This Valentine's Day, my second with my current partner, it felt appropriate to look back on a year of shared travel trials and tribulations. We have had the opportunity to travel to some amazing places as a couple, with some big ups and downs, but hopefully you can learn something from our experiences!
My biggest advice is to talk about anything and everything before the trip. Do you want to relax in the sun, or see everything there is to possibly see in the city? I love to sleep in, and my boyfriend is up by 8am every morning. If this sounds like you, discuss what you want your days to look like. While we're away I'm happy for him to wake me up at an agreed time, as I don't want to waste the day.
Do you want to have every single minute planned, or see where the day takes you? I take great joy in being organised and I plan every single day! I look at everything there is to do and decide what I want to see, then look at a map and see what's close to each other in order to plan my days. My partner, on the other hand, would quite happily wake up and go, and just see where he ends up! We learnt to compromise on this very quickly; I planned a few options, and when we woke up in the morning he decided which group of activities we would do that day to keep the element of spontaneity.
Additionally, talking about money is so essential. It may be romantic when your boyfriend buys you dinner on date night, but when it's three meals a day it becomes bankruptcy. Since you will probably be doing all the same things, we found it useful to decide on a joint budget. We once went away and my boyfriend took more money than myself, but he never spent it, as whatever we were doing had to remain in my budget anyway!
Another top tip for travelling with your other half is to remember the little quirks you love about your partner, even when they start to get annoying. If you grit your teeth and go with it, I promise they will appreciate it. I am absolutely obsessed with photos; I always stop to take pictures, and make my boyfriend stop to take pictures of me, or ask someone to take pictures of us. I know it's annoying and he knows it's important to me. On the other hand, he loves playing Pokémon GO, and will ask to go in specific directions because there's a Charmander there. It's important to him so it's important to me to go with it - who knows what you might find on your detour!
Never forget to be open about how you are feeling. If you feel really tired and would love to stop for a coffee and a sit down, then suggest it before you feel worse and snap at your lovely partner who's done nothing wrong. Similarly, always bring snacks! You will need something to tide you over before you're desperately trying to find anywhere to eat and snapping at each other, stressed out and 'hangry'.
It's also helpful to take it in turns to choose things to do and be in charge of leading the other around. Letting one of you be glued to a map and getting upset when they can't work out which way you're supposed to go just leads to arguments, when you should be a team!
Two brains and two sets of eyes are better than one, and you can use them to look after each other! Watch out for passport thieves (check out the FCO's passport hustle video for tips), and make sure you both have valid travel insurance and any vaccinations you may need. I would not recommend showing up to the airport and saying, "Oh yeah I've had this vaccine, haven't you?"
In addition, check the FCO country guides and learn about local laws and customs of your destinations - you really do not want to be arrested for sharing a kiss!
Finally, cherish every moment - you'll be back to the grind before you know it and wishing you were away again. Experiencing new things together is absolutely life changing, and I will never forget who was stood next to me as the northern lights danced in the sky.