Traveling together for the first time can be a big test for a new relationship.

Rose Bak

Going out of town together for the first time presents some challenges. Here's how to minimize conflict before you leave home.
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In every new relationship, there are milestones that test the fragile bonds of coupledom: meeting the family or kids, having your first fight, and your first out-of-town travel excursion.

I'd been dating a guy for three months when he asked me to go to a reunion with him in San Francisco.

"Traveling together so soon?" one friend asked, eyebrow raised. "Are you sure your relationship is ready for that?"

The question gave me pause. Was I ready for that? We were still new enough in the relationship where we were both on our best behavior. We'd met each other's good friends, but not family. We'd slept together, but not had a sleepover. We hadn't farted around each other yet. On this trip, we would be doing all those things over one long weekend. Was it too early?
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Traveling with someone new can be a test of any relationship, romantic or not. We all know that plane travel is challenging on a good day. It's hard to be in a good mood after you've been groped by TSA, crammed into a metal tube strapped to tiny seats breathing recycled air, and fought the crowds to get your luggage or a taxi.

Traveling also takes people out of the comfort of their day-to-day lives. It's likely one or both of you isn't familiar with the place you're going, and not knowing your way around can be unsettling. You're staying in strange places and sleeping in strange beds. You can't just go to your fridge and grab a snack, instead you have to go out and forage for food and drinks when you need them. You may under pack or pack incorrectly and find out you needed a raincoat or you forget to pack socks.

And, if your trip is to visit the other person's friends or family, there's the sense of being judged by others on whether you're an acceptable mate for the person they care about.

It's also pretty common for people to have different travel styles. One of you may like to plan out every minute of the trip, while the other prefers to wander around looking for adventure. One of you may like to use your trip as a reason to eat fancy or exotic food, while the other may prefer to eat on the cheap.
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Whatever the differences, here are some ways you can ease the first trip of your relationship:

  • Discuss money. Come to an agreement ahead of time who is paying for what, what your budget is for the trip, how you'll pay for shared expenses, what you're willing to splurge on, when you'll use cash versus credit cards, and any other financial implications of the trip.
  • Discuss sleeping arrangements. If you're getting a hotel, make sure you are on the same page about what your minimum hotel standards are and if you are sharing a room. If you're staying with friends or family, will they assume you'll share a room or be offended if you do?
  • Discuss food. How often will you eat out? Will you cook in your room, buy snacks, or order in?
  • Discuss activities. How much pre-planning are you each comfortable with? Do you want a strict itinerary, a general list of things you want to see and do, or will you explore and find things that sound fun? Will you be walking or taking public transportation or using taxis and rideshares?
  • Discuss togetherness. Will you be together the whole time? Can one of you stay back or do something else if you're not interested in what the other person has planned? Do you have a requirement for "alone time" during the trip?
  • Discuss healthy disputes. It's not uncommon to get annoyed with someone when traveling. Maybe they act differently around friends or family, or maybe you'll be tired and cranky and the way they chew their food or snore all night makes you want to kill them. Agree ahead of time how you'll communicate any issues, and stick to it.

In the end, I had a good trip with that boyfriend, other than some hurt feelings when he felt I'd made him "look bad" by being a faster runner than him. For the most part we traveled well together, but I was glad we had talked about the items listed above before we left home. It made the trip go much smoother for us, and likely will do the same for you too.

What things do you think are important when taking your first trip as a couple? Share your tips in the comments.

#relationship #dating #travel #communication #money

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Rose Bak is a freelance writer who lives in Portland, Oregon with her family and special needs dogs. She writes on a variety of topics including local news, homelessness, poverty, relationships, yoga, and aging. She is also a published author of romantic fiction. For more of Rose's work, visit her website at or follow her on social media @AuthorRoseBak.

Portland, OR

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