Travelgirl welcomes guest blogger Ryan O’Reilly. A dedicated solo traveler and self-proclaimed commitment-phobe, Ryan is getting married next month and shares with us his 5 Commandments for Married Adventures.
I’m getting married in May, and have only now opened up my world of adventure to my partner. A longtime solo traveler, it’s only been recently that I’ve become comfortable and satisfied with the process of traveling and adventuring with her. Probably because my travel is a little off the beaten path.
That being said, I think of married travel this way. What you do alone on an adventure, you should be able to do with your spouse along. Otherwise, are you sure you’re married to the right person?
As with all aspects of married life, travel involves a little compromise. You should do what your spouse wants to do sometimes, and other times, they should do what you want. But in my mind, adventure has little to do with specific destinations. For us, adventuring is the act of transit from one place to another. The destination is but a way station, and as long as you both embrace that wide-eyed sense of possibility, your trip will yield you stories, experiences, and plenty of shared beers. To keep things harmonious, here are my 5 commandments for married adventure:
1. JUST DO IT. If you don’t refresh your relationship through adventure, it’ll become stagnant. If you have a good travel dynamic with your significant other – my fiancé and I make an incredible team when we’re travelling – then you can do wonders for your relationship. Sort of the “Extreme Home Makeover” for couples.
So plan, but don’t plan too much. More important than charting out your exact destination, your exact stopping points, etc., just pick a date on the calendar and stick to it. On this day: You two are setting forth. No excuses. (Barring deathly illness.)
2. BE OPEN. At the end of the day, for my fiancé and me, it sometimes boils down to throwing darts at a map, then stopping wherever we want along the way. You don’t want a pre-packaged, book-online outing. That’s not really an adventure in my book.
I would recommend going somewhere you’ve never been to before. Don’t make an itinerary. Don’t bring friends. Find the nearest wine shop for supplies. Then head out with map in hand. You can fly somewhere and rent a car, but if time or money are a factor just head out from home. Take your newly purchased supplies, your spouse, and a duffel bag and see what you can find. Sometimes my fiancé and I like to bar fish. That’s where we walk into a bar separately in a strange town and I then try to pick her up. Sometimes someone else beats me to the punch and I have to vie for her attention. In the end we usually make friends, stay out late and go home happy. (Three rules for any good couple’s adventure, right?)
3. PREPARE FOR KIDS. Let’s face it – sometimes, it can’t be just you two and the open road. Sometimes, kids are coming, and the key to this arrangement is giving everyone a chance to try something they want during your adventure.
So: Would your kids rather look at alien stuffed animals in Roswell, while you’d rather go on a hike? Let them. Make it clear that they’ll get to do something fun. But if they still won’t play ball, and seem resistant to travel – leave them at home. If they’re teens, they can participate in that other rite of passage: the classic parents-are-away party.
4. MAKE TIME TO HEAD OUT SOLO. Though I’m now one half of a married whole, I still take a solo adventure every 12 months so I can process the year and get perspective.
We’re so used to being entertained 24/7 either by technology or the incessant chattering of friends and comrades. Being alone for a stretch of time, though scary to some, puts all of that on hold and allows you and your mind to reboot. It’s better and cheaper than any therapy I know of.
5. DRINK. This applies to both married adventure (see commandment #2 above), but also to my last tip, about adventuring solo.
Don’t listen to those puritans who tell you “never drink alone” – some of the best cups I’ve drained have been solo. Start a fire, grill up some food, and raise a toast to your lady back home.
Ryan O’Reilly is the author of the novel To Nourish and Consume. He is currently working on a memoir about floating the entire Missouri River alone. Visit ryancoreilly.com.