This post was contributed by our Couples Travel Expert, Christine Culgin.
Whether it’s a local weekend trip or an international excursion, my boyfriend and I love to travel. However, being both independent and introverted, we sometimes have a hard time with all the togetherness; what about “me time”? For most people, part of the appeal of a vacation is the ability to clear your mind, recharge and escape from your day-to-day stresses, no matter where you are.
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For me, recharging requires some alone time, so I’ve developed some tactics that give me that alone time without killing the romantic vibe or hurting my boyfriend’s feelings.
If you’re traveling with your significant other, they probably already know you pretty well. But while they might know that you enjoy alone time in regular life, they could view things differently while you’re vacationing together. Both parties should be clear on just how “couply” this couple’s trip will be.
So, the most important thing is to set expectations – make sure your partner knows what you want, so when you disappear for a solo walk on the beach, he/she won’t be offended or assume you’re upset with them. Also be sure to reiterate that this is something you need to do for yourself, and has nothing to do with not loving the time spent with your partner. Toss in some compliments, bat the ol’ eyelashes, you know the drill.
Plan Independent Activities
I loathe golf. My boyfriend loves it. So while we’re on a trip, why not send him off to play golf, leaving me with a few hours to do whatever I want independently? For me, that’s likely reading a book or going for a good, long walk.
For you, it might be checking out local shops or going for a swim while your significant other takes off on a jog. In any case, it’s a win-win situation. There’s no reason to be attached at the hip on a couple’s trip, as long as both people are content.
When traveling with someone else, there are actually all sorts of hidden “bonus” time slots that you might not even realize are there. These are perfect chunks in which to squeeze your solo time.
For example, I typically wake up about an hour earlier than my boyfriend. Well, there’s an hour I have to myself without stepping on any toes. Maybe you know that your boyfriend likes an afternoon nap while vacationing, or that your girlfriend might take a while getting ready for dinner. These sneaky, small blocks of time can add up to a meaningful amount of time to “do you”, without anyone even noticing!
Further, if you’ve communicated properly (see advice #1), it’s fair to tell your partner that you need, say, one hour to yourself each day. Then, actually weave in that hour into your trip itinerary, so that no one is caught off guard. There are good surprises, but this wouldn’t be one of them.
I don’t mean physically present, I mean mentally. During the time you spend with your significant other, really be there. Pay attention, engage in meaningful dialogue, and give them your all. Try not to let your mind wander too much. Be mindful and in the moment. That way, when the time comes for you to sneak away on your own, no one will be feeling gypped on together-time, because the time you did spend together was quality.
On the other hand, if you and your partner are at dinner together or taking a hike together, but you’re checking your phone, spacing out, and/or keeping quiet, it will sting a lot more when you try to take that solo bike ride. Like they say, it’s quality over quantity that matters, and that is definitely true in this case.
Be Transparent & Truthful
Some people don’t get it. “Me time” is something that happens to them when they happen to be alone, but not something they actively seek out or need. That’s fine – everyone operates differently. But for these people, saying that you need time to yourself may sound mysterious or suspicious to them.
To mitigate that, tell them exactly what you’re planning on doing with your time, even if it is to just lie down and read a book or journal for an hour. Then, do what you said you were going to do. If during your scheduled alone time, your significant other found out you ended up chatting up locals at a café, it might not go over so well.
Take Advantage of Travel Time
I don’t know many couples that spend an eight-hour flight deeply engrossed in conversation, or snuggling up next to each other. For one, their neighbors would probably hate them. Further, airplanes, trains, buses, and ferries are not ideal spots for coupling. So while you might be sitting next to your significant other on a long plane ride, consider that a solid chunk of “me” time. You can read, listen to music, write, draw, sleep, or watch your favorite guilty pleasure unperturbed.
If you concentrate on whatever activity you choose, it will almost seem like you’re on your own. After hours of getting lost in your own thoughts, in the fictitious world of a novel, or in the lyrics of your favorite artist, you’ll be ready for some canoodling when you eventually reach your destination.
The bottom line is that while traveling can pose certain challenges and difficulties, it’s ultimately meant to be a pleasant experience. If you need to be on your own for a bit to optimize your trip, you should do that. A couple’s trip doesn’t have to equate to non-stop hand-holding and kissing selfies. It can be whatever you want it to be, and these tips will allow you to factor “me time” smoothly into your next getaway.