What to Plan Before Your First Road Trip Together

After several months dating, you’re ready to take the next step in your relationship. Perhaps you’re already past the “I love you” stage and discussing whether to move in together. However, hitting the road for a first-time adventure as a couple may take your relationship to a whole new level.

Just think about how much time you’ll spend together. Still, butterflies and heart-eye emojis aside, a little preparation can help make your trip one to remember — and not regret. Before you hit the open road, make sure you both adhere to these five tips to ensure your vacation is as amazing as the new love in your life.

1. Prep the Car

For a carefree journey on the open road, you’ll first want to make sure your mode of transportation is in good shape. A tune-up or inspection can provide you with the peace of mind that your trip won’t end abruptly or become a financial disaster. Driving is a part of the road-tripping adventure, after all.

But if your car breaks down, your adventure can suddenly become a disappointing misadventure. Make sure to get an oil change and have your battery and tires checked. For fuel efficiency and savings, check to see if a clogged air filter, worn spark plugs or loose gas cap need to be replaced.

2. Discuss Trip Expenses

Money can be an uncomfortable discussion in any relationship, especially for a new couple going on their first road trip together. But that doesn’t mean you should avoid the issue altogether; after all, communication helps prevent awkward moments when it’s time to pull out your wallet. So where can you lead off this conversation?

First, set spending expectations. You can agree to trade off or go 50/50 (e.g., split paying for gas or go dutch on meals). Or, one person can pay for all the expenses on their credit card and then split the total. You both may want to create a budget guided by the partner who has a lower income, too, according to travel blog Off the Path.

For example, if the higher earner wants to stay in a resort that the lower earner may not be able to afford, the partner who makes more money should cover the additional cost.

3. Communicate Openly Before Departing

In any new relationship, whether you go to work, stay at home throughout the day or run an extended list of errands, you’re bound to get some time away from your partner. But your first long trip as a couple will be 24/7 togetherness while away from normal routines and surroundings. Having an open conversation prior to the trip to share your strengths, weaknesses, insecurities and preferences can help prepare you for a comfortable trip free of arguments.

For example, you may be an early riser who wants to get a head start on the day, whereas your partner prefers to sleep in. Likewise, one partner may like to be in control of planning, while the other is more go-with-the-flow. Think of yourselves as a team, with each partner possessing traits and shouldering responsibilities that contribute to an unforgettable road-tripping adventure.

4. Plan an Itinerary

“What do you want to do?” “I don’t care.” “Doesn’t matter to me.” “It’s up to you.” This back and forth indecisiveness can eventually take its toll on the open road. Sure, spontaneity is exciting, but having a general itinerary is a good idea for new couples who are still getting to know each other. To plan the best trip for you both, approach planning with openness, honesty and compromise. Then, neither of you have to feel self-conscious in the moment when it comes to making a decision on an activity or event.

5. Make It Low Maintenance

Make this experience a trip that’s all about the both of you. A trip with a group of friends or to meet the family introduces new, extra elements that can bring added stress. Choose a destination together. As you devise your itinerary, planning activities that neither of you have tried are opportunities to create new, special memories. Try to avoid extreme activities, though — it may be exciting to step outside your comfort zone, but not at the expense of possible fear and anxiety. In the end, your first road trip together should be a fun, romantic and relaxing time to have fun and live in the moment.

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