How Do We Travel as a Couple and Not Kill Each Other?
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A reader writes:
Traveling as a couple is very stressful — it’s hard being together 24/7! How do you cut down on arguments? I love my hubby dearly — we’ve been together 37 years — but I know we’ll be sick of each other by the fourth day of vacay, so we plan activities apart. Some of the worst arguments we’ve ever had have been on vacation. What are your tips for pleasant traveling for couples? How do you two not end up in divorce? — Larry
Oh, Larry, that’s a great question!
First, let me validate your reality: travel is stressful. And if you’re traveling as a couple, that stress is going to impact your relationship.
Worse, when you travel, you’re usually in some new and unfamiliar environment, often sharing smaller quarters than you’re used to, so you can’t always employ the coping mechanisms that might serve you and your significant other well back home.
Basically, if you’re sharing a single hotel room, you can’t skulk off to the basement for a few hours. If you don’t know the neighborhood, you can’t necessarily even storm off to cool down for a bit.
And now, as nomads, Michael and I travel continuously — as in, all the time.
How the hell have we managed to do this for going-on-six years now, and managed to not kill each other — yet?
Here’s everything we do.
No-Fault Travel Days
For us, the most stressful days are the ones when we’re traveling between destinations.
We have to get up early to catch a flight — assuming we slept at all, worried we might miss the alarm. Then a zillion more travel-related stressors all kick in:
“That taxi we scheduled? It didn’t show.”
“You remembered to get the passports out of the safe, right?”
“They seriously gave us a thirty-minute lay-over?”
“Oh, God, I think I ate something bad last night.”
It would be nice if Michael and I were able to rise above such stressors and not take them out on each other, but we’re both human. One of life’s great ironies is that the times we’re called upon to be our higher selves is when we’re feeling our absolute lowest.
In our case, sharp words are offered up. Bitchy rejoinders are muttered.
At this point, having failed at being higher beings, we switch to Plan B, which is something we call No-Fault Travel Days.
This is just what it sounds like: If one of us acts like a jackass on a travel day, it doesn’t matter. On No-Fault Travel Days, apologies are nice but not necessarily expected, no grudges are ever held about anything, and the ledger is wiped entirely clean at the end of the day.
It’s like that movie The Purge, except with slightly fewer homicides.
No-Fault Travel Days are all about simply getting to the end of the day — at which point, every stressful, horrible thing that happened is completely memory-holed and never mentioned again.
Another way to reduce the stress of travel is to, well, reduce the stress of travel. Oftentimes, that simply means slowing down.
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