9 Tips for Traveling with Your Significant Other

updated May 24, 2019
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(Image credit: Esteban Cortez)

When traveling with your boo, the smallest issues can balloon into full-on clashes. It’s hard to be your most gracious self when you’re running to catch a flight and your stomach is rumbling with hunger pangs. Between anxiety-inducing travel plans and the stress of being in unfamiliar environments, even the happiest couples buckle under the pressures of traveling together.

So whether you’ve been a duo for a week or a decade, here are some tips to ensure your time on the road will be one to remember (in a good way).

1. Identify the goal of the vacation.

It might sound silly, but this is where a lot of friction happens. One partner wants to spend the day in art museums and eat five-star meals at night, and the other expects to hang around the beach and nosh on fish tacos for three meals in a row. Before the tickets are booked, talk about your expectations for the trip and make sure you’re on the same page. Determine whether the point of your trip is to relax, explore, spend time with family or friends, etc. Once the trip goals are identified, it will make for more agreeable planning of your daily agendas.

2. Make a list of who will bring what.

A little organization goes a long way in reducing headaches, so once you decide why you’re traveling, figure out who’s bringing what. No one wants to spend their first night in a new place tracking down forgotten toiletries or a pricey phone charger. Make a list with your partner and check it twice!

3. Bring snacks.

For the love of all that’s holy, bring snacks. Not only do snacks keep crankiness at bay, but they’re also cheaper and healthier than foraging for a quick bite in airports or gas stations. Stock up on granola bars, gums and mints, trail mixes, and bottles of water. Personally, my favorite snacks are pretzel thins or chocolate-covered almonds, as a handful squashes hunger until the next meal.

4. Decide on a budget and who will pay for what.

Honest communication is the best way to nip resentment in the bud. I know talking about finances is hard for some people, but it’s worth it to ensure that one partner doesn’t feel like they’re constantly footing the bill. Maybe he’ll spring for the hotel, but you’ll pay for the rental car. Agree to a plan or budget, and stick to it.

5. Ditch your devices when you can.

It’s appealing to keep in touch with what’s going on at home, but it’s an attention trap. Try to resist the temptation to check your social media feeds whenever there’s a lull. It’s rude to your traveling companion. There are a few exceptions: Posting the occasional wacky Instagram picture? Sure. Doing a silly Facebook check-in? Go for it. Endlessly scrolling feeds and ignoring your partner for large chunks of time? Yeah, try not to do that.

6. Schedule a few events or reservations in advance.

Nothing is worse than rolling into a new city and not being able to decide what to do, see, or eat. Plan at least one meal and one activity a day to ease up on scrambling for last-minute options. Yelp and regional food websites are a terrific resource to preview menus and check out hot spots. OpenTable is also a good way to see what’s available when you plan to be in town.

7. Check in with each other often.

Do you still want to grab Thai food for dinner? Want to head back to the hotel? How’s your energy? Keep the lines of communication open because shifts in mood happen. It’s best to address before any negativity creeps in.

(Image credit: Sara Combs )

8. Embrace downtime.

For some people, downtime is crucial to a happy trip. This is the proper time to schedule social media check-ins, bury your nose in a great book, or indulge in a power nap. There’s nothing better than a little alone time to reflect and recharge.

9. Do some things apart if you want to.

As much as you adore your other half, it might help if you plan some separate activities to maintain your sanity. Maybe go for a walk along the beach while your partner grabs coffee and reads the paper. Or see that museum exhibit you were excited about while he or she plays golf. And the best part about separate activities? You’ll have something to talk about when you meet up again!

Your turn — how do you plan and prepare for smooth sailing with your S.O.?