How to survive your first holiday as a new couple

Advice from the experts to help you sail off into the sunset

Before Sunrise Ethan Hawke Julie Delpy Richard Linklater
(Image credit: © 1996 Warner Bros. Intl. Television)

So, you’re going on your first holiday together. Congrats! You’ve advanced to the next stage of your relationship. Planning a holiday as a new couple can feel a bit like playing a game of Snakes & Ladders. There’s the potential to climb new heights, but there’s also the worry you’ll go tumbling back to square one.

Whether you’re planning a staycation or an indulgent wellness escape, booking a trip as a new couple is one of the relationship milestones new couples are most eager to reach. New research by TUI BLUE reveals over a third of new couples see their first trip as one of the biggest relationship tests. When you’re in the heady throes of the honeymoon period, it can be hard to think beyond buying some new sleepwear (or lingerie) or updating your luggage if you want to spare yourself the embarrassment of hauling a zebra-print hard-shell suitcase up the rope ladder of a romantic Cornish treehouse, as this editor once did.

Relationship Science Expert Paul Brunson (of Celebs Go Dating fame) says, “A first trip away together is an exciting but nerve-wracking step for most new couples. There can be anxiety about spending so much time alone together that it reveals potential annoying or unusual habits to one another... or even worse, the ick." Studies show major icks include discovering your partner has weird habits, seeing how messy they are, and finding out they Facetime their family every day, which personally, I'm on the fence about.

According to couples that have successfully navigated the choppy waters of a first holiday, not stressing over the small things and staying off your phone are the best pieces of advice for a happy trip (and life in general, if you ask me). Other tips include trying something new together and choosing activities based on your shared interests.

As I'm in no position to dole out advice, I called in another professional. Here's what travel expert Justin Chapman has to say about making your first trip together memorable—in a good way.

Expert-approved tips on how to survive your first holiday as a new couple

1. TALK IT THROUGH

Talk about what you want from the trip. If you’re a ‘lounging by the pool followed by late-night drinks’ person, planning a holiday with an ‘up early to explore the city and sightsee all day’ person can be tricky. Do you want a hotel or a homestay? If you’re looking for self-catering accommodation, will you share the responsibility of the cooking to keep it fair? Will they want to spend the whole time on the beach, or can you schedule some cultural activities? Ask plenty of questions to make sure you’re on the same page, and you can book something you’ll both be happy with to avoid disappointment when you arrive.

2. START SMALL

If you’ve never spent more than a couple of days together in one go, it might be best to start with a weekend staycation rather than a two-week trip to the other side of the world. A shorter break minimises the pressure a little, rather than diving straight into a long holiday, and is less of a commitment if problems do arise.

3. HAVE THE MONEY TALK

Discuss a budget that you’re both comfortable with, not just for the flights and accommodation but also for activities, sightseeing, and meals. Are you looking for extravagant boat trips and five-star dinners, or something more budget-friendly? Are you hoping for an all-inclusive, but they want a self-catering city break? It can be difficult if you earn very different salaries, especially in a new relationship where you may not have discussed finances before, but it’s important to be vocal about exactly what you can and can’t afford to avoid feelings of resentment.

Before Sunrise movie

Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke in Before Sunrise

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

4. BE FLEXIBLE

From last-minute detours to unexpected bad weather, it’s important to embrace flexibility when you’re forced to make changes to, or completely abandon, your perfectly planned schedule. The preferences you discussed beforehand might change when you arrive, and being open-minded to new activities and plans can reduce the stress and frustration of feeling stuck with an itinerary that isn’t working for either of you.

5. BOOK IN SOME ME-TIME

Sometimes, you just can’t compromise, especially on a shorter break with not enough time to do everything you’d like—and there might be an activity you’re desperate to do or a town they’d love to visit, and you’re just not interested. Scheduling some alone time for each of you to do what you want means you indulge in your individual preferences, give each other some personal space, and prevent arguments from feeling like you’ve missed out on things you want to do to accommodate them.

6. COMMUNICATION IS VITAL

Clear communication is key, especially in your first experience of spending so much time together. Be open about when you need some alone time or if you want to change the itinerary because you’re not getting what you need from the trip. Keeping feelings of boredom or discomfort to yourself to keep the peace can lead to resentment and ultimately erupt into arguments. Keep the communication going, not just while you’re away but also when you get home, so you can make your next trip even more perfect!

Mischa Anouk Smith
News and Features Editor

Mischa Anouk Smith is the News and Features Editor of Marie Claire UK.

From personal essays to purpose-driven stories, reported studies, and interviews with celebrities like Rosie Huntington-Whiteley and designers including Dries Van Noten, Mischa has been featured in publications such as Refinery29, Stylist and Dazed. Her work explores what it means to be a woman today and sits at the intersection of culture and style, though, in the spirit of eclecticism, she has also written about NFTs, mental health and the rise of AI bands.