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Considering traveling as a couple? It’s amazing for your love story. As they say, couples who travel together stay together.
Since we first met in 2011, Nathan and I have traveled together quite a bit. Not only that, but we’ve both been working remotely since 2012 on freelance work and our couple travel blog. Needless to say, over the time we’ve been in a relationship, we’ve spent a lot of time together and often in very close quarters. We know what it’s like to travel as a couple, whether on a short vacation or a long-term travel situation.
While couples travel is absolutely amazing, travel is just one of those things that throws you into unusual situations with a partner and puts you through experiences both good and bad. It can be easy to grow frustrated and even fight, even while doing something as fun, romantic, and freeing as traveling.
Yes, travel can indeed be stressful. But it doesn’t have to be this way! Sure, there will be ups and downs (and you should certainly prepare for those downs), but if you put some effort into presenting your best self and avoiding bad habits, you two should do just fine.
To help you prepare for traveling as a couple with a husband, wife, boyfriend, girlfriend, or significant other, we’ve put together a list of our very best couple travel tips, presented as the major couples travel mistakes you don’t want to make. Here are the essential couples travel tips: 20 things to avoid on your next getaway.
Don’t spend every second together.
It’s a trip for two, so you need to be joined at the hip, right? Nope! You do NOT need to be together on your trip 24/7.
Even if you’re only traveling with your partner for a week, be sure to take a little time now and then (ideally every day) to be by yourself. It doesn’t mean you have to spend an entire day apart, but it means that you simply need to make time for yourselves.
All it really means is taking time to get in touch with yourself and your needs and get rejuvenated. This is especially a good tip if one or both of you are introverts.
A perfect compromise? Spend 2-3 hours alone during one afternoon of your trip, doing whatever pleases you.
Don’t expect your trip to be incredibly, heart-stoppingly romantic
You’re traveling with your lover. Every moment should be fireworks and castles and epic mountaintop couple selfies, right? Wrong. It’s easy to think that all couples travel should be romantic, but this is not the case.
One of our favorite pieces of advice for couple travelers is that it’s not always going to be great together. Not every second of travel is glamour and romance.
Delayed flights, getting lost, language frustrations. All of these things can suck the joy right out of the moment (not to mention kill the romance.) So don’t head into your travels expecting pure, unadulterated bliss. Instead, take the challenges as they come, tackling them together and viewing them as opportunities to strengthen your relationship.
Don’t neglect to make time for romance
By the same token, while couples traveling together shouldn’t expect a constant lovefest, they should also be deliberate about making time to enjoy romantic moments together.
It doesn’t always sound spontaneous and passionate, but it’s what you gotta do!
Whether your idea of romance is an afternoon where you opt to order room service and stay in bed all day, or a special hike you take just the two of you, give some thought to how to make your couples travel sweet and memorable. These intimate moments will stand out and be some of the best-treasured memories of your holiday.
Avoid arguing about money
Woof. Arguing about money is the worst. And when you’re on a vacation, it can be even more of a buzzkill.
There might be an exception to this if you’re a couple traveling long term. Then, the issue of money is inevitably going to come up, and you’ll have to work to compromise and budget as a team. But when you’re on a shorter vacation, strive to refrain from financial arguments.
How do you do this?
Have a serious discussion BEFORE you depart about what you are planning to spend and where you might be able to splurge. It’s always wise to budget expecting those splurges, too. That way you don’t feel stretched thin when you decide a couples massage is just too good to pass up.
We have a helpful resource that can help you figure out how to how to afford to travel the world as a couple.
Don’t act possessive of your partner.
This tip goes for your daily lives, not just for traveling as a couple. However, being in a foreign land does introduce new environments and new people. Especially in certain parts of Europe, men are vocal with their appreciation of female beauty.
Husbands and boyfriends: don’t freak out or pick a fight. Almost always, no harm is meant, and their whistles are simply a compliment to the lovely lady you’re escorting.
The same goes for the females. Your man might be a bit googley-eyed over the tall blondes of Scandinavia, but just remember, he came here with you.
On your trip together, it’s wise to focus on one another. No one else matters. It’s just the two of you and an amazing holiday.
Don’t isolate yourselves
Now it seems I’m going to directly contradict myself. The trip may be all about you two and your relationship, but your couples travel will be enhanced if you expand your party of two a bit now and again.
A short vacation or honeymoon is an exception or even your first trip as a couple…then it is natural and expected to be hyper-focused on your partner. But if you’re engaged in long-term travel, as a couple traveling around the world, try not to isolate yourselves.
Make sure you take time each week to be social. Try and meet other couples. Get engaged with the locals. Participate in group cooking classes, brewery tours, or city walks.
All of these things will open up your circle and add so much more to your travel experience. It’s sharing those new experiences with your partner that is important.
Try not to fall into a routine
This DON’T applies primarily to long-term traveling couples. Whether you’re on the road or at home, it can be far too easy to fall into a routine. Soon, routine becomes a rut.
Travel has an inherent advantage: you are constantly adding excitement and novelty into your life. But no matter where you are, don’t get so caught up in the patterns of daily life and your schedule that you forget spontaneity, romance, and special, small gestures.
Try and shake things up at least once per week…whatever that means to you as a couple!
Travel definitely helps you break out of a humdrum routine—check out these 8 essential travel experiences all couples should have.
Avoid complaining endlessly
It is horrid when one travel buddy is a nonstop whiner. I should know. I (Amy) have a tendency to be one.
It’s not that I am unhappy, but rather that I am highly extraverted and like to share my every thought and feeling.
Pebble in my shoe? You’ll know about it. I’m hot. I’m cold. You’re gonna hear it.
I have made and continue to make a solid attempt to quell this habit. I know it brings down our shared morale and can be irritating to Nathan.
If this sounds like you, try and keep your complaints inside. Or better yet, reframe your mindset and for every complaint that you feel you want to make, instead state aloud something you are happy about or grateful for.
This will boost your own mood, and perhaps help your partner feel more joyful as well.
Don’t forget to divide travel responsibilities
On trips of any length, it can be exceedingly helpful to designate travel-related tasks to each person.
If the Smiths know that Husband Smith is responsible for carrying the passports, there will be no “but I thought YOU packed them!!!!” at the airport. Wife Smith can rest easy knowing her man has got it under control.
And Wife Smith can be in charge of something else, like printing boarding passes or booking the hotel. This helps both partners contribute and makes the process less stressful for everyone. In short, it makes traveling as a couple 10x better.
Don’t expect the trip of a lifetime
I think Instagram has given us unreasonable expectations. About looks, food, pets…but especially travel for couples.
With carefully curated galleries and photos pre-planned down to the minutest detail, it can be easy to believe that your holidaymaking will be or must be one for the record books. In truth, it probably will be, but only if you keep your expectations true to life.
If you choose to, you will enjoy romantic sunsets. You will have elegant meals. You will stroll hand in hand along the canals in Venice. And you might have amazing vacation sex.
But remember, life is not a movie, it is not a fairy tale, and it is not what you see from those picture-perfect Instagram couples. There will be sucky moments. There will be lots of imperfection. Gritty real life. Embrace the good and the bad of couples travel, and you will be in for an unforgettable treat.
Do not obsess over getting the perfect photo
Speaking of Instagram, we strongly recommend not spending too much of your trip together focusing on your photos. I know from experience that this can really bring a trip down.
Nathan and I often have to take staged images as part of our job as couples travel bloggers, but we honestly don’t love it. It interrupts the day’s activities, it is time-consuming, stressful, and downright un-fun. So, IMHO, only take the photos you truly enjoy. And realize that the elaborate, staged images you often see on Instagram take hours of shooting and days of planning.
There’s nothing wrong with a cute travel selfie.
Or, if you want to grab some nice photos without having to use a selfie stick or ask a stranger to snap your photo, I 100% recommend traveling with a lightweight tripod and a remote shutter (this one comes with both and works with your phone!). You can take your OWN photos this way and end up with some seriously awesome stuff.
PS: We all know you’re going to post to social media. Pair those adorable photos with the right couple travel quotes.
Don’t try to do too much
This is one of our best general tips for travel, whether you’re on a trip together with your partner or on a different style of vacation. Trying to do too much can really kill your trip.
First of all, over-exertion can make you exhausted and physically sick. If you’re not taking care of yourself and attempting to “go-go-go!” you will soon find yourself burnt out.
And this kind of jam-packed schedule is also the perfect breeding ground for grouchiness and bickering. Don’t let it happen.
Instead, have a balanced approach to your trip and be realistic about what’s doable (and comfortable) in a given day or given trip.
This is a great tip for family travel, especially. Read Next: 10 Ways Family Travel Differs from Couples Travel
Don’t forget to compromise
If you want to know how to travel as a couple successfully, the number one word to remember is compromise.
Compromise plays a huge role in successful relationships, whether romantic, professional, or otherwise. And for good reason. Compromise is essential when multiple people are involved in a project (or in this case, on a trip together.)
Compromise ensures everyone is happy and gets at least some of what they want.
Don’t ignore the fact that your first trip as a couple might be a disaster
Embarking on your first vacation as a couple is super exciting, but you should be prepared that it might be especially full of challenges. This is because you are new travel partners (and travel is different than everyday life). If you are not seasoned travelers, you’re also more likely to encounter some issues.
And of course, travel is travel. Things often go wrong. Your first trip might be your initiation.
Case in point: our first trip together (or one of the first), I hit a curb and caused us to get a flat tire and we had to wait hours at a depressing rest stop. This could have really been awful. Nathan could have been angry at me (I wouldn’t have blamed him) and this event could have caused a fight. But instead, we both took it in stride. We were remarkably laid back and had fun together even while waiting for roadside assistance to show up.
As it turned out, our first trip was a total success. We faced a major challenge with patience and humor, and in the process we discovered that we are amazing travel partners. In the end, travel is the ultimate relationship test.
But your first couples trip might be a disaster for other reasons. Maybe you have really different travel styles and can’t compromise on anything. Perhaps you picked the wrong destination for your first trip and one partner absolutely hates it. She loves to hike, he’d rather stay indoors. She can’t stand museums, he’d spend hours exploring one. Now these are minor things, but when many of them are present, and your trip is full of tension and fighting, you have one of two choices.
Try again on another trip (and follow all of our tips!)
Or Recognize that you just don’t make great travel partners.
This is 100% okay by the way. Not all couples who have successful relationships or marriages enjoy traveling together. If that is the case, go ahead and embrace solo travel, getaways with friends, or other adventures. While we are huge fans of traveling together as a couple (obviously!) this is NOT a prerequisite for an amazing relationship.
Don’t fail to communicate how you feel
One of the worst things to do on vacation with your boyfriend, spouse, or whomever, is to bottle up any unpleasant feelings you’re having. If you find yourself having a tough time—or even if things are going well—be sure that the two of you are frequently and openly communicating your feelings.
This not only prevents small issues from blowing up into huge fights, it prevents resentment, bad moods, and more, and it helps keep the trip moving forward in a positive way.
Don’t forget to maintain healthy habits.
To have your best couples vacation, we recommend keeping up with your normal healthy habits. This is not to say don’t splurge. Hell, naw! You get that pina colada! But it simply means remaining mindful of what makes you feel good.
If you need 8 hours of sleep to be a functioning human being, by all means, prioritize getting that sleep.
Plan to eat healthful meals. Don’t skip breakfast. Try to go easy on things like caffeine and alcohol, and stay hydrated.
Walking around a big city? Again, stay hydrated. All these little healthy habits can keep the two of you from becoming grouchy messes.
Don’t choose the wrong destination
This is sort of a subjective couple travel tip, but it is nonetheless a good one. Make sure you pick the right destination.
This doesn’t mean that Paris, for instance, will be the right destination for every couple. But where you choose to go together should reflect both of your interests and activity level. (Hint: a rugged camping trip may not be your partner’s top choice of adventure). Be sure to discuss expectations and desires before you book your trip.
Also, keep in mind your own levels of experience with traveling. If you’ve hardly spent any time out of your home country, taking a long trip to a place with a completely different culture, language, etc, is going to be especially challenging. That’s not to say don’t do it, but think about those kinds of things when planning a trip with your significant other. A local weekend getaway may be better for getting your feet wet.
Don’t forget to pack your sense of humor
Seriously, don’t leave home without it.
So much stuff happens on the road that demands you keep your sense of humor handy. To have your best time (and be a great travel partner) don’t forget to laugh.
Don’t skip on travel insurance
Yo, are you heading off without travel insurance? No matter what kind of trip you’re going on (but especially if you’re choosing one with lots of adventurous activities) having reliable travel insurance is a no-brainer. So go ahead and get some. It’s the adult thing to do.
We recommend World Nomads as a good choice that is affordable and has always worked for us.
Don’t forget that traveling together is a big deal
Finally, don’t make this mistake: understanding that traveling as a couple is a big thing. It is! It can change your life. It can make or break your relationship. It can reveal things about your partner and about yourself that you didn’t want to face. In short, it is a pretty big deal.
You need to plan for it, you need to read some tips like these if you’re new to traveling with a partner, and you need to manage your expectations. Prepare ahead of time and you’re far more likely to have an amazing experience.
Don’t forget, fighting is not a sign of a doomed relationship (that’s a relationship myth). But figuring out how to manage conflict together is vital in a long-term partnership. Travel situations can surely bring up opportunities to practice your conflict-resolving skills.
Conclusion: How to Be an Awesome Traveling Couple
Embrace the good and the bad, practice patience, and approach your partner with love and generosity. And hopefully, you will travel together for years to come.
Need more inspiration? Check out all of our couples travel interviews to see how other couples are adventuring together.
Amy Hartle is the author of Do You Love Me? How To Stop Seeking Reassurance in Relationships, a book on reassurance seeking and relationship anxiety. Both her book and this blog are born of personal experience; Amy shares expert relationship advice from the lessons learned during her own 10+ years with her husband, as well as couples travel tips and romantic getaway recommendations, all gleaned while traveling the world together.