6 Essential Tips for Traveling as a Couple
Traveling is the best time to experience new things, discover exciting cities, and create once-in-a-lifetime memories. To be able to travel with a special someone would be a cherry on top. My boyfriend, John and I have been traveling together for over two years. So far we have been to 12 countries and 24 cities together, and we still have many trips lined up for the rest of the year. Traveling as a couple is the best way to get to know each other, build on the foundation of the relationship, and solidify the bond you already have.
"Never go on trips with anyone you do not love." - Ernest Hemingway
I don’t hesitate to say that John is the best travel companion I have ever had. But it would be a lie to say we haven’t done a fair share of work to form a great team!
So, before your next romantic trip with your boo, here are 6 tips on making the best of traveling as a couple!
1. Define roles & responsibilities
Just as every team is made up of members of different strengths, every couple is made up of two people who have different skills and interests. It’s important that in the planning stage of the trip, both of you take up different roles and responsibilities.
I am an avid planner when it comes to traveling, so much so that I create an hour-by-hour Excel spreadsheet for our itinerary. I also do a ton of research on restaurants, local experiences, and specialty boutiques. For travel experiences that require reservations, I prepare a list for John, and he works with services such as American Express Platinum Card Concierge and Trip2p to make sure we get all the bookings desired.
2. Plan special activities to create memories together
In addition to hitting up the best spots in the cities you’re traveling to together, it’s essential that you plan activities that both of you would really appreciate, and that you would only enjoy with your significant other.
John and I are both very big on food. Therefore, trying out the best restaurants is a must-do when we are traveling. For instance, when planning for our New York trip, we could not decide between Eleven Madison Park and Per Se. Both have three Michelin stars and ranked high on the World’s 50 Best Restaurants. Even after reading every food blogs about them, we still couldn’t pick one.
So…..we decided to book both restaurants, and we tried them two days in a row. A bit snobby? Maybe. Memorable? Most definitely. These are meals that blew us away on all levels, and we still talk about that experience all the time to each other. And if you’re wondering, we both enjoyed Eleven Madison Park more.
3. Balance out itineraries so everyday is enjoyable for both people
It is very likely that you may enjoy doing something that your loved one doesn’t. Instead of forgoing these activities altogether, you can try to balance them out so no one feels left out. Make sure you stay flexible and listen to the other person’s suggestions. Compromise a little and know that your lover would do the same!
I enjoy shopping very much. I can shop from morning to night for days. John, on the other hand, doesn’t care for shopping. But he does like to look at new gadgets and figure out how they work. So here’s how we plan our shopping days:
- I’ll go to a lifestyle or electronics store with John and check out the new products
- We’ll then go to a men’s clothing store to pick out a couple new shirts for him
- Now that he’s got a few shopping bags on hand, he is guilt-tripped into a two-hour shopping spree with me……when we hit up 20+ stores
- John gets the honor of being my personal stylist in the stores. Meaning he’ll pick out new clothes for me to try on while I’m in the dressing room
- Judging from how tired/bored he looks, I’ll decide whether to keep shopping or take a break at a café
- Repeat the process
It’ll also help to split the days into portions of different types of activities (sightseeing, shopping, outdoor) so you don't get back to the hotel at night feeling like you’ve had a monotonous day.
4. Overcome challenges together
Life is full of unexpected surprises. That phrase rings even truer when you are on vacation. And unfortunately, sometimes the surprises are not so pleasant, and they take form as a challenge for you love birds.
Hanoi was the second trip I’ve taken with John, so we were a still relatively new couple. In other words, we were still trying to present the best versions of ourselves. One of the most extravagant meals you could have at Hanoi is the seafood buffet lunch at the Sofitel Legend Metropole. The million-dollar lunch (that's how much the bill was). Two fresh oysters and several plates of food later, we continued to tour the city.
It wasn’t until late at night that I felt nauseous all of the sudden, I told John to order us an Uber right away to return to the hotel. The stop-and-go traffic at downtown Hanoi didn’t help with my churning stomach, and I had to do the unthinkable: I rolled down the car window to puke. Even though I tried my best to retain my elegant composure (no puking sounds, hair pulled back, etc), I was still more embarrassed than ever. I threw up every hour throughout the night, and I was so terrified since it was the first time I’ve ever gotten food poisoning.
To make matters worse, I had an early flight the next day back to Shanghai, and John had to fly to Ho Chi Minh City for work. At 7 am, John kneeled by the bed to check on my temperature (I had a fever) and told me that he would take care of everything. He then went downtown to the airlines center to change our flights, made calls to reschedule his meetings, and came back to the hotel to accompany the bed-ridden girlfriend. When the night rolled around, I was feeling better and increasing grateful that I had a boyfriend who I could rely on when things take an unexpected turn.
Challenges inevitably arise during trips. Some couples let the challenges get in the way, while others like us overcome hardships and emerge stronger, deeper in love and better as a team!
5. Work together as a team
This is related to #1 mentioned above, which talks about divide and conquer during the planning phase. Now, when you’re actually on the trip, it’s important to make sure that you work together as a team. Figure out each other’s rhythms and quirks and work with them! To give you some specific examples……
- In the morning: It takes me 1-2 hours to get ready. Instead of complaining, John uses this time to buy us breakfast, set up the electronics, and hop on his laptop to reply some emails.
- During the day: John is the designated driver for all our trips. But I handle the GPS and the music.
- Before going to bed: I spend another 15 to 30 min to finalize the itinerary for the next day and figure out all the transportation. During that time, John makes sure that cameras are charged and memory cards emptied.
Having a system would ensure you and your partner can travel more efficiently!
6. Use tools to take #couplegoals pictures
It would be a waste not to take amazing pictures when you are on trips. Asking a stranger to take photos for you is one way to do it, but it’s not always the most reliable method.
This is when tripods and remote controls come in handy! You can invest in some equipment like these to up your photography game. Even though you may have to spend a bit more money and time to upgrade your equipment and set them up, you’re going to look back at your trips together through these photographs and videos and be thankful that you put in the extra effort!
Our travels have challenged us, helped us learn about each other, and brought us closer in multiple ways.
So, I urge you to book a trip with your boyfriend, girlfriend, fiancé, husband, wife…and take the trip of your life! The memories you’ll have together would be priceless.