I’ve always thought that renovating a house or traveling together are true tests of compatibility. We’ve done a lot of house renovation, and now we’ve been traveling together for over a year. That means spending time together 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Here are some suggestions that have worked well for us:
Discussion and mutual agreement must be the order of the day. For instance, in the ‘getting rid of possessions’ stage of travels, it must be agreed that the woman gets three suitcases and the man gets one. (What woman wouldn’t need a suitcase just for boots and shoes?)
Allow the partner with the impeccable sense of direction to lead. It’s preferable to remain calm and patient while waiting for the spatially aware partner to decide which way to go. After all, you’re not in any hurry and sometimes your best discoveries are when you’re lost. For sure, one of you is better at navigating and one of you prefers asking for directions. Kudos to the one who can find their own way, but the other is practising their fledgling language skills with the natives.
Take a hint from your partner when you’ve been approached by scam artists. Your partner may be intrigued by these people’s approach but realizes the impending scam and is obviously playing along. You want to hone those street smarts, especially in Shanghai.
Take rest during the day to ward off the weariness of new situations that require patience and attention. Prevent irritability of either party at all costs. Actually, carrying a supply of snacks, water and the indispensable Japanese fan is a travel asset. It’s akin to always carrying the diaper bag (if you have that experience) but without the diapers and extra change of clothes. I’m not admitting that we’re approaching second childhood, but snacks, water and a nap are always welcome.
Make no unilateral decisions unless one recognizes an obviously dangerous situation before the other. Decisions to do anything or go anywhere are made together. It’s great if you both want the same things and feel the same way about most everything. Sometimes though, one wants to shop for souvenirs and the other prefers to sail origami ships down the stream. Try taking turns, or maybe a compromise … sailing souvenirs downstream?
Recognize a performance well done. Compliments are encouraged if one remembers which restaurant had the amazing ramen and even how to find it. Recognize an accomplishment if one can read enough Hiragana to find the train station you need. It’s always nice to be appreciated.
Listening, listening and more listening to each other. We sometimes meet a person who just likes to talk. It’s apparent to us that they haven’t heard nor registered anyone else’s contribution to a conversation. Whenever this happens, it prompts us to inspect ourselves to make sure we are not guilty of the same. Listening and paying attention to each other is essential to companionable travel.
Remember that hardly anything is more important than joy, happiness and tomfoolery (and Tom’s sisters and brothers too). Is it really worthwhile to be contrary about anything, even the slightest points?
Be flexible and go with the flow. You never know what will present itself around the next corner. Sometimes you’re just too tired to bother doing something that your partner is suggesting, but if he or she is excited about something, it’s probably worth a try.
Don’t forget to sing and dance and enjoy every moment because, really, all we have are moments to live.