Embarking on your first vacation together as a couple is a big turning point in most relationships. You’ve been hanging out a lot, and the sparks are flying, but will you be able to survive a couple’s trip? Traveling with a partner means eating, sleeping, tackling complications, and navigating as a team, and that can put a strain on even the most dedicated and seasoned relationships. However, with proper planning, your getaway can result in a deeper and more intimate bond. Compiled by expert travelers who also know a thing or two about relationships, these tips will help you ensure that your first time away together is about as perfect as it can be!
Note from the author: Hey guys! I’m Abby. My husband and I have been traveling the world together for 13 years, and for the last 2.5 years, we have been on the road full-time. We shifted from a pretty autonomous life, normal working and separate activities, to a life of constant contact. We now work together, transit together, eat together, play together, exercise together, and, anything else we do, we likely do together. Maneuvering in 25 countries (some multiple times) as a unit, we have learned a thing or two about how to survive travel life and keep our relationship thriving, and we are passionate about helping others do the same!
Start with a few smaller adventures!
Before you head out on your first big trip together, consider taking a few weekend getaways closer to home! Adventures From Scratch: Date Edition is loaded with unique experiences, crafted by our dating and travel experts, to provide adventure and deepen your bond! Our fun-filled book contains 50+ scratch-off adventures, conversation starters, and journaling space to document your time together. It’s the perfect dating companion for an adventurous new couple!
Tips for Enjoying Your First Vacation Together
1. Don’t overanalyze it.
If you are a little nervous about your first trip as a duo, that’s perfectly normal! This whole thing is untested territory. Not to mention all those little neuroses we mull over, like pooping in front of someone for the first time…oh gosh…what if you get food poisoning? What if he hates the hotel room you picked? What if you see a side of your partner that you don’t like? What if you can’t get along at all, and you break up?
These are all valid concerns, but remember, the whole point of traveling together is to enjoy yourself and time with each other. On your first trip as a couple, you will undoubtedly learn things about your significant other and test your compatibility. That’s true, but don’t revolve your entire trip, and your thought processes, around testing the waters. Let it happen naturally! These are all things you will find out in the dating process anyway. Taking a trip together just brings them about faster. If it works out, great! If it doesn’t, you know what you need to work on (or if you need to scrap the whole thing).
It’s good to note here that not all great couples are great at traveling together! For instance, my parents have been married for 40 years. They are best friends and a role model duo. However, they have totally different travel styles and very seldom travel together. While traveling as a unit is amazing, it doesn’t work for everyone, and that doesn’t mean you aren’t meant for each other!
2. Choose a destination that is easy to maneuver.
A big part of making your first getaway successful is to make sure you choose a place that you will both enjoy. However, you also want to pick a place that doesn’t test your travel chops too much! You don’t want to be trying to navigate a new relationship, language barriers, transit difficulties, money exchange problems, and culture shock all at the same time!
Pick a place that is fairly close to home, with a similar culture and way of doing things. Check out this list of destinations to consider for your first vacation together.
3. Don’t focus too much on the romantic aspect.
This may sound counterintuitive but hang with us a second. Romance is important on a couple’s trip, for sure! You do want to include quality alone time together in your itinerary. However, if you follow any couple’s social media accounts, you’ve likely been bombarded by slow-motion reels of fabulous duos, running hand in hand, through fields of lavender or the Cappadocian Fairy Chimneys. It makes for a beautiful Instagram post, but it is not the reality of traveling with your partner.
The reality is that most men aren’t going to want to do that, and it’s awkward for everyone involved! The reality is that most of us have a cap to our mushiness. While involving opportunities for romance in your trip is highly suggested, revolving your whole vacation around creating Insta-worthy mushy moments isn’t likely to produce an environment that you will both enjoy. While an afternoon nap together in a hammock is lovely, if that is all you plan for your first vacation, it’s highly likely that one (or both) of you will likely be incredibly bored after the first day. Make sure to plan activities that are fun, active, or historically interesting to go along with your hammock moments.
4. Plan some conversation starters
You may find on day three of your road trip that your conversation starts running a bit dry. This is totally normal. After all, you don’t really need to tell your partner about that really amazing thing you saw today because he or she was there too. Therefore, having some conversation starters handy is a good way to revive your dialogue and dip into territories that you wouldn’t likely get to in normal conversation.
Venturing into these new areas can really strengthen your bond and give you insight into how your partner thinks. They are not only great for new couples but also work for any couple who finds that their dialogue has gotten a bit stale.
5. Control your expectations.
Hoping for a perfect first trip together is great, but in all likelihood, that isn’t going to happen. Travel is fraught with little mishaps. For that matter, so are relationships, so just go ahead and assume that you are going to hit some bumps in the road. Filling your mind with visions of perfection is the fastest way to run full speed into a wall of disappointment. You will find that you enjoy your trip (and your partner enjoys you) much more if you keep your expectations for the trip minimal, and just go with the flow.
6. Take one for the team.
It is important to remember when you travel together that you are on the same team. When inconveniences arise, and they will, it is human nature to blame the other person, or the one who planned the activity, etc. This is the fastest way to kill the romance.
Problems are going to happen on the trip, and you have two choices. You can tear each other apart over them, or you can find a way to tackle the problem together. Don’t play the blame game. Don’t freak out. Take a deep breath, and put your heads together. Two minds are better than one, and there is a solution. Find it together!
Note from the Author: When my husband and I were about to get married, a relationship expert said this to us, “When everything goes wrong, and it will at some point, remember that your spouse is never your enemy. It is not you against them. It is you two, together, against the problem.” They are words that have stuck with us. It was solid advice for a new marriage, and it is solid advice for traveling together too!
7. Take advantage of your time together.
While some couples will have a tendency not to plan anything but romance, which we have discussed can be a big mistake, other couples will tend to pack their itinerary so full of activities that they don’t actually have any time to just enjoy each other’s company. This is just as big of a mistake. Traveling together is the best way to really get to know your new partner, and you need time to yourself to really do that.
At the end of an active day trip, spend your evening relaxing with wine in the hot tub. If you spent all day today riding ATVs in the jungle, spend the next day lounging on the beach together. A good mix is important. Your everyday life will not be like your vacation. The best couples learn to enjoy each other in the awesome and the mundane.
8. Know your triggers and prepare.
One of the most important ways to take care of your relationship as your travel is to know the areas where you are likely to get irritated and plan your escape strategy. For instance, if you are renting a car at your destination, this is always a stressful experience. Driving in a different country, in a car that isn’t yours, and maneuvering crazy traffic, while Google Maps lags behind, is a test for any relationship.
Don’t put yourself in that situation. Download the address and directions to your place, just in case you don’t have good connectivity when you arrive. Book your rental car from the airport and skirt around city traffic. Take the longer route, away from busy streets, etc. A little preparation can save you from a lot of arguing. Renting a car is just one example, of many, that might test your love on your first vacation. Plan ahead as much as possible for common travel problems.
This goes for personal issues too. If you are a horrible morning person, you need to warn your partner that you like alone time in the morning, and you need to make alterations to the itinerary to ensure your success. If sunrise hikes are not for you, don’t include them in your plans. 0While we suggest you make a few consolations for your partner, and try new things together, if you know it is something you will hate, respectfully opt out, or come to a compromise you can both live with. It’s better to tackle this stuff ahead of time than to get into a situation where you are miserable.
9. Don’t be afraid to ask for alone time.
You will spend a lot of time together on your trip, and if forever is in your future, you will have plenty of days left to enjoy each other. If you just aren’t feeling it today, take some time for yourself! Go get a massage. Take a run on the beach. Go to that museum that your partner does not seem interested in.
Learning to focus on your own spiritual, mental, and physical wellness is an important part of a solid relationship. It’s normal to need a break, just tell your boo you need some time alone and come back together later for a romantic dinner. Just make sure to fill them in on your plans so they don’t worry about your safety.
Pro Tip: It is best to schedule alone time into your itinerary, rather than waking up in a foul mood and telling your partner that you want to be alone today. If you have planned time to do solitary things, it doesn’t leave your boo thinking they have done something wrong or starting a fight. It’s part of that whole “triggers and preparedness” thing!
10. Include something unexpected.
At some point during your trip, surprise your partner with an unexpected activity, gift, or act of service. Have the hotel room sprinkled with rose petals. Book a ticket to an attraction they have mentioned, and surprise them with it. Purchase that souvenir they have been eyeing in the window. It doesn’t have to be extravagant, but these little gestures show your SO that you are paying attention when they talk and that you care about giving them the things they want.
11. Do one thing that scares you.
Overcoming a fear, or doing something really thrilling, is only made better by sharing it with someone you care about! Go bungee jumping together. Take on the ropes course or the white river rafting. Not only will it give you an incredible memory that you will likely hold onto for years, but it is in moments of stress that your relationship is really tested. Can you work through your anxiety together? Are you good at comforting and encouraging one another? Do you guys have the right demeanors and words to help each other through hard spots? Taking on an activity that pushes you to your limits together is a good way to find out!
12. Your relationship is more important than any experience.
It can be really disappointing when you have been planning something amazing, and for whatever reason, it doesn’t happen the way you intended. If that reason is your partner, there is potential for a massive disagreement. If your partner is sick, having a bad day, starting her lovely time of the month, or is adamant about not wanting to do something, try your best to adjust.
It is always better to reschedule a stop or remove it altogether than to risk hurting your partner with your words. Furthermore, sometimes your boo’s gut instinct is right, and if you ignore it, disaster awaits! Respect your partner enough to listen intently to their concerns, and then make a decision together.
13. Pay attention to subtle cues.
If your partner is of the meeker variety, they may not come right out and say that they do (or do not) want to do a certain activity. Some people are content to let others do all the planning, and they don’t want to rock the boat, even if that means missing out on something they would love to do. If this sounds like your mate, you might have to pay close attention to other cues like body language and subtle nuances.
Have they been looking at the pamphlet in the hotel lobby over and over? Do they keep going back to a certain dessert in the bakery window? Have they mentioned a restaurant or attraction more than once in conversation? If you pay attention to these little hints, you can surprise your partner with something they will truly love. People don’t always communicate with words, so learning the subtle habits of your significant other is an important part of not only traveling together but of deepening your relationship in general.
14. Don’t be afraid of conflict.
You can do everything right. You can plan your trip with activities you both will love, avoid common travel problems, and be flexible and patient, and things can still go wrong! That is the nature of travel and the nature of relationships. When things go sour, and you are not happy with a situation, do not shy away from presenting it to your partner.
Respectful conflict resolution is a key aspect of any successful relationship. If you feel your vacation is taking a turn for the worst, press the pause button. Sit down in a comfortable place where you can have a private conversation. Calmly present your grievances and your take on the situation. Listen to your partner’s point of view, and find a solution.
It is important to discuss possible issues when they arise, or when you foresee them on the horizon. Do not allow it to fester for days and let it explode into a situation there’s no coming back from. Handle it while you are both calm and reasonable.
15. Consider a group trip.
If you are reading this, and it is only increasing your stress level, perhaps you aren’t quite ready for this kind of trip. Tha’s ok! If you want to travel together but don’t yet feel secure, ask another couple to come along. Bringing a couple of friends totally changes the dynamic and takes some of the pressure off of you. You will still have a romantic time together, as you will surely split up during the trip into couples, but you will also have other people to bounce ideas off on, do activities with, and help maintain interesting conversations.
A successful relationship hinges strongly on your friends and family anyway. Your partner needs to be able to get along with your besties and vice versa. Though there will certainly be moments of contention, spending quality time on a group trip can help strengthen friendship bonds and reveal possible issues.
Traveling the world with your partner and best friend is one of life’s most rewarding endeavors. However, it isn’t always easy. A few of these travel tips can save you some major heartache, but remember, traveling is supposed to be fun! Don’t take it too seriously. Relax, and enjoy your first vacation together!
Was there anything on this list that surprised you? Drop your thoughts in the comments. We would love your feedback!
Remember, not all couples are alike, and some of you dynamic duos will not be content with a leisurely beach trip. If adventure is your love language, check out our guide to “The Best Active Vacations for Couples”!
Frequently Asked Questions
Every couple is different, and there’s no set amount of time you need to wait before you take a trip. When you’re ready to book, make the most of your first vacation together by following expert advice.
While traveling together can make or break a couple, you can certainly come out ahead! Just be sure to read up on how to make the most of your first vacation together.