The Art of Traveling with Your Significant Other by Sonja Saxe

The memories I’ve gathered from traveling with a loved one are some of my favorite. Although my solo trips offer a sense of independence and adventure, there is something truly special about sharing a magical moment somewhere new with another person. My boyfriend Alex and I have gone on many trips together since we started dating. The majority of our experiences have been happy memories, there have certainly been challenges we’ve overcome along the way. Read on for my top tips for traveling with a significant other.

1. Go on a trip earlier rather than later in the relationship 

This can act as a litmus test to see how the two of you hold up under the pressure and challenges that are inherent with traveling. Bill Murray once famously said,

If you have someone that you think is The One, don’t do… don’t just sort of think in your ordinary mind, ‘Okay, let’s make a date. Let’s plan this and make a party and get married.’ Take that person and travel around the world. Buy a plane ticket for the two of you to travel all around the world, and go to places that are hard to go to and hard to get out of. And if when you come back to JFK, when you land in JFK, and you’re still in love with that person, get married at the airport.

That’s not terrible advice. When traveling, you are forced to spend nearly every waking second together, as opposed to work/school/daily routines that limit your time together. Traveling will inevitably throw some monkey wrenches into your plans: flights will be missed, the weather will seemingly ruin everything, hotels will lose reservations, or all of the above. With these interruptions, comes the challenge of how you and your SO resolve these issues, and offer a true test to determine your travel compatibility.

In my relationship I am the one who seems to melt down and assume the worst when travel plans begin to go awry (a trait I inherited from my dad.) While like my mom, Alex is more level-headed and willing to go with the flow, and he is usually able to comfort me and bring me back down to Earth. Yes, even when I’m fretting over the fact that our missed flight means we miss an entire day of adventure on an already short trip. It’s the perfect balance.

Travelingn with an SO - Grand Teton

2. Travel together often 

Even if it is just weekend trips it will give you and your SO the chance to see what you like to do most together. For example, if you find yourself slowly planning more and more weekend trips to foodie destinations, you will grow together through your newfound shared hobby.

People usually ask Alex and I how we got into hiking and backpacking – wondering if I was the hiker who was able to get Alex interested in hitting the trails, or if it was the other way around. The true answer is that we grew into hiking together through short trips.

Traveling with an SO - Zion Narrows-1Initially, we went on an afternoon stroll around an arboretum in Madison. We enjoyed it so much that a few weeks later we went to a state park nearby for another hike. After more fun, we booked a weekend trip to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. When that trip was a success we decided to really up the ante and head to Utah for the real deal, and our trips have escalated since then. Amazingly enough, it all started with a short walk and the discovery of a new passion.

3. Get out of your comfort zone

Use traveling as an opportunity to get out of your comfort zone and do something you usually wouldn’t. Chances are your SO has at least one interest or hobby that you aren’t too familiar with or haven’t yet tried. This is a great chance to try something new and allow your SO to teach you. For example, if you are in Colorado and your SO loves mountain biking but you have never been, this is the perfect opportunity to do something you never would otherwise. Who knows, you may just find your new favorite past-time!

4. Make decisions together and compromise

Planning a trip should be a two-person job. This allows for both parties to have input and decide what activities are planned to check off the joint bucket list goals. The art of compromise is a necessity for travel planning. If one person wants a lazy trip to the beach but the other wants to head to the city and cram each day with exploring, expectations and moods will be let down. Find an agreement that works for both of you. Maybe a lazy beach trip now, and the next trip will be a city excursion – Or, pick a destination that offers both a beach and a city so you’re able to split time to achieve both.

5. Spend a day apart

Mutually agreed upon decisions will not always be reached and that is totally fine. When you are spending all day, every day with someone, it’s healthy to spend some time apart to do your own thing. Exploring solo gives you a sense of independence, and more often than not by the end of the day you are already missing your SO!

Traveling with an SO - Isla Mujeres

6. Understand your travel expenses and financial responsibilities before the trip

Nothing can kill the mood of a trip more than an argument about money, which is why it is a good idea to discuss who will pay for what before shipping out. Set aside some time before your trip to discuss how you will split the large costs like hotels, airfare, rental cars, etc. Alex and I have decided to use the app Splitwise to keep track of who has paid for which expenses and then we divvy them up later.

Keep in mind that every person and every couple is a little different so find what works best for you. Some of these tips may apply, and others may not. Life is a journey with inevitable ups and downs, it’s important to make the most of every moment both in travel and in life! Happy adventuring!

Traveling with an SO - Cracker Lake-1Sonja is an adventurer based out of Madison, WI. She has a passion for exploring the great outdoors and her favorite way to get outside is by hiking and camping. She loves the challenge of walking miles through the wilderness to find hard-to-reach spots that others may not make the time or effort to explore. You can follow her writings, adventures, and photography at her blog, The National Parks Girl; and follow her on Instagram at @thenationalparksgirl.

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