What's it like to spend months on the road with your spouse? Prior to our trip, Nicole and I had no idea. We knew that (a) we would be spending nearly every waking hour together and (b) travelling in developing countries where we don't speak the local language can be challenging and stressful. Thus, combining (a) and (b) could be a formula for marital friction (if not handled correctly)! :)
Seven weeks in, Nicole and I discussed over dinner our impressions of travelling together thus far. I'm happy to report that, at least at this point, we both feel like things are going better than expected. A few keys seem to be that (a) we both like spending plenty of time at beaches and pools which we have done lots of in Vietnam, (b) having done some international travel before, we were both fully aware of the challenges and thus tend not to blame one another when things don't go as planned, and (c) we've been ok with spending time apart when it makes sense (for example, the other day I went snorkeling while Nicole got a massage because each of us were so-so on what the other wanted to do).
Nonetheless, it hasn't been all gravy! During our dinner, Nicole and I came up with the following areas where we were surprised by what it's been like to travel together. We figured we would spill the beans because, as I've said before, the most interesting things about other people's travel is often what doesn't go as planned.
- I believe in eating like a caveman / Nicole believes in eating like a normal person. I am a very frugal person (Nicole might substitute "very" with "extremely"). So much like early man, when there is cheap or free food available in abundance, I gorge myself so as not to have to eat the following meal (unless it is also cheap or free!). As an example, we are currently staying at a resort where a daily buffet-style breakfast is included with the price of our accommodation. Without really trying to, each morning I nonetheless behave like I've never experienced food before. As I am writing this at 5:30 p.m., my stomach is full even though I haven't eaten since breakfast (where I had two pancakes, two slices of quiche, a slice of toast topped with meats and cheese, some sticky rice and dumplings, assorted fruit, a smoothie bowl, juice, and coffee). Nicole, on the other hand, didn't want to gorge herself. So I sat and silently judged her small plate of fruit, smoothie bowl, and cappuccino. Then, when in her weakness she suggested that we eat lunch, I scoffed and stewed about the needless waste of money as any mature person would do. Suffice it to say, we (maybe only me!) still have some work to do in this area. :)
- Beyond only food, I tend to guard our cash like Fort Knox / Nicole tends to spend money like a normal person. Prior to our trip, Nicole and I created a travel budget. However, closely related to #1 above, once we started travelling, I have tended to treat our budget as the absolute upward bound of what we could possibly spend if we were forced to. Nicole, on the other hand, has tended to use phrases such as, "But it's only a few American dollars..." Ha, we left our American dollars behind long ago, sister, welcome to 'Nam. For evidence of who has prevailed in the ensuing debates, see this prior post, where I describe how we've been sticking to our budget, but not spending wildly below it.
- I often get stir crazy and have to run off exploring / Nicole has behaved like a normal person. Closely related to #1 and #2 above, I have often felt that, since we've paid to be in Vietnam, I'm wasting our money if I'm not experiencing something or exploring my surroundings. In more normal fashion, this means that I tend to go on a lot of walks or runs during the day to check out what's happening around us. In less normal fashion, I've developed this weird tick where each time we arrive in a new city I can barely sit still until I've ran around looking at everything near our hotel. Nicole, while still curious about her surroundings, manages to still function normally prior to exploring them.
- Even though we have been spending a ton of time together, it isn't always "quality" time. (Also, we figured we needed at least one category not focused on me being a looney toon) I was surprised when Nicole suggested that we should start having a few "date nights" inasmuch as we typically eat at least dinner together every day at a restaurant. The surprising thing is that, with all this time together, we've actually gotten lax about what we talk about. It's been easy to fall into the trap of just repeating what we did that day / commenting to ourselves about other tourists in the restaurant / saying this food's pretty good, isn't it?. Back in New York, if Nicole and I went out for drinks or dinner oftentimes we would have thought ahead of time and pre-planned stuff to talk about (we're big on question lists like this one). So we're going to occasionally start doing that again!
In sum and joking aside, this trip has been a learning experience for Nicole and I regarding long term travel together. We really didn't know what to expect. So far, so good and, as we near leaving Vietnam, we are both excited for the next phase of our travels together.
Like this post? Want to read more about Travis and Nicole's travel adventures? Check out Our Overview And Observations From Travelling For Two Months Through Vietnam.
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