Travel is a fantastic shorthand way to discover whether or not you and your partner are compatible. It thrusts you both into a microcosm of the life you’ve been imagining together, or if you already live together, it forces you to really ‘see’ your other half, and live in harmony with them. When you’re in a different location together, you’re required to communicate in important ways that affect everything from your physical safety to your financial freedom. I recommend travel to all my clients who complain that their relationships have gone stale, or to clients who are just getting to know their partner, but aren’t sure whether they’re ready to commit.
Traveling means shared experiences, and I’m not just talking about a selfie in front of the Great Wall of China. The journey begins at home before you even get in the car, or on the airplane. Even in the planning stage, you’re bonding together, talking about what to take and where you both want to go. And once you’re on the road, you’re discovering each other’s preferences and dislikes, and you’re finding a shared rhythm of your daily cycles of eating and relaxing, sleeping and of course sexy time. These experiences will become lifelong memories and you don’t have to travel long distances to make it special. Even a weekend getaway can be something you’ll be talking about for years to come.
Building a ‘Couple’s Language’
Doing something new sparks a new vocabulary for couples. Whether you’re contemplating how the Leaning Tower of Pisa is still standing, marveling at the sea creatures at an aquarium or watching baboons mating on a safari, you’re introducing new discussions into the relationship that wouldn’t be there in your ordinary routine. New discussions spark fresh ‘inside jokes’ between you, resulting in a strong bond that ties you together with the new exchange of ideas. There’s a feeling of “us against the world” that brings you closer together. You know those couples you envy because they seem to have a secret language that no one else understands? Travel is one way to get there.
It goes without saying that many couples have intimate nicknames for each other, such as ‘Babe,’ ‘Sweetheart’ or ‘Honey.’ But what about naming your lover’s genitals, as Kate Hudson’s character did in “How To Lose A Guy In Ten Days.” She nicknamed Matthew McConaughey’s penis ‘Princess Sophia’ and says, “Does Princess Sophia want to come out and play?” This can be great fun when both partners give consent to use pet names for their sexual organs and lends itself to some playfulness, even in public settings where nobody knows what you’re talking about.
Problem Solving Together
Have you ever navigated a GPS with your partner? How about figuring out street signs in a country that uses a Cyrillic alphabet? Or trying to order from an unreadable menu?
These are activities that require patience and calmness with each other, and let’s face it, a sense of humor. One of the best indications that things are going well in a relationship is when two people find the same things funny. If you work together as a team, it’s an accomplishment you can be proud of and that’s what a great relationship is – a successful team.
People ask me why vacation sex is always hotter than regular sex. Is it the hotel room sheets, balcony or view? The complimentary fruit basket or chocolates on the pillows? The hot tub or shower bigger enough for two? Maybe, but that doesn’t explain the couple who get wild in their sleeping bags on camping trips. No, the common denominator here is something else: the elimination of distractions. At home, you’ve got the demands of your routine weighing on you all day long. Should I pick up coffee and milk on my way home? Did I lock the car door? Have you fed the dog? Is there something wrong with the garbage disposal? All-important daily questions, none of them sexy. Conversely, when you’re traveling, there are no daily life distractions keeping you from sharing a kiss when you want to. You can have sex anytime you want because you don’t have to be at work / the gym / book club / soccer practice or PTA meeting at any particular time. A great sex life comes with an ability to freely express yourself. The more you’re reminded of ‘shoulds’ and obligations, the less sexy you feel. Couples who travel together often find they are more easily able to prioritize sex when they get home, because they’ve broken the ‘distraction cycle’ enough times for them to recognize that thinking you have time for sex is simply a state of mind.
Learning about each other
Travel means finding new ways to meet your everyday needs. There are no ready-made casseroles in the fridge at your hotel – you’re going to be winging it for every meal, every trip to the drug store and every coffee break. This means that you become more in-tune with your partner’s minute to minute desires. You’ll remember how that 3 o’clock coffee perked her right up and she was ready to go for a full afternoon of sight-seeing. You’ll learn that he gets hungry by 11am if you haven’t stopped for breakfast, and you both get horny before dinner rather than afterwards, so these things become a priority – and your partner feels understood and cherished. These are the micro-lessons we learn that make us better, more attentive partners. And the lessons usually have take-home value that extend to your life at home when you return.
Travel has many other advantages too – you get to learn about new cultures, try new foods and experiences, hear music you’ve never heard before and see new thought-provoking sights you’ve only seen in pictures or videos. I’ve witnessed first-hand the magic that travel can bestow on a relationship, through my two decades of couples counselling. Even a weekend getaway can get you out of your comfort zone, and into an exciting new world where you become attuned to the nitty gritty of your partner’s needs, and your partner discovers new things about you. Give it a try, and let me know how your relationship is working!