Heading out on that first trip with your partner is an exciting milestone in any relationship! Not only is its success indicative of long-term compatibility, but it’s also a pretty thrilling getaway for the two of you.
But life isn’t a romantic comedy with beachside drinks, romantic walks on the shore and bumbling bellhops. Things can go wrong and ruin more than just those few days together. According to licensed marriage and family therapist, Melissa Risso being with your partner 24/7 can truly test your relationship as travel can either cement or unravel your bond.
"Traveling with your partner can present many qualities in both yourself and your partner that can help determine the strength or weaknesses you both have within your relationship," she says.
Whether you’re newly dating or want to plan an unforgettable vacation, consider some careful planning tips to amp up the romance and conversation.
Pick a destination you both can love
Open up a conversation about travel and find a middle ground with locations that present something special for both of you. If you’re not on the same page and are extremely opposite in your dream location, you might become irritable or start arguments stemming from random things.
"Traveling requires much planning and this can show you whether or not your partner plans, wants to be involved in the planning process, and other information around how organized this person might be," Risso says. On the contrary, she says it might also show how relaxed they are or generally unorganized they regularly are.
Consider the length of your trip
To test the waters, go slow and consider a weekend trip instead of a full week. This allows you to both see each other’s differences in diverse settings and adjust appropriately to the rhythms or challenges of what being a couple looks and feels like.
"Some of us need our own alone time, while others might want to be around you 24/7," she says. "You might discover that you can't be around your partner for too long before you need to go out on your own."
Create a budget
According to the APA, money is the leading cause of stress in relationships. If you plan to stay together post-vacation, agree to a budget. If one of you is a penny pincher and the other loves to splurge, this might be an indicator of long-term incompatibility. For a smooth vacation, strategize potential spending habits and base the budget on the lowest income earner. This provides breathing room and a contingency if more attention is required for a certain aspect.
Forget social media
From "nom nom" at the state fair to #blessed at the lake, chronicling our adventures on social media has become a norm. But when you’re vacationing with your partner for the first time, avoid posting updates. A selfie here and there of the two of you is great, but not if takes time away while they’re idly waiting on you — and that includes foodie photos. Wait to post when back either at the hotel or at home.
Be observant of your partner’s values
Travel gives you the chance to observe how your partner treats others through interactions. As Risso says, pay attention to how they treat others, not just you. From here you recognize potential common values when it comes to interests and sociability.
"We have all been raised differently and traveling might also present a new side of this person that you were not aware of that can be greatly informative," she adds.
Leave work at home
You know what vacations are? Another word for "freedom." Before you head to the airport or on that road trip, plan your vacation and abandon those responsibilities. This is a joyous time and that means no checking emails or worrying over trivial matters. While vacations will not solve problems and any issues you face as a couple will still be there after the trip is over, this time away will personally give you a breather from the ordinary and provide perspective if necessary.
Plan, but don’t over plan
The whole point of taking your first vacation together is to get to know one another a bit deeper and understand each other’s outlooks. Depending on where you travel to, you might have a lengthy itinerary of things to check out but keep in mind this vacation is about testing compatibility, commitment and how well you two get along away from the routines of everyday life.
"If you don't already live with one another, you can see new sides of the person that are not necessarily shown on your dates together," she says.
Be open to talk about everything
Vacations are a wonderful time to bring up discussions that matter, so don’t be afraid to talk about everything and anything. It doesn’t have to be long, but just enough to ensure you both have fun. Being away from everyone not only presents the opportunity to indulge in the company of each other, but opens up a vulnerability for the development of strong communication skills for a lasting, healthy relationship.
Risso shares that travel lets you see a different side to your partner that is not necessarily routine. But the same goes for how you respond to them. "It might make you more aware of the unwanted qualities or it might enhance features that show how much in common the two of you really have over traveling and in general," she says.