How to go on your first holiday with a new partner

How to go on your first holiday with a new parter | Soho House

This week, our sex and relationships columnist, Olivia Petter, addresses the many potential pitfalls of taking a trip with your nascent significant other

Friday 20 January 2023   By Olivia Petter   Illustration by Jack Forrest

When he asked me to go to Zanzibar, I thought it was a joke. I had been dating this man for two weeks, surely he couldn’t be serious – he was. OK, but surely it would be completely bonkers for me to even consider saying yes – well, probably. And surely I’d have to get vaccinations – oh, yes. 

Somehow, three weeks later I found myself lugging a very heavy suitcase through a very tiny east African airport at 3am, looking for a man I’d not even known for two months. That was the first time I went on holiday with someone I was dating and, safe to say, it was quite the baptism of fire. 

When it comes to going away with someone, we’re conditioned to be weirdly prudish. Like if we do it too soon, we’re betraying some sort of internal timeline. But if we wait too long, it’s an indication that something is wrong in the relationship. As with many matters of the heart, we wind up putting a lot of pressure on ourselves, concerned that we’re not doing something right, for no real reason whatsoever other than we feel we ought to. Holidays are no different.

This brings me to my first tip when it comes to going away with someone you’ve just started dating: throw your timelines out the window. If a trip is on the cards and it excites you, go for it. It doesn’t matter if you’ve known someone for two weeks or two months. So long as you feel comfortable and safe in this person’s company, there’s no reason not to take the leap. 

I’d actually argue that the sooner you can do it, the better. Going away with someone can be a great way to test out how compatible you are. You know the saying, if you want to know who someone really is, give them a computer with terrible Wi-Fi? Well, I think the same applies to going travelling. 

Have they pre-prepared their liquids? How do they respond to queuing? And are they the kind of person who leaves two hours before a flight or 30 minutes? Trust me, you can learn a lot from observing the minutiae of someone’s airport habits. Don’t even get me started on the actual plane journey: do they drink? Wear an eye mask? Conduct a full skincare regime? And so on.

You don’t have to go as far as Zanzibar, either (it was an 11-hour trip). Here in the UK we’re blessed with countless mini-break-appropriate destinations that are just a few hours away. It will take you two hours to get to Amsterdam, for example, where there’s a beautiful Soho House. You’ll have everything you need for the perfect romantic getaway, from a Cowshed spa where you can enjoy couples massages to a super king-size bed where room service awaits.

You could also hop over to Soho House Barcelona, where you can laze the afternoon away on the rooftop in the Spanish sunshine, before heading into the city for tapas and Sangria. Or why not book yourself onto the Eurostar and venture into the heart of the Pigalle district in Paris, where you can settle into Soho House’s red velvet Cabaret Room for dinner and an actual show? 

Wherever you decide to go, I’d suggest keeping an open mind. Don’t plan too much, try not to overthink about what going away together might mean for your relationship (I obsessed over whether or not it automatically made me this man’s girlfriend; it didn’t) and, most importantly, just enjoy it. Travelling is one of life’s greatest joys. Combine it with love and, well, it can be pretty special. 

Book your own romantic mini-break – whether you’re engaging in a little self-love or an early relationship getaway – here

Olivia Petter is the relationships writer at The Independent and author of Millennial Love, which is out now in paperback with 4th Estate.