A vacation is an endeavour laced with irony from the start. Relaxation is the primary goal, but problematically, it’s only the lucky few that achieve it. Let’s face it: Vacations are stressful.
It doesn’t help when conflict brews from within. It’s the diffusion of responsibility brought about by holidaying with a spouse or partner that causes the most stress of all. The friction between you and your spouse is the kind of heat you don’t want, but the kind you most often get.
This doesn’t have to happen. Think ahead. Be prepared. Avoiding these major arguments can turn the holiday from hell into a joyful frolic through the exotic, sun-saturated lands across the globe.
1. The “I Thought You Had the Passports” Argument
Oh man, this one’s embarrassing. It’s possibly the most needless argument and the most pivotal, because it can write off your vacation as a week-long battle of wills from the get-go.
Passports will only get forgotten if one party and one party alone takes responsibility for them. To avoid this crucial blunder, instruct your partner that it’s their responsibility to sort out the passports, but check the bags in the morning anyway. If they’re lounging unclaimed on the nightstand, you get the car journey to the airport to gloat. Good for you.
2. The “You Always Pack Too Much” Argument
Women always get the most rebuke for this, but the luggage junkie in my social circle is actually a man. The main culprit in this case was not necessarily an over-ambitious wardrobe, but over-preparation.
Some vacationers might feel they have to pack their entire lives to ensure something of a routine. You don’t. Check what appliances are included in your accommodation - hairdryers, towels, and so on - and surrounding amenities to pick up cheap cosmetics like shampoos and sun-tan lotion. They take up a lot of baggage weight because they’re liquids.
Also, make sure you actually check the weight of your luggage before you get to the airport. Don’t just show up and hope that your luggage is within the weight limits, or you will go through the humiliation of “airport packing,” where the suitcase is frantically opened and you flash your underwear collection to passers-by in a doomed attempt to redistribute weight.
3. The “It Was My Idea That We Book an Airport Transfer” Argument
Think about it. You arrive in a new land, full of excitement and wonder… and confusing road signs, and people that don’t speak English, and things you could be charged extra for and you would potentially have no idea, conned by your own ignorance.
Booking in advance not only makes a lot more sense logistically, but it can also ensure you get a good deal. If you book in advance, you can pay in your own currency, which you’ll understand the actual value of. The last thing you want to do is get off the plane and argue over whether or not you’ll even make it to the hotel.
4. The “We Always Just Sit Around and Do Nothing” Argument
This seems especially applicable to beach holidays. Sometimes the sunshine just pulls you into its warmth and presses you into a sun lounger with an irresistible gravity. Add a cold beer or some sangria and you have a recipe for relaxation.
For a while, at least.
Do this often enough and your holiday will start to get pretty dull. Tensions will rise if you’re stuck in the same environment for too long, so try to arrange an activity for 3 days out of every 4. Try to have at least one day when you travel out to a local city or attraction on the train for a decent dose of culture that will stick with you even after the tan has faded.
You don’t have to give up that relaxation time; getting away from the villa for even just two hours a day can make you appreciate lounging all the more, and keeps you from feeling unpleasantly lethargic.
5. The “We Can’t Afford to Keep Spending Like This” Argument
Perhaps the primary reason that couples argue is financial accountability. If you do end up having this argument, take the good with the bad: At least one of you cares enough to say something. People that get lost in the hedonistic ecstasy of the vacation bubble can often return home to find that they’ve missed a mortgage payment.
You can enjoy yourself and save money. Set out a budget with your partner before you head out. Get used to the currency exchange rates, because you’ll need to have an idea of the equivalent you’re spending when you dine out and shop in foreign cities.
For example, today 1 USD is approximately 101 Yen in Japan, whereas in Germany a dollar is 0.74 Euros. You might think the food is really cheap in Berlin because a meal out only costs €33, but in reality that’s $44.85.
Calculate the exact amount you’ll need, and get it out in cash. That way you’ll be far less likely to overspend, and therefore less likely to argue about what you are spending.