Rachel Zwell | June 1, 2016

Wanderlust: Too Soon
to Travel Together?

Who doesn’t love vacation?! Whether exploring a new city or town, or hiking through an eco-adventure, it’s so exciting to add to our life experience, connect with different people and cultures, and open our eyes to new encounters.

Read this post if you find yourself wondering…

If you’re dating someone new or even if you’ve been in a relationship for a while, you may be wondering, “Is it too soon to travel together?” Either way, the question of travel is pretty inevitable. From a friend’s destination wedding to discount cruise tickets you just can’t pass up, the chance to travel will arise at some point—and sometimes sooner rather than later.

While you may love traveling alone or with friends, traveling with a significant other can be a whole different experience. You may be wondering, “Is there a certain point we should reach in our relationship before we’re ‘ready’ to travel together?” Or even, “Is there a timeframe when we should plan to travel, just to see if we travel well together?”

In reality, just like there’s no such thing as “the one” or “rules” in dating, there’s no hard and fast rule about when you should travel together. Some dates lead to travel plans that very first weekend. Other couples might not have the desire or opportunity for vacation until months or even years into their relationship. It’s about knowing what you’re comfortable with and understanding a few things about the vacation mindset.

Sharing an Escape from Reality

Vacations are new experiences, where our regular habits and routine don’t apply. While this is an awesome time for learning, growth, and exploration together, it can also give us a false sense of how our relationship is “back in the real world.” Let’s just say it can sometimes be hard to see clearly through vacation euphoria or vacation stress.

When vacation euphoria takes hold, everything seems almost magical. We’re suddenly without the stress of everyday life with all its complicated conflicts and emotions, and we’re no longer confined by our routine and restrictions. Instead, we’re experiencing each moment anew.

This vacation high is very exciting and different, but it can also be a challenge to explore your true feelings about each other when you’re in this adventurous state. On vacation, we might connect in ways that don’t completely apply “back in the real world” where we have bills to pay, work to deal with, and a myriad of other things on our plates.

Into the Unknown Together: When It Gets Real

On the flip side, think back to your last long car trip or extended layover at an airport. Chances are, it wasn’t your favorite memory. Traveling together can be stressful—you’re navigating in a new place, deprived of sleep and jet-lagged, and charting unfamiliar territory. After three or four hours in a car, everything can seem amplified, and even your favorite person in the world can grate on your nerves. Stress may cause us to revert back to considering if it is, in fact, too soon to travel together, while you’re already well on your way!

It’s hard not to be upset when someone forgets the map or tickets, or you find out your flight’s been delayed and you’re going to miss a connection. No one reacts well in these situations, so don’t view these as make-or-break “red flag” moments. Give your relationship a little space from this stress before passing any major sweeping judgments.

Vacation provides an extended period of time together where you can pick up on interactions you might not get to see during “normal” dates. Certain personality traits and interactions can be amplified. It’s also a great time to explore your own reactions and feelings to different things that occur in the vacation environment. For example, you may be surprised at the thoughtfulness or kindness you notice in your date when he or she interacts with new people (or you may be dismayed when the opposite happens).

At the same time, in this “artificial reality,” you might notice certain interactions and traits in your partner and wonder why you’ve never seen them act that way in your day-to-day life together. It’s good to make note of those things as well. You might find the person you’re with becomes very different when they’re away from home.

Exploring, Dreaming & Doing—Together!

Vacation can also create time for that dreamy space where you can imagine your future together. Vacation can help you understand how compatible the two of you are in terms of embracing new experiences. Instead of wondering if it’s too soon to travel together, talk to your partner and ask how they imagine their ideal vacation.

If one of you likes a laidback country trip with lots of nature and outdoor time, while the other prefers a busy city trip with food, culture, and museums, it might not be a deal-breaker, but it can mean you’ll have to find other people and different ways to fulfill those travel preferences. Maybe you’ll plan an occasional “culture weekend” with a friend instead of your significant other, or go surfing with your buddies instead of your girlfriend. Maybe you need to take a trip home, but sometimes it might be best to go alone and spend time individually with your family.

Even on vacation, it’s ok to plan some alone time for yourself, if you or your date prefer an occasional break. It’s important to be cognizant of the fact that everyone needs a little downtime, even if you’re head-over-heels for each other. You may have to establish some boundaries and be sensitive to each other’s yearnings and needs, as vacation often means a concentrated amount of interaction with each other. Listen to the cues your partner is putting out and don’t hold back to establish your own needs and boundaries.

No matter what happens, vacation is a really great time to engage, embrace conflict and really get to know each other. You might not get along perfectly, but it can be a great time to explore and understand your boundaries and how you interact in a different environment. Use this as another opportunity to unlock who you are and what you want out of your interactions and life experiences.

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Rachel Zwell is one of the core coaches in the Year of Transformation program. She is an emergence coach specializing in empowering individuals to increase their fulfillment and satisfaction in their lives, to achieve their professional and personal goals, and to develop their leadership skills. She coaches and mentors people to develop self-awareness, vision, strategies, and to build skills in social and emotional intelligence. She believes in full engagement and aliveness, and trains people to see and overcome the barriers that prevent them from living fully.

Wright Living is a division of the Wright Foundation for the Realization of Human Potential, a leadership institute located in Chicago, Illinois. Wright Living performative learning programs are integrated into the curriculum at Wright Graduate University.