I got a request for this post (yes, I do take requests!) in response to my post about travel and relationships. And since solicited advice is way better than unsolicited advice, I’m excited to share my two cents. In many ways, I’m the perfect person for this because I am both an incorrigible people-pleaser and a stubborn, selfish bitch. So what can you do when you’re planning a trip with your significant other and you can’t agree on anything?
Don’t be so closed off that you won’t even consider it
Vacations are a precious time; I know this better than anyone. But when you’re going to a new place, you don’t really have a good idea of what will be good and what will be disappointing. So be open to anything. You may find that the day trip out to the mountains that your significant other insisted on dragging you to ends up being your favorite part of the trip. Vacations can be an awesome way to blend your styles and interests, so don’t close yourself off.
Take pleasure in their enjoyment
No matter how compatible you are, there will be times when you disagree on things. But the great thing about being in a relationship is that you can take pleasure in whatever they enjoy doing even if you don’t enjoy it yourself. So if your guy really wants to go see a baseball game while you’re in New York, humor him just to see the smile on his face when his team hits a home run.
Make sure they do the same for you
Compromises on vacation (and in life) have to go both ways. If someone won’t budge an inch for you, that’s a big waving red flag that they don’t care about you or your happiness. But it’s your vacation, too. So if you agreed to sit with them at the casino while they lost all their money, then they damn well better strap up some nice shoes and take you to see Cirque du Soleil.
Go on vacation with a group and split up for activities
Some great couples simply don’t see eye to eye when they’re planning a trip. But if you’re both reasonably social, you can use other people as a buffer, so that you can vacation together without killing each other and still enjoy exactly what you want to do. A larger group will provide a wider array of interests that you can go along with. So maybe he can go to the casino with his friends, and you can spend all day at the art museum he doesn’t really care about with other people.
Trick them into doing what you want to do
Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should. This bit of advice falls into that category. That being said, it’s effective, and you can’t argue with results. This works especially well if you’re the person planning a vacation. So take both of you exactly where you want to go, and you’ll probably get your way. “Look at that! This is that church I wanted to see, and we’re already here, so…” You can also leave their lame activity for the last day when you know it’ll be closed. Oops?
Talk them out of doing something you don’t want to do
Sometimes disagreeing on vacation activities is not a matter of preference, but a matter of convenience. If your partner is hellbent on taking a day trip across Norway that will take 8 hours each way by train, it might be more reasonable to convince them that the excursion is better left for a separate vacation. Like any good argument, you should have solid reasons and a lot of attractive alternatives. Don’t complain about their idea just to complain if you have nothing better to offer.
Let go of the notion that you can do everything
Unless you’re going to spend three weeks in the same city, you’re not going to get to do everything. Accept that and prioritize. Come up with a list of things you must do and have your partner do the same. Then budget your time and figure out how to fit in a good amount of their preferred activities and yours.
Don’t be too stubborn and don’t be a doormat
Once you’ve done that, you have to be satisfied with cutting some of the things you wanted to do. After all, your partner will be doing the same. And you should compromise about evenly. If you’re getting to do all of the things on your list but you’re only leaving enough time for them to do one, you’re being too selfish.
Similarly, it’s unacceptable if your partner won’t give you a few hours a day to do your ideal activities. This is a joint vacation, and you want it to feel that way. You don’t want to feel like you’re going on someone else’s dream trip. At that point, you can probably resort to tricking. Your partner is a jackass, anyway.
If all else fails, date someone better
You don’t have to cling to the first living, breathing thing that wants to be with you after seeing what you look like without makeup in the morning. If you can’t agree on anything and won’t compromise on a vacation, imagine what the rest of your life will be like. Do you really want to eat only what they want to eat? Or only see the movies they want to see? Or only get the furniture they want for your house? Or raise a child exactly the way they want?
Don’t be afraid to stand your ground. If they don’t accept it, there are plenty of better people out there who won’t turn your dream getaway into a nightmare.