Anyone who knows me will tell you that I’m a hopeless romantic, an absolute sucker for big rom-com moments in real life. So when my ex-boyfriend (side note: don’t worry, the road trip is not the reason we broke up), who I had been dating for about a month, asked me to go on a snowboarding trip, I didn’t even hesitate to say yes.
After the initial excitement of the upcoming trip wore off, I began to realise that I had just committed myself to three full days with him, two of which were going to be spent in a car for 6 hours at a time. I slowly started to question my decision to go away together this early on in the relationship.
But it turns out that the road trip itself did more for our relationship than I could have ever imagined. Here’s what I learnt along the way.
You really get to know each other
Jumping in a car with someone and heading on a six-hour adventure really gives you the time to get to know them on a different level. All outside distractions are removed once you’re on the road, leaving you with nothing but each other for entertainment.
For most couples, this can be a good time to move past surface-level conversations and dig a little deeper. You both don’t have anywhere to hide, so you might as well sit in that vulnerability and have those conversations you might otherwise be dancing around.
My ex and I decided to really lean into it and play the card game ‘We’re Not Really Strangers’. We figured we had little else to do but talk, and the game gave us conversation starters without the pressure to come up with things to talk about — or worse, awkward silences.
We took turns learning more about each other, digging past all the superficial stuff that had made up most of our conversations on previous dates. Luckily for us, we loved what we learned about each other, and our relationship was better for it.
You learn to compromise
Over the course of the trip, I learned that my ex and I had totally different tastes in music, so we agreed to take turns playing DJ. If something was genuinely unbearable for the other person, we could skip it. We also ended up searching for music we’d both enjoy, which ended up being an “Aussie Pubs” playlist that provided a few hours' worth of entertainment and truly terrible singing on both our parts.
While music sounds like a minor compromise, it’s a great stepping stone in any relationship — learning to accept what you cannot change (in my case, it was rap music) and coming to a reasonable compromise that’ll make you both happy.
Learning to work through the small stuff really helps set the tone for how you work through and compromise on the bigger stuff. Even if it's as seemingly small as deciding on a playlist, or picking a chip flavour during an essential snack pit-stop at the local Ampol, you'll start to find out what kind of conflict resolution tactics work early on in the relationship.
You find out your argument style pretty quickly
A true test of any relationship is how you settle disagreements and move past heated moments. This can come up pretty quickly on a road trip, especially if one of you is navigating while the other is driving.
Things can sometimes get a bit heated — turns can be missed, left and right can be confused, and maps can be misread — but how you treat each other in those moments gives you a good insight into how you will handle bigger, more serious disagreements down the line.
My ex quickly learnt that I’m terrible at knowing my left from my right at a moment's notice, and I get sidetracked in conversation very easily. After a few missed turns, he started to check in now and then while I was navigating to see what directions were coming up. He'd repeat them to me, so we were both clear on them, and we didn’t miss a beat after that.
Sure, we got a little short with each other in the moment (particularly after the third wrong turn, my bad), but we worked through it, learnt a lot about how each other handles these kinds of things, and then laughed about it later.
You learn about the other person when they're out of their comfort zone
When you travel with a partner, you get to see how they respond to things outside their usual routines. You witness how they'll handle minor hiccups (flat tyre, anyone?) and if you can enjoy new experiences together.
If you’re someone with an adventurous spirit who loves trying new things, you want someone who will be right there alongside you, ready to dive in headfirst. If you’re open to new experiences but need a little push, you want them to be the encouragement you need to get you over the line.
The last time I went snowboarding before this trip was eight years ago. On the first chair lift of the day, I checked my 'cool girl' ego at the door, and opened up to my ex about how nervous I was to be out of my comfort zone again.
To my delight, he was super supportive and agreed to hang back with me while I got the hang of it again. He helped me nail my toeside turns and had a good laugh when I caused both of us to stack it hard.
Not only did I get to see him outside of his comfort zone during our trip, but I got to see how he supported me when I was outside of mine, which was equally important.
Overall, a road trip with a partner can give you a deeper understanding of the other person. It can help you forge a bond like no other and gives you perspective on how you guys will go through life together. You never know what a road trip will throw at you, and if you can survive X number of hours in a car together and still be utterly obsessed with each other, I think it’s a pretty good indication of the future of your relationship.