After two and half years together and a few short domestic trips, my now-husband and I put our relationship to the test with a two-week jaunt through China. Sure, hiking the Great Wall, braving squatter toilets, and eating breakfast with chopsticks were all an adventure, but the real challenge of vacationing together was spending every minute together for 15 days straight. If you think your relationship is up to the test, do yourself (and him) a favor by following my hard-learned tips after the jump…
1. Do start off short and sweet
Before you head off on your own two-week foreign trek together, test the waters first with a much shorter trip closer to home. If a weekend getaway upstate together to see the fall colors leaves you questioning what you ever saw in each other, you might want to reconsider that African safari.
2. Don’t forget to pack the necessities
Those fall colors are going to get pretty boring after about two hours, so plan ahead to make those remaining 46 hours the most pleasurable and rewarding portion of the weekend. Pack all the essentials intimacy requires and throw something new into the mix.
3. Do make the travel arrangements together
Whether you’re traveling just a couple hours away or heading out to more far-flung destinations, make sure you’re both taking active roles in the planning process. “Blame” and “credit” make strange bedfellows, so share the load and leave those two buzzkills at home.
4. Do date someone with a driver’s license
My New York City-born-and-bred boyfriend is 38 and doesn’t have a driver’s license, so consider this more a whine than a tip. Traveling with someone who doesn’t drive is a bit of a drag — especially if you’re not crazy about taking the wheel yourself (literally, not metaphorically). So if you’re single and looking, you might want to start checking IDs on dates.
5. Do pack a few Luna bars
Seriously, these things saved us in China. Even if you aren’t traveling to a location where the food is questionable, chances are your schedule will be, and almost nothing kills a good time — or a romantic mood — faster than low blood sugar. If you’d rather be at each other’s lower regions than at each other’s throats, throw a bar in your bag and eat it when hunger strikes.
6. Don’t forget the Pepto
I think we all know that one thing that will ruin a romantic mood faster than low blood sugar. So plan ahead and don’t let it!
7. Do bring stuff to entertain yourself
Believe it or not, if you’re going on a longer trip together, there are going to be moments, maybe even hours, when the last thing you want to do is talk to, make-out with, or even look at your significant other. Have a good book or a pile of magazines to keep you occupied when those times arise. Just make sure to put the book down when that something else arises.
8. Do interact with other people
This is essential on those longer trips, too, for obvious reasons, I hope. Hit the hotel bar and mingle, sign up for a one-day tour, or take an afternoon cruise with other travelers. You don’t have to make friends for life, but the company of others for even just a few hours will save you from couples claustrophobia.
9. Do step in and take initiative
Sooner or later, something’s going to go wrong. A reservation will be lost, taxis won’t pick you up, or you’ll discover the town your guidebook called a “must-see” with “movie set charm” is a virtual cesspool full of human tragedy. When this happens and one of you inevitably melts under the pressure and stress of it all, it’s essential the other takes the initiative in forming a Plan B. It doesn’t have to be the perfect plan — it doesn’t even have to make much sense — but trust me on this: having another option at the moment when it seems the world is crashing in will save not only your vacation, it could very well save your relationship.
10. Don’t spend the whole time updating your Twitter and Facebook pages
Unless you want him to change his profile to “single.”