Fold mountains

He loves beach vacations. She loves the mountains. What are they doing?

During the first 10 years of their marriage, their vacations were above all city trips, and they were content to explore together the history of Paris or London. But in 2018, during a visit to Vietnam and Cambodia, Ms. Vandenberghe fell in love with everything the region had to offer — its food, its culture, even its humidity. Her husband had a different reaction.

“I was completely unhappy,” he says.

Mr. Vandenberghe feels at home near water and despises the heat. Ms. Vandenberghe sucks in the mountain air – the higher the better – and is not bothered by the wet weather. For her, the peaks of Southeast Asia are ecstasy. To him they are an affliction.

He also loves French cuisine, with all its butter and thick cream; she is lactose intolerant and craves the fresh flavors of Asian cuisine, much of which is dairy-free.

Such differences are common among couples and can make traveling together difficult, sometimes to the point of straining the relationship. But some couples have found ways to work around their differences when traveling together and, in some cases, have discovered the joy of vacationing apart. And couples who solve the vacation puzzle sometimes find that their arrangements not only don’t stress the relationship, they actually strengthen it.

The Vandenberghes make their travels work with a combination of compromise and solo indulgence. Every year, she travels with him to the beach, battling sunburn and sand in her clothes. In return, he grits his teeth and puts up with it for a week with her somewhere in the mountains – this year, a weekend in the French Alps. Then they each go on their own journey. She then goes to Switzerland; he will travel with childhood friends to France, where he grew up.

Not all of their trips need to be negotiated. Bustling urban centers, for example, tick the boxes for both.

“We both love big cities,” says Vandenberghe. “We like to visit Amsterdam, Buenos Aires, London.”

For Ms. Vandenberghe, who only started traveling after marrying Mr. Vandenberghe, it was a surprise when she realized her own travel preferences.

“I didn’t even know I didn’t like the sea, because everyone posts pictures on Instagram with the beach,” she says. “But the more I went, the more I hated being full of sand. I don’t have the patience to sit on the beach at all.”

Relaxation vs Adventure

For other couples, the difference in travel preferences appears earlier. Lori Harito and Robert Levy had been dating for just a year when they took their first international trip together, flying to Belize from their hometown of Toronto.

A few hours after landing, they realized they had very different expectations.

“My travel style has always been that you go somewhere to relax, you lie on the beach,” says Ms Harito. “But Rob’s style is to have as many adventures as possible, and as soon as we landed he was like, ‘OK, what are we exploring?'”

The trip coincided with Mr. Levy’s birthday and he was looking forward to some caving. Not wanting to disappoint him, Ms. Harito agreed.

“It terrified me, but I did it for him,” she said. “We’ve been through these jungles that have snakes, and I’m afraid of snakes. , we are totally different travellers. “

Mr. Levy, a self-proclaimed adrenaline junkie, says he doesn’t often feel fear. The first time he went skydiving, he expected terror and instead wondered what it was all about as he plunged through the sky. This translates into travel preferences, he says, “where I don’t like to repeat things and I don’t like going to the same place twice. Whereas Lori, when she finds something she loves, whether it’s a restaurant or a city, she’ll want to go back there again and again.”

Their love of being together sometimes outweighs their desire to explore different places. And when one of them gives in and goes to a destination they might not have chosen, it sometimes helps them grow.

“We really enjoy each other’s company and enjoy traveling together, so we’ll both compromise,” Levy says. “She will push her limits and I will take the European trips she wants to take, even if I will not visit London four times a year as I know she would love me to.”

Recently, Ms. Harito nodded and joined Mr. Levy in Tofino, BC, and he and she were shocked not only by learning to surf, but by admitting that she loved it.

But after five years together, they continue to travel more often separately than together. Last year he went surfing in Costa Rica while she flew to London to see Adele in concert. While Mr. Levy travels, Ms. Harito hangs out with girlfriends and binges her favorite shows; he uses the time while she’s on the road by going to bed early and reconnecting with old friends.

They both feel it made them a stronger couple.

“I’ve protected my own independence, and one of the ways I’ve done that is by traveling alone,” Ms Harito says. “The fact that our relationship is still standing and progressing five years later is a testament to the fact that the way we both travel suits us.”

honesty helps

The first few trips together are especially tough, says Laurel House, a dating coach who is one of eHarmony’s relationship experts. “A lot of couples take vacations to make it or break it up — they’ve gotten to know each other and they feel like the vacation is where they’re going to decide whether it’s a yes or a no” in the long run, says -she. “If travel preferences differ, what can happen is that they go on vacation and believe the relationship is a no, when in reality it’s just that they have different definitions of it. what travel means to them.”

For all couples, she says, the solution to such differences is to remember that a couple’s vacation is meant to be a shared experience and that compromise is part and parcel of the journey. So even if one person wants to relax on the beach while the other wants to visit all the monuments and museums, that’s fine, as long as there’s also time saved on the schedule to spend together. Trip planners can often help, by talking individually with both partners about preferences. Indeed, when only one person takes the lead in planning, problems can ensue.

“I’ll be playing the role of a psychologist or therapist,” says Anthony Berklich, travel consultant and founder of travel platform Inspired Citizen. “I talk to them together, then also separately, to get each other’s honest opinions that they might not be comfortable saying in front of the other.”

Alone time

Polly Clover, a content writer who lives in St. Croix in the US Virgin Islands, says couples should sometimes travel separately even if they want the same things.

“Society tells us that when we are on vacation, we have to take a trip with our partners. It doesn’t have to be,” says Ms. Clover.

She and her partner, Liam Daniels, have been together for three years. Ms Clover had years of solo travel experience under her belt when the two met. When they fell in love, she had no desire to give it up – and he didn’t ask her.

“I knew if I was ever going to be with someone long term, it had to be someone who also loved to travel and also supported me in traveling solo,” she says. Mr Daniels works as a brewer, and when they met he was locked into a 9-5 job while Ms Clover, who runs her own business, had the freedom to make her own schedule.

Mr. Daniels says he never feels left out.

“I’ve always enjoyed my time alone, and I think we both have had that time, it’s good for us, individually and as a couple,” he says. “I also know that traveling makes her happy, that’s what I want for her.”

When they want to travel together, they stick to camping trips, which they both enjoy. Destination weddings also offer successful middle ground, “since we don’t determine those destinations,” says Levy. “It makes things easier.”

But as they spent time apart, Ms Clover says, she felt them come closer.

At the height of the pandemic, she rented an RV and traveled solo through 15 states. They emailed and texted daily, and she sent photos by old-fashioned snail mail. The absence, she says, has really made them fonder of each other.

“Our relationship is as good as it is because of that,” she says. “Because we can both be independent, because we work so well together and have lives we enjoy, both independently and together.”

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