We know that couples who travel together reap the rewards. Traveling couples reported feeling better about their communication, romance, and quality time together in the US Travel Association’s survey than those who do not. Two-thirds said at least one key piece of their relationship was better after taking a trip together. But there is no need to follow glossy brochures to faraway destinations to get a relational boost. Intentional couples can use a few couple staycation ideas to create adventure their way.
While everyone defines adventure differently, couples report that these three things create a rewarding travel experience: taking a break from the day-to-day, being adventurous, and sharing new experiences. Fresh getaways take these concepts and add a few creative twists. By letting go of planning, creating surprises, exploring overlooked destinations, and choosing meaningful experiences, you can have a romantic adventure across the country or a short drive from home.
Getting out of the grind by letting someone else take over
At one time, do-it-yourself trip planning made travel agents either obsolete or only considered for special occasions to many travelers. But in this decision-overload world, it’s adventurous, even a bit radical, to turn the reins over to someone else.
For something completely unexpected, the Pack Up + Go travel agency will create a surprise domestic trip, including surprise couple staycations. Travelers fill out a pre-trip survey including budget, dates, and preferences and leave the rest to the team. Founder Lillian Rafson says her company sees two kinds of couples, those wanting to relax and those craving exploration and experience. “Everyone responds to burnout in a different way. It’s about recharging with the person they love.”
A week before departure, travelers get an email with the mystery destination’s weather forecast, suggested packing items, and the starting point. Couples open the big destination reveal the day of departure at their starting point, ensuring a complete, planned surprise.
Staycation couples get all of the same suspense as those hitting the road. Since the company does all the research and planning for the perfect couple staycation ideas, you get a completely different, and surprising, travel experience without leaving your city.
“We’ve had so many couples come back from their trip and say, ‘The only other time we’ve both truly been surprised is when we found out the sex of our child.’ This is fun and totally stress-free for both people. It’s just really, really nice to hand over the control and let someone else surprise and delight them. We’re excited to be able to do that for our travelers,” says Rafson.
Another way to cut out the planning work but stay in the loop is to join a company that specializes in small group travel. Intrepid, a certified B corp committed to sustainable adventures, has added several hiking and cycling getaways that explore smaller areas more intimately.
A world away without a passport
Domestic travel can dish up destinations that rival sights around the world and now is a great time for those bucket list trips in your own country. Massive road trips, Alaska, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico are popular domestic options for that big adventure feeling.
“We saw a huge increase in independent travelers this summer,“ says Susan Swiderski, co-owner of Orca Islands Cabins glamping yurts near Seward, Alaska. Swiderski’s family-owned and run business offers couples an off-the-grid experience with wildlife, kayaking, fishing, and hiking in the temperate rainforest of the Kenai peninsula. “For many people coming here feels exotic without needing to travel internationally.”
Routine-busting adventure doesn’t have to mean a big-ticket trip. Travelers can also stay close but dig deeper with outside-of-the-box destinations. Kamau and Selena Asphall help travelers maximize their paid time off with their company, The City and Beyond, and point out that destinations not designed for tourism can be unexpectedly rewarding. With some work.
“We decided to kick off our year of part-time travel in 2018 with Concord, New Hampshire for New Year’s Eve. To this day people ask us why the heck we went there and what we did. Not everywhere is New Orleans, where, with minimal effort, you can still have a good experience.”
But the Asphalls highlight the benefits that these less touristed destinations offer as couple staycation ideas, like places to disconnect without a plane ride and enjoying attractions without the crowds.
“It’s just relocating to relax versus the mania of having to visit all these tourist attractions. Of course, there are times that you do want a trip that focuses on seeing and experiencing all that you’ve seen a town can offer,” says Selena Asphall. “Sometimes there’s a beauty of just becoming a local and figuring out on your own. As a couple, you bond on the experience you two created together as well.”
Savoring new experiences together
For the novelty and quality time that help keep relationships healthy, the best couple staycation ideas come down to sharing an enjoyable activity wherever a couple lands.
The ever-expanding world of culinary tourism is bringing travelers from the table to kitchen to farm. Breweries, wineries, distillers, chefs, and niche farms across the country offer behind-the-scenes tours, cooking classes, and tasting events. Eatwith offers easy searches for immersive classes and activities.
But hosted experiences don’t end with food. Several platforms work with locals to curate everything from raking sand art on a beach, taking a true crime tour, walking local rescue dogs, to making pottery. Airbnb has steadily built up offerings, but others like Withlocals also offer private, authentic experiences.
Couples are also getting out and jumping into outdoor adventure. Avoid overcrowded national parks by exploring state parks and recreational areas. While camping and glamping can have relaxing moments, this is a prime opportunity to add a few activities that add shared challenge and accomplishment. Try a climb, sailing a boat, navigating a kayak, or a geocaching treasure hunt.
Whatever you decide to do, the Asphalls say the key to both a successful trip and the relationship rewards is in “the conversation.”
“We’ve found that couples are scared to not agree all the time. You have no idea how much that conversation could benefit your relationship and maybe even tighten your bond,” says Kamau Asphall. “In relation to travel, it’s brought us to compromises that ended with both of us being so happy we didn’t shy away from discussing feelings further.”