In a stunning development, a new poll released this week by the U.S. Travel Association provides strong evidence that couples who take vacations together typically have stronger relationships and better sex lives. While the study was quiet on the point, it seems probable that these couples also have better tans and buy more luggage than couples who don’t take vacations or, if they do, spend them in the basement.
The survey is unashamedly designed to encourage people to travel more, ideally in the US, and so I can’t criticise its noble intentions. I can, however, delight in making fun of its methodology and conclusions.
For instance, apparently some 83% of the approximately some people who took part in the poll said that a weekend getaway was likely to spark romance. The Travel Association concludes from this that vacations cause whoopy. This rather blindly ignores the more likely and obvious interpretation — those of us who travel are more sentimental than those who don’t. We’re not romantic because we travel, we travel because we’re romantic.
Similarly, 77% of respondents who travel together say that they have a good sex life, compared with 63% of those who do not travel together. This means that both groups are doing pretty well in direct contradiction with real scientific studies that indicate that more than half of people in relationships are unhappy with their sex lives, so either this poll suffers some small selection bias or it sampled at most eight couples (or it’s complete bullshit from beginning to end).
According to the survey, couples who travel together are appreciably more likely to make it past the five year point. I wonder what conclusion could be drawn from that, apart from traveling together reinforces relationships? In light of the fact that most couples identify money as the single greatest source of dispute, could it be that those that can afford to travel are less likely to have financial issues? Yes, it could indeed be that.
Oddly enough, the one figure that’s difficult to misinterpret appears to have made it into the published results by mistake: “More than one in every four couples (28%) say their sex life improved after traveling together”. That’s right, this poll shows that almost 75% of couples experienced no change or a deterioration of sexual activity after traveling together. Now that bit would be worrying if this poll had any credibility at all but it doesn’t so it’s not.
Having said all that I’m pretty sure that a vacation — in that it’s time away from the kids in an anonymous environment that often involves bikinis and other people doing the dishes and not caring what the neighbours hear — is going to contribute to a healthy relationship. In fact I’ll go so far as to say that’s just stating the obvious and it certainly doesn’t need support from an unscientific poll sponsored by an industry lobby.