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Romantic Vacations Mean Managing Relationship Expectations

If we’re being honest, many of us have felt some of our lowest moments while on vacation. These didn’t make it onto the camera roll, but you probably learned something about yourself, like what renders you desperately existential. Many of these emotions stem from disappointment of grand relationship expectations.

Combine this vacation existentialism with your partner’s own expectations, plus some romantic fantasies – shifting your relationship into a new gear, reaching a commitment milestone, or just imagining a 24/7 happy and stress-free trip – and you are bound to feel some sore disappointment. Especially after you’ve spent even just one day with a jet-lagged person.

Getting Ahead of the Vacation Blues With Your Significant Other

Thankfully, you can take proactive steps to greatly reduce the stress of vacation disappointment. Here’s how to open the lines of communication with your partner, and get honest with each other well before you ever hit the road.

Discuss Your Budgets

This gets into the size of the trip as well as how much you plan to spend on activities, food, and drinks. It’s not very fun to be stuck in the middle of something that you really can’t afford – so be up-front about your budgets before you ever book tickets. This will help you scale reservations and activities so that you both feel financially comfortable. 

Going into the red for a vacation might nudge you toward “maximizing,” in which you try to squeeze the most out of every experience. The pitfall, of course, is that nothing feels “worth it” when you maximize.

Make Lists

Does this sound overly silly and simple? Maybe. But it can really help to see your wishes, expectations, must-haves, and must-nots outlined in black and white! Suddenly, you have a sense of direction and priorities as you make plans.

Talking through a list will show you where you and your partner overlap and clash. And it will clarify your relationship intentions for the trip. Problem solve this before you depart – that is, before you’re deep in the obstacle course of unfamiliar street signs, travel hangriness, and foreign language.

For example, if you both list “relaxing together” as a vacation priority, you’ll probably drop most notions of guided tours. But you might bookmark places on Google Maps that seem pleasant for sharing a glass of wine.

Plan Ahead – But Don’t Overschedule

Jumping off the previous point, try to strike a balance between activity and rest on vacation. If you have so many museum appointments, tours, stuffy dinner reservations, and other to-dos booked, you may find yourselves run ragged and wondering why you ever took this trip.


  • That you’re trying to give yourself a break from the normal causes of stress, which include schedules, obligations, and feeling rushed. 
  • That you’re taking this trip to focus on each other, not every mural in Rome.

As a general rule of thumb, plan one big thing and maybe one small thing per day.



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