Here’s the thing: I wouldn’t say I’m an expert in many areas, but I do fancy myself a master adventurer. If you’re planning to travel with your partner, I have a few ideas on how to make it a real adventure.
Back in the day, I was your friendly neighborhood Boy Scout selling popcorn so I could canoe my way through Canada and get lost in the Rocky Mountains — and for the last seven years, my adventures have looked a little different: since Jenny and I met, traveling together has been an important part of our quality time. Whether it’s going new places, visiting old friends, taking on an epic adventure, or snoozing on the beach, we’ve worked out a couple things that help to take the pressure off and give us lasting memories as well as restorative quality time.
Make your adventure intentional! Is this a vacation to decompress after a busy season at work, or are you hoping to create mindblowing memories with your partner to look back on for life? What personal values have you not been fulfilling in day-to-day life lately? In short, what is the point of this adventure?
If you and your partner can verbalize your values, you’ll find that it becomes much easier to narrow down the best options for your time together.
Hint: both of you should answer this question for yourselves… make sure both peoples’ values are met in the plan! It’s okay if your partner’s intentions are different than yours, and you’ll be able to plan to meet both your values.
Jenny and I love traveling by ourselves, but when time off from work is limited, our non-negotiable is seeing our friends and family. Whether it’s hiking with old friends in Denver, hitting breweries with former roommates in Minneapolis, or visiting historic cities and beaches with our families, sharing part of your adventure with people you love only enhances relationships and creates lasting memories.
If you are traveling with loved ones, though, don’t be afraid to take time for independent excursions – sometimes all that recharging with others can really drain you. Whenever we visit friends in another city, we set aside a day to spend just the two of us. Your friends will be grateful for a breather from hosting, and you will find it’s valuable to spend the one-on-one time with your partner.
Hint: verbalize this boundary early in the planning process so everyone can plan for it! When we vacation with my family, Jenny and I will pick a day and announce that we’re going to find a nearby hike (or a tandem bicycle, like we did recently on Tybee Island).
It’s far more important to make small adventures out of everyday life together than to live between occasional epic, instagram-worthy adventures. If you don’t have a week of PTO and an airplane ticket, look around your backyard and find something that you’ve never done! An adventure with your partner doesn’t have to be a production.
Above: Forced to stay at home when Jenny and I both worked on Christmas Day 2019, we enjoyed an unseasonably warm day walking the Chicago lakefront with Rory.
At right: on Christmas 2020, stuck in quarantine, Jenny and I took an online cocktail class and put together the fanciest-looking Charcuterie board we could.
Below: I surprised Jenny with a mid-pandemic drive-in movie in a U-Haul pickup truck filled with blankets, sandwiches from a neighborhood deli we’d been wanting to try, and a cooler of local beers.
As tempting as it is to see the most impressive view, hike the most impressive hike, or do the most impressive thing, sometimes the adventure you need is just… existing together in a peaceful place. RE: Tip #1, if peace and escape is the priority for your adventure, then it is ESSENTIAL that you pick an adventure spot that will filter out the noise and stress of day-to-day life. If you’re like me, the stress of an expensive vacation, a packed hotel, and a crowded beach might negate the goal of the adventure.
Some of the most meaningful adventures Jenny and I have taken together were in small houses in rural America, far from neighbors, where we could focus on ourselves and each other. [Hint: we didn’t leave the place for days.] There’s just something about that isolated AirBNB that feels like putting on a weighted blanket and a pair of noise-cancelling headphones.
And for God’s sake, turn your phone off.
Lastly (and most importantly), a successful adventure is NOT about the destination, but about how you’re spending your time while you’re there. Going on an adventure with your partner can be many things: sometimes it is extremely stressful, and other times it feels like a RomCom (Jenny’s favorite type of movie). Adventures are all about taking on new challenges together and finding a sense of renewal along the way. With that in mind, no matter what kind of adventure you’re going on, remember:
Incidentally, an adventure is a perfect time to look and feel your best, and you might take the opportunity for a couple’s session to document this season of life with your partner. We did this recently on our 3rd anniversary to mark the end of our time living in Chicago on our way to Des Moines. If this sounds like a good idea, check my availability for an adventure couple’s session!