Travelling is the ultimate relationship test. You’ll find out more about your life partner while haggling with an Ecuadorian chicken-merchant than you would in 40 years of marriage. That’s just science. But it doesn’t all have to be doom and gloom. Travel with a partner (or a family) is fraught with peril, but it’s also fraught with things like happiness. And happiness is pretty good. There’s nothing like getting lost in the backstreets of Istanbul, surviving cold nights on Mt Toubkal or eating fugu with your eyes closed in Osaka to forge bonds that not even the most bitter Netflix betrayal can break.
But how do you choose the right trip for your relationship? Enter our handy-dandy guide.
1. Independent man or woman
There is absolutely nothing wrong with lacking a special man or woman in your life right now — you get the bed to yourself, get to choose the Netflix shows, and have more time for yourself. Beyonce totally approves. If anything, you should take this opportunity to do what you want, including checking off your travel bucket list. Explorer-style trips have history, culture, good eats, and adventure all rolled into a single journey, plus you’ll make friends with other like-minded travellers in your group. And unlike your great aunt, these people will not keep asking you why you’re single.
2. Early stages of dating
You’ve recently started dating which means while you might binge-watch House of Cards together, you’re not necessarily leaving the bathroom door open and changing your relationship status on Facebook quite yet. A 3-month camping excursion is a little ill-advised at your current stage, but that doesn’t mean you can’t take your next date one step further. A private day tour of a nearby city is the perfect trip for you two — discovering hidden gems, learning from a local, sampling beer and wine. Fun and casual, just like your relationship.
3. Going steady
It’s been some time since your first date; so long that you’ve forgotten how nervous you both were, and look at you guys now. Sure, you may not be thinking about matching monogrammed towels yet, but you consider yourselves pretty serious (but not too serious). And what better way to keep that vibe going than with a trip doing something you both can get into: eating your favourite cuisine at the source. In spicy Sri Lanka, flavourful Morocco, carb-friendly Italy, and almost everywhere in-between, a week or two-week food adventure will bring you two closer without committing to anything too serious.
4. Well-acquainted with the in-laws
Your relationship has already lasted longer than many celebrity marriages, and while you may not be actually married, you’re not that far off. Your partner’s best friend loves you, their dog considers you a parental figure, and you’ve taken over his or her house with your own things, if not completely moved in. You two are ready for a romantic getaway packed with all the cheesy quirks of a Hugh Grant-Meg Ryan movie love-child. For this, we recommend a sailing trip — breezy days and starry nights passing through some of the world’s most stunning scenes. Cynics don’t stand a chance.
5. Married (or pretty darn close)
Whether you’re married, engaged, or common-law, one things’s for sure, you guys are comfortable around each other. Like really comfortable. Of course you care about each other deeply, but you’re also not afraid to show your true, weird colours either. And you still love each other after all that — isn’t love great? You guys could really tackle any type of trip at this point, but you might as well go all in. Walking and trekking tours will bring you to amazing sites, such as Machu Picchu, Kilimanjaro, and Everest Base Camp, and your strong connection will help each other through these physically enduring but extremely rewarding adventures.
6. All in the family
So you and your significant other decided to add kids to the mix. No stress. This just means trips with your partner will have a few extra travel buddies. And no, bringing kids along doesn’t mean you’re defaulted to amusement parks and kiddie pools. Wildlife safaris, rainforest walks, temple visits, and pretty much everything you’d want in a trip is at your fingertips, just with your kids. All family dynamics apply: one kid, five kids, dads, moms, single parent — your relationship status now is your relationship with your fantastic family.
If you’re worried about dipping your toe in the frozen lake that is relationship-travel, try group trips. They’re a good ice breaker.
Feature image c/o Anssi Lepikko, Flickr