Travel together with your significant other can be the best thing in life. Experiencing all the amazing things together becomes your shared relationship capital. How to make your couples travel experiences strengthen your relationship and make you hungry for more? We share some of our tips and tricks for success.
1. Talk about your travel styles and preferences
We talked about travel (a lot) from the very beginning in our relationship and obviously, to understand what couples travel means for you two, you need to talk. For us both travel had been an integral part of life since childhood.
As seasoned travelers we were lucky to have “a common language”. We have talked about couples travel and it’s challenges with a great number of people through the years and the lack of communication seems to be often the reason for avoiding traveling together. Talk about things like
- Do you enjoy chilling at the beach/pool or rather spend your travel days actively exploring?
- Do museums, historical & culturally significant sights appeal to you or are you more into flaneuring, watching the world around you, making unplanned finds?
- Cities, countryside, cruise or a combo?
- Do you enjoy domestic travel or prefer going abroad?
- Are you both comfortable using different means of transport? Fear of flight, for example, may make travel dreams nightmares. Or if you suffer from a serious motion sickness the idea of a sailing vacation could make you unhappy.
- Hotel, motel, hostel, cottage, tent, RV, boat, b&b, airbnb, family member’s/friend’s couch?
- Are there places one of you would never go to and why? Do you have presumptions of some places and why?
- Is budget travel your thing or is travel one of those things you are ready to invest in?
- How about your finances, are you both able to travel without worrying braking the bank for your daily life after travel? Are your travel dreams and plans realistic for the both of you?
- How much are you both ready to compromise, learn new things, step out of your comfort zone as well as teach each other about your favourite travel things?
- How are you ready to test your couples travel for the first time – have a romantic weekend getaway or dive straight to the deep end on the other side of the world (we did that)?
It is not a secret that travel can do good to your relationship or harm it. Check out what research results reveal about travel and relationships.
2. Plan your couples travel together
Planning together is definitely, definitely an integral part of our couples travel experiences. Making epic memories starts at our kitchen table.
Plan with your calendars. We are an entrepreneur couple and that means we run the business together and know each other’s schedules through the year. We know when we definitely can’t travel, when we can fit in a week of vacation and when a little longer getaway can be arranged. That makes things easier for sure.
Destination dreams are something we talk about a lot. If others love reality shows, we dive into the world of travel related tv shows when we come home in the night. Our magazine piles are filled with travel publications, travel blogs are fave reads and we still love shopping good old guide books. We also subscribe to quite a many different newsletters from different companies and travel organizations.
Pay attention to seasons and weather. For us weather plays an important role if we can choose, but quite often we still go by the bubbly inspiration. If we know we can travel, we just go to the place that calls us that particular time. We’ve experienced those low season times in many places, like who wants to go to Las Vegas or Hong Kong in July? Is taking a Caribbean cruise from freezing cold New York winter a good option, with 1,5 days of wintery weather after departure and before returning to New York? Been there, done that. Just remember that because of the weather, you may not be able to do everything you dreamed of.
When we juggle destinations and then choose something we are pretty quick at pressing enter. Then we start the more detailed planning. And boy, we are good at that. Like super good. How do we know that? We have tested many things first as a couple and later suggested them to friends who’ve been thrilled or taken a group along to let them experience what we’ve experienced. So: make plans, maybe secondary plans, think of days from morning ’till sunset. It doesn’t mean you have to do everything on the list, but it’s nice to have options.
Before getting too carried away, you’ll maybe need to be planning for your homesitters/petsitters/babysitters as well before booking for anything.
As you may have noticed there are no kids in our household, only the furry ones. How do we make sure our felines are happy when we are away? Oh, we are super, super lucky. Ten years ago as we got our first Bengal cat we visited some cat hotels and decided we can’t take our cat to any of them. Instead we offered the cat sitter role to Mikaela’s sister and since our first trip abroad after Ramses moved in she has been the substitute parent and for most of those years, together with her hub. Read more about what to do with your pets when you’re away.
3. Learn to divide up the responsibilities
One of the awesome things about traveling as a couple is the possibility to divide up responsibilities. For us it comes very naturally, but as we’ve learned talking to other couples traveling, some need to put more effort into this part of couples travel.
Dividing up travel responsibilities is a great way to learn about each other and your relationship especially if you are new to couples travel. Are you easily able to divide up the responsibilities in planning and on the road, make lists of things you need to do before your trip and choose who does what? Do you both easily trust each other’s capabilities or is one (or both) prone to trust issues or jealousy over things/tasks? We don’t quite get the idea of couples travel where the other half does everything and the other half just comes along.
There are small and big things that need to be taken care of, some are directly travel related (like making transport, hotel, excursion, show ticket bookings, exchanging currency, booking vaccination times, applying for visas..) and some are home/family/work/hobby related. Who does what and when is the deadline?
However: even that you split up responsibilities, don’t forget to communicate and ask opinions. We would never, say, book flights or hotels without both agreeing on the airline or hotel location and going through possible ok options together. For some it may be fine to let one choose, for us it would be a big no-no. Communication is a key for success when sharing travel and dividing up responsibilities.
A very good example of how we divide up responsibilities as we travel is any trip that includes a road trip. Pekka is the driver and Mikaela is reading the map, we still trust good old paper maps even that technology has good supporting aids for finding directions. Maps are also awesome for randomly finding interesting places you may want to visit.
One of the most fantastic things in travel is the possibility to be able to test your language skills and/or come up with creative ways to communicate if there is a language barrier. We are lucky that we’ve both studied several languages so sorting out things out in foreign languages happens everywhere. Both of us communicate fluently in English, but for example in Spanish Pekka is better and if French is needed, Mikaela will sort things out easier. When we travel to countries like China Mikaela makes sure we have addresses in her notebook in Chinese characters.
4. Sleep, nap and rest
We are not the role models of wake/sleep rhythm at home as our schedules are organically evolving – days are rarely identical.
Still, on the road we try to make sure we leave time for sleep, nap and rest. It is the best gift you can give your relationship when you try to fit in many new things into your schedule in a (often) new environment.
We try to make sure our days are not packed with activities, sights and must-do itineraries. Even that we are hungry for new experiences we know too much is too much. Taking a short nap or resting with your feet up may be an excellent idea. And well, if you don’t have to wake up at a certain time in the morning, allow some extra sleep time.
5. Hunger is your enemy
Breakfast may be your best friend especially on the road. Even if you only have a banana, a muffin or a smoothie instead of a whole brekkie, your blood sugar levels will thank you. And your adventures together is going to be smoother.
As we wander around in new places we easily get carried away and really don’t think of sitting down for a meal. It always helps if your destination is filled with street food, eating a little here and there is fun and also good for keeping you both happy.
If you are real foodies, plan your restaurant visits in advance. The most annoying thing is having just filled your stomaches an hour ago and then making your way to the restaurant you really wanted to visit. We must admit we are bad at meal planning as we travel. That is why it’s good to eat a little here and there.
Anyways: where ever you are, share the culinary experiences, try to taste as much of the local specialities as you can. Not everything becomes the new favourite, but we think we’re missing out if we only eat things familiar to us. Sharing the most awesome and the most awful culinary moments is one of the moments we’ll remember forever.
6. Do fun stuff together
Travel for us is the ultimate fun. Collecting experinces, not things is our thing. We like to do crazy, odd, and fun things. Both of us like amusement parks, theatre, musicals as well as urban entertainment venues. We can go to an excursion into a jungle and learn about manatees in the shallow mangrove estuaries.
Depending on why you are abroad you may or may not have much extra time in your hands. We try to find odd and fun things where ever we go to. Travel itself is fun for us, but we always try to think of quirky details to upgrade the experience.
7. Learn new things together
We are not quite sure if everyone understands how much your new couples travel experiences will strengthten your relationship in the long run. Learning new things together is something to share as a couple. During our las trip to Cozumel, Mexico, for example we learned about chocolate making, stingless bees, natural healing plants, tequila production and tasting, nature preserving. All these are things we spent time discussing later that day.
History of a place is always interesting. Finding places we’ve read about and actually being there together is priceless. Even that thousands, even millions of people have been at the same place your couples travel experience is unique to you two.
We also love finding things we’ve seen in tv or movies and read on books, mags and blogs. It’s like a treasure hunt for two. Even small things count, we will remember them.
8. Home is where your heart is
For us a king size bed or at least a double is the way to go. We love to sleep together under the same duvet. Separate beds is not an option, we sleep in one bed at home and that is something we want to do also when we travel.
Couples travel experiences also highlight your approach to tidiness. A lot of people seem to think that when you’re not at home you can let loose. We have learned a very different approaches to tidiness on the road. Without going into other peoples habits we can share our habits.
If we stay at a room/stateroom more than a night we will always unpack. We take our stuff out of our luggage and find shelves or drawers for them. For us that is something that makes us feel we have arrived somewhere, even it’s only for some nights. That is a place where we live for those nights and days. For us tidying after us in our hotel room or state room is a natural thing. You will never see a room filled with clothes spread around, empty plates and glasses, pizza boxes..
We bring same cosmetics we’d use at home, not saving because it’s “just travel”. We bring fresh smelling shower gel because most hotels only have soaps bars and we hate them. Hair care products we always bring along, our Finnish hair rarely appreciates the water abroad and if you add strange products you never know what happens.
9. Never stop travelling
Travel is the one best thing that has developed us both of as human beings. Sharing the road together has taught us endless things of each other – good and not so good. Couples travel teaches us to make compromises and is the one thing that has the ability to bring our thoughts away from work, but also gives us inspiration and ideas.
In our universe travel makes us better individuals for ourselves, for each other and for everyone around us. We go places to to find things and we are good at that. But we also know that to be able to see what is next to you, you have to go far. Go travel, travel together.