Fights and arguments between couples happen. It’s normal. But why do fights happen when we’re on vacation? Holidays are supposed to be amazing, aren’t they? Many of us think “No way will we fight when we’re on holiday, we’ve been looking forward to this trip for forever! It’s going to be so amazing!” Surprisingly, vacations can actually add a lot of unnecessary stress and pressure (even though we go them to de-stress) and are the main reasons why couples fight when traveling. Here are 8 great tips that we practice on how to avoid fighting on vacation.
How to Avoid Fighting on Vacation TIP 1: PLAY ON EACH OTHER’S STRENGTHS
Playing to your strengths can help you both have a better time, get things sorted quicker and with fewer arguments. Figure out who does what better and ‘assign’ roles and tasks to each other during the trip. Renesh is far better with directions and how to get to places while I find all the best food spots. If we reverse roles, we’ll end up hungry, very lost and probably on the brink of a frustrated argument!
How to Avoid Fighting on Vacation TIP 2: MONEY
Money is one of the top things couples fight about at home. So with the added stress of traveling, fluctuating exchange rates (and maybe a touch of math incompetency), unfamiliarity and other vacation surprises, it’s no wonder that money is also a big cause for fights while on holiday.
To avoid this potential vacation fight, work out your maximum spend on meals, things you want to do and shop for. Discuss whether you will have a separate or joint travel cash account and if it’s joint, who will manage the money. If you decide on a joint travel fund, also think about how much personal spend will come out of that joint fund. This will make sure that there is as much consideration and as little resentment as possible between the two of you when traveling.
How to Avoid Fighting on Vacation TIP 3: DON’T PLAY THE BLAME GAME
Whatever happens, whether you missed your flights or the hotel booking just didn’t go through, or you got insanely lost, playing the blame game is the instinctive human reaction. Though you may actually think it is his or her fault, remember that mistakes happen. Your partner also wanted to have a wonderful holiday so would never intentionally mess things up. One time in Bali, I gave away IDR3,000,000 (USD200) instead of IDR300,000 (USD20) to our Grabcar driver! Big difference! Luckily Renesh caught it and got it back. But even luckier was that he didn’t get upset and make a big deal out of it. I was already feeling really bad about the ridiculous mistake and felt so grateful that we laughed about it after. But you can be sure that I’m much more careful now when it comes to foreign currencies!
Getting upset or fighting about it isn’t going to change the fact that you’ve missed your flight, or have no hotel to stay at or, in our case, change the fact that I almost give away a ton of money! Things happen. All the time. Instead, try to laugh it off and find an immediate solution. And know that you’ll have a great story to tell after!
When you think about it in the grand scheme of things, such small things don’t really matter in life. The most important thing when you travel is that both of you are safe.
How to Avoid Fighting on Vacation Tip 4: BE CONSIDERATE AND COMPROMISE
We can’t emphasize this enough! During our first getaway together, I wanted to do a quick trek through a jungle to get to a beach on the other side. So off we go on this trek. The trek turned out to take an hour rather than the supposed 20 minutes through some hardcore jungle and the beach wasn’t the best we’ve seen. Throughout the trek, Renesh was very quiet and seemed to just want to rush through it. I didn’t understand it and though he was a bit annoyed. It was only much later that he told me he actually has a fear of snakes and that 1-hour trek through the jungle felt more like 5-hours of potential snake encounters for him! I felt so terrible to put him through that.
He was really sweet to agree to go for the trek even though he dreaded it. Now that I know his fear, I would never suggest that we go trekking through a tropical forest, even though I absolutely love trekking! This is an example of big considerations and compromise as a couple traveling together, but there are smaller everyday ones as well. For example, if your partner says he/she is hungry, but you’re in the middle of shopping, sightseeing, or (fill-in-the-blank), be considerate and try to wrap up what you’re doing pretty quickly so you two can go get some food. Your partner will not only feel grateful, but you would avoid a possible hangry fight as well!
How to Avoid Fighting on Vacation Tip 5: BE AWARE OF YOUR EMOTIONS
When you travel, you’re more stressed because of unfamiliarity and the lack of routine. It’s amazing how simple things act as triggers for heightened emotions – jet lag, long days of a lot of walking, hunger, or in my case, not getting my morning coffee. These triggers can make you short-tempered, grouchy, easily frustrated, and easily irritated at your partner.
If you can be aware that you are starting to get frustrated and upset, you can think logically and realize what your trigger was (it usually is travel-stress related) and fix it pretty easily.
How to Avoid Fighting on Vacation Tip 6: BE MINDFUL OF HOW YOU PERCEIVE/REACT TO YOUR PARTNERS EMOTIONS
If your partner seems to be acting out of character, try not to jump to defensive conclusions that he/she is upset or not having a good time. Instead, try to understand that your partner could be stressed or just reacting differently as a coping mechanism of being in an unfamiliar place. Being on the defensive, especially when nothing is actually wrong, can create unnecessary tension. With this change in mindset and perception, you can then talk to your partner easily to see if anything is actually wrong.
How to Avoid Fighting on Vacation TIP 7: REMEMBER WHY YOU’RE ON A HOLIDAY TOGETHER IN THE FIRST PLACE
Remembering this is amazingly helpful when you’re already in mid-fight. Think about how long you’ve both been looking forward to the trip. And that you’re on holiday together because you want to spend a wonderful time in a beautiful place together. When you think of that, it really doesn’t make any sense to fight when you’re on holiday. If that doesn’t work, think about the money you’re spending to go on the trip and realize that you can actually have this same fight at home, without spending all that money!
We guarantee thinking through this way will immediately have you both less upset at each other and ready to move on to enjoy your holiday!
How to Avoid Fighting on Vacation Tip 8: SURPRISE AND WOO EACH OTHER
This is Renesh’s favorite tip for couples traveling together because he does this so incredibly well. Having a little surprise set up for when you’re there is an amazing way to add to your holiday experience. It could be bringing something to surprise your partner or prearrange something special waiting for your partner when you check in. Just a little thought goes a super long way. And have date nights!
The only tip the seasoned Renesh would add is don’t book a romantic candlelit dinner on the night of arrival. Things happen. Your flight could be delayed or hotel overbooked. All these stressors usually happen on the first day of your travels. You want both of you to be more relaxed, settled and not rushed for a romantic dinner!
The thing about holidays are that they are short-lived. You won’t be there forever so you want to spend every moment there enjoying your break. And even if you’re traveling long-term together, you’re not going to be at that place forever. You really don’t want to waste an entire day being upset with your partner.
We’re not the ‘perfect couple’, we have an amazing, fun relationship, but we also fight about silly things as well sometimes. But we work on applying these tips on how to avoid fighting on vacation and hope they can help you too.
Wishing you amazing travels!
Sue & Renesh