When you run a luxury travel blog and often get to travel together as a couple, everyone knows you have a wonderful life. After all, we go from one luxury stay to the next, visit lots of great destinations each year, and have the kind of dream travel experiences that top people’s bucket lists.
Also if we had money for every time someone said: “you two are always on holiday”, we’d have enough to give Richard Branson an offer he couldn’t refuse on Necker Island. Love our job as much as we do, and fully acknowledging that we have some great experiences, our work is no holiday.
So despite all our travels in the last four years – five continents, around 40 countries and some of the best luxury travel experiences the world has to offer – we haven’t had a holiday in three years.
That said, even our last holiday was hijacked by work that came in at the last minute, leaving us with just four work-free days out of 11.
So as we headed off to Croatia for a big family holiday we were excited. And nervous. Nervous because at the end of 10 family-filled days, including attending a beautiful wedding at an island fortress, we would be on our own for a few days. We would travel together to the island of Hvar for some downtime.
Travel together as a couple – a different indulgence
Don’t get me wrong, I love nothing more than spending time with my husband. But we’re very unused to having “us time”. I’m not talking “me time”, that’s a well coined term in travel, and is interchangeable with indulgence. But with all the spa travel we’ve had over the years, we’ve both had quite a lot of “me time”.
Us time though is quite different. Travel as a couple is about togetherness. Yes, indulgence may feature – you might enjoy a romantic gourmet meal, for example. But us time means switching off from work, storing mobile phones, and reconnecting with each other. It’s about indulging shared interests and enjoying quality time together.
But it’s not an easy thing to do. Even when we travel together we rarely just travel as a couple. We can be in a group for a week, or meeting with local people for dinner.
Testing our togetherness in Hvar
As we sailed to Hvar from Split, we talked about some of the things we might do on our couples’ holiday. Given that our schedules are usually busy when we travel together for work, we knew we likely wouldn’t do much.
Instead, as we checked into our HouseTrip apartment, we planned to do little more than spend our holiday as a couple, enjoying time together. And that’s exactly why we chose an apartment – it gave us room to relax and enjoy time together rather than being cooped up in a hotel room.
And it wasn’t hard to relax in Hvar. Though it has a reputation as a party island, there’s still many peaceful places where you can enjoy us time away from the crowds.
We relaxed on the beach in Pribinja Bay watching boats bob on the tide, sailed to the Pakleni Islands to explore and found secluded spots where we could sun-bathe, tip-toed around the step-lined hillsides of Hvar Town, enjoyed sundowners by the sea, and delicious dinners in wonderful restaurants where we met and chatted to couples from Austria, France and the Netherlands.
By our last night we felt rested, refreshed and reconnected. We did the coupley things we rarely have time for. Our hands found each other’s more often, we laughed more than ever and shared fun, intimate moments. All of this left us with a warm glow as we arrived home, and gave a healthy boost to our relationship.
How to travel as a couple – five tips
- Upgrade your travels: Why not spoil yourselves? When you travel together it gives you a chance for a little indulgence as a couple, so why not upgrade your flights (even if you’re on a low cost flight there are upgrades you can enjoy). Instead of staying in an impersonal hotel, why not try an apartment from the likes of HouseTrip where you’ll have more privacy, much more space to yourself, and can do things at your own pace.
- Be prepared for a little early tension: you work hard and play hard (mostly without your partner) for 40 or more hours a week. When you are suddenly thrust together to travel things may not be plain sailing initially. You’ll be spending more time together than you have in perhaps a year or more – so it is possible you could rub each other up the wrong way for a day or two. Before you jump online to book a flight home, count to ten, find a little space from each other and know that it’s perfectly natural to fall out, before you fall into each other’s rhythms.
- Be flexible: All successful relationships require compromise. We all have different interests – if you’re not a history fan, wandering UNESCO World Heritage Sites may leave you cold. Your life (and travel) partner may hate shopping while you’re planning on a spree. Whatever the scenario, compromising can make all the difference. Build in time to do both activities, or try something your partner likes the idea of, that perhaps you’ve never fancied before. You may even grow to love it.
- Spend time apart: Yes, even when you travel together as a couple, you should spend time on your own. It’s important to have space to do your own thing for a while, even if it’s just to put your iPod on and listen to music, or read a book on the beach, while your loved one does something else. You don’t want your relationship to feel suffocating.
- Acknowledge the things you both enjoy: Terry and are very different – I like stylish bars and restaurants with cool design, he loves rustic places where locals hang out. He revels in the sound of silence, I’m passionate about music and dancing. But there are certain things we both love when we travel together. It might be walking for miles with no particular plans, ditching the map and wandering all over a city to see what’s around the next corner, and the next; or trying every morsel of food and drink we can find in a place because we both believe in experiencing local food with a “when in Rome, you should eat like a Roman” outlook. Discover what you love doing together when you travel and do it often.
BONUS TIP – Enjoy every minute: holidays are short, time is short – have fun and enjoy each and every moment you have together!
Leave a Comment
Robert Bruce says
I find there needs to be a timeout between “regular life” and the vacation. Call it what you will, but I think it takes a short time to prepare for a vacation with your better half so that you are focused on the two of you rather than any of the toxic or stressful things back in the “regular life”. Great post. Congrats on a great blog and great relationship.
Sarah Lee says
That’s great Robert – a timeout. That’s the period of adjustment at the start of the trip that I was referring to. And it’s not always easy to just wind down from regular life because you’re on holiday all of a sudden. Thanks – it’s lovely that you recognised the site, but better than that, our great relationship.
Jeanine Dias says
Thanks for your ‘Us Time’ article Sarah.
My husband and I have raised 8 children and we have 16 grandchildren that have a huge place in our hearts.
However, this January, or February, we are looking forward to spending 2 weeks together. We don’t know where yet, but your article will help us create our long awaited ‘us’ time.
So thanks again,
We appreciate your insight,