We’ve all been there — bickering in the back seat of a cab on a trip that should have been fun. Traveling can be stressful, and nothing can test the mettle of a relationship quite like a series of delayed flights. Even when things are functioning smoothly at home, nothing is guaranteed out there on the road. That’s why when you find a friend or significant other who you travel well with, you want to put as many stamps on the passport together as you can. Michael and I have visited nine different countries together over the past few years, and we’ve learned a lot about how to play nice (and avoid adversity) while covering new territory.
Our latest adventure? Seven days at sea on board the Carnival Glory exploring the Western Caribbean. Our biggest discovery was this: cruising eliminates virtually all stress between destinations. The ship moves mostly at night, so it was pretty cool to have a glass of wine before bed every night and wake up in a new port the next day. We never had to pack up our luggage or find the next hotel. We were just… totally relaxed. And since there seems to be a direct correlation between bickering and stress, booking a cruise is a pretty smart play for getting along while traveling.
That said, we still put into the practice the principals we’ve learned over the past few years to make our trip amazing, and we even learned a few new tips along the way. Check out our adventure at sea and discover our twelve rules for getting along while traveling as a team. Bon voyage!
photographed by jennifer rose smith & michael spruiell
This post was created for Away We Go with Carnival, the destination for getting in the getaway state of mind. Head on over.
Work together to plan the trip before it begins.
Make it a point to sit down and go over your day-by-day itinerary together. It’s a great way to get a feel for the other person’s expectations: are they imagining lying on the beach? Or visiting specific landmarks and museums? Before our cruise, Michael and I enjoyed researching the four ports we’d be visiting and all of the fun on-shore excursion options Carnival had to offer. Even better, we could book them straight through the website before our trip began.
Nothing can ruin a beautiful sunset or adventurous moment together quite like the ding of an inbox. Try your best to unplug as much as possible while you’re traveling (for your companion’s sake and your own.) Your partner will appreciate having your full attention, and putting down your phone only makes more room for magical things to happen for the two of you in the moment.
Be willing to try something the other person wants to do.
Be willing to spend some of your vacation time indulging your partner’s interests instead of your own. You never know, you might just be in for an amazing experience. Michael had his heart set on Carnival’s Sea Trek excursion in Grand Cayman, so I agreed to strap on an oxygen helmet and head 30 feet under water. To my surprise and delight, it ended up being one of the most memorable parts of the entire trip. We walked along the ocean floor through schools of tropical fish and amazing coral.
One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned over the years is that a stressful vacation isn’t really a vacation at all. Protect your right to relax by planning an itinerary with plenty of “holes”. We spent the entire day in Honduras just hanging out and exploring the beach, sipping cold cocktails. Doesn’t get much better than that.
Try to not to, ahem, drastically outpace your partner in terms of alcohol. Michael and I are both fun-lovers, so we took full advantage of the frozen cocktails onboard the Carnival Glory. But we both made sure to drink plenty of water between pina coladas, too, so we could hit the ground running the next morning.
Make new friends.
One of the best things about our cruise experience was making new friends along the way. From our fellow cruisers to Carnival staff members (to these little guys Michael met on the beach in Honduras) we kept ourselves open to new people throughout the trip. You’ll get along so much better when you open your world up to others!
Be someone else’s hero by remembering to pack these essential items:
- extra set of headphones
- splitter headphone jack
- a good camera
Eat (but don’t over-eat!) on a regular schedule.
Managing meals well is absolutely crucial to getting along while traveling. (We all know what “hangry” is, right?) But there’s also the fact that when you’re eating out together in restaurants for every single meal, it’s easy to start feeling lethargic and over-served. That’s why Michael and I loved our lunchtime setup on board the Carnival Glory. There were tons of buffet options, and we could eat as much (or as little) as we wanted. The build-your-own taco bar was my favorite — the perfectly satisfying lunch that didn’t weigh me down or put me in a grumpy mood.
Try and fit a workout in.
Most of us are happier, relaxed, and more agreeable when we’ve had a bit of exercise. It couldn’t have been easier to keep my workout routine going on board the Carnival Glory. I enjoyed using the open air track and even popped into the ship’s gym for a yoga class!
Don’t be afraid to do your own thing.
Michael and I are good about spending some time alone while traveling. It’s healthy to have a few hours to yourself, then report back with what you discovered. I caught some rays in the adult’s only Serenity Lounge while Michael explored the ship’s library.
Synchronize your sleep schedules.
Try your best to get on board with your partner’s sleep schedule. Whether it’s in the morning or at night, there’s not much more irritating than someone keeping you up when you’re trying to sleep. Carnival’s incredibly soft beds made it easy for me to fall asleep early and get on board with Michael’s early bird breakfast schedule.
Always pack at least one nice outfit.
You never want your wardrobe to be the reason that the two of you can’t get into a restaurant, museum, or special club while traveling. That’s why it’s courteous to remember to bring one item that can be dressed up (girls: maybe an elegant black dress, guys: a dinner jacket or sports coat). We loved our dinners in the Platinum Dining room on board the Carnival Glory, and especially the nights that were designated as “Cruise Elegant”. It was so much fun to see what the other guests were wearing and enjoy a formal meal at sea.
Thanks, Carnival, for proving to us that getting along for seven days at sea couldn’t be easier.
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