Just like traveling with another family, traveling with another couple can be tons of fun. But, if you don’t do some upfront planning and communication, it can also turn into a disaster. Having traveled with others many times, I have learned a few lessons along the way and now know what you must consider when traveling with another couple.
My husband and I do a lot of traveling as a family, just the two of us, and with other couples. Now, that’s not always an easy thing to do, as you have to travel with the right couples. We’ve gone near and far in our travels, but the longest duration has been a week, with most being long weekends. These trips have generally been initiated over a dinner while we’re talking about how nice it would be to get away together and surprisingly, many actually transpire!
While traveling with another couple is similar to traveling with your girlfriends in some respects, there are subtle differences. Here are some factors you must consider when traveling with another couple:
COMPATIBILITY TRAVELING WITH OTHER COUPLES
While you may get along at dinner or at parties, it doesn’t mean the same will hold true on a vacation. We get along great and enjoy the company of many friends, but not all would make good traveling companions for us. A good idea might be to start with a weekend getaway before going on a week long cruise and see how you get along; a sort of test run! Here are some things to consider to know if you’re compatible…
- You prefer the same locations.
- You have similar travel attitudes, like planning everything in advance or preferring spontaneity.
- You are on similar time schedules.
- You like either active or relaxing vacations or some combination.
- You have similar economic travel circumstances.
Traveling together can be quit difficult and uncomfortable if one couple can’t afford or doesn’t want to spend the money on luxury travel and that’s all the other prefers; if one loves to hike through the English countryside and the other just wants to relax on the beach; and if one couple is out the door at 7 a.m. and the other likes to sleep in late. This means you either have to figure this out in advance, be willing to compromise, or learn through experience and decide whether there will be a second trip!
LENGTH OF VACATION
It this is going to be the first time you’re traveling together, it might be best to make it a weekend get away. But, if you’re pretty sure you’ll get along or will have separate accommodations, you can opt for a longer stay. Either way, there is an amount of time where you can overstay your welcome, so to speak, and you can start to get on each other’s nerves. Some factors to consider:
- How far you have to travel to get to the destination.
- What type of trip you’re taking.
- Will someone have to work while away?
- How much time off everyone can take?
- Whether you’re staying in a hotel or renting a house together.
DECIDING WHERE TO GO
This decision has usually been made for us when someone mentioned where they wanted to go at a dinner or party. They may have read an article on a new hotel in Sonoma or say that a dream has been to sail around the British Virgin Islands, but it would be much more fun to do with someone else. Everyone agrees it sounds like a great idea and plans get started several days later. We’ve also taken these trips after a triathlon, especially if it’s a destination race like Ironman Austria.
WHO DOES THE PLANNING
This can get to be tricky as someone has to be responsible for planning the trip and it can be hard to try and please everyone. One option (and probably the less stressful for the person who agreed to do the planning) is to decide on the location and each couple make their own plans. Then, you only have some things to consider for during the vacation.
Do you plan everything in advance or wing it when you get there? This is when the compatibility issue can come into play. Some people like to plan all activities, including dinner reservations down to the minute, while others just like to wait until they get there and decide. I’m one to have most everything planned, because you can always cancel, but at least you have something in reserve. This question calls for a conversation between the couples and then the decision on who makes the reservations.
What activities do people want to do and do you do everything together or take off on your own as a couple? Again, this can either be decided in advance or once you to get to your location. But, my take is you’re traveling as couples, so do things together. Otherwise, what’s the point? Someone needs to research what activities are available in the area and advise the other couple. I have a great travel agent who makes my job much easier and does so much of this research for me!
Do you or are you traveling with someone who needs to be in control? This has the potential to lead to some tension with differing opinions, so best to try to deal with these issues ahead of time or talk them out when they arise. This getaway should be a time that everyone can relax, tension free…
PAYING FOR IT ALL
If you’ve each made your own arrangements, this shouldn’t be much of an issue. But if someone made and paid for certain activities, you need to keep track of all expenditures. You do not want money to lead to either couple feeling uncomfortable or angry. Decide in advance if you want to split meals or pay separately, again to avoid any bad feelings.
If you’re staying together in a house or condo, you can split groceries, rental costs, etc. down the middle or just buy on your own what you need and like. This brings up a totally separate issue.
STAYING IN THE SAME ACCOMMODATIONS
We have rarely stayed together with another couple when traveling. We generally opt for a hotel with our own rooms. If, however, you have decided to take that sailing trip or to rent a gorgeous house on a beach, here are some issues to settle ahead of time and factors to consider:
- How expenses will be handled.
- Who will do the shopping for needed items.
- Who will do any cooking if you are eating in.
- Who’s going to do the cleaning both during your stay and before you leave.
- What time does everyone like to get up/go to bed.
I think the two most important things to do when you vacation with another couple is to respect each other’s privacy and to be flexible. Remember, this is a vacation and you are there because you like the other couple and want to spend time with them. If you don’t get to do something you really wanted to do, you can always go back yourselves. DO NOT let this ruin your friendship. Just remember to smile, have patience, and keep laughter as your best friend. These trips hold some of my best memories and they can for you, too.