Recently, I've had scores of friends say to me "I'm going on vacation with my boy/girlfriend. I really hope we have a good time!"
Despite how much couples care for each other, two plane tickets to the Caribbean don't necessarily translate to bliss. Without the right measures and mindset, vacation can end up being just as bad as negotiating the sweaty city subway. But don't despair! Use these simple tips to ensure that your vacation isn't just blissful, but that it functions as an extraordinary bonding experience, reinforcing your love for one another and leaving your relationship stronger than ever.
1. Go in with the right mindset
Make a pact with your partner to have an amazing trip. What does this mean? You are both going to make every effort to keep complaining and fighting to a minimum, and to be accommodating and loving at every step. If you need to, write up your vow on paper and sign it before your friends bid you bon voyage. Then, post the mini-contract on the mirror in your hotel room so you don't forget.
On a personal level, reinforce that commitment with yourself — try to refrain from behaviors and comments that you know are destructive or irritate your partner. You can even use the vacation as a chance to break those annoying habits. Remember your goal: to have a great trip that brings you closer to one another. Try to be positive, open-minded and nonjudgmental; negative energy breeds as quickly as lightning, and one person spouting complaints can ruin the day in a heartbeat.
2. Get off your butt
Don't use vacation as an excuse not to work out. Instead, use the luxury of time to take care of your body. Long hours at work can prevent us from exercising regularly, making us irritable and depressed. Again, use the time off as a chance to break that habit and get back into a workout routine. And getting your heart rate pumping every day will work wonders for your relationship. Remember the classic, if simplistic, Elle Woods (Legally Blonde) quote in her client's defense: "Exercise makes you happy. And happy people don't kill people."
But the great thing about vacation with your sweetie is that exercise doesn't have to equal a boring gym.
Integrate your workout into the tourist experience. There is no better way to get to know a city than to run or bike it, and you will see things that you would never see in a traditional tour. Both also give you an appreciation of the layout of the city and how neighborhoods are connected. This will not only work in your exercise, but will also save you a pretty penny on rental cars and cabs, or time walking laboriously from place to place. Try hiking, kayaking, white water rafting, ziplining, obstacle courses, horseback riding, or a swim in the ocean. All get you feeling physical and create a stronger bond between the two of you as a result of a fun shared experience.
Oh, and one last note on exercise: those who exercise regularly have a higher sex drive and are better in bed than those who don't. Just saying.
3. Remember your meds!
Passport? Check. Credit cards? While we are talking about good moods, your medicines (antidepressants, blood pressure meds, etc.) should take priority on your packing list right after your wallet and passport. Running out of medicine in a foreign country can be disastrous, as the equivalent simply may not exist over there. Or maybe the medicine exists, but your Arabic does not. And stopping meds suddenly can cause a nasty range of side effects: in other words, you will not exactly be a joy to be with, and that can cause stress on your relationship. (Remember that you're here to have a great time with your partner). Also stock up on emergency contingency meds, just in case of upset stomach, headaches or allergies.
4. Take photos and reminisce — NOW!
Photos are an awesome way to remember a vacation, and looking at yourself smiling in a photo actually increases your perception of how happy you were at that moment in time with your partner. So instead of waiting until you get back home to look through your photos, go through them together every night before bed. It will reinforce the experiences you've had and create more to reminisce about as you go on.
5. Take a break from sightseeing
While of course you shouldn't skip the Eiffel Tower in Paris, be gentle with your time. You don't have to smush in the entire Fodors guide into 6 days. If you were supposed to go to a museum but you're exhausted, skip it. Listen to your bodies. Plus, it's not just the history and the museums that make up a place; it's the people. There's nothing more relaxing than sitting with a bottle of cold white wine, crusty bread andgood olive oil, feeling the breeze tickle your skin while you people-watch. It will allow you and your partner to just "be" together. Keep reading...
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