I’ve spoken before about choosing the best travel partner for your adventures; but when it comes to travel with your spouse, there are a few things you need to do before any cultural (and romantic) getaway.
When you’re passionate about cultural travel, having somebody to share that with is even better! But can you and your spouse stand the test of an intense cultural travel itinerary?
It may not be as easy as it sounds… love may not be enough to stop you from driving each other crazy.
Of course, when I say “spouse” I also mean, boyfriend, girlfriend, fiancée or significant other.
Now, these tips can also apply if you’re traveling with your sister or your best friend, so take what applies to your case and start dreaming about your next travel itinerary.
Why is travel with your spouse different?
Even though these are the people we love to death, our partners usually know how to push our buttons; and in travel some leadership and control issues may arise.
As with any relationship, assuming that we’ll go together and everything will be perfect “just because we’re in love”, is unrealistic and even childish.
The best way to truly enjoy travel with your spouse or partner is to communicate effectively, plan ahead together and share responsibilities.
In this two part series I will be discussing what you need to do before your trip and during your trip in order to preserve your relationship, have the experience of a lifetime and even bring you closer to your Honey.
Step 1: Understand your travel styles
Have you discussed travel with your spouse before? Are you the nerd who’s into cultural travel while he wants to sleep in a tent hanging from a mountain? Or does he get bored by museums while you can’t stand to go out to check the local clubs?
It’s not that you can’t travel if your styles are radically different; but it will definitely be more challenging.
As with many things in relationships, you need to negotiate and compromise a little, to accommodate both of your tastes and passions.
If you happen to share the same travel styles, you are SO lucky! You may already agree on most of the things you want to see and do.
Here are a few questions you can discuss with your partner, in order to determine the points you need to negotiate:
- Are you into 5 starts hotels or hostel is fine?
- Are you the kind of traveler who likes to plan, or would you rather just wing it?
- What happens if something doesn’t go according to plan?
- Do you like to go quickly through exhibits and places or do you like to take your time to digest all the information?
- Do you like to get up early and avoid crowds, or would you rather sleep late and start your sightseeing later on the day?
- Do you have to go everywhere together, or can you do some activities each on their own?
- What’s your attitude toward money? Are you trying to stick to the budget or is the urge to splurge allowed?
Try to find areas of agreement and areas where both need to compromise a little.
Step 2: Compare travel wishlists
If you don’t already have your personal travel wishlists, I suggest you each create one. Then, you can compare and see where you match and where you don’t.
You should take the time to listen to the reasons the other person wants to visit a certain place that may not interest you. Most likely they know something you don’t, and you can both enjoy a trip there!
You’ll get to know each other a little better and get closer by sharing your passions.
Finally, you can even create a joint travel wishlist of the places you want to visit as a couple and start visualizing which trips you want to do in the future.
Step 3: Decide on a destination
Now it’s time to start making some choices for your next romantic (or not) getaway. You could each, for instance, assign a grade from 1 to 5 (5 being the highest) to each place.
Then you can then compare again and see where you both agree, discuss pros and cons and come to a decision.
Step 4: Establish ground rules
Once you’ve both made up your minds about a destination, you need to make an objective assessment of your travel styles and quirks and what to do when tension arises.
Look, cultural travel with your spouse can be demanding! You can become stressed that you may not arrive to the museum on time, you may be annoyed by the crowds, or worried that you can’t find a restroom quickly enough.
It’s best if you brainstorm possible scenarios that could cause tension and bickering between you, and come up with solutions, so that you know ahead of time how to support each other.
- For instance, is one of you much more active and athletic than the other one? How much physical activity will you be doing? Decide how many hours you expect to walk every day.
- And what will happen when one of you is too tired to continue? Establish some actions that you can take.
- How will you handle unexpected events that may affect your cultural travel itinerary? Decide how you’ll regroup and adjust and what your attitude will be.
- How will you react when your spouse wants to spend extra time on something you’re not so interested in? Research alternative activities.
Step 5: Decide on a cultural travel itinerary
I have 3 key insights when it comes to establishing your itinerary:
a. Compromise: There are things that will excite you both. Some may not. You both need to compromise a little, so that each has the experience they dream of. It’s all part of being a team!
b. Plenty of time to execute: Give yourselves enough time to reach the places you want to visit and achieve the goals of the day. Being rushed all the time is no fun and can cause tension.
Remember to plan with an abundance mentality: you will come back.
c. Don’t be afraid to be separated: The truth is you DON’T HAVE to do everything together. In my last trip to New York with my husband, we didn’t have enough time to visit all the Met, so we decided to split.
We agreed on a time when we’d meet again at the lobby and we both had our iPad and iPod touch ready to chat with each other if need be.
We even sent each other pictures of neat things we were seeing along the way. Nowadays technology makes it all easier. The point is you can figure out a way to maximize time by not always being together.
Step 6: Work up a budget
Discuss and negotiate your travel budget and allocate reasonable amounts to all aspects of travel like food, transportation and even shopping.
Be very clear on how much strain you want to put on family finances; you don’t want to go broke because of your next cultural trip. Be smart, save in advance and spend frugally while on your trip.
And remember to purchase travel insurance for both of you and consider it into the budget.
That’s it, this is all the prep work you need to do before your trip, to ensure that it will be a fulfilling and wonderful adventure with your mate.
Travel with your spouse doesn’t have to be stressful or annoying! Meet me next time, when I’ll speak about the actual trip!
What about you? Have you traveled with your spouse before? Let me know how it went!
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