Couples Travel: Know How He Travels Before You Hit the Road

Couples Travel, Traveling Solo & Together — By on September 16, 2010 at 12:00 pm

Suddenly you’re sitting across from a whiny, peeling, brightly colored lobster-boy, the outline of a tiny Speedo shining like Rudolph’s red nose, wondering what happened to your studly New Yorker-man.

By Sophie-Claire Hoeller

It can happen to the best of us. There’s no faster way to get to know someone, flaws, quirks and all, than to travel with them. Traveling immediately reveals people’s true colors, so before you end up thousands of miles away from home with who you now realize is a total stranger that you loathe, figure out what type of traveler your guy is, and whether he’s compatible with you.

To help you avoid this situation, The Lost Girls sought advice from two psychologists, Howard Tinsley, Professor of Psychology at Southern Illinois University, who specializes in the effects of leisure behavior on physical and mental health, and Frank Farley, psychologist at Temple University, Philadelphia, whose focus is travel and relationships.

What type of travel companion is your man?

1)      The Athlete-The Athlete wakes up at 6 am to go surfing, and his sun burnt back on the way out the door is the last you’ll see of him ‘til sunset. He has next to no interest in sightseeing as long as the swell is good…

Traveling with The Athlete is great if you’re into the same sport, or if you like huge gaps of alone time (while he’s off doing his athlete-thing).

2) The Tourist– The Tourist has 3 guides, 5 maps, 2 cameras, but n0 spontaneity.

It’s wonderful that this guy is organized and motivated, but often traveling is about spontaneity and adventure. If he just drags you from one tourist attraction to the next until your feet bleed, with no leeway for impulsiveness, you will quickly get frustrated with each other. On the other hand, if this sort of super-tourism is your thing, you two are a match made in heaven.

3)      The Pretty Boy– This guy takes longer to get ready than you in the mornings and is more interested in the new Gucci store than the Colosseum.

For some girls this might be ideal—days spent at the spa or in stores sound like heaven—but others might want to ditch their man the second they find his grapefruit facial scrub in his Prada toiletry bag.

4)      The Cheapskate– This dude would rather sleep in the car than “splurge” on a hostel, raises his eyebrow at your every minor purchase, and his only concern with food is quantity and price, rather than taste and ambiance.

This is great if funds are running low and you love adventures, but there should be a limit to the extent of how much you need to be roughing it on your vacation. A vacation should be just that, not a test of your patience and frugality.

5)      The Bum– The Bum doesn’t want to do anything but sleep, watch TV, lie by the pool and eat. He’s basically just teleported himself from his own couch to the hotel couch.

If you vacation to DO things, ditch The Bum. Maybe look for a cute scuba-diving instructor. What? You asked The Bum if he wanted to take lessons with you and he declined.

6)      The Child– The Child refuses to put on sunscreen when you tell him to because he “never burns” and “sunscreen is for pussies,” then sits across from you at dinner burnt and grumpy. He must also be fed three times a day, or else he gets grumpy. It’s also his way or the highway, or else he gets grumpy.

Not ideal in any vacation-situation. No Lost Girl wants to babysit on the road. Period.


Once you have figured out what kind of guy your man might turn out to be, figure out what’s important to each one of you on a trip and see whether his interests match your own. Are you both looking for pure relaxation, wishing nothing more than to alternate between the spa and pool? Is it culture, endless hours of walking from one temple or church to the next? Or is it action—hiking, kite-surfing, you name it. Based on what each of you wants to do you should then choose a destination that embraces both.

According to Professor Tinsley, the best traveling companion is someone with same general need for stimulation.

Tinsley said that four factors are necessary for an individual to regard an experience as leisure, one of which is “the perception, if not necessarily the reality, of having freely chosen the activity.”Another important factor is that the chosen activity fits with the person’s intrinsic interests, which often means compromising. “It sounds romantic to compromise,” Tinsley said, “but spending several days doing things that are only marginally interesting is anything but romantic. If the couple’s interests are not quite similar it is better for them to plan to spend some time pursuing separate activities. For example, she might spend a day shopping, a very popular activity when traveling, and he might choose to spend the day doing something else.”

If you’re unsure of where to go with your man, consider all-inclusive resorts.

Word of Caution: All-inclusive resorts can tend to be tacky, strenuous, and full of screaming kids and sun burnt Brits. Be selective and do your research. They can be an ideal place for couples with different interests, as they usually offer a ton of different activities, as well as pools and beaches.

Tinsley also said “one mistake people make is to over schedule themselves. All of the activities they plan seem genuinely interesting to them but they also diminish the people’s flexibility to make spontaneous decisions.They seldom allow the travelers to sleep in and more or less just do nothing for a day.” Sounds like traveling with The Tourist might diminish the quality of your holiday.

Opposites Don’t Attract When it Comes to Travel

Professor Farleysaid that maintaining your comfortable routines from home is difficult when traveling. “Unanticipated events happen. Having a travel partner who shares a lot of common qualities and common interests with you can help.”

Though he agrees that opposites can attract, he recommends against this when selecting a travel partner. “I feel it’s a bad idea,” Farley said. “Uncertainty is an important concept in much travel, and that factor might breed conflict if the two travelers have opposite traits.” Though he believes that personality, attitude and interest similarity can help smooth the trip, he suggests reducing uncertainty by selecting structured vacations such as a cruise.

Farley claims that travel can strengthen romantic relationships by upping one-on-one time that is hard to come by in today’s fast-paced world, but warns against stressful trips. “It helps, I believe, if the basis of your travel time together is common interests, common personal characteristics, common goals,” he said.

Farley recommends traveling with a long-term boyfriend with whom you have already mastered previous stressful situations, “but, if you want to put a new boyfriend to the test to see whether you can stand being with him for several days in close quarters, a trip together might be the ticket.”

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    1 Comment

  • Tempie says:

    My husband is basically The Tourist type with a little spontaneity mixed in. That is totally okay with me because I am pretty much the same way. I wouldn’t want to be married to The Cheapskate or The Bum. I like nice hotels and sitting by the pool all day is definitely not for me.