I don’t know about anyone else, but Andy and I have always had different approaches to travel, and it sometimes makes planning trips tricky.
Although we’ve travelled together to places like South East Asia, Bosnia, Croatia and most recently Morocco, we don’t always see eye to eye about what we want to do while we’re away or how we structure our trips.
He went on the usual European beach holidays regularly with his parents as a kid, and so has a bit of a “fly and flop” attitude – and a few days of doing absolutely nothing in order to relax is integral for him.
Whereas I had only left the country three times by the time I was 18, so I’ve always felt like I have catching up to do – as a result, I’m a little more exploratory in my approach, and like packing in as much as possible.
While I like my creature comforts, such as nice comfy hotel rooms rather than hostels and beach huts, I’m also all for getting stuck in, pushing my limits and exploring – whereas Andy can sometimes be overwhelmed by culture shock, doesn’t enjoy jam-packed schedules and is much more at home when he’s relaxing or having a familiar face (such as a tour guide) helping him find his way around, or explaining cultural nuances and niceties.
We’ve been together over 6 years now and mostly we manage to find compromise just fine, but every now and again one of us will slip back into our old habits.
And so for anyone else out there who has struggled to find this balance or who is in a relationship or friendship involving these differences of approach, I thought I’d share the things that tend to work best for us when starting to plan a trip.
1. Discuss your hopes for the trip at the very beginning
Taking the time to discuss, in detail, what you would like to do, see and achieve on a trip (including to what timescales and where), will really help to avoid conflict later. If one of you is imagining two weeks on the beach and the other a fortnight of city-hopping, it’s best to find out at this stage, before either of you gets too carried away with planning and gets their hopes up.
2. Be honest – but not blunt.
While you’re away, if a situation, place or plan isn’t working for you and is really compromising your enjoyment of the trip, speak up. Be honest, but present constructive suggestions to resolve it (how would you change the situation to make sure you are enjoying it?) but try not to let it escalate into an argument about who is right / wrong.
3. Do your research
Before you go, take the time to read up on the destinations to which you are headed, the activities and excursions available, and the culture. Reading up on it and sharing your findings honestly with your partner, rather than glossing over aspects you know they won’t like, will manage their expectations of the trip and mean less chance of unpleasant surprises when you arrive.
4. Be realistic
If you know your partner wants a relaxing break this particular time you go away, don’t book two weeks in Mumbai. When we were planning Morocco, Andy felt a week in Marrakesh wouldn’t quite deliver the relaxation he was hoping for, so we opted to stay in a riad about 20 mins out of the center so that we could easily get to the city for meals out and day trips – but we could also have the r ‘n r the countryside afforded.
5. Take extra measures you wouldn’t usually to make the other person feel better
If getting a guide isn’t normally your sort of thing, but you know it might make the other enjoy something more (perhaps they’d be more interested if you learn about the culture, or if it’s an intense city, feel more relaxed having someone around who knows it well) go with it. It will make such a difference.
6. Have other travel buddies!
Some destinations won’t work for both of you, and some might be higher on your hit list than their’s. Having a few friends (hey @fieldandnest!) who you know you can travel well with and who you share enjoyment of a similar pace of holiday with will mean you can save up trips, or visit places your partner doesn’t want to, which you know you will enjoy more with them. It’s also a great way of reccying places you’re not sure if your partner will enjoy.
What are your experiences of compromising with your partner, friends or family members? Have you found any particular ways of dealing with it to ensure you both have a good time? I’d love to hear them!