Unsplash/Robert Bye

It’s exciting, yet nerve-wracking to go on vacation with your partner for the first time. Their travel style might be completely different from yours — and that’s okay! Travel gives your relationship a chance to grow. Research by the US Travel Association found that couples who travel together are more satisfied with the relationship, and it even leads to better sex and improved romance. The US Travel Association also found that couples who travel together are generally happier (must be all that good sex!) and report higher levels of satisfaction in the relationship. This is because they are sharing stimulating activities together, which makes sense. When it’s just the two of you on vacation, you get to know each other better, learn more of their interests and dislikes, try new things, and operate as a couple. Travel is a big step in any relationship. But don’t be nervous — get excited for a romantic adventure! Here’s how to travel with your partner for the first time.

First, choose a destination you’re both interested in

Planning a trip is supposed to be fun! It gets your mind off your daily life and lets you daydream about being “out of the office and away from email.” Before you book a plane ticket, talk to your partner about where you’d like to go. Do you want to visit a big city, or hang out by the beach? Do you like activities such as hiking? Or is shopping more your thing? Make sure the two of you are on the same page about where you want to go and what activities you want to do — that way, the trip isn’t doomed from the start! For the first trip away from home together, don’t make it longer than a few days. Dip your toes in the water to start. If all goes well, plan a longer trip for the next vacation together.

Set a budget together so you’re on the same page about spending

Talking about money is another positive step forward in a relationship. Being totally open with each other on a (sometimes) taboo topic is smart when it comes to traveling. You might have different financial goals or different budgets when it comes to spending (and we all know that travel isn’t the cheapest activity). Couples who travel together often say that they acknowledge how to spend money. Agree on a budget together, that way you avoid arguments or hostility when the topic of going to a Michelin star restaurant or staying at a fancy hotel comes up. Enjoy the vacation, but don’t forget about your financial goals!   

Let one person control the map

The master of the map is a touchy subject, but it should be in the hands of one person when you’re on vacation. Whether it’s a phone, a guide book, or an actual paper map — let one person take the wheel. Giving directions is usually a trigger to arguments, especially with road trips. Agree to have one person be the all-knowing directions master on this trip, then switch it up for the next one. You don’t need any pointless fights when you’re on vacation, especially when it’s about how to get to the world’s most exclusive restaurant.

Don’t: jam-pack the itinerary, do: communicate with each other

There are two types of travelers: planners and those who prefer to wing it. Go easy on the activities if you’re the type of person who likes to plan out each day of a vacation. Yes, you want to make sure to do everything, but everything can be exhausting! Plan the itinerary together and take it day by day. Chances are, by the end of the trip you’ll be exhausted. Take time over dinner to talk about what you want to do the next day. Did you see an advertisement for a cool theater play? Tell your partner! Thought you might try to get scuba certified? Definitely tell your partner. You want to be on the same page with each other so that the trip isn’t one-sided. Just like when you’re at home, communicate with your partner and listen to each other. This is key to a healthy relationship.

Be sure to have alone time

The first vacation with your partner might be the most time you’ve ever spent together — that can be intimidating! Just remember to take time for yourself because being around someone 24/7 can be exhausting. If you’re an early riser, get out of bed and go for a walk by yourself. Do a little exploring on your own and then tell your significant other what you discovered on your mini trek around town. Did you see a restaurant that might be good for dinner later? Ask your partner if you can make a reservation. Taking time to be aloneespecially on longer vacations — is necessary. You don’t want to get to the point where you’ve been around each other so long that you take each other for granted. That’s never healthy for a relationship.

Be willing to explore

When you go on vacation with your partner, be willing to explore outside of the hotel or resort. Vacation mode not only means relaxing but also exploring a new area. Suggest putting the map away when you’re walking through a new city or a small town. Look up and notice all the beautiful things around you. Exploring together stimulates conversation and helps both of you be present. Maybe you’ll find a restaurant that the guide book didn’t mention, or maybe you’ll come across a beach that’s lacking crowds. When you’re with a person who’s willing to explore and try new things, it makes the vacation so much better.

Don’t hold back your emotions and be a team

Traveling helps you get comfortable with your partner. If you’re upset about a flight cancellation, or the airline loses your bags — don’t hide your emotions. It’s frustrating, so let it out — just not at each other. Your partner might see a side of you that you haven’t let out yet, and that’s okay. The way you respond to each other in high-stress situations will tell you a lot about the relationship. Travel will help build your bond and give you the opportunity to act as a team. When something goes wrong, such as being pickpocketed or scammed, you have to work together to solve the problem. And that’s the type of relationship advice that can’t be taught. It has to be experienced. Couples who travel together are more likely to say that their partner is patient and that they are best friends.

Decompress after the trip

Take time to decompress after your vacation. The day you come back from the trip, get your ducks in a row and set yourself up for a new week. Go grocery shopping, do laundry, clean your room, and get a good night’s sleep. If you live separately, give yourself time to see how you feel after the trip. You might not even want to leave the other person! As you lay in bed, scroll through your photos and post something from your travels! Better yet, start planning the next vacation together (if all went well).