Your first holiday as a couple can be an emotional rollercoaster.
The idea of spending an entire week with someone you are still getting to know is understandably overwhelming. Even so, it’s a right of passage for every couple and something that can lay solid foundations for a long future together.
Relationship expert and behavioural psychologist Jo Hemmings told Business Insider: “A first holiday together is a real indicator, not just of the level of commitment within a relationship, but also of what the future together might look like.”
“You’ll notice aspects of each other that you might not have recognised before and you’ll see each other at your best and your worst.”
Hemmings partnered up with Forest Holidays to share with us the seven things to avoid if you want a seamless and romantic first holiday as a couple.
1. City breaks.
Despite what you might think, city breaks can be more hassle than they’re worth.
“There’s a certain amount of implicit pressure with a city break — after all, it would be a shame to go to a beautiful city and not pack in a fair amount of sightseeing,” Hemmings said. “Simply being in a city, with all the noise and buzz can make it difficult to relax.”
The pressure to cram everything in can mean that a couple doesn’t spend as much time enjoying each other’s company as they might in a more relaxed, non-urban setting, she said.
Instead, Hemmings recommends opting for a UK-based outdoorsy holiday. “There will be far less of a pre-planned agenda or itinerary and more time to really connect with each other in a calmer, quieter and hopefully, stress-free environment.”
2. Anywhere you’ve been with an ex.
It doesn’t take a relationship expert to know that at the beginning of a romance anything ex-related is usually strictly off limits, and it’s no different when it comes to holidays.
Try to choose a destination neither of you has been to before and definitely don’t choose somewhere you have been to with an ex. “This is bound to trigger memories and potentially arguments,” she Hemmings said.
Instead, discover somewhere new together and create memories.
3. Awkward money situations.
Although it might not sound that romantic, Hemmings stressed that it’s crucial to discuss budget ahead of your trip.
“Arguments over money are the last thing you want on your first holiday together. Approaches to spending are a common cause of rows among couples, and if one is a saver and one a spender, these attitudes can get magnified when on holiday, casting greater problems.”
Taking the plunge and having that conversation could also lay solid foundations for the future.
4. Spending the trip glued to your phone.
Holidays are precious time together. If you have to use your phone, Hemmings suggests you set a pre-arranged hour when your partner won’t feel neglected, or, just decide together that checking emails and social media is off imits.
“Along with money issues, phone usage is one of the biggest reasons for holiday arguments,” she said.
“It’s always harder than it seems but it’s worth talking about your thoughts on phone usage on holiday before you go away as it can get in the way of intimacy.”
5. Spending 24/7 with each other.
Contrary to what you might think, spending the entire trip gazing into each others’ eyes is not advisable on your first couples holiday.
Hemmings said: “Even on a romantic getaway, you don’t need to be by each other’s side every minute of every day. You’re probably not used to being together 24/7, so giving each other a little personal space at times is a good idea.”
A little me time could turn down the pressure a few notches.
6. Abandoning your partner.
Spending a little time alone can be healthy, but if you make new holiday friends don’t feel you have to do everything with them. It’s your romantic holiday and you need some quality alone time.
7. Being unrealistic.
Finally, harbouring unrealistic expectations for your first holiday as a couple is dangerous.
Holiday ads would have us all believe that every moment spent away together should be utter bliss, but in reality Hemmings says there’s bound to be the odd niggle and that’s all part of the experience.
“You might drink too much, get sunburnt, or a dodgy tummy. It happens to every couple, so don’t get too disappointed if it happens to you. Just move on from it and enjoy.”
To help avoid these situations she suggests not being too regimented about your holiday schedule with constant activities as it will only add to the pressure, when what you really want to do is unwind and get to know each other better in a relaxed environment.
“Allow yourselves to be spontaneous, adventurous and improvise where necessary. And no morning alarms!”