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How To Vacation With Your Honey — And Keep a Healthy Relationship

Incompatibilities get magnified when you’re together 24/7. Here’s how to shrink them down to size.

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HeroImages/Getty Images,

by Janice Holly Booth

Relationships
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Who doesn’t look forward to a break from the daily grind? There’s a lot riding on that vacation—two weeks is scant time to de-stress, detach and dive undistracted in to new experiences. And it can be particularly difficult if you and your partner don’t see eye-to-eye on what constitutes a great getaway. If your partner wants to work on a tan while you would rather prowl the local scene to find the perfect sopa de lima, don’t despair. A little compromise goes a long way in keeping your long-awaited vacation the refreshing getaway you hope it will be.

“When people travel together and they’re not used to being together 24 hours a day, it can cause friction,” says Kimberly Moffit, Ph.D, a Toronto-based relationship expert. And Corinne McDermott, founder of Have Baby Will Travel, a travel advice website for families, says that trouble is born out of differing expectations. “Even if you live together, traveling is a very different animal. Before you go, decide if this is going to be an active trip or a relaxing trip. Is one of you going to get their nose out of joint if someone wants to go off and do something on their own? Discuss those things before you leave to avoid friction on the road.” McDermott says it’s important to accept that travel can, and most likely will be, stressful. “You need to psych yourself up for that so it doesn’t ruin things.”

Yes, travel incompatibility can be a red flag that signals trouble ahead in the relationship, but no, Moffit says it doesn’t have to be the end of the road. “Everybody needs something different from a vacation, and there’s a lot of room to compromise.” Here are five tips to keep your vacation paths from diverging.

Don’t travel too early in a relationship. Do you really want to discover on vacation that your partner sings Rigoletto arias while gargling? Moffit suggests getting to know each other in everyday life before committing to being cooped up together for a week or two.  It will be easier, she says, to put up with little annoyances once you can weigh them against all the qualities you’ve come to know and love about your partner.

Be organized. A well-planned vacation minimizes the hiccups that can be a source of major stress to a couple, says McDermott. Plus, when you’ve organized everything ahead of time, you’re free to indulge your wild side because you’re not spending all your time frantically trying to find a place to stay tonight. 

Compromise doesn’t mean both of you bail on your exciting excursions for some middle-of-the-road endeavor you can do together but which satisfies nobody

your wild side because you’re not spending all your time frantically trying to find a place to stay tonight.

Know—and accept—what each of you wants and needs. If BASE jumping is on your agenda but not on your partner’s, talk about that ahead of time. Compromise doesn’t mean both of you bail on your exciting excursions for some middle-of-the-road endeavor you can do together but which satisfies nobody. “If you’re able to say, ‘On vacation, you love adventure and I like to relax, so why don’t we plan one day where I go to the spa and you go do some climbing,’ that’s really the key,” says Moffit.

Talk about potential head-butts before you leave. “If you know you’re not an early riser, or if you can’t handle asking for directions, it’s a good idea to warn your partner,” says McDermott. There are easy workarounds to almost every one of these behavioral tics—you sleep while your honey catches up on Serial podcasts; you use a locally-programmed GPS when you’re not 100% sure where you’re supposed to turn.

Build in some alone time. Even though you’re traveling as a couple, taking little breaks—you read a novel on the deck while your partner has another cup of coffee in the café—is “the equivalent of taking a deep breath,” says Moffit. Just 30 minutes apart can reset your “aaaah” button.