Going away with a new partner can be a minefield. In the confines of a small hotel room with minimal personal space and a bathroom with no sound barrier, you need to be prepared to have all your weird habits and behaviours out in the open. With that in mind, many questions can arise: What if you don’t actually get on well enough to sustain a full week of chat? What if they snore? What if you snore? What if they do that thing where they talk to locals loudly, in English, but in the accent native to wherever it is you’re visiting? The list of potential icks is endless.
Megan-Barton Hanson is the queen of dating, hence why she’s VICE’s resident sex, relationships and all things horny columnist. Here, Megan dishes out some solid gold advice on how to go on romantic holiday without losing your mind at the end of it.
Discuss your budget for the holiday
It's awkward, but it’s better to get this one out of the way up front. When I went to Barcelona with my first boyfriend, I was a legal PA and neither of us had a pot to piss in. We were so broke. But I still wanted to see museums and cathedrals and stuff, whereas he just wanted to sit in McDonald’s. I also dragged him to a nudist beach and he was very anti-that. I think I had to get him a few proseccos to actually get him on the beach.
The fact is some people’s idea of a holiday can be very different from yours, and if I want to go out and be bougie and they just want to go and sit in McDonald's or the Irish bar, we're not gonna have a good time. Regardless of how much or how little you have, consider making a rough itinerary of how much you’re willing to spend beforehand. I think that could stop a lot of arguments! Obviously don’t structure every single day militantly, but maybe have a rough plan of things you want to do while you're at it.
Make sure you’re going on the same holiday
The most recent time I went away with someone, I came back and thought ‘... You’re not for me’. He just didn’t plan anything, and when it came to doing things every day he wasn’t booking anything either, so we just spent days bar-crawling and doing one touristy thing. I’m quite unorganised too, but I’d planned for us to go and see a basketball game and go on a helicopter ride, and I really wanted to do loads of tacky touristy stuff, but he had other ideas! He was like “oh, can you be bothered to travel 40 minutes in a cab to get a helicopter?” And I was like… yes, of course! But he’d rather go to the same cocktail bar that we've been in once already.
I think you need to make sure priorities are aligned and you’re on the same page in regards to what you actually want to get out of a holiday. If you’re on different vibes, it’s not a dealbreaker. As long as you communicate it, you can make it work. If he’d said “I want to go but I don't really want to do that much – maybe we can have two touristy days and then the rest we can just go for nice dinners and chill”, then I’d have been prepared. But when you’re going somewhere and in your head it's going to be a different holiday, that's when you're going to get irritated. So definitely discuss what your idea of a holiday is before actually going!!
If you’re not on the same page, try a beach holiday
It’s literally sunbathing, shagging and eating. What could go wrong?
There’s no ‘right time’ in the relationship to start going away together
I don’t think you should put rules in place for this. Sometimes you'll be with someone for literally a month and feel like you've got a better connection with them than someone you were with for six months in the past. That said, I would definitely suggest doing a city break before you travel halfway across the world together.
Set your boundaries – nicely!
I like my own space, so for me it's quite difficult sharing a hotel room with someone. As long as they’re clean and tidy, that's the main thing. If I went away with someone and the room was like a bomb site, that would do me no favours and I’d just get really pissed off with them. You’ve got to set boundaries.
Men will go to the toilet and not flush the toilet, for example. Like, just because we’re at the level of going on holiday together that doesn't mean that I'm fully invested in you and I won't leave you if you’re a gross slob! Brush your teeth and get the sleep out of your eye before morning sex, flush the toilet and don't piss on the toilet seat, OK?
Get off your phone!
When you go away with someone you want to be with each other and you want to make memories, but you have to be present in the moment to do that. I've been with some partners who are more fussed with how their holiday is looking to their Instagram followers and it’s a bit like… who are you here for? Yourself, because you actually want to be here? Because you want to piss off an ex? Or keep up appearances and act like you're living a bougie lifestyle?
Even when I'd go away with my first boyfriend before Love Island, he’d be constantly on the phone. What's the point of coming away? When you're together for a week the conversation can dry up, and you don't want to turn into that married couple sitting across from each other at the dinner table in silence. That’s my biggest fear in life. I always point it out to partners or anyone I'm seeing that’s more than just a casual fuck – I'll point out a couple and say “I never want to be like that”, just so they’re conscious and make effort to keep the conversation.
Be adventurous, you’re only there once
When I was away with my first ever boyfriend, he didn't want to adventure out. It’s definitely more of a male thing where they’ll find one or two restaurants and a few that they're content with, and then it’s just the hotel, the beach and that. They’re like “oh but this one’s nice, where else do you want to go then?” Like, I don’t know? Let’s just go and wander up some random cobbled streets and have a look? I'm here perhaps once in my life! I want to go and explore and do things!
I’ve been away with a few people that are just so lazy. Fancy going somewhere and then just sitting in the hotel and the hotel bar? To me, that's not normal.
Or, don’t be afraid to do separate things and meet up later
It seems anti-romantic at first, but I think it’s healthy and normal for people to be able to do what they want on a holiday – to a certain extent. Otherwise you end up resenting each other. If one of you is really into art and you want to go and see an exhibition or something, and the other person wants to lay there cooking in the sun like David Dickinson, then do that. There's nothing worse than coming back from a holiday and feeling like you didn't voice what you wanted to do because you were trying to keep the peace and be the cute girlfriend.
That would also ensure you have lots of chat, so you can talk about things you saw and did and you won’t be that couple sitting in the most romantic restaurant in Europe in complete silence. Or scrolling through Instagram. Or marching around the pool like “Fine! I’ll just have a piña colada then!”