5 Tips for Traveling With Someone for the First Time


Planning your first trip with a new significant other, friend, or coworker? Traveling with someone for the first time is exciting, especially if it signals a step forward in your relationship. But being together in close quarters or stressful situations can also reveal hidden sides of your companion.

“[Travel] can expose things about each other that you hadn't previously seen, such as hygiene habits, spending differences, tidiness or messiness, sleep issues like snoring, and eating schedules and habits,” says Tina Tessina, PhD, a psychotherapist and author of Love Styles: How to Celebrate Your Differences. “Travel often creates stress: when plans go awry, a flight is delayed, luggage gets lost, a hotel room isn't as expected, or the weather doesn't cooperate. All of these experiences will test your ability to solve problems together on the spot.”

Before you jet off, here are a few steps to take to avoid any potential conflict.


“I recently embarked on an overseas trip with a longtime friend, our first-ever together,” says frequent traveler Kari Cruz. “While we've been friends for five plus years, there are definitely some standard questions you should ask beforehand ... You don't always think to do this when you've gotten to know a person for a long time.”

Specifically, Cruz suggests asking about spending habits. “Are you flexible on where you want to eat and how you want to indulge? This may strain outings if you aren't on similar budgets," she says.

You also want to discuss exactly how each of you will pitch in for expenses like gas, hotels, restaurants, and so on. The answer may seem as simple as “split it down the middle,” but if your friend has some expensive tastes—or, conversely, a tight budget—you might be in for a surprise.


Aside from the money, you may have different ideas about what you want to do and see during the trip. “Don’t make assumptions that your companion will like what you like,” says Tessina. “You may have dreams of lying on a beach, while your companion loves the nightlife. Find out who wants what.”

Start by coming up with a list of activities you each want to fit in and rank them by priority. When you've each written down three to four sites you have to see, schedule them into your itinerary. If there’s extra time, you can squeeze in some low-priority activities from each list.

“Don’t spring surprises on your travel companion,” Tessina adds. “While it might be nice to see someone you know on your travels, or to visit a place you visited with your ex, your companion might see it differently, if not given time to deal with it in advance.”


It helps to understand your travel partner’s day-to-day habits, too. “It could definitely hamper plans and itineraries if you're on different schedules,” Cruz says. You might be a morning person who wants to get a jump on the day, while your travel companion is a night owl who'd prefer to spend her nights clubbing and the mornings sleeping in.

By discussing your habits in advance, you can not only prevent conflicts but also create a realistic itinerary. Don't plan to be at the museum when it opens at 9 a.m. if you know it's a struggle to rise before 10. And if you know you'll get grumpy without an afternoon nap, don't be shy about leaving time for that, too.


“Talk in advance about your hopes, expectations, and fears about the trip," Tessina says. "While you can't anticipate everything, having discussed these issues will help each of you understand the other better.”

Along the same lines, it may help to establish some overall travel goals for the trip. Do you want to learn about a destination’s culture or do you want to come back recharged? Or both? You may have different ideas, but by discussing them before you leave home you can figure out how to best accommodate both your needs.


If each of you has starkly different budgets or priorities for the trip, you might consider scheduling time apart to do those things on your own. And even if your goals and plans align, taking some time and space for yourself can be crucial for keeping the peace.

"Traveling together is great—but sometimes we need alone time,” Cruz says. She recommends discussing and scheduling this time in advance to make sure your partner is okay with it—and making it clear your need for a break isn't a reaction to something they did. You’ll both get to squeeze in all of your activities, and best of all, you can regroup after and share your experiences.

Big Questions
How Are Rooms Cleaned at an Ice Hotel?

Cleaning rooms at Sweden’s famous ICEHOTEL is arguably less involved than your typical hotel. The bed, for example, does not have traditional sheets. Instead, it’s essentially an air mattress topped with reindeer fur, which sits on top of a custom-made wooden palette that has a minimum of 60 centimeters of airspace below. On top of those reindeer hides is a sleeping bag, and inside that sleeping bag is a sleep sack. And while it’s always 20ºF inside the room, once guests wrap themselves up for the night, it can get cozy.

And, if they’re wearing too many layers, it can get quite sweaty, too.

“The sleep sack gets washed every day, I promise you that. I know it for a fact because I love to walk behind the laundry, because it’s so warm back there," James McClean, one of the few Americans—if not the only—who have worked at Sweden's ICEHOTEL, tells Mental Floss. (He worked on the construction and maintenance crew for several years.)

There isn’t much else to clean in most guest rooms. The bathrooms and showers are elsewhere in the hotel, and most guests only spend their sleeping hours in the space. But there is the occasional accident—like other hotels, some bodily fluids end up where they shouldn’t be. People puke or get too lazy to walk to the communal restrooms. Unlike other hotels, these bodily fluids, well, they freeze.

“You can only imagine the types of bodily fluids that get, I guess, excreted … or expelled … or purged onto the walls,” McClean says. “At least once a week there’s a yellow stain or a spilled glass of wine or cranberry juice … and it’s not what you want to see splattered everywhere.” Housekeeping fixes these unsightly splotches with an ice pick and shovel, re-patching it with fresh snow from outside.

Every room has a 4-inch vent drilled into the icy wall, which helps prevent CO2 from escalating to harmful levels. Maintenance checks the holes daily to ensure these vents are not plugged with snow. Their tool of choice for clearing the pathway is, according to McClean, “basically a toilet brush on a stick.”

When maintenance isn’t busy unstuffing snow from that vent hole, they’re busy piping snow through it. Every couple days, the floor of each room receives a new coat of fluffy snow, which is piped through the vent and leveled with a garden rake.

“It’s the equivalent of vacuuming the carpet,” McClean says.

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Warner Bros.
Rent an Incredible Harry Potter-Themed Apartment in the City Where the Series Was Born
Warner Bros.
Warner Bros.

The Muggle city of Edinburgh has deep ties to the wizarding world of Harry Potter. J.K. Rowling wrote much of the book series while living there, and there’s even a pub in Edinburgh that named itself after the author for a month. Now, fans passing through the Scottish capital have the chance to live like their favorite boy wizard. As Digital Spy reports, a Harry Potter-themed holiday home in the city’s historic district is now available to rent for around $200 (£150) a night.

Property owner Yue Gao used her own knowledge as a fan when decorating the apartment. With red and yellow accents, a four-poster bed, and floating candles adorning the wallpaper on the ceiling, the master bedroom pays tribute to both the Gryffindor dormitory and the Hogwarts Great Hall. The Hogwarts theme extends to the lounge area, where each door is painted with a different house’s colors and crest. Guests will also find design aspects inspired by the Hogwarts Express around the apartment: The second bedroom is designed to look like a sleeping car, and the front door is disguised as the brick wall at Platform 9 3/4.

Pieces of Harry Potter memorabilia Gao has picked up in her travels are hidden throughout the home, too. If visitors look closely, they’ll find several items that once belonged to Rowling herself, including the writer’s old desk.

Take a look at some of the photos of the magical interiors:

The apartment is available to rent throughout the year through And if you can tear yourself away from the residence for long enough, there are plenty of other Harry Potter-themed attractions to check out in Edinburgh during your stay.

[h/t Digital Spy]


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