There are few critical moments which have the potential of defining a relationship – and one of those is travelling with your partner.

Why is travelling such a critical endeavour?

First of all, travel always requires a fair amount of organising and depending on the skill within each of you, that organisation in itself is the first point for stress. And then you need a fair bit of flexibility to adapt quickly to the new situation wherever you are going.

I’m not talking about the weekend away in the Blue Mountains or Yarra Valley here. I’m talking about a trip half around the country or even more so travelling abroad.

You could divide the points of stress into three categories.

  1. The Packing
  2. The Travelling
  3. The Destination

And there might be a fourth I’ll be touching on later. 🙂

The packing:

Shouts can be heard through the apartment or house –

“Honey, where did I put my passport?” or “What’s the temperature there like?” or “Have you seen my blue sweater? I can’t go without it…” and so on.

I once asked a friend of mine before he went overseas which books he was planning on reading while he was away, and his response was something along the lines of “not sure,I guess it  depends on which ones my wife packs for me.” Looking at my gaping mouth he added “She’s packing everything for me, from the socks to the books, I don’t have to do anything…”

This indeed could be a solution to the problem of packing. Not sure that I would subscribe to it though!

The travelling:

How long in advance do you want to arrive at the airport? How much time do you give yourself from leaving the house till the plane’s departure? And how stressed are you by a large number of people in confined spaces?

You see the answer to these three questions gives you an idea of how stressful the check-in and boarding at the airport might be.

Some want to be the first on the plane to get used to the space, make themselves comfortable and set up the entertainment system and the pillow. Others (like myself) like to be the last on the plane. The seats are allocated, so there is no need to rush.

Now put these two different persona together and you have the perfect breeding ground for the first argument already.

When travelling by car within Australia the scenario is a bit different and the main questions to discuss here are: How comfortable are you with long stretches of driving yourself? How comfortable are you with long stretches of being driven by someone else? And how stressed are you be large number of other cars on the road and possible congestions?

Some people suffer from motion sickness from travelling in a car too long, especially when they try to read at the same time. Some people are very bad in trusting another person at the wheel and get stressed by just sitting on the passenger seat. And some of us are easily stressed when there is a slight delay due to heavy traffic.

Because you are confined to the small space of a car, this stress can result in heavy arguments between the two of you and you could potentially end up tainting the whole trip.

For all sorts of travel you need to be aware of sudden changes in plans. You might miss a flight, you miss the connection flight, you have a flat tire, one of you got sea-sick, or the plane couldn’t take-off or land due to bad weather, the luggage got misdirected and will arrive late…

In short: if your travel plans got sabotaged by outside forces, how would you react?

If you are travelling by yourself that might be an easy complication for you and be easily handled. But when you are travelling with your partner, you need to factor in how they may cope with each potential change of scenario.  So whilst you are (or pretend to be) relaxed, your partner might throw a tantrum and you are now their target of anger and frustration.

The destination:

Let’s say you arrived without complications. The packing went well, the trip was smooth and everything was a breezel. Now you arrive at your destination and the big question now is:

How flexible are you?

You know the gap between expectation and reality has the potential to cause stress. The wider the gap the more stress it produces inside of us.

We all have certain expectations of how the holidays or our travels should turn out. We have high expectations and anticipate the hotel, the weather, the people, and the local opportunities.

So now you arrive and the hotel is not as nice as it looked on the internet. The distance to the beach is longer than anticipated. It’s raining and the people next door are having a marvellous time without turning the volume down.

What are you saying to yourself? And how is your partner reacting?

You see, we all plan our holidays with great expectations. Finally we get away from all the worries, the job, the internet, the family and we can spend quality time with our partner. Or so we hope. We wish this to be a time where we can re-connect with our partner. We want to have quality time, to engage in deep conversations, to create some magic moments and to have relaxed, good sex.

Now after the stress and arguments whilst packing, the stressful trip to arrive here and to top it all the hotel is loud and lacking maintenance, we may feel deflated. The high hopes for a wonderful time can turn sour in the first 24 hours of our holidays together.

And here comes the fourth critical factor into play. The lack of distance.

Being too close:

In your day to day life you spend most of the time apart working. On the weekends you both have different agendas with sport, shopping, friends and family activities. So now in your holidays you see each other 24/7. You are with each other 24/7. And for some this might be too much.

Seeing the other person, sensing the other person and feeling the other person very close for days can be challenging. There is nothing wrong with it. But it could lead to less intimacy and less sex.

Your expectations (again) were to have more sex, but the reality is, that you have less sex – because one of you (or both) need some breathing space and rather withdraw instead of getting even closer during sex.


What you can do?

First of all it is good to be aware of these different dynamics that can play out during travelling together.

And this is even more important for couples where the relationship is maybe hitting a rough patch. Those couples often times hope to solve all their differences by going away together. But in fact a trip can easily amplify the problems which are already there.

Therefore I encourage you to reduce your high hopes and maybe even go with an open mind. Take it as an adventure and be (mentally) prepared that your flexibility is demanded.

Please talk to your partner beforehand, speak about these four stress-points and look at your strengths in handling those.

Take it as a team and ensure you both concentrate on seeing the positive side of this adventure. Then you will have an awesome time and can create memories for a lifetime.

And if you want to check the health of your relationship, check out my quiz for your personal score.