For most of my adult life, like many people, my idea of travel involved multiple swim-up bars, white sand beaches and turquoise water as far as the eye could see. In other words, I equated travel with spending a week somewhere hot, doing nothing but sunning, swimming and drinking fruity beverages (ideally containing a miniature umbrella). My boyfriend gave a few of these trips a try -- we went with friends and family two years in a row, but he decided a week on the beach doing nothing was boring. Um...OK. Isn't that the whole point? Years went by sans sandy beach. Sigh.
The boy discovered a kind of travel he liked better – that which involved booking a flight, packing a backpack and landing with only a guidebook in hand. He went to Mexico twice, Costa Rica and Nicaragua alone or with friends while I stayed home, content to have the house to myself and spend my money on other things – like shoes. But eventually he started encouraging me to come with him on one of his adventures.
I thought about going with him and then I thought some more and then I lost my job so I suddenly had a lot of free time on my hands. "What about Belize?" the boy asked casually one evening. "Are there swim-up bars in Belize?" I asked, equally as nonchalant. It turns out there are lots of swanky hotels in Belize (Francis Ford Coppola has a few) but NOT where we were going. Sigh. I agreed to go after much deliberation but there were to be ground rules. Number one being booking our first night's accommodation so I didn't have to deal with the stress of landing in a strange city – in the DARK - not knowing where I was going to sleep.
We decided to fly into Cancun (oh the turquoise water and fruity drinks. So close, but so far) and travel some of Mexico's Mayan Riviera, working our way into Belize with a quick 4-day stop in Guatemala and back to Cancun (still no stopping for swim-up bars) to fly home – for a grand total of 4 weeks travelling – together. What was I thinking? It turns out we travel really well together, mostly due to our ability to compromise. Here are a few of the bigger ones.
Planning: I really wanted to plan this trip to a tee, including how many days in each spot, where we would stay and what we would do. The boy said this killed the spontaneity. Impasse. OK, so what did we do? I backed off being too detailed and he relented on letting me book the accommodation for our first stop.
Rooms: My boyfriend will sleep anywhere. Dirt, grime, gross bathroom? Whatever! I have MUCH higher standards and feel OK paying more for a nice room. Impasse. What's an arguing couple to do? I decided I didn't need 5 (or even 3 or 4) stars but I did need clean. He decided spending more was fine if it meant I would stop whining. Win!
Activities: I am a bit of a suck. I don't like heights, confined spaces, crowds or food I can't recognize. This was initially quite limiting but eventually I realized I would have to do some scary things if I wanted to make the most of the trip. The boy realized that pushing me didn't help and that if there was something he wanted to do, he could just go (see: Scuba diving and also jumping from great heights into a waterfall).
Seriously, if you can afford it (if you can't, start saving) take a trip with your guy. It doesn't have to involve roughing it like we did some of the time, but go at least slightly outside your comfort zone, which is where you'll learn the most about each other. There will be rough patches but it's all par for the course. The pros far outweigh any cons you might come across (language barriers, sub-par hotel rooms, bad food) and you'll be left with great memories and a deeper bond. It's win-win!
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