A vacation is supposed to be a time to set aside your problems and focus on not thinking too much, relaxing the mind and body, and if you are with your partner/family, bond with them. As it is, with distractions like email and Facebook, it is nearly impossible to disengage completely, but many couples find other ways to spoil their holiday. I have been discussing this with some of my readers and I found out that the fights before and during a vacation are surprisingly about the same things. So here is a small list that I have come up with along with my thoughts on how to eliminate them:
Meals: It is shocking how many couples and families have disputes about eating. It is not uncommon to see men tell themselves that they can eat and drink whatever they want and as much as they can, while women still want to stick to their healthy diets. The solution: do not impose your preference on the other (if someone wants to eat 5,000 calorie dessert, not for me, but I will happily give you company drinking a cup of hot tea after dinner). If you want to eat deep fried fish, let her have her salad. You do not have to make her feel guilty about her choice and a woman need not push her man to not eat something, unless there is a medical reason for it. Chances are that a few unhealthy meals are not going to make a huge difference, but arguing about it will surely spoil the trip.
What to do: I remember a trip to Paris. We walked so much in Paris that one day I simply revolted and told her that I would stay in the hotel all day. I found out later on that what was bothering me so much were my uncomfortable shoes. I knew before going that Paris was all about museums and exploring neighborhoods but I also thought that we would just chill out in cafes and restaurants. In other words, discuss with your partner how you will divide the time between different types of activities. It is also okay to split up. So you do not have to get totally bored shopping while your wife runs around looking for designer bargains.
Road trip drama: Let’s agree, road trips can be rough with getting lost, traffic, and unexpected surprises in form of lousy food. The best way to make it work is to agree on the basic rules (sharing driving, meals, etc.) and stick to them. Also always have plenty of food and water in the car to avoid cranky passengers. I also like to agree on the itinerary and tentative driving route (I like to follow the GPS directions without questioning but Lorena still likes to consult the map and that has occasionally caused some conflict).
Packing: Nothing new here except that women like to bring too much stuff while men are willing to do with less and complain about having to haul it for them. I have also seen women complaining that their guy’s collection of outfits will not be good enough for fancy meals. I am a minimalist and can live with really little, but as far as packing is concerned, I try not to make an issue out of it. She gets to bring what she wants and I get to travel lightly. The only thing I do to always look sharp for a nice meal is to bring one or two great outfits that can be recycled over and over again by mixing. A sky blue shirt or a Polo can be paired with jeans or khaki for a great night.
Airport arrival: Since I am a seasoned traveler and know my way around airports, I like to believe that when airlines say that you should be there 2-3 hours before a flight, they are talking to those who rarely fly. They understand that many newbie fliers will believe them, show up early, and that will save the airline a ton of money by employing as few people as they can get away with. My wife likes to be on time for everything and likes to be among the first ones to board. The best thing to do is to just agree on something and implement this. A fight about this is not a great way to start a trip. I just bring a lot of reading material to kill time in the airport.
Money: This is always a tough one because despite the budgeting, there are always things that go unexpectedly. There are temptations, mistakes, and emergencies. The way we deal with is that we first have a conservative budget and then add an amount for unexpected expenses. If everything goes normally, as it typically does during domestic travel, but if we encounter expenses that we did not thought of before, something common that can happen during overseas travel especially if we do not speak the language and things are unfamiliar (e.g. if though we do not speak French, things are much more predictable than, say, being in Dubai or Singapore), we do not have to get into an argument.