If you’re in a couple and have just discovered the magic of travel hacking, chances are you’ve got a reluctant spouse. I hear “my husband won’t get on board” or some variation almost daily.
The reluctant spouse is someone who just doesn’t get it. Maybe he thinks cash is king. Or maybe she took years to pay off her debt and won’t get a new credit card. Or maybe (gasp) he’s just not into travel. Whatever it is, you will need to have…
It’s the travel hacking version of the birds and the bees. That time you set aside to explain to your better half why opening up six credit cards in a single day may not be nuts. Or why you want to buy $5000 worth of gift cards at the mall. I’m going to give you some tips to help you navigate the talk more effectively. They are hard earned from both my experience and that of many others.
The Kite and The String
I came up with a relationship theory a long time ago: the best couples are ones with a kite and a string. The idea is that some people are kites (travel hackers) and some are strings (reluctant spouses). The kites need the strings to keep them from flying off into the ozone and the strings need the kites to get them off the ground.
Occasionally a two kites or two strings relationship works, but I’ve seen two-kite-ers who just get into trouble because they have no boundaries. Conversely I’ve seen two string-ers who just bore each other into submission. Get one of each and you bring balance to the force.
Listen First to Understand
Once you’ve identified that you’re dealing with a string, you can start to convince him (I’m using “him” for convenience) to tie himself to your kite. However, first you’ve got to find out what his specific concerns are. I’m stealing from Stephen Covey’s 7 habits here because listening first does two things.
First, until you get it, you’re just not gonna get it. Asking specific questions like “why do you prefer cash back?” or “why are you afraid of going back into debt?” or “what about travel don’t you like?” opens up communication and shows you value your partner’s opinion: even when it’s clearly wrong (JOKE!).
Bring the right tools to the task
Secondly, hearing the specific concerns allows you to figure out a solution that assuages the right symptom. Don’t treat a stomachache with Tylenol.
For instance: Deal Dad works with numbers and spreadsheets everyday. When we were first married I wanted to go to Thailand for summer vacation. He thought it was too expensive. I created an excel spreadsheet breaking down costs for two weeks in a four star beach resort here in the states- no transport- and one in Thailand including airfare. I went on to prove it costs about the same to spend two weeks in peak season and four star anywhere in the world, especially if miles are part of your currency. Once he saw it in black and white he got on board. (I did the same comparing Ireland and Ocean City, MD on 4th of July here.)
However, if your spouse is genuinely afraid of credit you could show him reams of data and it will get you nowhere. Personal success stories- preferably of people he knows- will be a lot more convincing. Get him to a frequent flyer happy hour, STAT.
And if you partner just hates to travel? Well, it could be one of two things. One option is to up the comfort level. Maybe he hates travel because, well, travel can suck sometimes. Add in the lounge, the lie flat seat and whatever else you can to make it hassle free and he might reconsider.
But if he just hates to travel? Don’t make him. You’ll both be happier in the end. Take off yourself or with a friend. Negotiate for something he wants on the back end.
I’d love to hear your tips as well if you’ve converted a reluctant spouse in the comments.
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