It's 100 percent true that you'll always remember your first vacation with your partner. The first time I'd ever been on vacation with a partner, we went to Aruba with another couple and stayed with my partner's dad who lived on the island at the time. We spent months planning the trip beforehand — places we wanted to visit, restaurants we wanted to try, tourist excursions we thought might be fun, and photos we wanted to take. We even agreed to go skydiving for the first time after doing weeks of research together. That trip is still one of my favorite travel memories to date.
Ultimately, I think we were able to enjoy our time together as much as we did because we knew what to expect on our trip. We did things that each person wanted to do and made an effort to turn things around whenever one of us was having a bad day. Since we were in a long-distance relationship, finally being able to travel together — as opposed to one of us simply visiting the other — was even more special.
The truth is, going on vacation with your partner for the first time is a huge step forward in your relationship. I've definitely had this go terribly in other instances, so I know that it can set the tone for the future of a relationship. In fact, I once decided to break up with a former partner while still aboard a cruise ship because our trip was such a disaster.
To ensure that your first vacation with your partner is a success, I asked Benjamin Ritter, relationship expert and founder of The Breakup Supplement, exactly what to do to, so you and your partner make it out of your first trip stronger than ever.
1. Make Sure You And Your Partner Are Ready For Your First Vacation Together
The first thing you need to determine is whether or not you and your partner are ready to take this step. "A vacation is a great opportunity to strengthen a relationship but it can also test it," says Ritter.
You should have an open discussion with your partner about why you think you're ready to go on a vacation together and how you see it affecting your relationship. For example, maybe you feel like you've lost your spark and you'd like to spend some more alone time with your partner on a romantic getaway. Be clear with them about this so they know what's expected of them or, at the very least, how you feel about the status of the relationship.
2. Discuss The Purpose Of The Trip & Who Will Be Joining You
Explaining to your partner why you want to go away with them is crucial. This way, you know if you should invite anyone else on the trip, tag along with one of your families, or just plan a weekend away for two. "Every vacation should have a purpose," says Ritter. "Is it to spend time alone together and share new experiences? Is it to get to know each other's friends? Or is becoming a part of their family your goal?" Once you know exactly why you're going away together, you'll be able to plan accordingly.
3. Decide How You'll Be Paying For The Trip
This is a big one. Experts say that money is one of the most common things couples fight about, so be prepared to have this talk with your partner.
According to Ritter, you should definitely talk about money before you leave. Decide on a budget so you know exactly what kinds of transit, accommodations, and adventures you'll be able to splurge on. This is also the perfect time to figure out how you plan to split the costs. Although you certainly aren't required to split everything evenly, you should at least agree on a fair ratio that takes into consideration both of your financial situations.
4. Plan What You'll Do On The Trip
While it can be fun to wing it on a solo trip, you should have an itinerary for your first vacation with your partner. Because you've never traveled together before, it's impossible to know exactly how the other person likes spending their time on vacation. Maybe you enjoy laying out at the beach with a good book, but your partner would rather wander aimlessly around town with a camera. You should be mindful of each other's preferences when planning your day-to-day activities.
5. Be Positive
Tensions are bound to run high when you're confined to a small hotel room with someone for the first time. Ritter's number one rule is that "if you must fight, do it naked!" The idea is to keep things positive and fun and to remember why you went away together in the first place. Ritter adds that vacations with a significant other tend to be inherently romantic, so take advantage of it: "A flower on their pillow or a favorite treat from the hotel guest shop will win you extra points."
6. Spend Time Together
This is especially important if there are other people on the trip with you and your partner. Ritter advocates taking time out as a couple if you're traveling with a group. A good idea might be to make a dinner reservation for two or agree to spend one night in, rather than going out with everyone else. He adds that when you do go out together, you should probably leave your phones behind so you can really enjoy each other's company.
7. Check In With Each Other About How You Think The Trip Is Going
If you or your partner is not enjoying the trip for some reason, it's important to talk about it before you head home so that you can try to turn things around. Let your partner know if you need a few hours alone to regroup and extend the same courtesy to them.
8. Commemorate The Event
I know I don't have to remind you to take a photo for the 'gram, but just in case... take tons of photos together that you'll be able to look back on when you get home. If it's in your budget, buy a small souvenir that reminds you both of the amazing time you spent together on your first vacation.
9. Take Time For Yourself
"The biggest problem you might encounter on your first trip together is that you are spending too much time together," says Ritter. To avoid this, he recommends committing to a vacation morning routine that helps you clear your head. "Do what you need to feel centered in the morning, whether that's working out or reading a book. Just do your own thing." Then, you'll ready for a day of couples' fun with your partner.
Trust me, vacation horror stories are only fun to listen to — not tell. If you don't want any of your own, remember to do these things on your first vacation with your partner.
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