Planning a getaway with a new partner is an exciting relationship milestone. But how you handle that first trip can be telling.
“Yes, traveling is romantic, but there’s also the nitty-gritty details,” confirms Susan Winter, a New York City-based relationship expert and love coach. “Maybe you can’t get the rental car you planned on, you get lost walking around, or the hotel isn’t what you expected. Unless you know the place well, there are a lot of unknown factors that can come up and jar the emotional and romantic experience.”
So before you hit the road, make sure you address the 5 crucial topics below. Happy travels!
Pick a destination you both love
Where you decide to travel is just as important as deciding to travel at all. If the destination doesn’t suit you both, things could go south. “This is where your disposition has to be in harmony,” says Winter. “If you hate the sun, don’t agree to a beach vacation.” Just because you’re with a new partner doesn’t mean you’ll magically fall in love with sand and surf.
Not sure where to start? Give some thought to the types of activities you’d like to do. “The activities will determine the location and the location will determine the activities,” says Winter. “A city may offer more culture and exploration, whereas a nature trip allows you to hike or camp.” If you’re not on the same page, what you hope will be a dreamy escape could turn into a nightmare.
Nail down a budget
Nothing kills that vacation vibe like realizing you’re shelling out way more for your trip than you expected. So once you decide where to go, clarify how the trip will be paid for. “Figure out not only what you’re both willing to spend, but also what you’re both contributing,” says Winter. “Maybe you’re splitting it, maybe your partner invited you on the trip and is paying for it. Either way, don’t assume anything.”
We know money is a tough and touchy subject, especially in a new relationship. But going away can end up being pricey, so be honest about who’s paying what and what your upper limit is, suggests Winter. The fewer surprise expenses, the better.
Discuss your expectations
Some people view a vacation as a time to kick back and do nothing. Others see it as an opportunity to explore and experience a new culture and activities. To make sure both of you understand what you’re hoping to get out of getting away, Winter recommends asking one key question: What do you need to achieve on this trip that will make you feel satisfied?
Perhaps one of you is set on visiting every museum in the area, while the other wants to log as much pool time as possible. By making needs known, you can work out a schedule that will meet both of your expectations, says Winter.
Plan some alone time
There’s no vacation rule that says a couple has to spend and enjoy every moment as a twosome. In fact, it’s a smart idea to work in some solo outings. On vacation, you’re spending way more time than usual in each other’s company. That can be stressful and lead to arguments, which won’t just sour your trip but your new relationship as well.
“People tend to get moody when they’re off their routine and compromising for another person all day long,” says Winter. “It may not sound sexy, but alone time will make you all the more happy to link back up again.” Suggest a few places you’re happy to visit solo, and encourage your partner to do the same.
Expect to see some bad behavior
Everyone gets stressed, especially when you’re dealing with missed flights and a subpar hotel. But how a person handles stressful moments is really what’s important. With this in mind, tell your significant other that you’ll do your best to take things in stride, and you want them to do the same. Because once you’ve hit the road, how you react to mishaps and disappointments can determine if this is your first trip together…or your last.