***Sarah is the loving wife to Mateo and mother of 5. She is energetic, adventurous and smart with her time. She has found endless value in couples travel and shares her ideas on why a couple trips matters and how to make your trip a relationship changing experience.
We have five amazing children and love them more than anything. But we’ve found that a once a year getaway, alone together, has really helped us be happier in our marriage and better parents. Our couples trip has become a healthy part of our marriage.
Whatever your travel rhythm and style is, just spending time together is the goal of a couples trip. It’s amazing the catch-up we can do when it’s just the two of us. Of course, we can always take time out when we are home, but having a real break and getting away from the usual demands allows for a different kind of inventory of our lives. We like to use our couple’s trip to focus on and plan for our future. Many wonderful things have come out of it.
Ideas to level up your couples travel
- We’ve had times in life where we had to make big decisions about job and country moves and it’s been nice to have private time to discuss on our trips. Many big decisions have been worked through this way.
- One year, we studied the Five Love Languages and took a test. We thought we knew each other very well but we still had some surprises that taught us new things about each other. Use your time to dig deep.
- Another trip, we’d had some bumps with communication, and it was so helpful to have time together to work through some of the tougher conversations so we could learn and grow together. I think every couple can appreciate how rewarding it can be to gain more understanding in a marriage.
- Each year we each do an annual self reflection essay, and if life gets busy we take time out during our couple’s trip to write these. It’s really interesting to read each others’ essays and compare how we viewed the year and what was remarkable or noteworthy for each person. Couple time is great reflecting time.
Managing different traveling styles
My husband, Mateo, is my all-time favorite travel partner and we finally have a similar travel style and rhythm, but that wasn’t always the case. Being open-minded with each other’s travel ideas, and taking each other’s interests/needs when traveling is key to a successful couple’s trip. On our honeymoon to my home country in the Philippines we spent some time on Boracay’s white-sand beaches. I was excited to lay out on the beach and Mateo asked me, “So… what are we supposed to do now?” He is an active person and, up to that point, had never vacationed on a tropical beach before! He was surprised when I told him, “Now we do nothing”! Mateo took it in stride and made some friends with the local staff. He had a blast helping them climb up a coconut tree and cut down the fruit for “buko” juice. It took him a few years, but now he knows how to be a beach bum with me.
Since Mateo loves being active and outdoors, I’ve also had to alter my travel style. He recently chose a trip to Patagonia, Chile. I was hesitant because I don’t like being cold. But it was an amazing trip. There was so much beauty in the vast expanse of Torre del Paine National Park. The wide open spaces, and clouds reflecting on the lakes were all stunning. I have appreciated his push for more outdoor adventures and now I enjoy it just as much as he does.
He introduced me to the beautiful marine underwater world in the Maldives on my first scuba trip. We chased a sea turtles and I got over my shark fears. In return he enjoyed the walking tours, cooking classes, and cultural outings that I picked on a trip to Cuba. A successful couples trip should be a blend of each others styles and a trust in learning new things.
Whether you regularly leave your kids for a couple’s trip or you’ve never done it before and hope to, here are a few books I found for couples travel inspiration:
- “Ultimate Journeys for Two” by Mike and Anne Howard (National Geographic)
- “The World’s 100 Best Adventure Trips” by Jasmina Trifoni (White Star Publishers).
Relationships are organic, humans change and grow, and there’s something thrilling about mixing things up a little bit and traveling somewhere new and experiencing unique and novel moments together.
Check your calendars and see if there’s a window of time you can take off. Ask family/friends or find a sitter to watch your kids. Grab a travel book and choose a new destination. Plan something new and exciting, and rest assured that your children will be more than fine when you are away. For those who are not able to get away for couples travel, there’s probably also adventure in the area where you live. You can find something local that you have never tried. The key is to seek and plan for a new experience and to make it happen.
Not everyone can leave their children or home situation for a trip. Not everyone has people they trust to watch their children or manage their daily routine. Sometimes there are couples where one parent (usually the mother) finds that they are just too concerned about the children, that they cannot enjoy the trip. I have a friend who has to sort out logistics for multiple, loved pets and is uncomfortable using a kennel or pet stay. A couple’s trip might not be right for everyone.
Expand what is possible
The first experiences with couples travel were much more emotionally challenging than the more recent ones have been. My confidence to leave my children in a safe and loving situation has grown. Our five children are ages 7-17 and we’ve left the kids annually since our eldest was born. There’s a process of letting go. You learn to allow caretakers to do their job, and give time for the preparation and planning to be implemented. It’s important to acknowledge that kids will stay up later than they should and may eat more candy when the grandparents are in charge, but what your marriage will gain is worth it. An unexpected benefit to leaving our children is that they bond together differently as they rely on each other more. Today our children are happy for us to travel and enjoy hearing all about it, which draws us even closer.
Unique experiences build a marriage
We did a couples trip to Nepal to go trekking and learned that we could see Mount Everest from an aircraft. Mateo suggested we do this, but it was quite a high price for a short 30-minute flight and I hesitated. I reminded him that we fly over the Swiss Alps twice a year when we go to visit my side of the family and the beauty must be quite similar, but he insisted. As the pilot turned the aircraft to announced that it was time to glance at the peak of Mount Everest, it took my breath away! The highest point in the world was right before our eyes.
I thought of all the adventurers who had attempted this peak and how the human spirit wants to keep exploring. Back in Kathmandu, we were exploring by foot when all of a sudden we turned a corner and stumbled by a river where a family was just lighting a funeral pyre. They were saying goodbye to their beloved father/grandfather.
The men stood close to the pyre and the women were further back. We were stunned that something so private could be in such a public setting. We watched the body go up in flames until the two feet literally burned to the point of falling to the ground. One of the many things that makes couples travel relationship changing is experiencing one of those unforgettable sacred travel moments together.