Two’s a crowd? Why you should try travelling *without* your partner

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A holiday can be a lifeline – an escape from the daily grind and a chance to recharge. But for many couples it also brings bubbling tensions to the surface, and at the most awkward time.

A recent study found that 40% of couples argue at least once per day on holiday, while a staggering 1 in 10 couples break up. I guess that’s one way of making it a trip you’ll never forget…

There’s an expectation that couples will travel together, but when it comes to getting away from it all, doesn’t it make sense to get away from *it all*?

Home from home

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Even for those in more harmonious relationships, it’s quite unrealistic to think that both of you will have exactly the same expectations for your few precious days off. As a result, planning a holiday often becomes a complex series of negotiations that is closer to brokering a business deal than plotting a glorious getaway.

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Maybe you want to be abseiling a waterfall in Costa Rica, but your partner wants to eat Sachertorte in a café in Vienna – how do you meet in the middle there? The likely result is a compromise that doesn’t allow for the desired rush of either sugar or adrenaline.

It’s unrealistic to think both of you will have exactly the same expectations

And to be honest, once the long-anticipated trip does arrive, it doesn’t matter that much where you went anyway. Couples, especially long-term couples, tend to become insular. On holiday, they spend the entire day together and talk only to each other, which somewhat defeats the purpose of going away and exploring a new culture.

Rather than soaking up the atmosphere in a heaving rooftop bar in Barcelona, you’re more likely to be bogged down in an argument about who stacks the dishwasher the wrong way or bitching about a mutual friend’s latest WhatsApp message on the group chat. You’re basically just transporting your daily life to a new setting rather than really getting out there and experiencing anything. In many ways, it’d be simpler, and cheaper, to green-screen Las Ramblas on the wall behind your sofa and be done with it.

Broadening your horizons

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Likewise, the roles and resentments of daily life will resurface even if you’re thousands of miles from home. The planner in the couple will be left plotting the daily outings; the one who always ends up doing the driving ends up stuck with the driving; and so on. While it makes sense to play to your strengths, it can feel an awful lot like a busman’s holiday (quite literally when you’re winding your way up the side of a mountain in Italy being overtaken by angry locals who want to drive at 70 mph on a single-track road).

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It may be that the answer lies in the radical idea of mixing up your couple escapes; and each doing your own thing occasionally, instead. Striking out on holiday alone doesn’t have to mean *alone* either. Group travel can be a happy medium where you have all the benefits of travelling with others but without the baggage (or at least only the literal baggage). You get to meet new people and make some friends, which, let’s face it, is not easy to do as an adult, let alone when you’re in a couple. But equally, group travel means you aren’t going *totally* out on a limb, trying to charm locals in a remote Peruvian village with your terrible Spanish and some interpretive dance.

A new type of travel

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The idea of having all the admin taken off your shoulders and meeting a group of like-minded travellers with a completely fresh slate can only be appealing. It’s like rolling back the clock to the days when travelling meant a world of exciting new possibilities; but this time without the backpack and the 20-bed hostel that permanently smells of feet.

For all that those old adventures, or even couple holidays, may have taken you out of your comfort zone – you may find that your comfort zone starts to look an awful lot like a rut when you’re basking in the sun overlooking Lake Bled in Slovenia or pretending to be knowledgeable while sipping wine in Portugal’s Douro Valley.

It may be time to call a truce in the holiday negotiations

So, however awkward it may seem now, it may be time to call a truce in the holiday negotiations and agree to meet back here in two weeks or so, recharged and with a load of new memories. As opposed to returning home still arguing about who chose the wrong passport queue at Heathrow Airport.

Who knows – refreshed and still feeling the buzz of a transformative escape – it may even leave you ready to concede that maybe there *is* a more efficient way to load the dishwasher.

Find out more about Flash Pack adventures right here

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