a small or large scale, do you expect the same in return? Will you keep a sheet of expenses for yourself/both of you and sort out payment at the end of the trip? These may be difficult questions to discuss, but they can be paramount in making your trip one you can comfortably enjoy.
Who plans your trip?
There’s some level of planning associated with any trip – from booking every hotel and activity/tour in advance to a handful of hostels and points of interest. It’s important to discuss if you both prefer to plan everything together or if one person is alright with the plan that the other makes. This is also based on each person’s personality type. For example, I prefer to plan and know ahead of time where I am staying and what I can realistically see and do during our trip together. Christian is good with my choice of hotels and activities – and for his part, takes over the reins navigating and planning our route on the day of our vacation. In this way, the responsibility of planning our trip is shared between us, and we both get to relax and let the other “do the work” at different times during the vacation.
The early bird catches the worm? Or are people who stay up late smarter?
Now we get down to the most practical questions you need to think about beforehand. If you love to hike up to watch the sunrise and your partner is more into hitting the snooze button, you may have a problem. You don’t want to always be the one pushing your partner out of bed – or be the one falling asleep at nine when your partner is ready to rage till dawn. It’s good to know if your travel buddy is up for some sunrises or nights out before booking that trip to Hawai’i or Amsterdam.
How important are meals to you both?
There is a such a thing as being “hangry.” Do you prefer to take breakfast on the go or is a sit-down meal important to you as it is to my German husband? Do you have specific meal times that you adhere to? Does your partner know them and agree with them? If you had to pick a tour over a meal at a specific time, which would you choose? Do you eat to live or do you live to eat? Do you want to try new local food as often as possible, or are you happier with foods that you are familiar with? Meals constitute a big part of your travel time and budget, and discussing what types of, and times for, meals you both prefer can alleviate arguments during your tours together.
Are you willing to compromise?
Travel can bring out the best and worst in people. It can be magical, and at the same time be a difficult experience. The most important thing to keep in mind while traveling is again that you both have the same goal: to have a safe, enjoyable trip together. And the key to navigating the ups and downs of travel, and the differences you may have when it comes to finances, type of accommodation, type of activity, meal times etc., is the extent to which you are willing to compromise with each other. This doesn’t mean you have to compromise on your ideal vacation completely; maybe you force yourself out of bed for that one special sunrise your partner has their heart set on seeing. Maybe you forgo splitting the check down to the cent when you know that your partner prefers to round up. Maybe you pack a few snacks to avoid getting hangry around your meal time when your partner has so much left that they want to see. Maybe you go with the plan that your partner made just that once even if you prefer to do it another way. Who knows, you may even end up liking their plan/activity in the end! And if you don’t, again, remember that you are still on the same team (they just like something you don’t, and at least you tried it!) Unless every single answer you both have for the above questions are fundamentally opposite, it shouldn’t be difficult to compromise and have an amazing trip together!
We even put together a handy questionnaire to help break the ice with your travel buddy when it comes to discussing these issues. Let us know if this helped you at all!
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