Even if you loved galavanting around the world solo before you met your bae, there’s likely no one you’d rather jet set with these days. After all, if a love of travel was part of what brought you together, being able to experience new destinations and experience through the eyes of someone who makes you happier than you’ve ever been is pretty darn special. But just like you’ve learned how to stay calm when travel plans go awry, or roll with the surprises as they come your way mid-trip, relationships require a little flexibility, too. And while you might have loved going backpacking when you first met one another, when you have a baby or a mortgage, your vacation priorities might shift.
The good news? Taking a trip as a couple can actually strengthen your relationship tremendously, as long as you're mindful of what you’re currently dealing with as a pair. “The right trip and location at the right time can help you reconnect or let off steam, depending on what your current needs are,” explains dating expert and psychologist Dr. Nikki Martinez. “If you are needing to reconnect with each other and establish closeness, something low key, where you can explore the city, talk in coffee shops, and do things that engage you with each other. If you are needing to let off steam and get rid of tension building up, something active and exciting might be the perfect fit. It allows you to be adventurous, to have fun, and to do activities that are stress relieving. This will have a positive impact on the relationship, as it allows you each the opportunity to let the steam out.”
Here’s what to book, regardless if it’s your first trip together or your hundredth.
1. It's first trip as a couple.
Every relationship has its firsts, and the time when you pull out your bags to hop an airplane with your new honey is a big one. How is she on airplanes? Is he an obsessive planner... or an overspender? Do both parties care about culture the same way? Martinez says the most important to think to consider here is having fun. “You want to enjoy the time to get to know each other on a deeper level, check compatibility when together this much, and to have an experience which bonds you further,” she explains. If you’re staying domestic, try a relaxed Southern town that has history, beaches and cute B&Bs, like Savannah or Charleston.
If you want to exercise your passport, try an all-inclusive resort in the Caribbean that lets you spend plenty of time with one another doing nothing but boozing (and heading inside for afternoon delight) and add on excursions like snorkeling or water skiing.
2. You just got engaged.
Talk about a time to celebrate: You just made one of the most important decisions of your life! Martinez says that many couples, even those who have been together for a long time, feel more dreamy after they pop or answer the question. Why? It’s a special time when you’re truly able to imagine a new future that’s shared with someone you love. If you want to take a trip to celebrate this big choice, Martinez says make it more playful and a time to check something off your bucket list.
“There are many ways that you could go with this, but I would actually have each of you write down top 10 to 20 places that you have always wanted to visit. If there is crossover, you have found your destination,” she suggests. “You can explore a new place together, and experience things neither of you ever has before.”
3. You're planning for a baby.
While it’s not true that your life ends when you have a baby, it is true that traveling becomes a bit more complicated. If you’ve been together for a while and you’ve got family on your brain, now is the time to take a chance on that trip you’ve always said you’d take one day. Martinez says it’s not a now-or-never type of deal — but it could be a now or 18 years from now thing.
“This is a time in the relationship when you want to have those moments of being able to take off and go somewhere that you might not have the chance to if you were tied down with other responsibilities,” Martinez says. “Go somewhere you could not go with kids, or that you are not sure you will get around to again for a long time.” Maybe it’s a three-week trip to Europe. Or finally making it to Australia or New Zealand, or doing an Asian tour. And hey, if baby is conceived while you’re traveling, at least you’ll have some interesting name choices to play tribute to the trip that inspired you both!
4. You’re leaving your newborn for the first time.
Even if you were once the type of person to spontaneously book a last-minute trip because you found a great deal and a cool Airbnb, once you have a baby, you might not be as keen to hop on a plane and leave your newborn behind. But when you and your partner decide it’s time to spend a few nights away from home, Martinez says to keep it pretty local.
“While you need to get away, there will be feelings of guilt, questioning, and worrying. I would say don't leave the country. This might be the ideal time to go somewhere not too far, but far enough to remove you from the responsibilities of everyday life,” she explains. “Also, I think this is the ideal time to do something like a spa and resort vacation. This is definitely a time in your life when you need to relax and be pampered. Take advantage, and enjoy!”
5. You’ve been fighting a lot lately.
The happiest of couples have arguments — they’re healthy for your relationship. But during certain stages of your couplehood, it will be easier to communicate than others. And if you feel like every other sentence out of your mouth (or your partner’s) is backed by steam, it’s time to use a trip to reconnect.
“You definitely want to go somewhere fun, and perhaps a little adventurous to reconnect and make some positive memories together. This is the time to reconnect emotionally and remember what it is you love about each other,” Martinez says. “Perhaps New Orleans, Hawaii, Key West, or an Alaskan cruise.”
6. You have two kids, a mortgage, and you’re stressed AF.
Just like building your career, when you’re building your family, you might feel like you’re constantly trying to do a balancing act. Setting aside time for your relationship isn’t always easy, but it’s the best type of investment you can make for your own happiness and the happiness of your kids. With a budget being more important than ever, you might not be able to do something extravagant together, so Martinez offers an alternative solution.
“Have you ever thought of a house sharing or flipping program? This is where you pick a location and flip houses with the owner. This can cut out the cost of paying for a room, as they are staying at your place in your city,” she suggest. “This gives you a chance to explore a city on a budget, and still have the comforts of home, such as being able to cook for yourself. This is another way to save money, but spend quality time with just the two of you.”
7. One of you just got a big promotion.
Before the kids and the responsibilities and the house and the dog and the everything, you probably would have spent the night sipping champagne and dancing to celebrate a new promotion or big event. You might not have the time now, but this is the moment when you can spend a little more to have a vacation and let your partner really have their time to shine.
In other words? Let them be a tad selfish. “Let the person who you are celebrating pick the location, or surprise them with somewhere fun they have always wanted to go. Listen to where they want to go, what they want to do there, and pack the time with those places and activities,” Martinez says. “This is a celebration they will never forget, and that they will be forever grateful for."
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