You never truly know someone until you travel with them.
Traveling with a significant other is a milestone in any relationship, but it can be nervewracking and stressful. Our first international trip together, we went to France, Belgium, Switzerland, and Iceland – talk about going all out! But it was incredible, and we’ve only continued to book trip after trip since getting back.
Below we will lay out some of our do’s and don’ts to remember while traveling together.
Do: Pack Separately
We strongly encourage couples to pack in separate suitcases. There is nothing more annoying than digging through someone else’s stuff to find what you need. Traveling can come with stress, so why add another with your significant other?
Don’t: Pack Two of Everything
Just because you’re packing separate bags doesn’t mean you each need to pack like you’re traveling alone. Divvy up who is bringing what with some items.
Our favorite example is toiletries, like shampoo, conditioner, body wash, sunblock, lotion, etc. You both don’t need to bring one of each of these items. Save some room in your bags and plan ahead for who brings what.
Do: Divide Responsibilities
Planning a trip has a lot of components. To save on time and stress, be sure to divide up responsibilities for the logistics. One of you can research and book accommodations while the other plans the excursions and finds the cheapest flights. Be sure to act as a team and everything will go smoother!
Do: Spend Some Time Apart
Just because you’re on a romantic trip doesn’t mean you need to spend every waking moment together.
Now, if you’re going on a shorter trip we are not suggesting a full day apart. Simply build in an hour or two here or there of alone time. Traveling together means close quarters, and sometimes you just need a breather. Carve out little chunks of time where you can both unwind from the day so that you are refreshed and ready to explore the next.
Don’t: Be Afraid to ask Strangers to Take Your Photo
You can’t commemorate your trip as a couple with photos of each of you individually.
So unless you’re bringing a selfie stick, you’ll need the help of a stranger. Don’t worry, you’re not alone: There are plenty of travelers or locals out there who want their own photo taken, too. Our strategy has always been to ask another couple to take our photo, then offer to do the same in return.
Do: Be Patient with One Another
Traveling can come with culture shock, fear, and some nervousness. Be sure to be patient and comforting with one another. Solo travel is great, but we think the support that comes traveling with a companion is unbeatable. You can help each other navigate a new place, lend a hand when things get hard, and create memories that will last a lifetime.
Do: Have a Plan, but Compromise
We don’t believe in planning out every minute of your trip, but it’s good to get on the plane with a plan. Have a list of what you would like to see and do, and optimize your time by noting what is close to each spot. While creating your list, be sure to incorporate things you both want to do.
Don’t: Overthink It
You’ve got a plan, but that doesn’t mean you have to follow it. Keep your plans flexible and don’t overthink it. Some of the best memories we have are from wandering a city and finding random, off-the-beaten path adventures. Make light of the stress and exhaustion as it will all be worth it in the end.
Do: Search for Airfare the Right Way
Whether you’re traveling with a spouse or your entire family, flying as more than a party of one can be tricky. There are some simple tricks to keep in mind.
Airlines sell their tickets based on fare classes, with higher prices as you climb the ladder of fares. Once one bucket of fare classes sells out, the airline will move up to the next, more expensive type of ticket. And that can be a pitfall for couples traveling.
If you and your spouse need two tickets but there’s only one low fare class available, the airline will sell you two higher-priced tickets and skip the lower fare. So it could make sense to buy the two tickets separately to save some cash on one of the tickets.
Using points or miles to book your flights? The opposite is true. Make sure you search for two tickets as you scope out award availability. There’s no worse feeling than getting ready to book some free flights for you and your loved one only to find that only one seat is available.
Do: Splurge a Little
You’re on vacation, so why not splurge a little?
It’s important to set a budget and follow it, but it’s also important to enjoy yourself. Whether it’s a nicer hotel in one city or an incredible excursion that costs a bit more, make it work and do it. Our favorite example is the full-day excursion on a catamaran after we arrived in Santorini, Greece. It was one of our all-time favorite adventures, but also one of our most expensive.
Do: Plan Finances Ahead of Time
Even as we urge you to splurge, you do want to have your finances in order prior to leaving for the trip. No one likes talking money on vacation, so get it done and over with before you leave. We have a pool of travel money that contribute to equally. Once we’re on the road, that’s the money we use to pay for everything.
No matter how you do it, make sure you set a budget and have a game plan to pay for it. Be sure to speak openly with each other and consider both of your financial statuses.
Don’t: Use PTO Freely
You’ve got a full-time job and a vacation allotment to consider. Use it wisely.
Try not to use PTO for random days throughout the year so you can save up for a trip. If you can, stick it out on the days you are feeling a little under the weather. Wouldn’t you rather use that day off to be laying on the beach rather than your couch?
Don’t: Forget to Book Another Trip
Our favorite tip of this post.
If all goes well, you’ll have an amazing experience building memories while traveling with your significant other. So why not do it again? Monitor flight deals, manage your time off work, and start planning your next adventure with your loved one.
To us, traveling as a couple has far more perks than downfalls. You have a built-in support system, can share costs, and you each can take on part of the planning. We have learned so much about one another traveling and know you will as well. Take this time to focus on creating memories together and leave your worries at home.
Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews, or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer.