We did it! We made it through the cold, wintry months—and 2020, for that matter—and a gorgeous spring season is ahead of us. The weather is turning, the flowers are blooming and the days are getting longer. For many, this is right around the time to start thinking about Spring Break or planning summer vacation getaways.

This time last year wasn’t exactly the same case. With coronavirus numbers spiking right around St. Patrick’s Day 2020, we quickly saw the entire world shut down. Beaches closed, restaurants went takeout-only, flights were canceled and entire nations shut their borders to tourists. We had to postpone our exciting plans to stay safe.

But now, it’s time to get the party started again! With vaccines being administered and social distancing measures being followed, traveling is back on track for spring and summer. Restrictions are being lifted, borders are opening, businesses have protocols in place and airports aren’t the scary place the news made us think them to be. Vacations are back, baby!

That means it’s high time to get your proverbial ducks in a row and start planning your travel, which likely includes a romantic trip or two with a very special someone. And if you’re in the early stages of a relationship, you might be going on the first road trip with your partner. Spending 100% of your time with someone in close quarters for the first time can be intimidating—and navigating those waters is so much easier when you take the time to prepare.

Read on for our tips on how to hit the road with your sweetie. Whether you’re in a new relationship or have been dating for quite some time, there are takeaways for every elite dater. Now, get to reading, planning and traveling!

Road Trip Tips: Choose the Destination Together

Successful, driven and confident, elite daters tend to be extremely independent people. But when you’re planning a vacation for two, you have to collaborate!

Even if you’ve traveled extensively, are knowledgeable about multiple destinations and have connections to plan a perfect itinerary, it’s important to keep your partner in the loop. This will make the experience better for both of you, as you’ll both have a much better time if you’re enjoying yourself in a location that you both appreciate.

Take some time to research potential destinations on your own before you sit down together to plan a schedule and book the tickets and hotels. Think about a location that would be suited to both of your personalities and tastes. Are you a foodie and they’re an adventurer? Find a city that has a vibrant dining scene with a national park nearby. Do you like to sight-see and your partner is more of a stay-in-the-hotel-and-order-room-service kind of vacationer? Find a five-star resort with an amazing spa and spend time split between the two.

Once you’ve gathered all of your information, it’s time to discuss ideas! Make a date out of it and go for drinks or coffee. Offer your ideas and listen to theirs. Throw out suggestions for things to do and let them know why you want to experience that location with them. The world is a big, big place—there has to be a happy medium that will appease both parties.

Road Trip Tips: Make a Couple’s Playlist

Depending on where your travels are taking you, chances are you’re going to be spending extensive time with your partner in the car, on a plane or train and in an airport or train station. That means you’ve got a lot of waiting to do, and plugging in some earbuds—or turning the volume dial up on your car’s console—is the perfect way to weather that storm.

Sure, you could listen to your music and let them listen to theirs, but this is a road trip! And a road trip isn’t complete without at least one random sing-along. I don’t know who made up that rule—it might have been me, just now—but it’s a good one. Get on Spotify or whatever your preferred music streaming service is and build a soundtrack for your vacation!

In addition to songs from your favorite musical artists, throw in some classics that are sure to inspire some chair dancing, air guitar action and of course, singing along. That could be “YMCA,” that could be “Oops … I Did It Again,” or it could be “Baby Shark.” But I really hope for your partner’s sake that it’s not “Baby Shark.” You could also include some comedy clips to share a laugh together or, if you’re the NPR-listening type, throw in some documentary or TED Talk clips.

What’s really important about this playlist is that it augments all the exciting things you’re doing. It should ease boredom, inspire conversation, spark joy, and produce laughter. And if you’re flying together, remember to get that all-important headphone splitter!

Road Trip Tips: Plan a Surprise

Did I just recommend planning your getaway together? Yes. Should you have something secret up your sleeve to inject some unexpected excitement into your getaway? Also yes.

While traveling requires a lot of planning to ensure things go smoothly, wanderlust and whimsy tend to go hand-in-hand. Make all the plans—book the flights and hotels, have a check-up performed on your car if you’re road tripping, and lock in reservations for restaurants and attractions (with coronavirus safety protocols in place, this is really important). Just remember to slip in something special—or keep one itinerary detail to yourself—that will be endearing and/or delightful for your partner.

This could be as simple as asking the concierge at your hotel to set up a candlelit dinner for two on the beach, all while your partner thinks you’re dining in the Michelin star-minted place downstairs. Does your partner have a favorite bottle of Champagne or do they like a specific kind of craft beer? Secretly pack some in your bag and break it out when the time comes. Or, if there’s a special event happening during your stay, surprise your partner with tickets! Music festivals, concerts, comedy shows and other entertainment staples are starting to pop up on social calendars across the country.

Road trips are all about making memories, and surprises are a great way to enhance just that. Plus, it shows how awesome you are at planning a vacation, right?! This is a win-win situation.

Road Trip Tips: Pack All the Essentials Efficiently

We all hate that feeling of forgetting something once we’re 30 minutes down the highway and don’t want to turn back. So, to mitigate forgetting something absolutely necessary—be it your Beats or your favorite lace nighty—start packing early.

Now, I’m not saying you should have everything organized weeks before your trip. But taking your duffel or roller suitcase out of the closet is going to make the process oh so much easier. When things are out of sight, they are out of mind—your bag is a reminder to pack. Take it out a week before the trip and fill it over the course of a few days. Taking your time instead of rushing should increase the odds of you hitting the road with everything you need.

You also should consider what your partner is bringing. Unless you’re working for some reason through your vacation, there’s no need for you both to bring your MacBook Pro. Does the hotel not have the Dyson hair dryer you’re used to? You won’t need two of those. Not only does this save time of sourcing and packing, it also saves room for the other essentials you’ll want to have on your road trip. Which brings me to …

Pack all the fun! Whether it’s some bottles of your favorite wine, a board game you both enjoy or some intimate items to use in the bedroom, you’ll want to have some entertaining options in your duffel bag. Vacations aren’t all about sightseeing and relaxing—you’ve gotta play a little, too!

Road Trip Tips: Get Some “Me” Time In

Your partner and you have planned a fabulous getaway, with all the bells and whistles. You had a pep in your step while getting ready and no one could wipe the smile off your face when you hopped in the luxury rental or stepped into the airport. Your excitement only doubled when you arrived at your destination, and you’ve been enjoying yourself nonstop. What now?

I suggest some “me” time. Yes, even on a romantic vacation with your special someone, you should make some time for yourself. You’re spending every waking moment together, and that can get to be a bit much for even the closest of couples—especially if you’re on a long haul of a trip.

So, squeeze in some solo serenity while you’re on vacay. This is not only good for you, it’s good for your relationship. Absence only makes the heart grow fonder, so some time away will reinvigorate your couples’ retreat. Don’t you want to avoid a small couple’s fight over something trivial, all because you’re a bit tired?

You don’t need a whole lot of time to accomplish this either—simply find 20 minutes of solitude wherever you can. Consider going for a run around the block or checking out the resort’s fitness center. Did you wake up early? Sneak out for some alone time at a nearby café—just remember to get a latté to go for your sweetie!

All of this talk about planning might have you a bit intimidated, but don’t be discouraged to start putting things in motion! Wouldn’t it be nice if you could fill up the tank, quickly pack a bag and just go?

Well, things don’t work that way—but you already knew that! So, consider these tips while you’re booking your travel this year. The earlier you start making plans, the easier it will be. Take your time and build a memorable getaway—like I said, memories are what road trips are all about.

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