How to Survive Your First Trip as a Couple

Bonus points if you stay with his parents!

Next to STD screenings and a good, old-fashioned pregnancy scare, I’m pretty sure taking a trip with your partner is the biggest test you can give a new relationship. 

My partner and I had our first “vacation” only two months into our relationship when we took a road trip to Prince Edward Island and he met my little guy (and my parents!) for the first time. It went off without a hitch, but we only spent a couple of nights away. For our first real vacation together, we left my son at home and hopped on a plane to Florida where we shared a one-bedroom condo with his mum and dad.

Here’s how we survived it:

Manage expectations

My partner and I have different ideas of what constitutes a vacation. While I’d like to lie on a beach reading books, he’d like to go adventuring (and apparently to NHL games while we’re in Florida, which seems not like what I want to do when in the sunshine state). Since it’s neither his vacation nor mine, but rather OURS, we decided to manage expectations early, striking compromise before someone was left disappointed.

We wound up splitting our time evenly between the chill stuff (poolside drinks and a book or walking the beach looking for shells) and the sight-seeing stuff, and it actually created a perfect balance.

Plan ahead...

On that note, planning is key. Because do you know what would happen otherwise? You’ll be scrambling to figure out what’s next.

Two weeks out, we created a quasi-schedule to get us through our week away, from what day we would travel to Disney to what days were designated for relaxing. We knew we had a long list of things we wanted to see and do, and planning really helped make that a reality (even if we didn’t fit it all in).

…but don’t over-plan.

With busy work schedules and parenting duties, life can feel like one gigantic deadline, which is exactly what your vacation shouldn’t feel like. Keep wiggle room and, most importantly, flexibility just in case plans fall through or an awesome opportunity happens to pop up at a moment’s notice. That stuff we didn’t fit in? It’s because other fun things cropped up! Plus, there’s always next year...

Laugh through the hiccups

Rental car issues? Missed flight? Gross sunburn? Look, that shit happens. On our first day out, my partner got a sunburn on his right shoulder and I forgot to put sunscreen on my feet so I couldn’t wear shoes for a day. (I also got a massive blister on the sole of my foot!)

The weather was uncharacteristically cold for this time of year, so we had to huddle under towels to stay warm at the beach. My Visa Debit didn’t work a bunch of times, so we had to scramble to the car to grab back-up payment. We forgot stuff and lost stuff and didn’t get to do everything we wanted, but no one shed a tear.

Take solo time as needed

I need a lot of space, and being crammed in a one-bedroom condo (although roomy) with three other people took a toll on my sanity. One morning I got up early and ran 12.5 km before we hit the beach. Another afternoon, I took 20 minutes to have a bath by myself. I walked the beach alone, or sat just separate of others on my towel and read while they talked. There’s no need to be all up in one another’s grill all the time - especially if you want or need a few minutes to yourself. 

After it was all said and done, our vacation was incredible. We successfully avoided tension in that little condo and our relationship is stronger than it was when we boarded that plane. We even happily took a mini-vacation a few days later, road-tripping to MY parents’ place for a long weekend.

Next up: A family trip with my son. Stay tuned for survival tips on that.

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Ashley—an East coast-dwelling single mum of Finn the preschooler and Duncan, The Wonder Cat—has the propensity to be a little feisty, but tones it down for her day job as a public relations peep. Shoes are her best friend. - See more at: