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My Partner Likes to Camp, and I Like Hotels — What Should We Do?

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Different travel styles

In any relationship, says a couples’ mediator, it’s important to celebrate differences and find common ground.

First, celebrate your differences, says Laurie Puhn, JD, a couples’ mediator and authority on conflict resolution. “It’s your differences that make life interesting,” she points out. “Who wants to be partnered with him or herself?”

Then explore how much your vacation styles really differ. Ask each other what you love about your favorite vacation modes and examine what you learn: What are the interests you have in common? Which ones are most significant? Which are optional, more or less, and which ones can you share?

“Maybe, for your partner, the biggest element in camping is being outdoors, or stargazing, and sleeping in a tent isn’t the No. 1 attraction,” she suggests. If that’s the case, “you can stay at a motel near a park, and go kayaking, and hike at dusk.”

If it really is overnight camping that’s important and you would sooner sleep in an actively haunted house than in a tent, get curious. Ask your partner about his or her passion for tent sleeping — he or she might just share some precious vacation memories, allowing you to discover new aspects of the person you love.

“You might be moved by what you learn,” Puhn says. You could then decide that sleeping in a tent means so much to your partner that you can offer it “as a gift.”

What if, after deep discussion, you agree that separate vacations sound the most relaxing? Puhn is supportive, so long as it’s not a matter of escaping your relationship.

“Four days in a nice hotel with a couple of your friends is great, as long as you are also having important alone time with your partner,” she says. “You should find an opportunity to look each other in the eye and say, ‘OK, how can we truly and deeply connect with each other if we can’t go away together?’”

This originally appeared as “I Like to Stay in Hotels When Traveling, and My Partner Likes to Camp. What to Do?” in the June 2018 print issue of Experience Life.

is an Experience Life contributing editor.

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