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Top 10 Tips for Traveling Couples

When traveling, an ounce of prevention is truly worth a pound of cure. So before you and your spouse depart, take the time to tend to those minor details that will make your vacation as perfect as possible!

1. Clarify Vacation Goals: This seemingly simple issue can become a big problem if partners have two different objectives! If one spouse is seeking relaxation while the other is hoping for adventure and sight-seeing, trouble is on the horizon. Knowing how essential it is that both partners have their needs met, take the time to openly discuss what each person hopes to get from the vacation. By talking about goals, the vacation can be crafted to give each partner a healthy dose of personal bliss.

2. Discuss Personal Expectations: This tidbit is worthy of its own discussion, for too many vacations go awry when couples have conflicting vacation expectations. Many travels start with the common understanding that a vacation is deserved and needed, but underneath that truth, a host of silent expectations can be churning. She may be planning to spend the bulk of vacation time connecting with friends or family. He might be expecting lots of one-on-one time with his wife. (Note: The issue of “to work or not to work” during vacation is an age-old concern for couples; make joint agreements in advance as to what—if any—work-related activity is appropriate. Whatever you and your spouse decide is best for your marriage, your time together will be much lovelier when such agreements are honored!)

3. Create a “Travel Preparation” List: Many people have a love/hate relationship with lists. In fact, many folks like to rely on memory when it comes to a list of necessary travel items. Unfortunately, mental lists can fail us, especially during the often frenetic period leading up to departure. In general, written lists can help couples avoid both simple and serious oversights. A well-crafted travel preparation list can relieve a great deal of underlying travel stress.

4. Pack Simply and Wisely: What to pack—or leave behind—can be a source of ongoing angst for couples. As with many travel issues, packing is simply not worth arguing about! Maybe he prefers to pack light, and she prefers to load the suitcase to maximum capacity. Maybe he forgets dress shirts, and she brings too many shoes. No matter the issue, the important lesson in packing is to get the job done with consideration and cooperation. A packing list can be truly helpful.

5. Know and Honor Your Spouse’s Travel Style: Everyone has their own travel style, and learning your partner’s unique needs and habits is part of the process of truly traveling well and intimately together—anytime and anywhere. Take the time to acknowledge your husband’s or wife’s little quirks, and openly address those that cause you stress or anxiety. Does he like to have clear, concrete plans whereas she’s fine with getting a bit lost? Does she like to anticipate every possible need and plan accordingly while he prefers to “go with the flow?” Does he like to seek adventures off the beaten path while she prefers to see each and every tourist highlight? Does she prefer to arrive two hours early while he has a habit of arriving in the nick of time?

6. Plan for Children and Pets: Whether children and pets are coming along or staying behind, an extra layer of planning is necessary. If children are part of the adventure, make separate lists that anticipate their needs (food, clothing, toys, etc.). If kids are staying at home, a detailed list for caregivers will be reassuring for all. Such lists should include information for family contacts, doctors, medical issues, medications, schedules (e.g., daily routine, event plans, etc.), and your own complete travel itinerary.

7. Manage Medical Issues: Going on vacation can make even the smartest traveler forget about medical issues, yet anticipating medical needs is a top priority. Whether you tend to get poison oak or insect bites, packing a well-chosen remedy or prophylactic can allow for a more enjoyable trip. If anxiety, car sickness, or other such issues plague you, see your doctor in advance to hone in on how to effectively manage your condition.

8. Sum-Up Financial Issues in Advance: Many couples argue about finances before, during, and after vacations. Avoid this travel downer by discussing financial issues openly as part of travel planning. Make collaborative, wise decisions that won’t break your bank and leave you regretting a vacation that results in credit card debt or a too-big dent in your savings.

9. Craft a “Calming Travel Kit: No matter your destination, it’s wise to think ahead to situations that might be stress-inducing. When spouses plan with an eye toward what causes each person stress and anxiety, preventative measures can be taken.


10. Prepare a Recovery Period: In anticipating the vacation ahead, it’s easy to overlook the eventual return to reality. Even the most delightful excursion involves unpacking and attending to the mail, work, and other issues that have accumulated during time away. Many couples forget that building “downtime” into the vacation is an important aspect of the journey itself. If possible, make plans that allow you a day or two post-vacation to absorb your travels, adjust your routine and sleep patterns, and tend to a leisurely physical and emotional unpacking process.

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“Adventure must start with running away from home” --- William Bolitho