Taking a vacation together can be a great way for a couple to relax, unwind, and get to know each other better. It can also be a great way to test the waters if you are thinking about taking things to the next step and moving in together or getting married. But planning your first vacation or road trip together can be daunting, especially if you are a new couple or haven’t spent a significant time in close quarters before. This weekend my boyfriend and I are taking our first vacation together (and when we return I will be posting my first official travel guide outlining the best things our destination has to offer).
However even prior to us setting out on our first vacation together my boyfriend and I had traveled over 10,000 miles together on various road trips for work. As a result of all of our time together we have learned a lot about traveling as a pair with limited, or even without, any personal space. Below are some of the things I suggest to help make your first trip together just as special as you have been hoping for.
Find a Destination You Both will Enjoy
Having already done a significant amount of travel together this was easier for us than for some. We frequently travel to the same city for work but neither of us has really had a chance to explore. To make our vacation a little more cost effective and see a city that we have always been curious about we decided for our first vacation together to cheat a little bit and extend our next business trip by 3 days and (finally) see a city we have spent so much time in.
When we choose our vacation destination we took it off a long list of cities we had both visited for work and wanted to see more of. I suggest that for any new couple looking for their first trip that you start small with cities within a 4-12 hour drive from where you live that you both have an interest in. Test the waters with a 3-5 day trip and see how things go before taking the plunge on a longer, more expensive trip. Look for places you both have an interest in that offer experiences you can both look forward to. The primary reason behind us booking our vacation was a birthday present from him to me, but none the less we are primarily looking at activities we can enjoy together as opposed to just activities I want to partake in.
Choose a Mode of Transportation You Both Love
I personally love flying but for a destination that is only a 4-hour drive flying doesn’t make much sense for us. Since we both also love road trips we choose to take the smallest of our cars and turn make the most out the journey as well as the destination. To make the car ride a little more cost effective we picked up soda, juice, and some of our favorite snacks so I could pack them up to enjoy during the drive (and to keep in the fridge once we get to the hotel).
Agree on What You Want from Your Accommodations
When traveling for work we generally are incredibly limited on accommodations and travel at an incredible level of minimalism. Since this trip was also to celebrate my birthday we choose to splurge a little bit on our hotel (more details to come when I post my travel guide). However, it is important that you and your partner determine what you want in your accommodations before you start looking at places to stay. I used Hotels.com to book our most recent stay but I am currently looking at Airbnb for our spring break trip as a way to save money. Agree on what you both want, agree on a budget, and then start looking for a place that fit into those perimeters. I can assure you that you will both be much happier if you agree on a place to stay before making any reservations.
Determine a Budget and Stick to it
The most important part about traveling as a pair is to agree on money. Since my boyfriend and I are currently in a unique financial position and share our incomes we agreed on a fairly vague overall budget for our trip. Since we choose to splurge a bit more on our hotel we will be making budget conscientious choices in regards to what we choose to do and eat during our stay. However, this is a very atypical approach for most couples taking their first trip together.
If you are in a position where you are sharing finances with your partner I would highly suggest setting a budget for accommodations and then setting separate daily budgets for food and activities. A daily budget doesn’t necessarily have to be the same every day of your trip (if you are going for a special occasion and want to splurge on a nice meal that day adjust accordingly). If you are going someplace warm where you plan on sitting on the beach most of the day an activity budget might be better allocated as an alcohol budget at the hotel bar. Regardless it is going to result in a lower likelihood of disagreement during and after your trip if you set guidelines while planning your trip than if you just let things run wild when you get there.
If you are a couple that isn’t yet sharing finances it is important that you find a budget both partners can agree upon. If one of you would like to stay in a cheaper hotel to save and another finds it important to opt for a more expensive accommodation perhaps do a 40/60 or 30/70 split on the cost of the hotel (same goes for any pricey activities). If you both are working on incomes that are of variance from each other it is important to take your partners salary into consideration before starting any budgetary arguments. It is always most important to put your partner first and approach all conversations of money with an open mind when planning any trip together.
Relax and Have Fun
Regardless of where you end up or how much you spend remember that the most important part of your trip is to enjoy it. You get to spend the duration of your time with the person you care about most in a place you both choose to enjoy together. Keep your eye on what’s important and remember that any tension or argument can almost always be sorted out in a respectful way or after you return home. Plan things out before you leave, trust each other and let everything else fall into place.