A practical guide to traveling and relationships

So you’re tossing around ideas with bae, your best buds, a family member about the trip of a lifetime. Here is a practical guide of how to survive the trip and manage each other’s expectations.

Before I jump into the juicy details of how you would also be able to have the best travel experience of your life and manage expectations with your partner, let me tell you a story of how a trip went terribly wrong.

When I was 22, I graduated college and was offered the trip of a lifetime by my beloved aunt. She offered me the chance to travel with her to three destinations of my choice in Europe for a two week trip, redeemable at anytime. I was young and had different values than my aunt.

I wanted to party, meet new people, be scrappy, stay in hostels, and live the locals life. She wanted to take bus tours, see shows, eat in the classiest restaurants, and stay at five star hotels.

She had the wallet, I had the energy. Needless to say, communication broke down, and it was a disaster.

We didn’t reconcile our differences before, during, or after the trip. The trip literally put a rift the size of the Great Continental Divide between us for months after the trip. It could have destroyed our relationship completely because we avoided each other and didn’t compromise during the trip.

After this trip, I spent hours of reflecting and realized something major.. We did not do the most imperative task before traveling together, communicate and choose to see eye to eye.

Impetus for the Action Plan

The most life-altering and successful travel experiences I’ve had with a partner thus far in life, whether that partner be my sister, lover, or a friend have been attributed to a handful of conversations leading up to the trip.

I swear by this method. The last time I used this action plan was in mid-July when I booked a ticket to Germany to visit my boyfriend.

Food for thought

We may seem to be speaking the same language, but are we really hearing or understanding the same language? In the below action plan you’ll see how to have the best trip of your life and keep your relationship intact as you travel.

This is a proven method. I’ve been on two international trips lasting over one month each. Each time I tee up the trip using this method to make certain I am seeing and hearing the same thing as my travel partner.

“Expectations are resentments waiting to happen.” -Macklemore

It is essential to realize that when you embark on a journey together, your expectations will travel with you. I think of the pre-travel planning experience similarly to how I would plan for a major project at work with a client. Why wouldn’t we take the learnings of our professional lives into our personal lives where our dreams live and thrive?

Action Plan (to be done in this order):

  1. At least one week before your trip, sit down with your travel partner and talk about your expectations, dreams, inspirations, and motivations for the trip. Have someone take notes during this session. Here are some leading question ideas:
What do you envision when you see yourself in ______________ (insert country name)?
What is your top priority? (i.e. visiting universities, tourist attractions, partying until dawn, working, seeing friends, feeling like a princess, going off the beaten path.)
What can’t you live without seeing? And on the flipside, what is not a priority?
What is your definition of success?

2. After you feel like each of you have had the opportunity to ask and answer questions, after you feel like you have actually heard each other, THEN you can start planning.

3. Continue to use the listener and response method as you plan together. Be willing to compromise or go your separate ways during parts of the trip.

Remember, you are choosing to do this together!

That’s it! This plan can be scaled up or down based on how extensive of a trip you choose to embark on. If you are going on a trip longer than two weeks, have this conversation much earlier than a week before you go.

If you try this method and have success or want to share your thoughts generally, connect with me to share your experience on Twitter @jenvonriedel.