“I have found out that there ain’t no surer way to find out whether you like people or hate them than to travel with them.” — Mark Twain
In Trinidad and Tobago, it is often said, “See me and come live with me are two different things.” This has been proven time and again but I have found the same to be true with travel. You have been dating your boyfriend for 6 months, things are great and you are contemplating moving in together. Before you sign a renter’s agreement, pay a hefty security deposit and buy a bed from Courts on hire-purchase, you should take a trip together.
Travel is a wonderful experience. It provides the opportunity to see a new place, taste exotic cuisines and carve out a new perspective on life. Like living together, travel sheds light on aspects of a person’s character that are not easily detected. How your boyfriend treats you in this situation can be a great indication of his truest feelings for you. Is he the one? You will be surprised what you could learn about him when you are in a foreign land, navigating new experiences.
The issue of money is always a touchy one. Some couple have open discussions about money matters early in the relationship while others are guided by social cues and unspoken rules. The reality of how people feel about money is magnified a hundred-fold when travel is involved. For your birthday, you decide to make a trip to one of your bucket list locations. You think it’s a good opportunity to do something special with your boyfriend. For you, there is no price too big to satiate your desire to roam and discover new places. The plane tickets, hotel accommodations, car rental and activities add up to a pretty penny. He is not happy. He suggests staying at a hostel, using public transportation and planning day trips around the town. His objective is not to be adventurous but to save money. Some compromise may be required on your part but this may signal that you have varying views about money. This is not necessarily a bad thing but if you have severely opposing attitudes about it, it could be a deal breaker. If after all it, he still gets you a nice present and picks up the tab for meals, he might be a keeper.
Instinct to protect
Being on vacation together does not make you immune to little fights and spats. They happen all the time in relationships. After a lovely dinner at one of the local restaurants about a mile away from your hotel, you decide to take a leisurely stroll back. While discussing your plans for the next day (which incidentally would cost more money,) things become heated and you exchange some unpleasant words. He is upset and he stalks off, leaving you alone on a deserted street at night. Red flag! Like pulling out your chair, opening doors, making sure you get home safely, his instinct to protect you should never waver – even when he’s upset and especially when you’re in a strange place. Like my grandmother says, “You don’t take flambeau in the night to see what could be seen in the daylight.” Observe his behaviour. Does he hold your hand in crowded places? If you go exploring by yourself, does he call to check on you? Does he help with your bags? There is simply no scenario where not taking care of you is acceptable.
Flexibility – Can he adapt to stressful situations?
Travel requires you to be flexible and to think on your feet. Even the most impeccable itinerary cannot withstand the unexpected. Missing the departure of a train to take you from one country to another or a cancelled flight has the potential to ruin your getaway. It doesn’t have to be the end though. Some quick thinking and a positive attitude can turn it all around. How you guys manoeuvre this hurdle can be a good gauge for how you will handle issues in the future. What does your man do? Do you break into another fight? Does he blame you for not making the train because you took too long to get ready? Or does he spring into action, inquiring about the next train and planning an impromptu fun road trip? Some time ago, my friend and I were taking a flight from San Diego to Los Angeles. We made it to the airport in a mad rush and checked in for our flight a few minutes before it closed. At the TSA, we met the longest line in aviation history. We still missed our flight and our luggage flew to LAX alone. No worries. We simply rented a car and drove the 3-hour scenic route to Los Angeles. It turned out to be a lot of fun, much better than flying. Can your man make the best of a bad situation?
Fun or no fun
Finally, can you have fun together? There is always so much to do when you travel. Your tastes and interests may vary. But are they too varied that deciding on a fun activity becomes tedious? You want to attend a wine tasting advertised at a nearby vineyard but he prefers to relax at your all-inclusive resort. Or he wants to explore the mountain on bikes while you would rather go shopping at the mall. Again, you can compromise and find a way that makes you both happy. You should ask yourself however, if this could possibly be a warning that your interests are not aligned. Would doing things together be difficult in the future.?
There is no rubric for carving out the perfect relationship. It is important to pay attention to issues that may arise while dating; what you ignore today could be a torn in your side tomorrow. Figure out what you can live with and what you are not willing to compromise on at all.