two people holding hands over the center console of a car
April 12, 2017

The Road Trip Survival Guide for Couples

You’re embarking on the ultimate adventure with your partner in crime: a road trip! But while you’re creating playlists, packing your snacks (don’t forget savory and sweet), and filling your car to the brim, it’s important to think about preparing for the experience as a couple, as well. Whether you and your beau are taking that road trip you’ve been planning for months, or going on a spontaneous getaway, all road trips can cause a little tension. But don’t sweat it—here's how to deal.

Teamwork makes the dream work—plan your road trip with your partner.Teamwork makes the dream work—plan your road trip with your partner.

1. Plan It Together

As is the case with any trip you take together as a couple, it’s important to plan your road trip together, from snacks, to stops, and of course, playlists. It’s the season for love, open communication, and burning rubber. Pick out your must-see attractions, food-porn-worthy restaurants, and sleeping accommodations as a team, and then you’ll both feel comfortable, prepared, and most importantly, excited for the big adventure.

2. Consciously Uncouple (Just For a Few Hours)

Traveling together also means being open to doing things separately. You’ll be in the confines of a car together for hours, so getting some alone time in during your stops is key. Plus, if you’re really dying to see that performance art exhibition, but your beau is more into sporting events, just plan a few things apart. You can meet up with your partner after you’ve finished your culture binge and they’ve polished off a few orders of wings at the sports bar. Y’all are different, and that’s probably why you like each other.

3. Two Traveling Words to Live By: “Good Idea!”

Studies show that being agreeable and conscientious are both key to happy and long-lasting relationships, but these traits often can be tested on road trips. If your S.O. suddenly wants to venture off-course to check out Rock City, but you want to press on and visit the Spam Museum, try to be open to spontaneity and compromise. If you talk it out, this decision shouldn’t impact your overall trip. In fact, it’s a great opportunity to strengthen your relationship and the way you make decisions as a couple.

4. Establish a Flexible Rule for Stops

Most of us are all about making good time on a road trip, but there’s no point letting your partner suffer for the sake of shaving off a few minutes. If your S.O. is in desperate need of a bathroom break, wants to snap a picture at the next scenic lookout, or is dying for another coffee, be patient and flexible. Plan out your stops together if you find that your beau likes to make more frequent stops than you typically would. When stopping for a bathroom run, for example, also grab a snack and stretch out your limbs. If you’re in a real hurry, time these stops out (so you don’t pull your hair out).

5. Leave the Sensitive Subjects Behind

Unless you want a car ride full of awkward silences, a road trip is not the time to discuss potentially triggering subjects, like the time your partner forgot your anniversary, or you spilled red wine all over their brand-new couch. Save that conversation for a later date, or if something is really bothering you, have the talk before you go. Little disagreements or fights are inevitable, but try not to let them escalate and keep your eye on the bigger picture—you’re on an adventure together!

6. Put Down the Phone

If you’re the passenger, put down the phone! (Obviously the same case if you’re the driver.) It’s an awfully lonely car ride for your partner at the wheel if you’re just pressing hearts on Instagram for hours on end. You don’t have to completely put your phone away, but instead use that technology for shared entertainment. Take a couple’s quiz, pass the time with silly car games, binge on a podcast or audiobook, and of course, jam out to an awesome playlist. Need a little inspiration? Take a look at Time Out’s list of best road trip songs, or We Travel’s Spotify suggestions. Better yet, make a list of your favorite songs and ask your partner to do the same, then just hit “shuffle.”

7. Trust the GPS

Directions can be a particularly touchy subject for some (OK, most) couples. In these tense situations, just remember to be respectful and patient, whether you’re driving or in the passenger seat. Passengers should avoid criticizing the driver unless your lives are truly in danger. And drivers, give the passenger a break if they misunderstand the directions. You can avoid some of these arguments by using a GPS system with the audio turned up high for extra assistance and reminders. And remember, you may be taken down an unfamiliar road or make a wrong turn…but that’s just part of the adventure.

Amy Haywood is a proud and curious wanderer. Whether she’s being a tourist in her hometown or enjoying a double-decker bus tour in a new city, she’s learning about the locals, exploring the history, and searching for the nearest art museum. You can find more of her writing at where she educates the masses on relationships, health, and wellness.