Should I take this trip with my ex?
July 26, 2010 7:21 PM   Subscribe

Traveling with the ex...good idea or bad? I just broke up with my boyfriend of 2 years, and unfortunately we have a trip planned to Europe in 6 weeks. We broke up on relatively good terms, and we're talking about counseling to try to work things out. In the meantime, I'd like the hive mind's opinion about whether it's a terrible idea to go ahead with our planned vacation?

I'm inclined to say let's just go for it, mostly because I've been looking forward to this vacation for nearly a year. We broke up because his anger management issues, but I really don't think we'd run into those issues on vacation (because they tend to be triggered by factors that won't be present on the vacation). We're on good terms right now, and we're talking about counseling and trying to work things out, but we likely won't have made a decision on "us" before the vacation.

So, what has your experience been with traveling with an ex? Any pitfalls I should be aware of? Has you or someone you know attempted this? (Anon because he's a member...)
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (36 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Go for it but sleep in separate bedrooms and do not have sex.
posted by amethysts at 7:30 PM on July 26, 2010 [5 favorites]

Amethysts answer + go do separate things on vacation. Some days don't see each other except at breakfast in the morning.
posted by deezil at 7:35 PM on July 26, 2010 [9 favorites]

Going on a european vacation with my ex with anger management issues sounds like hell.

I know they're triggered by things that won't be present on the far as you know.

But he's not my ex. So I don't know. This kinda has to be your call but sounds like more stress than it's worth. One or both of you can decide not to go.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 7:36 PM on July 26, 2010 [2 favorites]

If you're going to get separate might as well travel separately. Or you could save a few dollars, sleep in the same bed...and then spend the next few years in askme anon therapy asking what went wrong.
posted by hal_c_on at 7:45 PM on July 26, 2010 [2 favorites]

Go for it but sleep in separate bedrooms and do not have sex.

My experience in traveling with an ex is that separate bedrooms might happen, but sex definitely will happen. And that's ok, as long as it's fun and hot and you are enjoying it. It's actually very freeing -- you are on vacation, which is liberating in it's own right, and you are "not together" which takes a lot of the pressure off. And it's with someone you know and are comfortable with, so the traveling part is way easier than with a new person you barely know.

However, my experience is also that all that hot ex-sex on the trip will do nothing to solve the underlying relationship issues, so don't bail on the counseling just because you are having lots of fun in bed.
posted by Forktine at 7:46 PM on July 26, 2010

What's that joke say? Breakup sex is a bad idea because if it's good, then it's with your ex, and if it's bad, you just had sex with your ex? Something tells me a vacation with an ex falls in that same category. I would try to get these vacations as separate as possible- same plane? Different rows. Same city? Different hotels.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 7:47 PM on July 26, 2010 [1 favorite]

Where in Europe, and how planned is the trip?

If the only firm already-paid-for plan is the plane tickets, why not just go as two people sitting next to each other on a plane?

Even if the hotel room is paid for, you could flip for it.

Europe is a big place which is relatively easy to travel around. If you booked a trip to Paris with your boyfriend, there's no reason you couldn't grab a train to Provence or Berlin or even Scotland and have your own private trip without him. Or if you're dead set on the original destination, ask him to do that.

The only problem would be if you guys are on a booked-up nonrefundable tour for the duration of the trip. And even so, you could always call the tour company and see what they can do for you.
posted by Sara C. at 7:50 PM on July 26, 2010

Before we got together, my SO and his ex went on vacation. It was totally fine, they had an awesome time. But this comes down to your personalities and how you deal with travel-related stress, and how important the sex/no sex decision would be to both of you.
posted by desuetude at 7:50 PM on July 26, 2010 [1 favorite]

Do you want to stay broken up with this individual? There is a very good chance you will get back together during this trip. Six weeks is a long time. He is, presumably, the only other person you know in Europe. You've been together for two years. There's a very strong chance you will fall back into the same relationship patterns you had.

If you truly want to stay broken up with this guy, my advice is to make that abundantly clear. Tell him that whatever happens on the trip will not change this decision. Then go on the trip. Hook up with him. Have fun. But don't forget any of the reasons you broke up with him, no matter how much fun you have on the trip.
posted by fryman at 7:51 PM on July 26, 2010 [2 favorites]

Go for it but sleep in separate bedrooms and do not have sex.

Do not go on a European trip with an ex-boyfriend who has anger management issues if you plan on sleeping in separate bedrooms the whole time.
posted by alms at 7:58 PM on July 26, 2010 [1 favorite]

This is a bad idea. Forced time together will not do anything to alleviate any interpersonal problems between the two of you.
posted by shakespeherian at 8:25 PM on July 26, 2010

Incredibly terrible idea. Find a good friend that might want to go with you.

Just imagine what will happen when you're a million miles from home and nowhere to go if turns turn sour.
posted by milinar at 8:43 PM on July 26, 2010

I'd say that if you feel safe around the guy, and you really are interested in reconciling with him, you might as well try going on the trip. It could be your wake-up call that your relationship is completely doomed, or it will be a bonding experience that will help you mend it.
posted by crunchland at 8:45 PM on July 26, 2010 [1 favorite]

Terrible idea.

So why not just go by yourself?

There are only some parts of Europe that you'd have issues traveling in by yourself as a woman, and those are easy to avoid. If you stick to the big and medium-sized cities, you'll be fine.

Traveling in Europe by yourself allows you to see what you want to see and do what you want to do. And if you do get lonely, it's incredibly easy to meet fellow back-packers in the hostels and hotels and travel with them, or maybe just go out for a bite to eat or see a museum. I met some really great people that I wouldn't have met otherwise if I'd been traveling with a partner. The thought of traveling with an _ex_-partner? Oh dear god. I'd rather just stay home.
posted by bardic at 8:47 PM on July 26, 2010 [3 favorites]

I definitely agree with Sara C here. Hotel rooms are usually refundable as long as the trip isn't tomorrow, and then you can just split off your trip and go places all by your lonesome. Which can be a totally awesome way to travel--you can go to things at your own pace and you don't have to see anything you don't want to!
posted by that girl at 9:06 PM on July 26, 2010

Ah, now I get to break out my story of traveling in Europe as an eleven year old with my mom and older sister...and older sister's boyfriend. They were 17, about to go away to college. First true love for him, not so much for her. She had broken it off with him a few weeks before, but the tickets were bought. Being a kid, most of it was above my head, and I was having a good time until that fateful night in the Dutch hotel when they both went downstairs to play chess, got madly drunk, and started arguing. She left in a huff to go back up to her room. He went and ordered a full set of room service and then tried to carry it up to her on a tray. He was fall-down drunk, and somehow managed to spill tea all the way up four floors on the way to her room. Then he ended up having a little "talk" with my mom, he and my sister both argued some more, then cried, fell asleep, and had nasty hangovers the next day. We almost got kicked out of the hotel. They avoided each other the rest of the trip. Moral of the story? Don't drink and travel to Europe with exes.
posted by Nixy at 10:01 PM on July 26, 2010 [1 favorite]

I traveled with an ex once and it was pretty bad, despite us being able to be friends in small doses. That much time together plus the stresses of travel tends to bring out all the bad things that ended the relationship in the first place.
posted by Jacqueline at 10:17 PM on July 26, 2010

good idea if you want to sleep with him a few times more in exotic locales. bad idea if you don't.
posted by nathancaswell at 10:27 PM on July 26, 2010 [3 favorites]

I've done this (actually, breakup was day 1). Had a really good time on the vacation, had an awful time with the ex. I don't recommend it, wouldn't do it again, but it does make for a memorable trip.
posted by Happydaz at 10:29 PM on July 26, 2010

This seems like a terrible idea. I didn't travel with her, but I spent six weeks living with an ex when I was young, and it was pretty miserable.

I did want to amend something Bardic said. Europe is incredibly safe--considerably safer than the US, if that's where you happen to be from. The only serious pain you'll face as a single woman traveling is unwanted male advances, and this (in my experience) tends to be worst in certain Mediterranean countries--mostly Italy and Spain.
posted by dbarefoot at 10:45 PM on July 26, 2010

You sound ambivalent about the breakup as it is. I think traveling together but without the stresses of real life will most likely lead to you getting back together. If that's what you want to do, go for it.

There are other scenarios possible besides a reunion tour: he gets angry and (you're stranded, oh no?) (you break up for good with clarity and certainty, hooray?). Or you guys awkwardly try to stay broken up and complicated feelings lead to someone acting out (hooking up with that girl from the café, taking off on a day trip without telling you) and unnecessary drama.

What would I do? I'm old now. I appreciate the happy relationship I've found and the diversity of experiences I had before that. I don't appreciate the time I spent lingering in going-nowheresville. So, I would advise that since you think this person is part of your past but not your future, why stay stuck there? If it's at all possible, make a clean break beforehand. Then use the trip to launch yourself into your next phase. See what that brings. (European men, ooh lá lá.)
posted by salvia at 12:36 AM on July 27, 2010 [2 favorites]

If you really are over this guy, do everything separately. Your trip is yours, his is his. That way you'll avoid any pain- or drama-inducing situations that can sour an otherwise great time (speaking from experience I don't want to go into here — think "sudden declarations of undying love that you can't reciprocate"). I've been single in Europe for 6 years and can also vouch for how safe you'll be. It's a lot of fun, discovering European cities on your own! And there's no awkwardness in eating alone in restaurants. You'll very probably meet other travelers to hang out with, anyway.
posted by fraula at 1:04 AM on July 27, 2010

We broke up because his anger management issues, but I really don't think we'd run into those issues on vacation (because they tend to be triggered by factors that won't be present on the vacation).

Have you ever been on a long multi-week trip with someone before? Travel can be frustrating. Sometimes people want to do different things. Sometimes transport doesn't cooperate. Sometimes things happen. I would not travel with anyone I had broken up with recently, particularly someone with anger management issues. That just sounds like a whole kettle of fish waiting to go bad real quick like.
posted by canine epigram at 5:55 AM on July 27, 2010

A European vacation can be a very good source of anger, frustration, and anxiety for people that do not have anger management issues. Have you flown abroad with the new TSA regulations lately? Ughhhh.

You should write off the trip in all seriousness. Split the costs to make the hardship the least for each of you. Offer apologies but even if there were no anger issues, taking a vacation with a recent ex would be weird on all fronts.
posted by JJ86 at 5:58 AM on July 27, 2010

I've done this and it sucked. I kept getting sucked back into the drama. I was like you and had invested a lot of time, money and expectation into the trip and didn't want to just let it go. Man, if I could do it all over again, I would have turned around and gone back home. It was over ten years ago and I still occasionally think about crap from that trip (my break-up was a bit of a nightmare, though).

It's up to you. You seem like you want to go. I'd rather go another time with a really good friend or even on your own instead of a recent ex with anger issues.
posted by KathyK at 6:14 AM on July 27, 2010

There are only some parts of Europe that you'd have issues traveling in by yourself as a woman, and those are easy to avoid. If you stick to the big and medium-sized cities, you'll be fine.

Are you thinking of something specific? I can't think of anyplace in Europe that a woman would have trouble traveling alone, as long as she uses some common sense. You get hassled more in the big cities, smaller towns require more conservative behavior, and other than that...?

In the meantime, I'd like the hive mind's opinion about whether it's a terrible idea to go ahead with our planned vacation?

The problem with polling the hive mind for this sort of thing is that we're all replying imagining a European trip with our own exes. Without knowing more about the general dynamic between you and your ex, it's impossible to give you really specific advice, but if I knew you in real life, I'm sure I'd have an immediate, very clear opinion.

Whatever you do, don't do it just to prove a point, You don't need to travel with him to prove that you can, and you don't need to cancel the trip because the common wisdom is that travelling with an ex is strange/no fun.

If you are hoping that this sparks a reconciliation and a new phase to your relationship, you should go into that with your eyes open as well. Even if you wind up rekindling some romance on this trip, it may not last once you get home. Will that affect how you feel about the trip?
posted by desuetude at 6:44 AM on July 27, 2010

I went on vacation with my now ex-wife just as we were contemplating separation. It was an emotionally tumultuous time for me but I would likely have felt the same if I were home. I did an okay job separating all the negative feelings of our failed relationship while still enjoying myself. It was easy for me to go off and do things on my own, which I preferred. Of course, I would have been happier if she'd left without me and I stayed. Or if she had some kind of an... accident.
posted by indigo4963 at 6:49 AM on July 27, 2010

Don't do it.
posted by the foreground at 7:45 AM on July 27, 2010 [1 favorite]

Don't do it, or go your separate ways and meet up at one point. Travelling with people you like can be difficult. There's a million joint decisions that have to be made every day (where to eat, what to see, go down this street or that, where to stay, where to shop, what activities, which train, or maybe the bus) and it's bound to end badly.
posted by dripdripdrop at 7:54 AM on July 27, 2010

Terrible, terrible idea.
posted by the bricabrac man at 8:41 AM on July 27, 2010

A good friend of mine went on a trip with his ex and it turned out okay. They got along well enough during the trip and did not get back together as a couple after it. A perfect vacation, really. So, it can work out well.

But, ex-with-anger-issues? I don't think I'd go to that guy's b-day party, let alone vacation with them.
posted by It's Never Lurgi at 8:55 AM on July 27, 2010 [1 favorite]

Don't do it.

Traveling with someone is different than being with them day to day. I have friends I love to death that I would never ever travel with because they're terrible travelers, or they walk slow, or they can't make up their minds, or they're picky eaters who take three hours to choose a restaurant. I love them but I'm not going to travel with them in any capacity.

I would never marry anyone I hadn't traveled with. You learn a lot about someone when you travel. You say the anger management issues will be fine because the stressors aren't there - well, there are new and different stressors when you travel, and now these things are happening in a place you don't know and maybe don't speak the language in.

I love Mr. M. to death and we have been together for a very, very long time, but we just took a trip and I will tell you that at the end of it even *we* were fighting, due to things like exhaustion, hunger (bad planning on our part), and excessive heat, and for things like forgetting to communicate intentions explicitly. They were dumb, idiotic fights, the kind we never have, but we had two before we figured out what was going on and started doing things differently. But we're in a relationship and incented to forgive the other for temporary stupidity, and we've traveled together before so we know what the other person's pain points are.

You don't have any of these things.

Finally, I was in the same situation that you were about 20 years ago, when I had planned a trip to Europe with a boyfriend who became an ex. I was about to just go anyway, with the thought that we could just do our own thing (the only thing prearranged was the plane tickets) until it became clear that he was obviously banking on the trip to get back together, or at least to continue sleeping together, neither of which I was interested in. I didn't go, and I don't remember if he did, but that was back when you could do things like get refunds on plane tickets.
posted by micawber at 11:10 AM on July 27, 2010

Don't do it.

I read this question as "I flip a coin, heads you have an alright 6 weeks, tails you get 6 weeks of hell."

The money doesn't enter into it. Supposedly that's already spent and gone regardless. The results or repercussions after the 6 weeks are also impossible to guess. So now, would you flip a coin risking the next 6 weeks being a living hell? I wouldn't flip that coin.
posted by BurnMage at 1:36 PM on July 27, 2010

I feel the need to point out ... the anonymous OP said "we have a trip planned to Europe in 6 weeks." She didn't say that the trip was going to be 6 weeks long, just in case that might change some advice.
posted by crunchland at 1:40 PM on July 27, 2010


I've done this twice, I suppose not really learning from the first experience, which was bad, but the second experience was....terrible.

In the first it was a short trip, so it wasn't so bad and we had some fun, but he was also fairly cold and emotionally manipulative.

The second was a longer trip and one of the legs our travel plans went wrong. The guy in question got very angry and made a huge scene, which just made our situation worse. We also drank too much at one point and he tried to take advantage of me.
posted by idle at 6:17 AM on July 28, 2010

I have to say I did this last summer and it went OK. My gf of 6 years broke up with me last July, and we already had (nonrefundable/nontransferrable) cruise tickets booked for October. Separate rooms weren't really an option, and cruise ship cabins are teeny. I guess we could have separated the bed, but even in the same bed there was no sex.

I think it depends on how the breakup is going -- we still hung out regularly, so we were used to interacting as friends rather than a couple. However, I was still pretty bitter about the breakup, though, and pretty much had fun on the cruise in spite of the fact that I was traveling with her, rather than because of it. It helped that we were going as part of a group, so I had people other than her to hang out with.
posted by bigdamnnerd at 2:13 PM on July 28, 2010

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