Opposites may attract, but opposing travel styles can make for major conflict on the road. And who needs an argument 3,000 miles from home?
By the time my husband and I became a couple, we had both traveled extensively on our own, and firmly established rhythms that worked for us as individuals. As we began to travel together, we discovered our styles were as far apart as Denmark and New Zealand — and after talking with countless other couples over the years, we know we’re not alone.
While my husband prefers to toss back a quick cappuccino and stride elegantly off in the direction of an obscure modern art museum, I like to stumble unexpectedly onto a unique café and linger over a pot of tea while soaking in the local vibe. While I’ll dart off on a whim to see a pop-up exhibit of 19th-century wallpaper designs, my husband is in his element when surrounded by high-tech multimedia projections of art films displayed on factory walls.
Happily, we’ve found a compromise — each of us heads out to enjoy our day, and in the afternoon we meet up to share the details of our individual adventures. Later, we head out for dinner and a shared activity such as taking in a concert or musical performance, or relaxing at a comedy club.
The point is this: You don’t have to be joined at the hip, even when vacationing together. In fact, with vacation time so limited for most Americans, it’s essential each person feel fulfilled and satisfied with how their time away was spent.
If you and your significant other find yourselves at odds when traveling, there are other options to the solution that I’ve found. Consider a cruise: You’ll still be basically in the same space, but the lover of afternoon seminars and lectures can enjoy themselves even more knowing their partner is having a grand time listening to live music, working out or perusing the ship’s art collection. On port days, take an organized tour together, or choose one local sight or attraction you’d both like to see, and head out to explore.
You can also book an organized holiday excursion that allows for customization of itineraries so each person’s interests can be met.
If you’d rather plan your own itinerary, do it well in advance — and be willing to compromise. If one of you is less adventurous in foreign locales, or prefers not to thrust themselves into an unknown city environment, agree on options pre-trip, such as that person staying at the hotel and enjoying a spa treatment, while the other checks out the food market in the town square.
Walk together to a museum, and let the explorer come back to meet their partner in the café for a coffee before seeking out a monument or historic site together. Or plan to spend the days in one another’s company, splitting up the hours with mornings pursuing your interests, and afternoons devoted to those of your partner. As with many things, planning ahead can alleviate a lot of stress; the planning phase itself can be a source of bonding and adventure.
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