Whether you’re going for a couple of weeks or even for months together, there are some foundational things that are critical to making travel with someone else successful. Ashlea Halpern is an editor at Traveler magazine who recently spent a year globetrotting with her boyfriend. Here are some of her best tips for making it work so you can come back from your journey stronger than ever.
Get clear on what you’re good at and what you’re not good at — and play up each other’s strengths. You might be awesome at small details, or you might be more of a big-picture kind of person. Either one is fine, of course — but be honest with yourself about where you excel. Use your gifts to help make the trip better, and let your travel partner do the same. If you hate navigating and you’re no good at it, then don’t insist on being the one to find the hotel at 11pm in a city of ten million people. Find another way to get that done. When you see yourself and your companion get more done when you balance each other out, then differences don’t have to be catastrophic.
Go ahead and step out of your comfort zone, but be clear about your boundaries. Yes, traveling is all about expanding and learning, and it’s good to try all kinds of new things. But don’t be afraid to set limits. If you absolutely do not want to go skydiving, don’t do it — but if it’s someone else’s dream, offer to be there cheering her on. If you really want to try roasted beetles, go for it! But if your friend refuses, respect that and move on. There are plenty more adventures ahead to enjoy together.
Find small certainties within the chaos. So much of travel is uncertain — you’re in a new place, surrounded by things you might not recognize, trying to navigate through language and cultural barriers. If you’re traveling long-term, you know the agony and exhaustion of flight changes, train schedules, taxi rules, late nights, early mornings. Fatigue can make you vulnerable to illness, impatience, and arguments. Take an honest look at yourself and identify one or two things you need to do every day to keep you grounded. Is it a good breakfast? A great cup of coffee? A reasonable bedtime? An afternoon walk? Time with a good book? Then, to the best of your ability, try to honor those needs, even when everything is up in the air. Compromise with your travel partner — if he’s an early riser and you’re a sleeper-inner, find a way to meet in the middle, or try to accommodate those natural tendencies. Maybe he gets up at six and reads the paper or works out while you snooze for an extra hour. These small concessions will pay huge dividends later on when the time comes where you have to make sacrifices due to schedules or other needs.
It’s okay to spend time apart. Especially if you’re an introvert, you might need alone time to stay sane. Or you might just want to spend an afternoon exploring on your own, talking to new people, doing different things. It’s okay! It’s normal to get sick of spending weeks at time in close quarters with the same person. A little pre-planned, cordial time apart might be the exact thing that helps you be at your best together.
When things get tough, stand together. It’s normal to bicker about small things. Everyone does. But when there’s something major, remember that you are a team. Hold off on blame, engage empathy, and get to work — together.
Don’t forget to be silly. Laughter has saved many a relationship. It brings us back to what matters. It helps us take ourselves less seriously. It reminds us that it’s more important to be connected than it is to be right. Recognize when your travel partner is trying to lighten the mood, and don’t be afraid to let go and be goofy together. That time when everything was going wrong, and you stopped and realized how ridiculous it all was, and you laughed so hard that you both had tears rolling down your cheeks — that will stay with you forever. Go with it.
If you’re ready to embark on the fun, crazy adventure of traveling with a loved one, give me a call! I’d love to help you make it the best experience yet. You can reach me by clicking here.
Raise your hand if you’ve ever bought a trinket from a trip that you almost immediately forgot about. It’s a common experience!
It’s easy to breeze through the duty-free area on your way home and pick up a few (dozen) chocolate bars — and sometimes that is just the right thing to do. I’ve certainly done it myself, so no judgment there.
But if you love to dig around for souvenirs and gifts that have personal meaning and that reflect what was most meaningful to you about your trip, here are some fresh ideas to bring with on your next vacation.
Keep an eye out for things that don’t cost a thing. If the idea of the souvenir is that is connected to and will spark a pleasant memory, those objects often come just in our everyday interactions on a trip. Complimentary items on planes and in hotels, for example, might remind you of great service or the incredible view from your balcony. Ticket stubs, programs, interesting city maps — all these things can remind you of adventures, art, and beautiful days in a favorite city.
Look to nature. Of course bearing in mind specific laws regarding transporting plant material across borders — there are natural objects that can mean much more than anything purchased in a store. A flower petal or leaf pressed in a book, a beautiful unique pebble, a jar of sand or sea salt — these are simple things that can be incorporated into your décor at home that will make you smile every time you see them.
Boost your learning. If you’re buying for yourself or for someone else, consider something that will offer an inside view of the culture, language, history, music, or food of where you’ve visited.
Don’t be afraid to ask. Laura Palmer Peach of Kaufman Mercantile reminds readers that it’s okay to inquire at restaurants or bars or coffee shops if you can add the price of a dish to your bill. So if you’ve had a particularly wonderful experience somewhere, share that enthusiasm with the waiter and ask if they’d be okay with you buying something to take home. Imagine sipping your morning tea or coffee from the very same cup you sipped from in Paris. What could be better?
Something old, something new. One of the best adventures in a different place can be to scour antique shops for quirky treasures. If you have a reader in your life, a gorgeous old book might bring immense joy. Vintage postcards or photos can be a collector’s dream. Jewelry, scarves, cuff links, bags — these all give a glimpse into style and history and make a statement, and they don’t need to be fancy or expensive. Plus, you’ll have a great story to tell with every compliment you receive.
If you’re going for something new, consider a practical item — something you can use in your everyday life that will bring happy memories. Ms. Palmer suggests that an umbrella or a nice bag can be a great option. If you love to cook or bake, perhaps a cooking tool or recipe book would be just the thing. Even a small musical instrument can be a great gift for kids — a flute or shakers, for example.
Tell your own story. One cool thing about smart phones is that you have instant access to a world of creative sharing. Even if you don’t use your phone while you’re away, it can make a wonderful, portable, decent-quality camera — and when you return, those photos can be easily turned into souvenir books for yourself, family members, or friends. ChatBooks (link name to this ==> https://chatbooks.com/) is a free app that allows you to effortlessly create and customize photo books from Instagram, Facebook, or your regular photo library for as little as $8.
Whatever your tastes, there are tons of ways to approach the idea of a souvenir that ensure you’ll bring something back that will have personal meaning for you and that will spark many wonderful memories months and years after you’ve come home. And don’t forget the chocolate bars on your way out!
If you’re ready to start your own hunt for the perfect souvenir in the perfect getaway, give me a call today and let’s get started! You can reach me by clicking here.
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