My partner and I fall back in love every time we travel. Don't get me wrong, we always love each other, but in our day-to-day lives, that love sometimes gets overshadowed by to-do lists and responsibilities. Stressors like bills, housekeeping, playing taxi to our two teenage boys, trips to the vet, and an endless list of other things tend to fill our busy days. Sometimes it feels like weeks can go by before we're able to slow down enough to sustain eye contact and deeply connect in a way that's just about each other.
But when we travel, when just the two of us travel, we fall in love all over again. We remember what it was that attracted us to each other in the first place.
Like last summer's AMA Waterways Rhine River cruise. For an entire week, the most stressful aspect of our vacation was choosing between the 2 to 3 all-inclusive excursions available to us each day. Without all of the usual distractions, we could actually relax each morning, enjoy a cup of coffee together and simply connect.
Yet, if you aren't intentional about how you vacation together, all of your challenges that you deal with day-to-day could follow you wherever you go, no matter how many thousands of miles you travel.
Here are five tips on how to make your next vacation with your partner your best yet:
1. Choose wisely. Budget backpacking trip? Or an all-inclusive luxury vacation? Unless you know you travel well together, and the adventure would do no harm to your relationship, this may not be the time for a backpacking trip through several countries in a short period. Unless that's right up both of your alleys. But if you need to de-stress and reconnect, you might want to consider an all-inclusive package, where you don't have to unpack and repack, struggle with a map and directions, or worry about how much money you're spending. All-inclusive vacations take all of the guesswork out of it, so you truly can unwind and let go.
2. Clear the decks. However you choose to travel, do your best to clear your schedule: In other words, don't bring work with you. It could be tempting to pack the laptop or schedule a couple of phone calls, but do everything you can to open up that space for each other completely. If you prepare far enough in advance, anybody can take a week or two off. Otherwise, some part of you, no matter how small it may seem, is distracted and not there with your partner. Open up that time for each other and let everyone else know you are available for emergencies only. But if it's completely unavoidable and you must do some work while away, do your best to keep work in its place and return your full attention to your partner as soon a possible.
3. Make each other your main priority. There can be incredible joy in watching your partner light up over a new experience. You can avoid getting frustrated with each other if one person wants to go in one direction and the other person wants to go in the other direction if you set clear intentions before you embark on this trip that the purpose is to enjoy each other, to experience things with each other, to give each other your undivided loving attention. Even if you disagree on what to do, without the distractions of daily stressors, you may be better able to practice finding the win-win in the situation, the creative, outside-the-box kind of solution that satisfies both of your needs.
4. Let it happen. Don't put pressure on the relationship that it is supposed to feel like a second honeymoon. Create all of the right conditions so that I can happen organically. Remove distractions, choose to be present, and stay connected. Leave any unresolved disagreements or challenging conversations behind. It's impressive when we truly let go of something how our perspective around it can completely shift.
5. Give each other some space. Even on a honeymoon, even on a couple's vacation, everybody needs time alone to clear their heads and connect with themselves. If you want to go for that morning run, do it. Schedule a spa treatment for yourself. Take that yoga class. Or maybe agree to split up for an afternoon so that you each can do what you want, and neither of you has to compromise. Perhaps the win-win is to go in opposite directions for a couple of hours that day.
Again, rather than putting pressure on a vacation to somehow magically transform and fix any challenges you have, or to somehow resolve that one ongoing argument between you, take the pressure off of both of you. Leave all of that behind, and create the right conditions to simply relax with each other, re-establish or deepen your connection, and celebrate your relationship. You may rediscover something about each other that you had forgotten.
The journey of a lifetime is the one you take within.
Let me be your guide.