No matter how much someone might be looking forward to spending quality time with his or her significant other, vacationing together can be stressful. Regardless of whether a couple has been together for several years or is just testing the waters, spending all day, everyday with a partner can cause rifts over small, meaningless things and put pressure on a relationship.
At the same time, traveling as a couple is also a great way to test romantic compatibility, and if couples can come through unscathed, it shows they have a very special relationship. Here are some of the common pitfalls that traveling couples need to be aware of, whether they are planning their first trip together or have been vacationing together for years.
John Ballew, a licensed counselor who specializes in sexuality and relationships, said that often times, people want to do different things, but they fail to talk about it before going on vacation together. Personality differences can become more obvious because things that are not so important at home, end up being a big deal when people are around each other 24/7.
“Traveling together is like an art. Couples must be able to communicate with each other and find a balance that works for both of them,” said Ballew. Compromising is key. When creating an itinerary, include things that each person in the partnership wants to do, but each must accept that they’ll probably have to give up a few things in order to make it work.
Money is one of the main sources of disagreement for all couples whether traveling or not, so when on vacation together, it can be even more of a serious issue.
UC Davis student Amy Simonsen is now engaged after six years with her boyfriend, but admitted that vacationing together can still be difficult. “We have trouble agreeing sometimes, especially when it comes to money because we have different ideas of what costs a lot,” she said. “We also disagree on where we’re going to stay and eat.”
Simonsen and her boyfriend have been able to conquer this pitfall by creating a system where they take turns picking a destination or restaurant and by splitting who pays for what part of the trip. This has lessened the stress and traveling together is helping the couple’s relationship grow.
Lack of Alone Time
While some couples do not mind being around each other all the time, there are many people who need their personal space and alone time to maintain their sanity. Whether it’s a 20-30 minute walk along the beach alone or visiting a museum solo, spending time apart can be vital. It can help prevent couples from getting frustrated with each other and having petty arguments. Plus, it can make partners appreciate the time they spend with their significant other even more.
Sergio Perez-Smith, a senior at Diablo Valley College, has vacationed with his girlfriend multiple times. While the couple has not encountered many pitfalls, he admits to feeling a little overwhelmed at times. “We don’t disagree with each other often, but when we do we just talk about it. It’s important to listen to your partner and respect them no matter what the circumstances are,” he said.
Fantasy vs. Reality
Ballew says the main problem lies in our unrealistic desire for everything to go perfectly on vacation. We have high hopes that our trip will be nothing short of fun and fabulous, and when these expectations are not met, disappointments can seem blown out of proportion.
“Fun is the fuel that relationships run on, and if you’re not having fun it’s a problem,” Ballew said. “Don’t sweat the small stuff and remember that nothing is more important than the two of you.”