Here is a tip you may not have thought about when traveling – women like structure and men like to wander. (In most cases – smile.) Lets talk about how to get along when a couple travels.

Structure vs. Wandering

Statistics show that women typically prefer structure over wandering around aimlessly on a trip. While this is not the case for all women, it is true of the majority. Perhaps you also possess the preference to have an overall plan or schedule.

Most men, however, generally love spontaneity and want to explore the area without plans. However, the opposite can be true, some men love schedules and there are women that like to wander.

Benefits of Structure

Cosmos Tour Group Shot

Structure is the reason why many women like to go on pre-packaged trips. They don’t have to think about where they are going, how to get there, what they are going to do when they get there, or where they are going to spend the night. They simply follow along. The big decisions are made for them in a structured, orderly way.

Structuring a trip on your own allows you to map out and categorize your trip based on location and activities. You can group attractions that are near to each other. This concept will enable you to avoid backtracking (which happens to be vital to me!) and easily prevents you from becoming lost and frustrated. The feeling of being lost is known to lead to arguments/ disappointment, which you want to avoid.

She is not looking at him, unhappy
You do NOT want to be unhappy when you travel.

Mapping out the locations you want to go allows you to create structure within your trip and designate a pattern from start to finish. (Remember some things may seem right next to each other on a map, but in reality, they may be miles apart.)

Having some structure also can help element some of that “What do you want to do? No, what do you want to do?” nonsense, which can be very aggravating.

Benefits of Wandering

During periods of when you choose to wander you are more relaxed in that you don’t have to be somewhere at a specific time. This concept relieves the time pressure associated with a schedule (structure).

You and your partner may roam through the city and experience new foods, local entertainment, and go shopping. Wandering does not require you to rush through one attraction to visit the next one on your list.

Tom and Cindy at a Paris Cafe
Tom and Cindy enjoying a moment at a cafe in Paris.

If you both find yourself in an area that is highly appealing, you will have the option to spend extra time to learn about that locations details in depth.

When you aren’t following a strict schedule, then you have all the time in the world to explore and find new things.

Personal Experience

In the very early days of our relationship, we quickly found we had different styles of traveling – I liked structure, he liked to wander. Thirty plus years later, I still love a bit of structure but have learned to enjoy the wandering.

What we typically do now is when we go to a new city the first full day we are there we take a half day city tour. That way we see many of the highlights of the city and get a feel for where things are. If it was necessary to leave early for some reason, we could say we have seen the highlights.

We often will take another tour at some point, like a river cruise, or a day trip outside the city, sometimes we even take two. Most of the rest of the time we have things we want to see (like a museum or a market) and do, but we get there by wandering. This has worked out well for us, and guess what, we both get to see and do things that we like!

You Should Ask

What are HER Expectations for this Trip?

What are HIS Expectations for this Trip?

There is an excellent chance that what he wants from a trip will be different than what she wants. It is good to work this out in advance and decide if you will take a tour (structure) or wander.

Happy couple Eiffel Tower
Structure and Wandering both have their place in travel – Enjoy!!

Wrapping Up

Structure is a great way to assure your travels will take you to visit the places and things you want to see the most.

Wandering may lead you to the unexpected local culture of what it is like to live in an area that will add to your travel experience.

Understanding the difference and the benefits of each can greatly increase your traveling together.

In my book, some structured events and some wandering is the idyll way to travel, and it meets the needs of both his and her travel style.