Though my days as a carefree (ha!) graduate student are nearing their end, it is officially “spring break” for Honey. And in that spirit, here’s a travel edition of my blog. Traveling with your SO has some fantastic benefits: shared experience and the inevitable inside jokes and stories that result bond you as a couple; you get to get the hell out of your been-there, done-that town and do something cool; when you’re out of the comfort zone that you live in, you’re more likely to get out of your comfort zone sexually. Of course, it’s an intense dose of your SO, and anything that annoys you about him or her is likely to be intensified as a result of so much undiluted time together–kind of like drinking lemon juice instead of lemonade. But, if you’re willing to put a little effort in, you can have an absolutely amazing time. Here you are: Honey’s Top Five Tips for Tantric Travel (okay, maybe not tantric, but the alliteration was just too much to resist…)
Tip #1: Don’t Forget the Pragmatics–A Mini Checklist
Okay, I hate to start out with the boring advice, but you’ll never really be able to enjoy your trip if you don’t feel absolutely confident that everything’s taken care of so that you can relax while you’re away. My BF’s ex got sick on every single trip they ever went on because she was so stressed about things going well.
- Pack Airborne, painkillers, Kaopectate, and Benadryl in addition to any prescription medications.
- Hire a petsitter or a housesitter. If you’re nervous about being away, most services will call or e-mail you daily to let you know everything’s all right.
- Arrange rides to and from the airport. Make sure your return flight doesn’t get you back so late that you have to rush off to work the next morning tired (thus ruining whatever relaxing effect the vacation had).
- Check the weather for your destination, and pack for inclement weather.
- Bring at least 150% of the money you think you will spend (twice as much is better, especially if you’re traveling abroad).
- If you can afford it (and depending on what time you will get in or fly out) consider reserving your hotel room for an extra day on either side of when you plan to be there. Then you can check in or out at your leisure rather than at the hotel’s convenience (I have yet to be able to afford to do this, but can’t wait for the day when I can!). Nothing’s worse than a redeye flight when you can’t check into your room until 2.
I know I’m being a little bit of a Virgo here, but you’ll feel much more free to relax, be spontaneous, and enjoy yourself if you know that everything that can be taken care of, is.
Tip #2: Use Travel to Share Your Interests With Each Other
Obviously you’re going to be doing a little research pre-travel to select the destination (i.e., the city or the country). Use that pre-travel research to come up with a loose itinerary of things you’d each like to do and see while you’re there. You’re trying to create a balance between things that each of you like to do that you can share with the other. While it’s great to do things that you know you both like, travel is also an opportunity to share things that you enjoy with your SO, and vice versa. For example, whenever we go to a new city I try and find an aquarium, zoo, or botanical garden that showcases area flora and fauna. I really enjoy living things of all sorts, and know lots more about them than the BF. This has the benefit of him getting to see me happy and in my element, and as a kind of expert who gets to share my knowledge with him (since he knows very little about any of those things). He enjoys taking me to museums of industry or technology, or maybe a war museum, because that’s what he enjoys. Then he gets his turn to be the expert.
Tip #3: Leave Some Room For Spontaneity
When you create that itinerary, it’s a good idea to find things to fill up every morning, afternoon, and evening to maximize the time that you’re there. But be sure to create a distinction between the things that you absolutely can’t live without doing while you’re there, and the things that you’re willing to jettison so that you can be flexible about opportunities as they arise–stuff you just can’t plan. Spontaneity is one of the things that keeps relationships alive, and while travel can be a great way to escape or break up any rut you may have inadvertently fallen into in your hometown, that can only happen if you’re willing to be flexible and compromise. A year ago the BF and I were in Boston, and while our original plan was to window shop, we happened to run into a historic walking tour and just joined right in! We learned a lot and ended up near the water, where I had the most fantastic (and fantastically cheap) lobster bisque at this shady open market stall.
(Okay, it wasn’t quite as fancy as this–but it was as delicious!)
When we went to France, we’d planned to go on a WWII walking tour, but missed it due to a public transportation mixup that happened to spit us out at the entrance to a zoo/botanical gardens. Rather than being bitter, we had a fantastic time (and got some great photos).
Tip #4: Plan Some Time Alone
Just because you’re traveling together doesn’t mean you’re inescapably bound to each other. Maybe you don’t care about Golden Gate Park; why not let her walk around while you take a tour of Alcatraz? Or maybe you love the shops in Vegas and he wants to play poker–go ahead and split up! You’re bound to have at least one fight if you spend every waking minute together, especially if some of your interests are very different. Sharing your interests with each other is all well and good, but as soon as you’re making someone do what they don’t want to do, you’re asking for trouble.
(I don’t wanna go!)
On the other hand, denying yourself something that you really want to do just because you know the other person would hate it is a surefire way to make you cranky, resentful, and ready to pick a fight. Making time for each of you to do your own thing will not only help you each maximize what you want out of the vacation, it’ll give you more to talk about when you meet up later that night for dinner and drinks.
Tip #5: New Locale, New Sex Life
I’d never thought about this before, but the BF is a big fan (in fact, the originator) of the advice I’m about to share. If there’s something sexual that you’ve been wanting to try, something a little risque or just very different from whatever you’ve been doing, a vacation is just the place to try it. First of all, you’ve got a little bit of extra adrenaline running through your systems from being in a new situation, which is very sexy. Second, you’re producing lots of bonding endorphins from sharing experiences with your partner that can never be duplicated or truly explained to anyone outside your relationship. Third, you’ve got the sort of kinky exotic anonymity of a hotel room that you’ve (probably) never seen before or will ever see again. The BF’s reasoning on why hotel rooms are so sexy is that since you know you won’t ever go back there, you can be a little different yourself–if your new sex position, role-play, or whatever else bombs, then you haven’t created any negative associations with your own bedroom (or whatever room you usually have sex in). If it turns out to be absolutely fabulous, then it’s one of the few ways that you can bring your travel home with you–and stay out of a sexual rut even when you get back.
(I just hope they don’t search my luggage at the airport…)
Just remember that a vacation is supposed to be fun. Be open-minded to what makes the other person tick–travel is a great way to find out things about the other person that you might never discover otherwise, both because there’s so much more time for conversation and because exposure to things you don’t usually encounter triggers memories and stories that you’d not usually think to share. Be forgiving and patient if the other person annoys you, and don’t count your trip as a failure if you end up taking some time apart (either because of separate interests or to keep the peace). And don’t forget the Kaopectate!