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Mapping Out that First Couple’s Trip

Everything is going along swimmingly. Romance, laughter, respect—your new relationship is good. You think your first trip for two might be just the ticket—just the thing to sweeten the deal. What could be better than sharing the sunshine with your beau, or skiing the slopes with your lady love? When it comes to romantic partners traveling together and sharing a vacation for the first time, you should take a few moments beforehand to make sure it will be a trip to treasure rather than a disaster you’d rather forget.

Keep It Simple

Traveling can tell a lot about a person, as leaving our comfort zone can bring out the best and worst in us. Sometimes quirks, daily rituals, and our ability (or inability) to roll with the punches become glaringly obvious. Keep your vacation plans simple and comfortable by bypassing a camping trip without bathrooms or a road trip without air-conditioning. Definitely avoid a meet-and-greet with the family. Save the adventures and big-deal introductions for another time.

Set the Tempo

Pick a fairly close location so you can spend more time together, rather than devoting a huge chunk of your romantic recess to getting there. The whole travel process can be stressful, with deadlines, flights to catch, and unfamiliarity with the destination sending some people into a confused stupor or an irritating spell. So save that 14-hour flight or lengthy road trip for another time, and keep the travel time short and sweet. Ideally, the length of your getaway should be three to four days. You want to get to know each other a little better without using up all your vacation days. The key is to relax while leaving your new flame wanting more.

What’s the Plan?

Discuss your getaway objectives before heading out on holiday, to make sure that you are on the same page. It’s no fun if you are hoping for a stress-free loaf on the beach while your mate is anticipating a two-hour uphill hike to Lookout Point. If you aren’t excited about the Computer Geek Convention, speak up. Discuss what you would like to accomplish, or forget about, on your getaway, to make sure your destination has something for both of you. Plan to compromise and let each other enjoy some personal time. There is no rule that you must stay side by side every moment of the day and night. While your mate hits the green, you can relax at the spa, and then you can meet each other for a romantic dinner.

Control Freak?

Try not to plan everything out from start to finish, or you might end up resembling the camp counselor, with a whistle and a clipboard and a steadfast itinerary of events. The goal of your first trip should be to get to know each other better and enjoy the natural progression of your relationship. A hurried agenda just mimics the stresses of daily life, so take some time to appreciate the change of scenery.

And then there’s Money

Spending and saving are such personal decisions and can prompt some fiscal flare-ups when it comes to planning a vacation. Simmer down and discuss the vacation budget and how it will be divided. Will you be divvying expenses 50-50? Is it her treat, or his? If one of you is a little more frugal while the other spares no expense, problems could occur. Likewise, if there is a disparity between incomes, you will want to avoid any pressure that could come from monetary concerns. Do your best to determine financial expectations before the departure date.

Flexibility = More Fun

Even with the most comprehensive planning, real life can jostle the program. You may be presented with some surprises and bumps in the road, but learn to roll with it. If you are lost in the hills with maps flying and a sputtering clutch on the rent-a-beater, laugh at your mishap and enjoy the ride. A pessimistic outlook and crybaby antics may reveal a previously unseen side of your partner, and this will help establish whether you are a good match. Translation: When the going gets tough, the tough work together as a team.

When planning your first trip with your new love, discuss the arrangements before you head out. Ditch the rigid itemized itinerary and focus on flexibility. Keep your options open, and see how well you relate with each other away from the same old surroundings. However, although you may change your location, you generally do not change your lifestyle. An e-mail junkie, an athlete, or a lounger is likely to keep the same routine with or without you, so be prepared and don’t take it personally. The first vacation is definitely a great sign that you and your new crush are getting more serious. Relax and enjoy your getaway with your sweetheart, as this may just be the first of many adventures that you will share.