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Traveling with your loved one soon? Check out these simple travel tips for couples who want to keep their sanity so your trip only leaves you with fantastic memories!
Nathan and I only have until July for couple traveling before it becomes family traveling, but we still have a lot of small trips we plan to take between now and then! But prior to this year, we’ve gone on all kinds of trips. Camping, international travel, two week long road trips, local road trips, all-inclusive resorts, visiting destinations where we stayed with family, taking trips with family, etc.
And for the most part, I’d say we made it through pretty easily. The family trips were by far the roughest on us, but that’s a whole different post for another day. Outside of those trips, our sanity has stayed fairly intact and our marriage has emerged stronger at the end of every trip.
Some would call it luck since we didn’t have a long checklist of things to ensure that we didn’t spend the entire trip fighting, but I’m fairly confident it’s more than luck. We work together to plan the trip and communicate with each other before we go on the trip and I’d attribute most of our travel success to this. But there are plenty of things to do and discuss so here are my top travel tips for couples who want to keep their sanity!
If you skip the entire rest of this post, cool. (I think they’re pretty good tips, but I’ll fully admit – this one is crucial!) I’m a really good planner. I’m an organizational master, especially when it comes to trip planning. I had a color-coded spreadsheet for when things were open or free, when we’d be in what cities, and when we had things that had specific times for our trip to Los Angeles. It was our first major trip together and I wanted it to be perfect. While we had a blast, it was mostly my planning. I got lucky that I had a good idea of the things Nathan would want to do since I had been there before so I covered most of what we’d both want to do. But that was the one and only time I did that. Every trip since then has been our planning and I am SO grateful for that.
Before each trip, we discuss all kinds of things. The things we want to do while we’re at a location, how much downtime versus how much go-go-go time we want, how many days we want unplanned for spontaneous adventures, restaurants we may want to try, etc. Depending on the type of trip we take, it varies. But the one thing we always talk about is the one thing we want to do on the trip. We each voice our big must-do and we make a point to fit that in, even if it’s two different things.
Talk About a Budget
There is no worse feeling on a trip than feeling like you couldn’t afford it afterwards, during, or even in the planning stages after things have been booked. Whether you share finances or not, talking budget is key to deciding what things you can do on the trip and ensuring that you’re both happy in the end. This can make or break a trip (especially when you’ve already left and would rather be enjoying time away than arguing about finances) so this is a huge step to maintaining a sane and happy vacation. And if figuring a budget out feels tough because one person is more comfortable with a lower number, my suggestion is this: go with the lower number. If you can’t compromise and meet in the middle of your ideal budgets, go with the lower number. You may have to be a bit more frugal or cut a day or two off the trip, but it won’t be eating away at them months later when you haven’t quite paid it off.
Spend Some Time Apart
So Nathan and I are one of those couples that has no problem doing nearly everything together. But that’s mostly because we’re very similar. We like to spend time together because we enjoy the same things, but we also like doing things separately together. Complicated, right? We both love to go hiking or kayaking, but we can happily do it in silence. We both enjoy heading down to the beach with our iPads, but we’ll zone out and I’ll read while he plays a game. We’ll explore a new museum or city and I’ll take photographs while he stops to read about the history of things. This works for us on nearly every trip so we’ve never had to take true time apart. But I know that’s not the case for everyone.
If you and your significant other are into really different things, taking some time apart to enjoy those adventures is a great way to keep your sanity during your travels! Spend the afternoon visiting a museum while they go to a winery. Go hiking or snorkeling while they go shopping. Schedule a few days, afternoons, or mornings where you can each do your own thing so you both get everything you want out of the trip.
Sometimes doing things apart isn’t completely feasible. We took one trip to Florida with family and didn’t get a rental car of our own so we barely had time away from family, much less each other. Another time we went to the Dells during the Winter when hardly anything is open but the waterparks so short of roaming the hotel hallways or hanging out solo in the lazy river, there wasn’t much to do on our own. In both cases, we just made sure that we did things the other one wanted to do – even if it wasn’t our top choice.
Maybe it’s the restaurants you eat at, the distance you are from the closest big city, the view from your hotel room, the activities you do – doesn’t matter. Talk about it before the trip and ensure you’re meeting both of your needs.
Have A Back-Up Plan (Or 10)
This one has saved us on nearly every trip we have taken. We’ve almost always had a list of things we could do if something changes. Maybe we got sunburnt, or a museum is closed, or we get an unexpected rainy day – there’s always something that throws a mini to large wrench in the plans we had. So we always have things we can do instead. It’s never fully planned out so it takes a little bit of work to change around busier days that get altered. But it’s never a massive headache. We overview everything we have listed that would work, make sure we’re both up for it and carry on with our day. Easy, peasy!
Try Something New
This has been my all-time favorite thing about every trip we have taken. We always try something new. Sometimes it’s as simple as a new restaurant, but more often than not – it’s something much larger. New activities, new locations, new foods, etc. Snorkeling with a manatee, ATV rides through the jungle in Jamaica, catamaran cruise in Jamaica, visiting the Turtle Hospital in the Florida Keys, backpacking at a new state park, snorkeling in underground rivers in Mexico, kayaking in San Diego – we have SO many new memories from our trips. Each of them give us something unique to remember each trip by.
Not only that, but we also have something we’re unfamiliar with during the trip. There is something truly special about getting a little bit (or a lot in some cases like when we saw sharks during my first time snorkeling) out of your comfort zone with the person you love. It’s always brought us closer and leaves us with a bond that can’t be broken.
Try to Forgive & Forget
This one is so much easier said that done. And I won’t lie – I’m much more likely to be the one upset on a trip for some reason or another. Nathan is too laid-back during our travels for much to get to him. So for me, this is something I’ve had to practice a lot. But it’s so worth it. On our last road trip to Florida, we only fought twice. Once on the way down, once on the way back. Just shy of the halfway mark near Ruby Falls and I’m guessing we were getting a little stir crazy from the road trip. I can’t tell you what we fought about, but I’m sure it was ridiculous and petty. We joke now that we’ll never go to Ruby Falls because we’ll probably divorce, but at the time – all I could think of was how we were “ruining the trip.” Luckily, I got over it pretty quickly (knowing we were stuck with each other in the same vehicle for quite some time was a good motivator) but in the past – that wasn’t always the case.
The fact is, a change in your normal routine is likely to affect you two. And you’ll likely have at least one disagreement. But that’s not the point. The point is you need to find a way to move on from it as quickly as possible. Do not let a fight ruin a trip. It will be what you remember instead of all of the beautiful places you visited, the delicious food you indulged in, or the new adventures you had together. And I doubt that you wanted to pay for those kinds of memories.
Traveling together is something that has brought Nathan and I SO much closer over the nearly five years we’ve been married. I know that having a baby this year will drastically change how we travel, but I can’t wait to see how our adventures change. And we’ve already got willing babysitters for when we want to head out on our own for a bit, too :)
what are your favorite travel tips for couples who want to keep their sanity?
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