There are so many questions to think about once you’ve decided to take your new love on a romantic getaway: Should we head for the country or the city? Stay in a chic hotel, or a rustic bed-and-breakfast? Will we have a good time? Will we still be able to tolerate each other once the vacation comes to a close? The good news is that whichever one of you plans the trip actually has a great deal of control over the answers to the aforementioned questions — especially that last one. Here’s how to make sure that you do it right:
Tip #1: Be sure the timing’s right for traveling together as a couple
Even adrenaline junkies who crave bungee jumping and free/solo rock-climbing adventures know that planning a trip too early in a relationship is a bit… well, risky. “While every relationship is different, I often recommend planning your first trip together around the five-month mark,” says Marsha-Ann Brown, Director of Romance at Sandals Resorts. It takes about that long to begin forming a solid foundation for a relationship, and there’s no point in trying to build a sturdy structure on shaky ground.
Tip #2: Make it a quick trip — a long weekend (or less) is ideal
“Romantic getaways should be short and sweet; no more than a weekend, especially in the beginning of a relationship,” says Lauren Marty, a Los Angeles-based marketing manager who has frequently traveled on romantic getaways with her husband of three years. “If you book a week-long trip with someone you haven’t been with for very long, you might quickly discover that a full week was about five days over the limit.” It’s best to save those longer trips for a year or two down the line, when you’re absolutely certain that you can tolerate each other for more than 72 hours at a time.
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Tip #3: Take the scenic route if you’re driving
Tooling down the open road together can provide some prime getting-to-know-you time (as well as being a good opportunity to see if your new sweetie has any road-rage issues). So if you’re driving to your weekend destination, feel free to take your time getting there. Pull over to enjoy the sunset over the ocean or meander through local roadside farm stands selling seasonal goods. After all, you’re not in any rush here, and some of the best moments of the trip may occur before you even get to your destination.
Tip #4: Pick a locale that’s relatively close to home
And speaking of destinations, choosing the right one is crucial. You want a locale that screams “Fun! Fun! Fun!” not “Well, I guess this will do.” It’s also a good idea to stay relatively close to home. Flying cross-country, for example, might sound like a fantastic weekend getaway, but it leaves the door wide open for you to deal with jet lag, lost luggage, and general flight-induced crankiness with your love interest.
Tip #5: Stay within your mutually agreed-upon budget
There are several good reasons for going into debt (i.e., higher education, home ownership, emergency surgery), but a weekend getaway will never make that list. To avoid a lifetime of only paying the minimum balance on your credit card, make a travel budget — and stick to it.
Tip #6: Stop looking at your iPhone, already!
The romance factor of any weekend spent out of town will quickly drop from 10 to about 2.5 if you’re spending half of your time making business calls and checking emails instead of focusing on enjoying your time together. “If you have to deal with a [business] emergency or two during your trip…ask permission to answer the call,” says Keith Dent, certified relationship coach for Strive 2 Succeed Coaching Services. “That will tell your partner that you’re thinking of [his or her] needs first.” Otherwise, just pretend that all of your blinking, ringing and vibrating gadgets simply don’t exist. Remember, the point is to concentrate on each other, not your phone.
Tip #7: Plan activities that you both can agree on
Planning the right getaway activities relates back to the whole getting-to-know-each-other-before-traveling-together issue. After all, it’d be a shame to schedule an afternoon of wine tasting for two without knowing that your date’s been living sulfite-and-nitrate-free since 2009. It’s best to run your activities proposal by your traveling partner first, just to make sure that you’ll both reap the maximum enjoyment out of your mini-vacation.
Tip #8: Leave some free time in your schedule to be spontaneous, too
Let the clock-punchers of the world worry about strict rules and structure; you’re on vacation! Part of what makes life so enjoyable is going off-script from time to time and simply seeing where the day takes you. So, if the museum trip you scheduled turned out to be a colossal snore, then jump back in the rental car and search out some excitement wherever you can find it.
Tip #9: Choose a romantic setting/locale to visit
The right mood is essential to a romantic getaway, and that is something that’s rarely been found at, say, a Motel 6. It’s never necessary to break the bank when booking a nice hotel, but it’s recommended that you aim for the classier end of the spectrum. “I thought that staying at Paris [a Las Vegas hotel] would be better than staying at the Hooters [casino/hotel],” says Scott Rowden, a North Hollywood-based film editor who picked Las Vegas as the perfect destination for his first romantic getaway with his then-girlfriend of six months. “Location is important when you’re going with a date as opposed to a group of friends. You don’t want to just choose some cheap little hotel. Generally speaking, a romantic getaway is the time to spring for the room that’s facing the ocean rather than the parking lot.”
Tip #10: Relax
Don’t let the stress of traveling with someone for the first time or trying to plan things perfectly ruin your actual vacation. Just relax, let go, and have a good time — after all, it’s supposed to be fun!
Dana Robinson (DanasWebPage.com) is a Los Angeles-based freelance writer whose work has appeared on WeightWatchers.com and MediaBistro.com. Follow her @DanaRobinSays.