Vacations are supposed to take you away from the stress of your day-to-day life, but we all know that traveling can sometimes be stressful itself. Packing, planning, and navigating around an unfamiliar place can be difficult, especially when add a partner into that mix who might have a different travel style than you. It can make a vacation feel downright daunting, but you can have a great, calm first vacation with your boo. You just need a few pointers.
Don’t overthink traveling with your partner
There’s no perfect time for a first trip with a new partner, just like there is no perfect time to get married, have a kid, go through a breakup, or do any of the other stuff you associate with a relationship. Your partnership is unique. Your circumstances are unique. Don’t pass some arbitrary marker of time when you could be jumping at the chance to experience something new with someone you care about, even if you haven’t even cared about them that long.
Dating app Plenty of Fish recently released its list of hot new dating trends for 2021. Mixed in with “hesidating” (or not being sure if you’re ready to commit) and “dar-win-ing” (or only dating people who are down with science), you’ll find “baecationing.” The app provided a definition of the new term: “Inviting a blind date or someone you just started dating on vacation because YOLO!”
The app polled over 6,700 singles and found that 38%—and 43% of Gen-Z—had gone on a spontaneous vacation with a partner they just got together with. See? This isn’t something you need to wait too long to do.
May Blake, a coffee shop manager in her early 20s, told Lifehacker she took a trip to Denver with her partner just one month into their relationship. Paige Newland, a 30-year-old yacht stewardess, mentioned she’s “traveled with a few partners over the years, but the biggest one was probably the spontaneous trip to Paris with a previous partner.”
Any time you spend overthinking about whether you’re ready is wasted time that you could be in Paris (or Albuquerque, or wherever).
How to manage your expectations
This isn’t going to be like those family trips to Disney World you’re used to, or road trips with your pals. There are romantic expectations here that you’ll need to contend with, so be prepared for a new level of responsibility before you head to the airport.
“Traveling with a partner is vastly different from traveling with friends or family because of its heightened expectations—especially in a young relationship,” cautioned Blake. “Relationships and traveling are both significant and intimate events that we use to bookmark or qualify our own experiences. Unlike traveling with family or friends (where planning and expenses are usually split manageably), traveling with a partner connotes heavier expectations and heightened sensitivity to those with whom we’re traveling.”
Make sure you stay aware that this trip isn’t just about you and your fun. Your partner’s experience is important, too, and it’s at least partially on you to make sure they have a good time.
While this kind of trip is different from ones you’ve taken with friends or family members in the past, there are some benefits to that. Newland said traveling with a significant other is “better because there are bigger rewards for the relationship and the bond you build in such a special way from these experiences.”
Keep in mind that even if you disagree about whether to hit a museum or a beach, order room service or go out, or upgrade to business class or stay in coach, you’re actually building the foundation of your relationship by traveling together. That should give you some warm fuzzies to go along with your basic travel jitters.
Communicate with your travel partner
Like anything else in a relationship, a travel plan requires communication. Ahead of time, communicate about what you like to do on vacation, how you like to travel, and even how early you like to get to the airport. There should be no surprises about your packing habits, sight-seeing plans, or general attitude toward the trip the day of.
During the trip, keep those lines open, too. Tell your partner how you’re feeling, but also be honest with yourself. Don’t delude yourself into thinking you’re having fun if you’re not, but also don’t blame your partner for a bad time if it’s not their fault.
“Be conscientious of frustrations you’re feeling in the moment vs. things you’re taking out on your partner,” said Blake. “Traveling can be uncomfortable—there’s hours of waiting in small and confined spaces, broken sleep schedules, and stress in trying to find the location where you can actually start to have fun. Even when you do find the fun, avoid projecting behavior expectations onto what is ultimately meant to be just a getaway with another person who’s important.”
Newland added, “The thing that was hardest for me to learn as someone who does the bulk of my traveling alone is to make sure that both parties have a say in how the trip goes. It’s a trip for you both, so it’s okay if you do different activities from each other.”
If you’re getting stressed out by your partner while you’re off in paradise, take an afternoon apart. Treat this like any other part of your relationship. You need communication, patience, a sense of humor, and sometimes even a little space.