Finally, time for the long-desired vacation together with your boyfriend or girlfriend has come, but actually, you are quite nervous because it will be the first time you go on vacation together. Probably the first time you will spend 24 hours for several days together.
Line and I have been a couple for two years now, have already been in more than 20 countries together and will now always travel together. That’s not always easy, as you can imagine: your body has to adapt to different environments and at the same time you have to take your partner and his/her feelings into consideration. Just starting your journey is mostly not the best way and can imply many problems and inconvenience.
What would you do, for example, if your partner had a food poisoning? Will you stay calm and take care of him/her while he/she pukes his/her guts out? Or will you run like a flushed chicken through the entire hotel to wake up everybody to get some medication?
Now you are going to learn step by step about the challenges of a journey for two and how you can prepare yourselves for the first vacation together:
I split this article into two parts: before the journey and during your trip. I spared the part of your return since there are only two possibilities: you are still a couple and even love each other more than before or you split up!
Prior to the journey
1. Choose a destination you are both interested in
You probably have a wish list showing countries you would like to visit, and your partner probably has one, too. Or you may not have thought about it yet. Now it’s time to do so. This way you will find out which countries are most interesting for both of you and it’s easier to decide where to go!
If you do not come to terms during the first pass, don’t give up, you just have to go on. Each of you makes a list of 10 destinations you would like to go to together and then read it aloud. If there are no matches, make new lists.
It could also be helpful to list countries first and if you find some, both of you like, continue by going into detail – list regions or cities or as an alternative, list activities.
I would recommend doing all this separately. Each of you should buy a nice notebook, which you can fill with your lists and notes. You will need it more often in your relationship!
2. Check whether the destination offers everything, both of you want
As soon as you have found a destination both of you like, you should check what it has to offer. Are there activities you would like to do both?
If you, for example, would like to go to the mountains, but your partner is keen on diving, South Tyrol may not be the right choice and you should have a closer look at Vietnam where you can make a great hiking tour in the Sapa highlands in the North and your partner will find amazing dive centers at the beach of Nha Trang in the south.
You should both be happy and each of you should be looking forward to a highlight. Of course, the best would be a mutual highlight.
3. Plan thoroughly to avoid misunderstandings
As soon as you have decided for a destination, it’s time to start planning. It is really important to plan the first journey thoroughly to avoid misunderstandings.
Among others, you should talk about the following aspects und budget them:
– budget (details will follow)
– activities (as described before)
– cities or nature
4. Be guided by the budget of the lower income partner
Short reckonings make long friends and money should never be a topic to discuss in a relationship. To get a feeling for money und to avoid disputes, especially during the first vacation as a couple, it is essential to set a budget.
If you do not earn about the same, you should discuss this topic early. The higher earner may prefer staying in four-star hotels whereas the one with the lower income would like to stay in a double room in a hostel.
I will come to the topic compromise in a minute, but it is important that you deal with this topic as early as possible.
Should the higher earner insist on staying in four-star hotels or boutique hotels and refuse to stay in hostels at all (by the way there are also boutique hostels), he/she should cover the difference without a word. This topic must not be mentioned in a later fight or in case of separation – that’s a no go!
5. Set a daily budget or one for the entire journey, to avoid the topic ‘money‘
People easily argue about money. To be together and even more in love after the trip, you should agree on a budget.
Line and I have a monthly budget for our trips since we cannot really speak of vacation. We are always on the road, therefore we have a monthly budget for every place in the world, which we do not want to go beyond.
This monthly budget is spread out on the single days and now we have a figure to deal with. Considering the figure, there is no reason to argue and we know exactly how much we can spend on a hotel or apartment.
It also makes it easier to decide whether to go out for dinner or to cook yourselves. With such a budget on hand, some problems and decisions sort themselves out.
A relationship does not work without compromising. You will not only recognize this when planning your first trip together but much earlier in your relationship.
If your partner insists on staying in a four-star hotel, you can accept the compromise if he pays for it. Or you both agree on the compromise not to stay in a four-star hostel but to choose a nice three-star hotel which will make both of you happy.
You should not decide on this spontaneously on the spot but at home, when planning the trip.
7. Try something new
Don’t say no to everything just because it sounds stupid at first or feels somehow odd. It is important to compromise and to be open for anything new. That’s the good thing about a relationship. It motivates us every day afresh to dive into the world of the partner and to dry new things.
When Line and I came together, she still worked 9-to-5 and intended to leave it at that. Over the months, she recognized that she wants more than just a couple of days of vacation per year and jumped into the adventure of self-employment.
Furthermore, she skydived with me in New Zealand and swam with whale sharks in Australia. Things she would probably not have done before.
8. The first trip should not be a camping trip
Although you should try something new and shouldn’t say no to everything, I would not recommend to you to go on a camping trip, unless both of you are passionate campers.
If you have not lived in the smallest space together for 24/7 before, you will get really close to her/him and I mean really close. For many people that is too close and they need some time to allow the other one to get that close.
Line and I were a couple for 18 months and actually lived together the entire time but nevertheless did the road trip through Australia and New Zealand put us together even closer. You see, in a car there is not much space to hide anything.
If you are not prepared for so much intimacy yet, you should better not make a road or camping trip.
9. Try it first – try a weekend
If you mostly see each other after work and stay for the night either at his or her place and want to be sure that everything fits, I recommend a trial-weekend.
Have a look at skyscanner and enter the closest big airport. Leave the space ‘to’ open or choose ‘all places’. Thus, you will find the most reasonable flight for your trial-weekend.
If you do not manage the trial-weekend, you should reconsider taking a longer trip together.
10. Packing – set boundaries
If you read Off The Path I strongly estimate that you do not use suitcases anymore but go for the flexibility of a good backpack.
That means that both of you will have to carry your clothes on your back and each one takes as much as he/she can carry. Make sure you know what this means. If you travel a lot during your vacation, it may mean that you will have to carry the backpack for hours.
Firstly, it’s worth to invest in a good backpack with high-quality shoulder straps and waist straps and secondly to pack less so it won’t hurt too much. It should not be the case that one partner carries most of the clothes of the other one after about half of the journey, just because he could not judge it correctly.
11. Take out insurance for both of you
If your first trip together does not take longer than 6 weeks, you are perfectly covered by a normal foreign health insurance. It is important to take out a good insurance and to not only rely on the insurance provided by your credit card company.
A really good insurance which I can recommend to you is Hanse Merkur, which Line and I also use. Unless you travel to the USA or Canada it will only cost you 1.90 € a day. It will be 4.50 € a day including the USA and Canada.
With that you have covered everything you may need on your trip and it also includes medical repatriation to Germany in case you and your partner need it.
A good insurance is important so you don’t have to think about any kind of eventualities. Many years ago I was hit by a car in Australia, and a couple of months ago Line rammed a knife into her foot. It was good to know that there was an insurance company taking care of all the problems.
By the way, it is the same with the liability insurance. If you are as clumsy as we are sometimes, you should have one. Actually, you need one for your household, but also if you drop the I-phone or the camera of the other one. That saves you from a lot of trouble.
On vacation as a couple: What you have to keep in mind during the trip
Let’s get to the second part of my series. It’s really fun to write down all the experiences gained in two years of a relationship. It was and still is a huge adventure to get to know the other so well and to experience so much together.
12. Do not demand too high standards of the other one
You have been a couple for quite some time, haven’t you? You have mostly spent a weekend together und stayed overnight at the other’s place from time to time?
That’s the way it is for most couples planning their first trip together.
Fact is that we often behave in a different way at home than in new situations in an unknown environment that may be stressful. Or when we suddenly have a new feeling of self-assurance and discover new skills.
In addition, it may happen that you discover new sides of your partner’s character. You should prepare yourself for it and accept them.
13. Plan times on your own
If you are not used to spend that much time together, you should allow yourselves time on your own. There are things you love doing. But your partner does not. I already mentioned an example before: one of you wants to go hiking, the other one would love to dive.
If you have interests you don’t share that does not have to be a deal breaker. You can certainly do these things on your own. This creates time in which you will miss the other one even more.
Just because your partner doesn’t want to dive, it doesn’t mean he doesn’t love you anymore or doesn’t support you. Use this time and be as silly as you want to be, if you find your Nemo in the sea.
14. Do something together with other couples or people
It is amazing to spend that much time with your partner. You will discover sides and will hear stories that will not appear in the initial phase of getting to know each other or in everyday life. Nevertheless, it could be a bit exhausting always being together.
Besides, you do not want to become such a couple that is only on its own, hardly exchanging views with other people.
Therefore, Line and I try to meet other travelers regularly or talk to other couples and spend the evening with them. It is a lot of fun and we have spent some really cool evenings with people from all over the world.
So, try to go out from time to time and share activities with others. If you do not like to approach other people, arrange to meet other groups of travelers. There are many groups on facebook or MeetUp.com or Couchsurfing.org.
15. Do not go out for a drink all the time
However, you should not go out with others every day, because most of the time, these evenings are very funny and a lot of alcohol is involved. Thus, you won’t be fit the next day.
You should be cautious with alcohol in general. A glass of wine here, a beer there … that is not necessary and often leads to bigger expenses.
Furthermore, it could become stressful if you do not react on alcohol the same way. One of you may be hung over the morning whereas the other one does not have any problems. Line, for example, always feels good in the morning whereas I am more like grumpy cat and have a hangover.
16. Eat healthy food
It is not only about what we drink but of course about what we eat as well. As a man I could only eat meat. Fruits and vegetables would not be on my plate. Fortunately, Line watches out for what we eat, and since we have been a couple, I have been eating healthier.
You should also try to eat healthier on your trip, not only yummy pizzas in Italy, or the wonderful steak in Argentinia. Try to have a salad occasionally and do the cooking yourselves if you have an apartment or stay on a camping ground.
Smoothies are a perfect alternative to a croissant or a roll in the morning, while bananas, nuts and cereal bars are prefect as between-meals treats. If you only eat the greasy stuff or high-carb meals, you will become tired easily and less fit compared to eating healthy meals. Part of healthy nutrition is to eat as many regional and seasonal products as possible.
17. Do sports together
Try to do sports together on your trip. You can run, make yoga and fitness exercises almost everywhere. Even swimming and short hiking tours are sport. It would be best to do this together and motivate each other.
Or you try a completely new sport. Line and I learnt kite surfing while we were in South Tyrol and we had a lot of fun! Learning something new together ties you even closer and you may have some funny stories to tell.
18. Talk about everything / name taboo subjects
I was not sure whether to talk about this point here or whether it belongs to the part ‘prior to your trip’.
We often differ in opinion, even in relationships. This may lead to disputes.
You want an example? You think about moving together shortly and cannot agree on the kitchen furniture. The man wants a kitchen with a counter in the middle of the kitchen where he can have a beer with his pals before they do a pub tour. The woman wants a cooking island. It is not possible to have both since there is not enough space and money. Every time the topic arises, there is a dispute.
I tell you to talk about everything that relates to your trip and causes concern but name some taboo subjects as well. Subjects you will not talk about for the sake of peace and quiet.
19. Use your strength effectively
We all have strengths and weaknesses. Rarely both of you are really good at the same things unless you meet in this field, such as a cooking class, for example.
Therefore, you should agree on who is better in doing what and can take responsibility for the respective part of the trip. That could be the following situation:
One partner speaks the language, the other one does not.
In this case, the one who speaks the language should do all the speaking on the spot with the natives. There should not be anything like ‘no, that’s embarrassing, go and ask yourself’
One partner has a better sense of orientation
Sure: the one who has a better sense of orientation has the map and gives directions.
One partner is an organizational talent
Wonderful! This partner should organize the entire stay on the spot and is in charge of staying on top of everything.
One is the better driver
The better driver is the one who drives and the other one has to trust his skills and stop sticking his oar in.
By the way that is one of the favorite arguing topics on a trip!
20. You go by car? Then use set nav and spotify
Even if the first trip together shouldn’t be a road trip or one by car, there are destinations such as Iceland where a car is a necessity. There you should have a really good sat navs to avoid arguments concerning the right direction.
In addition I am big fan of spotify! Line and I have our favorite list of songs and each one of us has an own favorite list as well. It’s worth investing in the premium account for € 10 a month, because you can hear your songs offline as well. Music is an important factor for your good mood and if you have the favorites of both of you, there won’t be any trouble.
21. Traveling with a guy? Don’t forget the food!
This aspect is quite stereotyped but when traveling with guys, you need enough food!
It happened too often that Line and I were on the road and I got hungry while Line was still full. That actually leads to a dispute because I am not rational anymore, need to have something to eat right away and can become impolite. And I am sure that is the same with most men!
Probably, guys, we should have a couple of snickers at hand, so we don’t become divas 🙂
Which leads to my next fact …
22. Decide on time when and where to eat
That is really important! Those of you who follow us on youtube know that we often rush around purposeless, unable to decide what to eat. In the end we are quite hacked off (well, I mostly cut this part off the vlog) and are bitching at one another.
This does not only happen to us but also to many other couples. Therefore it is essential to decide early where to go for lunch and dinner.
23. Sick? Take care of the other one and allow him to take care of you
Those who travel a lot can also get sick. Getting sick on vacation is crap.
If the healthy partner does not know what to do or if the sick one does not want to be helped and downplays everything, is even worse.
Both of you are in demand: in case of a food poisoning, for example, the healthy partner should try to do his utmost to facilitate everything for the other one, such as getting medication, clean towels, or just having enough clean drinking water at hand.
In return, the sick partner should accept this help. If you lose everything through all openings possible, you can’t do anything about but just accept it and appreciate the help. Being embarrassed does not help you.
Two days later, you can both laugh about it and are closer than before.
24. Take as many pictures as possible from you and your adventures
You may probably know it: one of the partners takes all the pictures and the other one is shown on them. When you get back home, it seems as if the other one was not there at all.
Keep this in mind and alternate. You may even buy a selfie stick. Although those sticks are quite silly, they offer an opportunity to take pictures of both of you together. As an alternative, you could also buy a tripod and use the cable release or you ask people on the spot to take the picture. It’s just important that you have the picture.
Although all these tips are meant serious and we have learnt a lot from each other, at the end of the day, we are just we and have a lot of fun. It is a good idea to have a plan. But at the end of the day you should just be yourselves, relax and see what the evening is up to.
In the end, everything will arise by itself!
Take these tips to heart but don’t be too tense in trying to use them all. But I would recommend you to share this article with your girlfriend or friends who will go on vacation together for the first time – so they return as a couple.
This article was originally published on Off the Path.