It’s that time again! Time to wine and dine your significant other with a creative expression of your love for Valentine’s Day. Or time to stubbornly ignore the holiday because you don’t need to take part in the blatant commercialism of V-Day and besides, every day with your partner is special, right?
No matter which camp you fall into, if you happen to have a special someone in your life, it’s fun to do some reflection at this time of year – especially if you’ve done a lot of traveling together.
I’ve been in a relationship for more than two years, but a lot of my travel during that time has been solo, for various reasons – schedule conflicts, lack of vacation time and fundage, etc. We’re trying to build towards a year-long round-the-world trip at some point in the next couple years. In the meantime, I like reading the tales of other couples who are currently making that dream happen.
In that spirit, I’ve invited several of your favorite travel blogging couples to contribute an anecdote from their shared journeys. Traveling as a twosome certainly comes with its shares of challenges, but with Valentine’s Day upon us, I want to focus on the more enjoyable aspects of couple travel. Like many of our contributors, I’m not a huge sappy V-Day kinda guy, but this theme feels right for this particular week. (Images within anecdotes are courtesy of the bloggers.)
> Scott & Christy, Ordinary Traveler
Christy recalls a wise decision and a memorable vacation in a glorious setting:
Scott and I don’t focus enough on romance when traveling because we are usually too busy taking photos and exploring every inch of a new place. Last year, we traveled to Cinque Terre, Italy for the first time and managed to fit in some down time to just enjoy each other’s company.
We only had a few days to explore this area, so instead of trying to see all five villages, we picked our favorite — Riomaggiore — and spent the day sunbathing and swimming in the cool blue water. It’s one of my fondest memories from all of our years of traveling. It just goes to show that we often don’t need a lot to make us happy.
>Tawny & Chris, Captain & Clark
The Captain & Clark (whose “how we met” story is the best ever!) treat each Valentine’s Day and anniversary as an opportunity to be adventuresome:
The Captain here is quite the romantic. Since we met while climbing Kilimanjaro, we decided that every anniversary should be celebrated with an adventure to somewhere new. In doing this we have been able to experience so much together. Our highlights include antique shopping in Spokane, taking a culinary tour of Seoul, and joining the thrilling chaos of Bangkok.
We’re always trying to find new adventures whether at home or abroad, and feel like Valentine’s Day is the perfect date to do so with the one you love. After all, travel is one of the best ways to get to know someone.
> Erica & Shaun, Over Yonderlust
An unexpected attack forces Erica and Shaun to run for cover. Hilarity ensues:
We found ourselves in La Paz, Bolivia for Valentine’s Day last year – not exactly known to be the romantic bastion of the world. But seeing as Shaun and I can entertain ourselves almost anywhere in the world, we were determined to make an epic Valentine’s yet.
After a bit of research we found a gourmet shop in town that served delicious cured meats and had a fresh bakery. What better way to spend a gorgeous, sunny day than a picnic in one of the squares around town? After stuffing two baguettes, some goat cheese, and wine into our bag, we saw it… There, in all its glory, was a deliciously wrapped hunk of llama sausage. Yes, they are cute – but you know – sometimes cute animals are delicious.
We sat down on the steps of the church in the square and started serving ourselves our found treasures. Just as I brought the llama sausage to my lips a delicate and lone pigeon feather floated down into my wine cup.
Then it happened.
A hoard of pigeons descended upon us. As we desperately threw our goodies into the bag the pigeons were squinting at us with their beady eyes and gnashing their ugly beaks at any little crumb that fell onto the floor as we narrowly escaped. We survived with our sausage but our wine was a waste – full of feathers and dander. As I grabbed the neck of the bottle and drank back my celebratory wine, I couldn’t help but giggle about our very memorable Valentine’s Day.
>Bret & Mary, Green Global Travel
Bret and Mary’s special memory involves the one state that has eluded me so far. Bret writes:
Mary and I went on our first trip together, to Hawaii’s Big Island, less than 3 months after we met. My beloved grandmother had just died, Mary was going through a divorce and, for some reason, we thought it would be a great idea to spend a week together 24/7, driving a rental car all around the island.
In retrospect, there were a lot of things that could’ve gone wrong. Mary conquered her fear of water and went snorkeling for the first time. We both nearly threw up from seasickness during a VERY rocky boat trip to see the lava flowing into the ocean. There were terrible thunderstorms when we were exploring Volcanoes National Park. But there were also incredible moments, like snorkeling with a group of sea turtles, seeing a rare Hawaiian Monk Seal on the beach, and a helicopter tour of the island.
That trip was like trial by fire for our burgeoning relationship, but it also gave us the blueprint for the great love and passion that still drives us today. In love and in life, things don’t always go the way we planned. But we stick together, ride out the bad stuff, appreciate the hell outta good stuff, and love each other unconditionally no matter what. I think that’s what make us such a potent team.
> Jack & Jill, Jack and Jill Travel
Jill recalls a time when being apart from her significant other almost had dire consequences, like when he nearly initiated a global manhunt:
Whenever we’re traveling apart, we usually talk every day. I was traveling in Myanmar when I got into a remote town with no Internet connection. Somehow I ended up staying there for 4 days and we couldn’t get in touch with each other.
Needless to say, he was worried sick. He was this close to contacting the State Department and getting on a flight to Myanmar to track me down, imagining all sorts of worst case scenarios. Looking back I always laugh about it, but it’s nice to know that someone cares, eh?
> Juliet & Lane, Southwest Compass
Juliet shares a funny moment from a romantic holiday vacay:
I dipped my hand into the aqua and teal ocean, to double-check it hadn’t been photo-shopped. The view from our atoll certainly felt surreal. Before Lane scored an unbeatable deal on this trip to Bora Bora, for Valentine’s Day no less, the odds of me visiting Never Land seemed higher.
We were staying in a thatched over-the-water bungalow, complete with Perspex viewing holes in the floor and furniture, so we could watch the fish dart by below us. The best feature of the bungalow (and given the presence of a four poster bed strewn with flowers, the competition was stiff) was the private dock.
Lane was still putting away our luggage when I located my swimsuit, underwater camera, flippers, and facemask then duck-walked down the steps to the dock. “I can’t wait a moment longer,” I told her, before rolling into the water with an inelegant plop.
I turned on the camera and swam toward a nearby reef, determined to find Nemo and a few of his BFFs. I located a teeny tiny fish, positioned him in my viewfinder then paddled after him. I was so proud to have caught him on camera that I headed straight back to the dock to show Lane. She was doubled over, hiccupping with laughter. Apparently, while I’d been busy scaring the scales off Bora Bora’s teeniest occupant, fifty or so fish, of varying sizes, had been following behind me!
> Betsy & Warren, Married With Luggage
Getting locked out of their room had a funny ending for Betsy, who shares this story:
The tiny village of Chugchilan, Ecuador is only 65 km from the nearest bus terminal, but it is a bumpy 4-hour bus ride down a dirt road. It remains pristine precisely because it is so remote, and we were excited to spend my 40th birthday hiking in this gorgeous area of the Andes Mountains. We arrived in the midst of a village-wide power outage, which meant a family-style meal over candlelight with other hikers at Mama Hilda’s Lodge.
We were the last ones to attach our headlamps to walk back to our room after dinner in the pitch-black night (no light poles here!), and this is when I realized I locked our key in the room. It was dark, cold, and very, very quiet. The kitchen staff had already gone home to their families, and we frantically stumbled around in the dark to find someone to get us back in our room. We finally found a caretaker to give us a key to an empty room, and he said we could have the manager use her master key to get us back into our room the next morning.
After breakfast, we stood by and watched as the manager used the “master key” to open our door – she popped the lock with a credit card! It was a funny lesson for us in not taking setbacks or problems too seriously. There is always a solution to be had, a workaround to find, or a person to help. Our sense of humor and flexibility makes traveling the world together a romantic adventure every single day of the year.
> Tara & Mike, Two Travelaholics
For married couple Tara and Mike, every day together is a special day:
Sometimes we have to take a step back and remember that we’re on our honeymoon. Like that time we danced to Croatian love songs at a beer hall in Zagreb. Or held each other’s waists as we jumped off a cliff together in Zimbabwe. Or watched the sunset from a canoe in the middle of Lake Malawi on our 9-month wedding anniversary.
Our round-the-world trip is about us exploring the world together, but it’s also our extended honeymoon. We don’t often splurge on luxuries for our honeymoon, but we do remember to make our moments together worthwhile. Because every day on this trip has been special, Valentine’s Day will probably come and go as another day on our budget spreadsheet and nothing more. To us, our trip and our lives together are more about the short, nice moments that occur often instead of one big day each year.
> Kent & Caanan, No Vacation Required
You can count on the NVR guys to have a great perspective on all couple-related matters:
We are not classically romantic guys. Neither of us pines for flowers and candy on Valentine’s Day, and the idea of a surprise public proposal makes both of us want to jump out of our skin. What we do find incredibly romantic is time together – time to connect and just be. So our recent backcountry ski trip was just about as romantic as things get for the NVR Guys.
That trip to a remote cabin, perched high above a valley here in northern Washington state, encompassed several elements that we find bring us closer together: a great workout, lots of mental clarity and the space (literal and figurative) to focus on us. Experiences like that strengthen our relationship much more than a box of candy ever could.
> Dave & Vicky, A Couple Travelers
Dave prepares for his first Valentine’s Day on the road:
As we’ve only been traveling for the last 4 months, this will be our first Valentine’s day together on the road. If there’s one thing that never seems to change, it’s the following: I don’t have any ideas.
At home, we might think to rent a hotel room to “get away” for a little bit. On the road, of course, we’re forced to do that anyways. At home, perhaps I would do the cooking or maybe we would get dressed up and go to a nice restaurant. On the road, I have no nice clothes, no kitchen, and we eat out everyday.
So as you can imagine, from the uncreative “I’m a guy and I don’t know what I’m doing” traveling perspective, Valentine’s Day on the road is a bit tricky. To top it off, we’ll be in Burma, a country I don’t know an awful lot about and which is not known for its nice beaches and restaurants.
So what do we do then?
We’ll, I’m still thinking about that – clearly. But I think at the very least we have to remember that even in the most remote place of the Earth, perhaps even especially so, there are ways for one person to cater to the other. Perhaps carry her backpack, bring her street food in bed, etc. Get creative, use your surroundings, and hope that under the circumstances it’s acceptable!
> Dave & Deb, The Planet D
We close with Deb from The Planet D, who discusses the not-so-glamorous side of couple travel, which happens to involve butt butter:
What brings a couple closer together than laying beside one another while slathering butt butter on their behinds each morning for 120 days? We say nothing! It was in a tiny two-man tent while cycling the continent of Africa that we faced our most challenging moments of our entire relationship. We laughed, we cried, we screamed and yelled. At times we snuggled while at others we tried to claw our way through the mesh to get away from one another.
120 days. Together. Pushing ourselves to the limits. We had nothing to do but suffer through the pain, be alone with our thoughts and motivate each other to never give up. If you can come out at the end of the Tour d’Afrique, ‘The World’s Longest Cycling Race” and still be able to look one another in the eye, I think you’ll make it baby!
Back to the butt butter….When you are cycling 12,000 km from Cairo to Cape Town through deep desert sands, high rocky mountains, non-existent roads and intense heat, your derriere can become quite raw. There’s only one way to give your bum relief after sitting in the saddle for 6-10 hours a day, and that is butt butter. Ah, how we looked forward to our daily routine. At the crack of dawn, we’d wake up, find a bush to do ‘our business’ and then return to the tent to slather on the butt cream before sliding into our cycling shorts to begin our grueling day of cycling 120 km. Dave and I would enjoy our breakfast of mushy Pro-Nutro before packing up our tents, checking our tires and testing our gears. With a quick peck on our dry lips, we’d separate for the day since Dave was much faster than me, while we literally rode our asses off down the continent.
It was, as they say, “the best of times and the worst of times,” but in the end, we have never been so proud of one another, so in awe of one another and so much in love.
>Scott, Quirky Travel Guy
As a postscript, my own travel couple memory would have to be our trip to Alaska, when we persevered through lost luggage, frozen tent zippers and lost rental car keys in the middle of nowhere. Making it through solidified our bond, and months later, we can joke about the hardships and think fondly of the good times.
Do you have a special memory from a trip with a loved one?