“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”
I saw this African proverb at the beginning of the movie "The Good Lie" that Isaac and I were watching together on vacation in Hawaii. And as soon as I read that it I thought how profound it was, and it made me think about our relationship.
I have taken many trips on my own all around the world and gained so much from those experiences, but traveling with Isaac added a new dimension to those experiences.
Here are nine lessons I learned from traveling with bae:
1. Two heads are better than one
I’m used to traveling on my own so when something goes wrong, I fix it. But what happens when you run out of solutions? Our trip to Europe made me realize a second set of neurons can save me from a lot of headaches.
We arrived in Istanbul in the middle of the night and we had no way of reaching our Airbnb host to confirm that someone was there to let us in. The airport doesn’t have Wi-Fi and none of the phones in the building were working. Since I’m the travel planner, Isaac looks to me to have these types of things handled. And, I could tell he was frustrated that I didn’t have a solution. So was I.
We were both tired and over the situation, but no one seemed to know or have a working phone. I was preparing myself to have to spend the night in the airport. But Isaac walked through the airport asking everyone he could find if they speak English so he could use their cell phone. Thank goodness, his persistence paid off.
Traveling alone made me confident, but traveling with someone else made me stronger.
So whether it’s Isaac taking me to the Akihabara district in Tokyo to share in his love of video games and anime. Or it’s me convincing him to go surfing in Hawaii, putting our two crazy heads together always ends in a better adventure.
2. Sometimes you just need to go with the flow
I’d like to think that I’m easygoing, but in truth I do not go with the flow, especially on vacation. I prefer to plan every day out with a full itinerary of activities, things to see and the best places to eat. Easygoing I am not.
Learning to live and let go is something I learned from Isaac’s example. We’re late? No problem. Reservation is messed up? No worries. He’s unfazed and just willing to make it work.
When I took him to Los Angeles for his birthday, I wanted to show him around my former city and make sure he had a great time. He was down for it. He just went with the flow and enjoyed riding in the passenger seat. But then he came across his favorite store and wanted to stop and shop for an hour. I was annoyed.
First, I hate shopping. Second, this was messing up my schedule! Wait, this is his trip too. In fact this was HIS BIRTHDAY trip….Oops! I was about to be a diva over something really trivial and I knew better. I just needed to go with it.
3. Being happy feels better than being right
There’s a lot of instances where my first instinct is to fight to be right. But I’ve learned that vacation (and life) is too short to waste it on arguing.
Isaac and I had been planning a trip to Vancouver, BC for Labor Day weekend and we had this huge fight before we left. We had planned the trip last minute so it was impossible to find a reasonably priced hotel near the city center. We were going back and forth about whether or not to go. I don’t even remember what or why, but I was adamant that Isaac was wrong about something.
On the brink of canceling our trip and staying mad, we both just decided to let it go.
We found an alternative hotel that was farther from the city, but we had a car and could make it work. Looking back I don’t really know why we were fighting. But stuffing our faces with sushi, dim sum and ice cream, and creating great memories hiking in Stanley Park and the Capilano Suspension Bridge felt a lot better than feeling like I had the upper hand.
4. Be patient, everyone goes at their own pace
You know how people say you can really tell if you can get along with someone if you can take a trip together? It’s really the ultimate test. For me that test comes in the form of patience. Patience is a virtue…that I don’t have. But I’m working on it.
One of the few things Isaac asked that we do in Tokyo was visit the Edo Museum. He went there as a kid with his family. At the time, he was fascinated with Japanese culture, but they had to rush through the museum and he had always wanted to come back.
When we got to the Edo Museum, Isaac and I poured over every inch of the it. I didn’t think once about the time. I wanted him to see every thing he missed as a kid.
I learned that taking in the moment doesn’t happen in an instant and being patient meant showing I cared. I didn’t want impatience to get in the way of leaving space for love and having fun.
5. A table for two is more fun
I love food. Eating is pretty much the number one thing I want to do when I travel, but I always felt held back from my full potential when I ate alone. You know when you want to order an appetizer and dessert, but without someone to share it with you’re just a fatty?
Well Isaac is my partner in deliciousness. He loves to eat just as much as I do and he has no shame in his game. He eats fourth, fifth and sixth meals right along side me. He always asks if I want a snack, and he will order three entrees for us, because everything sounds too good and we can’t pick just two.
When we ate at Mama’s Fish House in Maui we went to town! Poi, octopus luau, Panang curry, lobster stuffed mahimahi, ahi poke and passion fruit creme brûlée. After that meal, that’s when I knew I loved this man.
6. Plan ahead
I used to get really upset because Isaac loves to take naps on vacation - like middle of the day naps for three to four hours at a time. In my world that’s prime “we bout to see everything” time. So it would be a battle, with me trying to drag him out all day long.
But I realized there was a way to have the best of both worlds. I started planning our vacation with Isaac’s needs in mind. Because sometimes after eating your body weight at the buffet, you’re gonna need a nap.
7. Live inside the moment, but take pictures to save it
I’m super lazy about taking pictures. So when I heard Drake's lyric, “I’m living inside a moment, not taking pictures to save it,” I suddenly had a great excuse not to take pictures. I’m living in the moment!
Then I sat down to make a scrapbook for Isaac’s birthday a couple years ago and I immediately understood why he takes so many damn pictures. While I do love to live in the moment, especially on vacation, our travel pics tell layers to the story that my memory would never have the capacity to hold.
Putting together his scrapbook meant getting to relive every hilarious, corny and embarrassing moment. And even now, he pulls them out and we sit and look at all the pictures reminiscing about the life we’ve created together.
And of course, he now reminds me all year long: “Take a picture of this for next year's scrapbook!"
8. Vacations are about balance
Isaac’s style of vacation is very different from mine. For him the perfect trip includes sleeping, eating and working out at a resort in some sunny destination.
Me sleeping on vacation? That’s basically blasphemy. I wake up early and go to bed late. When I go on vacation I’m in action, seeing things, meeting people and doing something every minute of the day.
Our trip to Cabo San Lucas together gave us both the change of pace we needed. Isaac got outside and I slowed down. I learned to love long lazy days by the pool, 5-course breakfasts, midday siestas and afternoon pump sessions. And Isaac was willing to (as he dramatically puts it) risk life and limb to climb the rocks to visit Lover’s Beach, and burn his body to a crisp while I went snorkeling.
Every vacation doesn’t have to be a sprint to the finish. For the first time, I felt relaxed and not a bit guilty for missing out on the sights.
9. There’s no wrong way to travel
Traveling with Isaac taught me that my way isn’t the only way. I love backpacking around Rome with him just as much as staying in a 5-star Vegas hotel, and a day filled with sightseeing can be just as fun as a whole day spent in bed.
There’s not really a wrong way to travel and by simply being willing to say “yes” we have so many more adventures. Having a travel buddy made me step outside my comfort zone and grow a little (or a lot!) along the way.
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I'm Natasha Ho, a trained chef and avid traveler. I've studied culinary traditions from cuisines around the world, and I help food lovers learn how to cook a wide variety of meals that are consistently delicious so they can have more fun, ease and joy in their kitchen.