Situation: You've been dating for a while and want to commit to a trip together. Then, the questions start flooding in.
Where should we go? What should we do? What if he doesn't like the way I travel? What if things go wrong?
We're Stef and D, a pair of married jetsetters. Together, we've visited over 50 countries, and we're determined to see even more – all while working full time and paying off a mortgage. We count our dollars at home and away and are here to share our tips on how you can travel on a budget.
Not our place to answer here. Personally, we took a year and a half, but we did travel with mates on short trips prior which eased us in.
When you feel you're ready, you're ready. Just don't rush things and don't try to use a romantic trip as a way to patch up a shaken romance. That's my two cents.
How long should our holiday go for?
Keep it brief. A weekend or long weekend is ideal to test the waters of your relationship. Similar to spending a few nights at their house, it's enough to give you a peek into their true selves while reducing the worry of prolonged torture in seeing a longer trip through if it goes belly up.
If you've been dating for some time and are familiar with their habits, longer trips may be on the cards. Our first holiday was seven nights and while there were a few tiffs, they were nothing either of us wasn't used to.
What happens if things go wrong?
Things will always go wrong whether you've been dating for a few days or been married for years (profound, right?). It's how you deal with them that matters. Try to resolve it as soon as possible – particularly if you still have a few days of your trip to get through.
One way you can avoid a lover's quarrel is by addressing potential issues early – even as far as the planning stage. Use our "dos" and "don'ts" below to guide you along.
Go somewhere you're both interested in visiting
There's no use forcing your destination dreams onto your partner if they're going to be miserable and bored the whole trip. Leave that for a solo gig or a holiday with like-minded mates and family.
Go somewhere neither of you have been before
It'll not only be more exciting for both of you but the repeat offender will feel less like a tour guide.
By going somewhere new you can cement new memories of the destination together, too.
Sort out your itinerary together
As a couple you'll be making a lot of decisions and a lot of compromises together. Before you head off, discuss what activities you'd like to do to ensure you're both on the same page.
Sort out your budgets before you leave
You're probably still in the honeymoon stage, so there may be a quiet expectation that one will whip out their wallet to cover the bill at the end of the night. Make sure you're clear about who's paying for what on the trip to avoid confusion – and to keep both of your budgets on track.
You might also find that one person travels to a different budget than the other. A good rule of thumb if you're planning to go Dutch is to work with the smaller budget or lower income earner. You can wiggle it up if you feel the need.
Now I'm not saying you should propose, but a small romantic gesture that your partner isn't expecting will go a long way.
Overstuff your itinerary
Just like choosing a movie as your first date, it might be entertaining for both parties but it doesn't give you much opportunity to learn about each other.
So while activities are imperative, don't overdo it or you'll leave your trip exhausted and your relationship no further than when you left home.
We often like to include one outdoor activity and a few sit-down meals.
Force them to do something they're not interested in
A grumbling or unhappy partner is not what you want, particularly on your first holiday.
If you want to do one thing and your partner wants to do another for a few hours, that's completely OK. Go your own ways for a spell. You can't expect both of your travel desires to align and some alone time isn't bad if you're both happy with it.
We've done this in the past. We've also avoided any activities that the other is completely opposed to. That can be left for another trip with more like-minded travellers.
Our top 3 couple's first holiday destinations
The Red Centre is one of those destinations every Australian should visit, and part of its appeal is that you needn't stay long to experience it.
Romantic activities: Sound of Silence dinner under the stars, Field of Light and night sky tours.
Enough landscape to gawp over but a small enough island to experience all the highlights within a short period of time, Tasmania sings with options. The adventurous can hike Cradle Mountain, the city slickers can trawl markets and museums in Hobart and the beachy keen can laze along Freycinet.
Romantic activities: Driving up the Freycinet Coast, cruising to Bruny Island and hiking Cradle Mountain.
Long: New Zealand
Far enough away to be an overseas getaway, New Zealand is one romantic landscape after another. We'd recommend this for a longer relationship as it is a longer trip and the best way to get around is by car so it'll be less relaxing than other destinations.
How long do you need: 1 week (for one island).
Where to stay: Low budgets can stay at one of the many caravan parks across the country. Bigger spenders can tuck into unique stays like Lake Tekapo Lodge. Search below for options in different cities.
Romantic activities: Cruise Milford Sound, stargaze at Lake Tekapo, hike the Bay of Islands.
Stephanie Yip is the travel editor at Finder and has been writing about travel and lifestyle for over a decade. She has written for Travel Weekly, Escape, Showpo, The Nibbler and Hostelworld. She was also the editor of kids magazine DMAG. Stephanie has a Bachelor of Communications from the University of Technology Sydney and has visited 55 countries (and counting).
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