Couples travel tips: What should you do when travel itineraries conflict?

Picture this: you are visiting a beautiful island with your significant other. He wants to spend the week diving off cliffs, ships and planes, but you’d rather relax on the beach. How can you possibly resolve this conflict?

Before you scuttle your vacation plans, take heart– this type of conflict is very common among traveling couples. We reached out to seasoned travel bloggers to see how they balance their needs with their partner’s.

Their advice falls into two main camps: those who believe in doing separate activities, and those willing to try out their partner’s activities. After you read their tips, let us know what you think. Is it better to split up for a day or to compromise?

>> This post is part of our “Romantic Travel” series. Click here to read additional posts!

Option 1: Do your own thing

Jason Castellani, 2 Backpackers: It’s okay to do separate things during a trip. Be open to going your separate ways for a few day or a week depending of course how long you are traveling together. When traveling long term, spending 100% of your time together can be challenging, and a short break might be a good romantic refresh.

Jake Semmel, Downtown Traveler: Fortunately both my wife and I tend to be overly accommodating when it comes to trying to do what the other one wants (we usually feel guilty otherwise) so we don’t have many problems with one person not getting to do certain activities. Some activities, like scuba diving, I do and she doesn’t so when I schedule dives I make sure there is something she can do alone at the same time (like spa treatments or cooking classes.)

Drakensberg Mountain Hike South Africa 01

Jake of "Downtown Traveler" enjoys couples hiking, but is OK with scuba diving solo.

Kelly Dunning, Global Goose: Since we have quite different interests, we have run into this situation before. When it happens, we have no problems splitting up for the day and doing different things and then meeting up later. For example, when we were in Vancouver during our trip across Canada, I wanted to see the Surrealist exhibit at the Vancouver Art Gallery and eat some of Vancouver’s delicious cheap sushi. Lee hates fish and art galleries are not his idea of a fun afternoon, so instead he went to a football game. We both had a great day enjoying our own different adventures, and then we met up in the evening to spend some time together. If one person really doesn’t want to go do a certain activity, it can make it less fun for the person who does. You don’t need to be joined at the hip during your entire trip, especially when you have different interests.

Erica Kuschel, Over Yonderlust: There are many times where Shaun and I are not on the same page, especially since he picked up skateboarding again his mind has been on visiting skateparks. Being the ungraceful person that I am, it just doesn’t sound like a good time to sit and watch. We do our own thing sometimes and I think that is incredibly important. While I think that compromising is still a good idea, I don’t think compromising everything is in the best interest of the relationship.

Mei, Cumi & Ciki: If it’s a long trip we try to schedule in a few days, where my husband can go off and do his hardcore adventure sports, and I can have some time to pick up a local course in pottery or arts and craft or languages, something like that. If it’s a short trip then, we can break away for a day and do our own activities, meeting up in the evening again.

Option 2: Compromise is key

Charu Suri, Butterfly Diary: We try to compromise. For example, Matt doesn’t like crowded places and sometimes I’ll like to explore the nightlife and we’ll make a deal that we only stay for 15-20 minutes and escape (which is about all I can take) but at least I get what I’m looking for.

Charu of "Butterfly Diary" recommends that couples compromise on travel itineraries.

Juno Kim, Runaway Juno: For us, thankfully we can do most of the things together. We have similar interests. But in any cases, communication is the key. No one can have the exactly same interest every single time. I read this once; ‘if you are traveling solo you are focusing on what you want but when you are traveling with someone you are more focusing on spending time with each other’ and I agree on that in some level. There are things that I’m really looking forward to do or see, but I don’t mind to do so-so things because traveling is about experience and I’m with my partner. You wouldn’t know what to get from the experience you didn’t expect. And I would love to get to know what my loved one likes to do or see.

Stephen Bugno, Bohemian Traveler: Remarkably, we nearly always agree to do the same things and visit the same places. If that isn’t the case, it requires a little give and take. My partner, I would say, is a little more flexible in that respect than I am.

Cameron Wears, Traveling Canucks: As cliché as it sounds, its all about compromise and communication. For us, this means actually talking about what we hope to get out of the trip and what experiences are important to each of us. Hopefully couples that travel together have similar interests, so often times its just a matter of time management. If one wants to sit on the beach and the other wants to go sightseeing, you can do both but you have to plan better and be prepared to make some sacrifices.

How do you deal with different agendas while traveling?

Share your tip with other readers by leaving a comment below!

>> Click here to read the other posts in this “Romantic Travel” series!

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About Leslie Koch

I'm a New Yorker with a passion for travel and art. I founded DowntownTraveler.com after returning from a year-long backpacking trip around the world. Find me on Twitter at @leslietravel.