8 Tips on How to Not Ruin Your Relationship on Vacation

reading time: 5 min


My boyfriend and I have been on many vacations together: Rügen Island, Prague, Austria, South Africa, Paris, Thailand, London, Vietnam... and it hasn't always been easy. Travelling together is always an adventure, and at times it's quite a challenge, too. You want this, your partner wants that, the climate is way too hot to move, and how could your boyfriend forget to pack your travel guide?!


Travelling as a couple can be a rocky ride: your body has to adapt to a different environment, to a new rhythm, and at the same time you have to take your partner and their feelings into consideration. No wonder that many romantic vacations end in a bitter quarrel.

Here are my tips to avoid stressful situations and frustration on vacation.

Plan Ahead.

For me, planning a vacation and the thrill of anticipation is actually one of the best parts about travelling. Of course, "planning ahead" can also mean to agree on not having a set route to follow, but rather playing it by ear like we did in Vietnam. Getting an idea of your expectations beforehand will prevent discussions and disagreements during the actual vacation.

Choose the right destination. What do you feel like? Exploring or chilling by the pool? Adventurous hiking holidays? A road trip, a fitness vacation, a luxury hotel with spa, or maybe just a cosy camping night in the woods? There are so many possibilities. Whether it's a snowy cabin in Sweden or a hostel in Cambodia, choose a destination you are both interested in and you both are comfortable with. The worst scenario is one of you arriving at the destination airport and realising that you want nothing but go home at once. 

The same applies to activities. Are you more of a city tourist or a nature lover? Do you want to visit museums or go clubbing? Maybe one of you wants to go bungee-jumping, but the other doesn't. Find a solution that covers both of your needs.

You should also agree on the length of the vacation and set a budget. This is especially important when the two of you have a different income (of course, the lower earner has the final say). The budget discussion should include topics like transportation, accommodation, and food (eating out or cooking?). Also: PACK ENOUGH SNACKS! There's nothing worse than being constantly hangry on your holidays :)

Manage Your Expectations.

While planning and agreeing on your general goals for the vacation is great and important, don't let your high or romanticized expectations get in the way. You will most likely be disappointed. Yes, a tropical country will be exhaustingly hot and sweaty. Yes, your flight might take 24 hours or more, and there might even be delays or other issues. Yes, pictures of hostel rooms on Tripadvisor often look better than in real life. No, there are no squeaky clean toilets (nor toilet paper) in the countryside of Thailand. And no, pictures of moonlit beaches don't show all the mosquitoes and bugs that are all around. 

I don't want to sound discouraging or pessimistic, but reality is usually pretty different from our expectations, so do yourself a favour and don't build up sky-high princess dreams of your perfect holidays because things are barely ever going according to plan. But just because it doesn't go the way you wanted it to, doesn't mean it's a bad thing. Maybe it's even better that way :)

Don't Turn Your Vacation Into A "Make Or Break" Test.

Okay, so at the beginning I said that travelling together as a couple could be quite a challenge. However, that does not mean that you should actively challenge and examine your partner to see whether or not your relationship "passes" the test. Each little quirk of your partner will be noticed and registered, and you will suddenly see your holidays as a reflection of your entire relationship – which is simply not realistic. 

You cannot judge your entire relationship by how the two of you acted in new situations and unknown environments. Instead, try to see your vacation as an opportunity to experience your relationship from a different angle.

Don't Dig Up Old Conflicts.

Travelling can be a lot of fun because you get to spend a lot more time with your partner, but it can also be the opposite when you start turning it into a therapy session. It's tempting, sure: There is ample time to discuss everything until the bitter end, and the best part – your partner cannot escape. But it's extremely destructive. Digging up old conflicts in an argument is unfair to your partner and will most unlikely end up in unpleasant holiday memories – or even a breakup

Also, do not (ab)use your vacation to push your partner into acting how you want them to be like. If talking about his feelings doesn't come easy to him at home, it most probably won't on holidays either.

Allow Yourself Some Time Alone.

This is even harder when you are on holidays because you are usually stuck in the same – often hotel room sized – space 24/7. And of course you travelled there to explore the country together, right? Right. But that doesn't mean you have to deprive each other of your "me time". Especially in intense situations such as travelling for weeks or months it is important to give each other space to breathe and retreat. Of course, you can still explore everything together, but don't neglect your individual needs, such as reading, listening to music on your phone, taking a nap, going grocery or clothes shopping, or taking pictures on your own. 

Whatever it is that you love doing (but maybe your partner doesn't), do it! Otherwise you will feel like your partner is keeping you from it.

Stay Flexible.

Bend, so you don't break. This is one of the most important tips, and one of the most difficult, too. Like I said, travelling usually comes with surprises and sometimes obstacles that will challenge your (and your partner's) patience, resilience and flexibility. Those moments, when you are tired and hungry and sweaty and you really don't want to walk 2 miles to the nearest restaurant, are valuable opportunities to practice self love, empathy and the ability to adapt.

Staying flexible also includes being spontaneous as well as being able to deal with mishaps and travel disasters. Like having a cold and getting your period while being on a train with lousy toilets in Vietnam (a country that only sells tampons in rare pharmacies for 10 dollars per package). 

Situations like these are the perfect opportunities to practice a positive attitude as well as flexibility. Keeping calm and practising a certain accepting "humility" are the best way to go. Show your better half that you are just as annoyed and just as powerless, but willing to make the best of it. It's your decision whether you want to turn this into a catastrophe or into a shared learning experience – and a memory to laugh about when it's all over.

Make Compromises.

No relationship works without making compromises. And that's actually pretty great because it means that you will - gradually - step out of your comfort zone a little. In many cases one in the relationship is an adventurer and the other is more of a couch potato, but that doesn't mean that you can't travel together! You just have to discuss both your preferences and compromise.  

For example: You really want to go surfing, but your girlfriend wants to stay in and read? Why don't you both go to the beach, and while you are out in the water your girlfriend can sunbathe and read at the beach.

Discover Yourself.

This sound super cliché, but: travelling can teach you a whole lot about yourself – and about your partner. Besides requiring flexibility, travelling is also a great opportunity to discover a new side of yourself. That can mean trying new things that maybe you didn't dare to do before, such as travelling by plane, coping with a spider in your bedroom, climbing up a mountain or trying an unknown food. Take the plunge and face your fears! Or it could also just mean leaving your usual "role" and your old patterns of behaviour at home, and dare to be different.

The same applies to your partner. Support and encourage each other to grow and evolve – without being pushy about it. There's nothing more beautiful than seeing your significant other flourish and burgeon :) 

(Also: Doing activities that one or both of you have a fear of can bring you together and bond you.)

That's it for my tips for travelling couples. I'm not perfect, we're not perfect, and your holidays might not be perfect either. But that's totally alright. After all, it's about the experience and about the unique memories you will make on your trip. 

What are your tips for maintaining a happy and healthy relationship on vacations?