Editor’s Note: This is the final post in a short series on vacations. Click here to read from the beginning.
It happens all the time: You plan the trip of your dreams, and somewhere along the way you fight with your travel partner and end up almost ruining the trip. To top it off, the fight was over something stupid, like forgetting to pack an item, or even worse, a fight over something completely out of your control, like a trying to find good seats on a booked plane. Why does this happen?
“You didn’t pack your swimsuit? How can you go to Hawaii without a swimsuit? We’re all ready to go to the beach and now we have to drive to the store to get you a new swimsuit. Do I need to check to see if you forgot anything else? Because this is not how I expected to be relaxing right now.”
“Why did you book me a middle seat on the plane? You know I need the exit row, and now I’m going to be uncomfortable the whole flight. If this is how you planned everything else I can tell it is going to be a great trip.”
Okay, maybe your partner isn’t as dramatic as the above two examples, but I’ll bet you have a couple of memories of fights on trips that came about through poor communication, exhaustion, or differing travel styles, maybe even all three.
Why would anyone try to be a bad communicator? Well, most of us don’t, but we do sometimes forget our communication skills when we are under stress.
It pays to have a conversation before your trip to discuss who has what responsibility and what each of you are expecting from this vacation.
- Who is taking care of hotel and transportation? Communicate preferences and discuss budgets first.
- How will you spend your days? Will you have some alone time? Do you want/need it?
- What kind of vacation do you want? (relaxation, adventure, romance, etc.)
Being in sync on this makes all the difference in the world. You may not be crazy about your mate’s desire for an adventuresome vacation when you are looking for relaxation, but knowing that in advance will allow you to plan activities together and separately so you both get what you need. Isn’t that what a partnership is all about?
Take Care of Yourself
It’s funny to think that you need more rest on vacation than in your normal busy life, but many people find this to be true. So if you have overbooked yourself, or you set up redeye flights or crazy schedules to pack in as much activity as possible, you run the risk of exhaustion. And we know how pleasant it is to be around someone who is exhausted, even if you are in paradise.
Take good care of yourself so you can enjoy your vacation:
- Get plenty of sleep the 2 nights before you leave so you are well-rested at the start of your trip.
- Pack all your things the night before so there is no worry to prevent you from sleeping well.
- Drink plenty of water, especially if you are also consuming alcohol on your trip. Dehydration can make you cranky as well as make you sick.
- Pack blister pads, aspirin, and medication for an upset stomach so you are not left to find these things locally at the last minute if you need them.
- Keep your medicine and essentials in your carryon bag in case your other luggage is lost.
When you take care of your own physical requirements you will not only enjoy your vacation more, you will be a better travel partner to your mate.
Know Your Partner’s Travel Style
Most of us find out the hard way that our partner’s travel style differs from our own. I first discovered this on my honeymoon in Paris. We had taken several smaller trips before, but because we were gone for shorter time periods or there was less time to get aggravated, we just didn’t notice our differences until then.
For instance, my husband is a go-getter and wants to leave the hotel every morning at 7 a.m. for a day of sightseeing, tons of walking, and making sure he’s sees as much as possible. He returns to the hotel room at 7 p.m., pleasantly exhausted from the day and ready to start winding down for a good night’s sleep.
My version of a great vacation is to enjoy a leisurely tea in the hotel room in the morning. Then I want to see a few great sights, utilize public transportation or cabs for long distances, and come back to the hotel room after lunch for a little nap so I can then stay out late for a great dinner and checking out the city at night.
We had a few bumps in the road before we figured this out. And then we made some adjustments that have made our subsequent trips more enjoyable.
- Discuss what you both want to do (or not do) on the trip and make some compromises. For instance, my husband now “plans some unplanned time” for me, and I usually go along with him on the idea of getting out the door early in the morning. We’ve both learned to enjoy the other’s preferences in small doses, especially if we are still getting what we want.
- Learn that it is okay to do things alone. Just because you like a long morning walk or time to read a book on vacation doesn’t mean your partner will, and it is okay to do things separately. In fact, couples who master this have more to share when they see each other again, and each gets a different view of vacationing in the same place.
- Learn to appreciate – verbally – the things your partner does to make vacation good for you. It is easier to work things out when you feel appreciated.
Remember, You Love Him
It is easy to forget he’s your knight in shining armor when you’re mad at him for tracking sand into the hotel room or forgetting to book the day cruise that is now sold out. But there are probably ways you have disappointed him as well, so remembering why you fell in love and decided to travel together in the first place is a good practice.
Don’t let poor communication, exhaustion, and not recognizing your partner’s needs get in the way of a great vacation. With a little attention, even the worst mishaps – delayed planes, weather problems, bad hotels, and illness – can become bonding experiences with your mate. And, of course, great stories to tell your friends and family in the coming years.
Betsy Talbot writes about carving the lifestyle you want out of life you already have. When she’s not writing, she’s paring down, saving up, and getting ready for a year of travel with her husband.