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(2013 - Fall Issue)


Should couples vacation apart occasionally to improve the state of their romantic relationship?

Non, nein, niet, no way . . . say the findings of a recent Travelocity.ca survey conducted by Angus Reid. It turns out that the vast majority (88 per cent) of the 1,004 adults polled said they much prefer to travel with their significant other, as opposed to taking a break from them. In fact, 39 per cent of respondents aged 35 to 54 said the most valuable thing they learned about their partners while on vacation is that “we have more in common than we thought..”

Even decade-old relationships can be charmed. As many as 47 per cent of the respondents aged 55+ reported being pleasantly surprised by the adventurousness of their mate. And equally valuable, of the adults 18 to 34, a significant 46 per cent said that “after returning home, our relationship was better than before.”

Through her work, Toronto family therapist Ashley Howe pinpointed long ago the power of adult vacations—and has now joined forces with online supersite Travelocity to spread the word. “Any time you set out together to explore places unknown,” she begins, “the bond is nourished faster than almost anything else you are going to do.”

So Why is Travel so Potent?

“Vacationing together can improve your relationship permanently, not just for the moment,” Howe explains. “In addition to spending dedicated time together, with longer conversations and taking care of one another, significant brain chemistry is also at work for you. The anticipation of new experiences lights up the exact same part of the brain where arousal is sparked.”

Indeed, 33 per cent of the survey respondents said “their inhibitions were freed while on vacation” and for the majority, this intimacy “remained once they got home.”

Getting away together, she emphasizes, is beneficial at any stage of the relationship no matter whether you’ve been together for five decades or five weeks. The right location with just the right number of days is going to work its magic with almost no effort at all. 

Say, for example, you’re getting swept up in a new relationship and it all seems too good to be true. A short getaway together is going to tell you a year’s worth of information such as personal grooming, handling money, patience, curiosity and attitude when experiencing new cultures. You may like what you see, or not.

“On the other hand,” Howe continues, “the parents of teenagers or empty-nesters might have lost sight of their partner’s special qualities, but once they escape routines to have fun, to experience new things together, and to wine and dine every evening with conversation and entertainment, the sparks of their initial attraction are bound to fly.”     

While 94 per cent of the survey respondents said that simply “relaxing and enjoying their partner’s company was the best part of travelling together,” still couples will benefit far more if they try to match the “stage” of their relationship with the right destination. Do any of the following describe your relationship?

You Just Met

Choose a three- or four-day getaway to learn as much as you can without investing too much. In Las Vegas, for example, you will likely see many sides to your partner’s style and personality, including nightlife preferences, activity choices and money management. New York City makes an activity-packed long weekend, or go to Montréal or Québec City for the best in francophone culture. How curious is your partner? Is he or she stimulated and confident when trying something new? 

Just Married

Choose a honeymoon spot with “destination stimulation” and be adventurous together. Rome, for example, is a top pick for couples. Paris is also a favourite—and indeed all of the European city jewels are recommended for making a romance permanent. In fact, the excitement you will generate together in those locales is an ideal opportunity, says Howe, to also make a commitment to yourself: to always do what is required in future to keep the love alive.  

You Want a Baby

The pace of daily life can certainly hinder the baby-making atmosphere, so why not go to a splendid location where there is nothing else to do but relax with each other? Take advantage of the fact that a true-blue paradise-on-earth—the Caribbean islands—is in our hemisphere. Countless hideaway beach resorts are just a few hours away from the main Canadian gateways. Or, even a “staycation” in your hometown would free you up from the stress of daily demands, so you can sleep in, dine out and cuddle up together in a cosy hotel.

You Want to Reconnect

The rigours of parenting often leave very little time for one another—and even parents of an infant can get disconnected. If that sounds like you, book a slow-paced getaway especially to a coastline of sun and sand. Beach-and-wave sounds, says Howe, have a calming influence on the brain, very similar to classical music. So choose an adult-only, all-inclusive resort with romantic features inside (such as a private plunge pool and a canopy bed) and outside the suite (his-her spa treatments and private dining). Treat every night like a date. Ask each other, “What do you think?” and “how do you feel?” And for someplace really exotic, adds Howe, there may be no place on Earth more arousing than Bora Bora.

You Want to Recoup LostTime

Empty-nesters and retirees will quickly taste the richness of life again by taking fully-guided, learning trips together. It’s the perfect time to focus on expanding your mind and knowledge and there’s no shortage of historic places in the world. As you do it, the brain will get excited again—and your partner stands to benefit too. Book a coach tour, river cruise, or take a special-interest trip to learn more about food, wine, language, stargazing, music, art, theatre, golf, gardening and more. Best of all, you will bring that new knowledge home and then continue your interests with reading, discussions, local activities, and no doubt, with future experiential travel. If mobility is an issue, consider cruising, says Howe. Alaska, with its spectacular scenery, nature and history, is highly favoured by seasoned travellers.

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