y’all traveling with another mate. it is special. it is beautiful. it is sometimes difficult. it is not always the dreamy you see on instagram.
I feel inspired, okay compelled. to write what it was like for me [or for us] as my husband and I just journeyed around the world for around 8 months together.
I also selfishly wish to write this down because I know I am going to have this conversation many times with people and when I am asked questions about advice I would give - I want to have a place to send them :)
BEFORE WE LEFT
I live most of my life pretending and believing I can avoid hard moments. I can remember swimming at the Swope Park pool solo while pondering ‘good questions’ to ask Brent so we could ‘get on the same page’ before we left for our big trip. I swam the length of the pool and thought - okay I can make a fun little worksheet of questions like ‘What do you envision this trip to look like?’ and ‘What do you picture a day in the life on our trip to be like?’ side note, y’all I seriously look back at this moment and laugh!
We are all on the journey of growth.
I do feel like I have grown since this moment, and for that I am grateful.
Yes there is still much growth to have happen.
There is a podcast called ‘women on the road’ and I listened to an episode that specifically talked about traveling with a partner and ways to keep things light and healthy and the person being interviewed said her and her mate took one day a week to do their own thing and this was something I remembered and held on to for our trip.
Basically to put it blunt[ly?] there is [in my opinion] just not really a ton of prep work you can do to ensure a super smooth experience. I am making some assumptions here that 1. you know your travel partner well at this point 2. you at least somewhat enjoy them 3. you both hold some emotional maturity. Otherwise, my little bits here may not help much if those bases aren't covered. Just wanting to shoot it to ya straight.
Questions that may be helpful tools to ask one another before you depart:
- What is the purpose of this trip?
- What are you excited about?
- What are you nervous about?
- What do you envision doing? - talk it out and share a sample day from waking up to going to sleep
- What does a reasonable budget look like?
- Are we going to try to collect souvenirs for people or not mess with it?
- Are we open to the idea of taking some time apart? this could factor into cell phone plan decisions, etc
- What are we hoping to get out of this experience?
Here is what is true or what I would say are safe assumptions - you will change as your travel. Your expectations will change. Your ideas of what you hope to get from your trip will change. That is simply the beauty and unpredictable nature of saying yes to a 'mini incubator' of change, which I believe travel is for most people.
May I recommend something to you? Rolf Potts writes a book called Vagabonding
He has so many thought-provoking ideas about travel that truly shaped me in ways before we made our journey and I’m forever grateful to my friend (and cousin!) Sarah who introduced me to this nomadic soul. GOOD STUFF.
WHILE WE WERE TRAVELING
Brent and I believe we will look back on our trip and be grateful we did it over and over. It was a foundational experience not only for our marriage, but it also served as a vision and blueprint our future plans we are working towards building. What was our trip? Brent and I camped in the US for October, Spain in November, Thailand in December and then New Zealand January through May of 2018.
Truthfully - the first month of our trip when we decided to camp in the eastern US and live out of Brent’s truck, was the most difficult part of our entire trip. We have pretty opposite personalities and I didn’t realize how important organization was for Brent. We fought about things that just felt petty to me, but were incredibly important to him. So eventually these things became important to me as I slowly learned how much they mattered to him. We were glad we had this mini little trial period because it was an excellent way for us to get the ‘kinks’ out and find common ground before leaving the country.
Another truth bomb. The more you realize and understand that your travel partner cannot fulfill your every need, my prediction is, you will both begin to thrive more. This is hard and confusing especially in marriage because 1. our society paints this super unrealistic picture that a lover can be your everything. Lies. Not true. Don’t be deceived. 2. you must remember that you are traveling with another breathing, thriving soul who is also growing and changing and you two have got to learn day by day how to give each other space for that growth to happen without smothering one another.
Lastly, if I could recommend a couple different rhythms that took us some time to figure out it would be 1. learn how to play well together and step into each others space. Example: like me joining my husband for a movie that he picked and is excited about even when I think it’s weird. Or him going to an art gallery with me and strolling for probably longer than he really cares to be there. It’s the little things. 2. at the end of the day we would often ask “what was your high, low and interesting thing that happened to you today” another way of saying this we learned from our friend Hori is “what was your rose, thorn, and banana peel” and you'll probably find your own fun communication methods that make you each feel cared for and known.
BEING HOME AND LOOKING BACK
All in all, growth is hard, it’s beautiful and messy. Traveling with a mate isn’t easy, but it’s a lot of fun. We laughed, we yelled, we cried, we asked each other hard questions, we sad hurtful words to each other, we held hands and smooched each other on mountain tops, we dreamed together, we enjoyed solo time exploring apart, we sweated and stained timber side by side, we fed farm animals, we said sorry, we had random dance parties, we grocery shopped like it was our job and you know what - we learned more about each other and our marriage is stronger and there are these real layers that develop and it’s just all part of the journey.
So now, we have all of these sacred little moments and memories and I’m not usually one for inside jokes, I think they are kinda lame and can make people feel excluded, HOWeva I love that Brent and I have all these memories that we will get to invite our future children into and share, especially via photos. 15,000 photos on my iPhone later. yep. does someone wanna come over help me get organized? I’m actually not joking.
THE SHORT RECAP
- together discuss expectations
- figure out each others love language (even if you are just friends traveling) care for each other well
- give the person room to breathe and space to grow
- find time to be alone, have quiet time apart, explore separately
- keep an open mind and work towards being adaptable
- maybe don’t bring up hard things when you are trapped in a car together (*whoops*) for a long period of time
- “hows your heart” or “how are you really” can go a long way
Have fun. Enjoy the process. It will not go how you think. If you can both learn to be clear and honest communicators, this will serve you well. This is all just from my experience, so maybe take it with a grain of salt and you do you babes.