How To Take A Successful Vacation As A Couple

happy couple on vacation
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Contributor
Love, Family

Managing expectations before a trip helps couples and families keep away stress and disappointment.

Imagine this scenario. You've waited months for your vacation, you've spent thousands of dollars for your special trip and halfway through your trip you realize you've made a big mistake. What started out as an escape from your busy and stressful life has turned into a complete waste of time and money. Maybe your kids ruled the day, you had no time for yourself or the "intimacy" you were craving with your spouse was lost before you even boarded the plane. Romance Rut? 10 Ways To Get Your Marriage Back On Track

The disappointment you're left with is palatable and profound. And worse, you've just used up your precious time off for the year and now you have to save up again before you get another chance to "get it right." It's a terrible mess indeed. 

How can you avoid this?

The truth is that all vacation disasters can't be avoided. Sometimes, you do end up getting a cold while traveling or you encounter a few rainy days. But, with some smart planning most travel disappointments can be averted.

Achieving the vacation of your dreams comes down to two very basic things: setting reasonable expectations and planning with the end result in mind.

1. Managing your expectations
When most people think about the vacation of their dreams, they have a sense of what they most want to do and how they most want to feel. With personality types being different, part of setting reasonable expectations is around understanding what your travel partners want to achieve as well. Before you pack your bags, take a few minutes to see how your desires connect.

When you consider your expectations, give some thought to what you want to experience physically, emotionally and mentally on your trip. Another way to look at this is to consider what you want the trip to create for you, your partner, your relationship and any other kids or travel companions who may come along. Are you looking for a simple escape? An epic adventure? To check a new state or National Park off your proverbial list?

To manage your expectations, you need to uncover what they are and you can begin by completing the following exercise...

2. Start planning by creating your vacation Venn Diagram:
Take two sheets of paper (or more if you have more travel companions-- you need one diagram for each person traveling) and each draw your own circle, listing the activities (or non-activities) you'd like to do on your trip. Consider everything you want to do: eating out, hiking, surfing, wine tasting, reading, napping, spa days, walking on the beach, other adventure and leisure activities... complete your list and be as creative as you want.

Also, make a list of things you have to do regardless of where you go. Things like, watching the kids or keeping the kids busy. Any activities that have to be baked into your daily activities should be listed as well.

Then compare notes. On a new sheet, draw two (or more as needed) large, overlapping circles.

* In the overlapping area, list activities (or non-activities) you'd both like to do together.
* In the non-intersecting parts of your circles, put the activities that are important to you but that your partner doesn't want to share.
* The consider how your mutual needs can fit together.
* Are you willing to compromise on activities and join in?
* Can you take some time for yourself and let your partner do something alone?
* Can you take turns with the kids so you each get some private time? On A Family Vacay? Here Are 5 Tips To Help You Sneak In Sexy Time

This exercise will give you a clear picture of a shared vacation that takes into account the needs of each traveler and prevents unpleasant conflicts from erupting in paradise. It also creates a framework for setting realistic plans for your trip and will raise everyone's awareness about the amount of time they'll have to achieve their individual travel goals.

3. Plan with the end in mind.
At the end of the day, the truth is that "stuff happens." Sometimes you do have to deal with travel challenges, but the better-prepared you are to avoid them, the greater your chances of arriving home from your vacation feeling like you've had the time of your life.

You will be better prepared if you have a list of contingency plans to engage in if the vacation starts to turn south. Once you've selected a destination, do a little research on all of the alternative activities you can participate in while you're there. Then create your "plan B" to handle rainy days, sick kids, hangover mornings, the need for solo time spent apart from a partner and anything else that may come along.

By being prepared for these potential problems you greatly increase your chances that they won't happen, and as a result you have the vacation experience that you really wanted.

Creating a "perfect" vacation does take a bit of good luck, but when you set out on an adventure with a plan in place for troubles and a realistic set of expectations for the trip, you're more likely to come back feeling like you have achieved your goals and that the vacation was a success.

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