Couples don't always agree on how to vacation, so here's how to get on the same page before you go.
Taking a vacation as a couple can help you build memories that will carry you through the tough times and day-to-day routines of a relationship. When we go away we are usually more carefree and it is easier to be present with our mate. Studies have shown that experiencing new situations together brings couples closer: going on a holiday can be an opportunity for couples to grow more deeply in love.
As you think about where to go and what you want to do, it's important that you find some common ground for traveling with your significant other (and anyone else who may tag along). If one of you is looking for a relaxing week reading on a beach and the other is craving a jam-packed sightseeing trip through Europe, it's important to compromise so that the vacation fulfills you both and neither partner is left feeling resentful. Before booking anything, start with this exercise:
1. Create your list of fantasy vacations: Sit down with a pen and paper and write out the locations you'd like to visit and what kind of activities you'd like to engage in while on vacation. Go big here and include lots of options. The idea isn't to choose from this list necessarily, but to check out what's important to you both. 8 Travel Spots For Opposites
2. Categorize your picks: Next to each destination or activity, write the reason you chose it. Avoid simply expanding on the features of the destination (beaches, mountains, hiking, etc.) or activity. Instead, write down what you expect to get out of being in that destination (romance, downtime, adventure, etc).
3. Evaluate & discuss your choices: Review the list. What common themes do you see? Share what you've written with each other. By talking about WHY you chose the destinations you chose and what you really want to FEEL when you get there, you are more likely to find common ground on what you want out of the vacation in the first place. It's a great way to narrow down the places that meet both of your expectations and it may open up some unique destinations that you hadn't thought of.
Another great practice for setting yourself up to have the best trip of your relationship is to do some intention setting. Before you leave, write down 3 intentions you want for yourself for this trip (Relaxation? Adventure? Entertainment? Connection to my partner? Great sex? Visual feasting?) and share with your significant other. Take the list with you on your trip to serve as a reminder. Then, when it's time to make a decision about what to do or where to go, ask yourself, does this support at least one of your goals? Remember to compromise and think about meeting your partner's intentions, too. Planning Your First Big Trip: 6 Travel Tips For Couples
Traveling with kids?
Even if your idea of a dream vacation is identical to that of your spouse, keep in mind that traveling with kids changes everything. When you are traveling with kids, the golden rules are that happy kids equal happy parents and miserable kids can put a damper on even the best-laid plans.
Pick one or two things that you want to do even if the kids have no interest in them, but schedule these activities as short outings spread out over days rather than solid days of doing activities that the kids won't enjoy. As your kids get older they will be able to go for longer periods of time while waiting for their turn to do the activities that they chose, but as a practical matter most of the time spent on a family vacation will always be more kid-centered than parent-centered.
If you have small children, try to find time to have a glass of wine together once the kids are asleep and enjoy some time just reconnecting and talking. If you have older kids, wake up before them and have that reconnecting time over coffee. Romance while vacationing in tight quarters with kids is likely to be more about hand holding and conversation than sex, but these are very important ways to build intimacy that we often overlook when we have full access to a private bedroom.
When you're stuck and not sure what to do, try to practice the principal of three:
If you and your spouse have different ideas of what you would like to do on vacation, then here are three rules to avoid a vacation disaster.
1. Don't travel too far.
2. Choose a vacation that is moderately priced.
3. Keep it short.
You are better off doing 2 or 3 shorter, moderately priced getaways rather than trying to plan a dream vacation while you are still learning how to negotiate your different vacation personalities. You will create unnecessary pressure to have a "perfect" vacation if you spend a small fortune flying to Europe rather than choosing a destination that you can reach by car.
Remember, you're planning a VACATION. The idea is to make it enjoyable, so no matter where you end up, you have time to relax and recharge. Considering the different facets of your life before you take off will give you a golden opportunity to create a fantastic trip, regardless of your travel destination or plans!