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Carolyn Hax: Couple’s first trip exposes mismatched vacationing styles

(Nick Galifianakis/For The Washington Post)
3 min

Adapted from an online discussion.

Dear Carolyn: My partner and I are on our first couple vacation, and it turns out our vacationing styles are mismatched. It now seems silly not to have anticipated this — at home I often wake up in the morning to find he has JUST gone to bed — but I am wanting to get out early in the morning and see sunrises, ride bikes, etc., before all the tourists crowd the streets, while he wants to sleep in and considers it “not a vacation” if he has to rise at any set time.

We want to be with each other, but there doesn’t seem to be a way to get our rhythms together. We don’t have the money for a big trip every year, so this will probably come up every few years at most. How can we set good couple vacation habits now?

— Vacationing

Vacationing: Does he want to adjust at all to your schedule? I.e., will he agree to wake up even an hour earlier than he would have gotten up otherwise? Will you go an hour later, or set aside even a day for sleeping in?

If not, then there's no “we.” That's where you start.

And with that, each of you does your own thing. You can establish that he’ll join you when he wakes up, where practical.

Your best chance of finding an agreeable overlap, where he does get up earlier than he’d like but later than you’d like, is if he doesn’t like the feel of having separate, parallel vacations.

But the way you phrase your question, he is not willing to “rise at any set time” — so if you want change, then you’ll have to make it.

Readers’ thoughts:

· I read this somewhere, that it’s useful to distinguish between vacation and travel because they’re so different — one is to relax, rest and recharge, and the other is often physically and mentally taxing, seeing a new place, getting around in a language you don’t know, new food/new water, hikes/treks/long lines. Going on one when you really want/need the other (same for your travel companions) often leads to angst.

· My partner and I have almost always had a robust argument on trips lasting more than a couple of days, and that is about the only time we argue like that. We have been married many years but after a good talk following an argument this year, my partner finally admitted they just don’t like trips lasting more than a couple of days; home is where they are happy.

So I am going to look at other occasional travel options. I am not a big traveler by any means, but I do like to get away for more than a couple of days at times. I finally decided to deal with what we have rather than trying to force what I want. While I agree Vacationing's partner should consider adjusting schedules at least part of the time, dropping expectations and adjusting accordingly may be the way forward.

· I learned there are two kind of vacations — do everything, and hang by the pool and do nothing. I find it useful to know what kind of vacation my partner has in mind before we go.