How to travel with a new partner

Martina is considering a holiday with her girlfriend but is concerned that it may put a strain on their burgeoning relationship. In Travel SOS, SJ offers some sage advice on keeping things nice while travelling with a new buddy.

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Q. Martina
I have recently entered a relationship and would like to go on holiday with her. We have only been together officially for a couple of months, but we’ve known each other casually for a year. I know that it may seem very soon, and I don’t necessarily want it to be a ‘big step’, so how do I ensure that we’re still friends when we return?

A. Travelling with others is challenging at the best of times, let alone when you put the word ‘significant’ in front of that ‘other’.

While there’s lots of talk about how hard it can be when it comes to travelling with family, at least they are likely to already know all your flaws (and are still somewhat required to love you regardless). But what about when you’re going away with a new partner? Here’s how to navigate the tricky waters of your first couples’ trip to ensure you still come back in a relationship.

Scope their travel style
Broadly speaking, there are two main types when it comes to travelling; those who want to hit the ground running and see as much as possible and those who are more interested in returning rejuvenated and treating the trip as a proper break or holiday. Try to start on the same page by finding out which camp your new beau falls into. Similarly, everyone has different budgets and things they want to spend money on. While you may be happy with an Airbnb, your partner may insist on a four-star hotel. It’s better to find these things out before you book anything, so you can ascertain whether or not you can make the trip work and how you’re going to compromise to keep you both happy.

Pick your battles
It’s not easy to spend time with someone else 24/7, particularly if you don’t necessarily know them inside out. And, while there’s a high chance your new partner may drive you round the bend on your first trip away, if you jump down their throat every time they do it’s likely to be your last! Take a deep breathe, keep calm and remember a relationship is about two people and constant compromise. That doesn’t mean that you can’t stand your ground, just make sure that when you do it’s over the things that really matter to you … like the gallery you’re dying to see, not the fact your new partner left wet towels on the bathroom floor.

Share the costs
Unless your partner has explicitly stated they are covering the whole trip make sure you share the costs, so no one ends up feeling as though they have been taken for a ride. That said, it’s much nicer to approach costs on a ‘I’ll get this one, you get the next’ basis – nothing screams tight like splitting every bill down the middle. Even if your partner is happy to cover all the costs, it’s nice to at least pick up one lunch or dinner to show your appreciation.

Make a plan
There’s nothing worse than wandering around with no sense of direction – even more so if you’re hungry. Make sure you’ve done some research on your destination and what you’d like to do there. Have a chat each morning and make a rough plan for the day that includes things that both of you want to do. It’s better to have one open discussion in the morning to agree on a plan than argue each step of the way! This sets everyone’s expectations for the day and, as they say, failing to plan is planning to fail …

Choose who’s going to do the navigating
While I’m not sure there’s been a definitive answer on which sex is superior when it comes to map reading, Google has ensured that anyone with two eyes can find their way around a city. Decide who is better equipped to take on this task and try not to kill them when they inevitably get you lost and you have to navigate both of you back on course … it’s not their fault they’re stupid (see point two).

At the end of the day, remember that it’s exciting to have a new relationship and someone to travel with. While you may have a few more tiffs than usual, that’s part and parcel of getting to know someone better. Focus on the bigger picture and the positives, and don’t forget to go with the flow and have fun.

Follow these tips and you should be able to avoid the seat change fee for your flight home!

Written by SJ

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