Henrik Johansson

Henrik JohanssonThe first real vacation I took with my husband, we decided to leave our three young children at home and travel to Costa Rica. He wanted to stay at a fancy resort, but I preferred being closer to the locals. He wanted to relax by the pool, but I was itching to check out all the parks, waterfalls, monkeys, and volcanoes we could find. He was happy eating every meal at the hotel buffet, while I wanted to snack on the local offerings.

I wanted to de-stress by ‘doing’—seeing, visiting, tasting, touring; while his version of de-stressing was by ‘being’—recharging, sleeping, vegging by the pool, lying on the beach. All in all, it was the perfect recipe for a vacation disaster.

A few days into our vacation, as the tension between us began to mount and negative thoughts were swirling in my head, it became clear that ‘compromise’ was our only hope. With some reluctance, we each yielded to the other’s suggestions, and got into the rhythm of alternating days of activity and inactivity.

Fortunately, about halfway through I realized that we were a perfect balance – even though neither of us ‘got our way’ there was perfection in the imperfection—by the end of the week we had experienced a good blend of adventures and relaxation. It finally hit me between the eyes: had I been in charge, we would have run ourselves ragged; had he been in charge we would have been incredibly bored.

If you and a partner are dreaming of your ideal time away from it all, here are a few questions that are worth asking yourselves and talking about during the planning phase. You’d be surprised how many of us have ideas and pictures in our minds that only get expressed once we’re off and running (if at all).

  • What are our expectations about sightseeing, adventuring, or relaxation?
  • In what ways are we different (compatible or incompatible) in our approaches to time off?
  • Can we discuss and share our ideas?
  • Can we accommodate both needs into our plan?

Try to move from fantasy vacation into reality vacation. Even better if you can do it before you step on the plane.

Photo: Henrik Johansson