Elizabeth, I hope you’re not too embarrassed when you see this post 😉
Today is our anniversary! Elizabeth and I have been married three wonderful and interesting years. But after this last year of constant travel, it feels more like we’ve been married for thirty!
We’ve swapped countless driving shifts to cover over 30k miles. We’ve pitched our tent so many times in every imaginable weather and condition that we could do it in our sleep. We’ve cooked dinner, filled water bottles, brushed teeth, cleaned dishes (meaning wiped them out with our fingers or a paper towel if we’re lucky), packed our backpacks and done countless ordinary things in countless new environments.
This past year everything has been new and nothing has been routine. The only constant is each other.
When I first mentioned visiting all the National Parks was on my bucket list and Elizaneth agreed that would be awesome, I wasn’t surprised. We have always loved having adventures together outdoors – we were hiking when the topic came up. When she said we should the dream a reality by traveling full time and doing it in a year, I was very surprised. I always knew – and Elizabeth has said this many times – that she is the more home body of the two of us. She enjoys daily routine, simple pleasures and straight up relaxing better than I do. But from that talk about bucket lists to the end of our year in the parks I’ve watched her continue to push herself and grow as a person. I try not to take for granted how awesome she is to share this crazy trip with me and love it as much as I do. Then we climb to Bonanza Mine or kayak with alligators and I realize how lucky I am to have had three years and counting. She makes me so proud, she makes me so happy and she makes it easy to love her more every day.
However the point of this post is no just to get all gushy about my incredible wife, but also to talk about the importance of travel partners.
I actually enjoy traveling solo now and then. When I hopped around to a few cities in Spain and Italy after studying abroad, it was really cool going at my own erratic pace, cutting out all the frills and jumping around to as many sights as I could fit into 24 hours. Although, at some point I just want to share all this cool stuff I’m doing and new feelings and thoughts I’m having with someone. How real is a life not shared? Then I hooked up with some friends in Rome. We had a great time, but sometimes our group travel was tiring, the activities were compromises or the togetherness felt forced. How do you find a perfect travel partner?
The perfect travel partner is someone who knows and loves your quirks. You can sit in in the car in silence for hours without feeling awkward. They enjoy stopping to read roadside exhibits just as much as you do. You can be completely honest with each other. Most importantly, whatever happens, you trust you can get through it together.
There is no way I could’ve enjoyed this trip – much less completed this trip – without Elizabeth. I wouldn’t have even considered it. Experiencing new things with someone you love is the best. I had no way of knowing what was in store when we met at Mizzou 8 years ago or when decided to take this journey 2 years ago, but she is not only my perfect life partner, but my perfect travel partner.
Our travel styles are actually super different. It’s not all sunshine and selfies. There are plenty of lively discussions. But we balance each other well. She helps me slow down, appreciate the calmer moments, remember what’s important and, of course, she helps me finish the whole carton of ice cream.
Over the past year we’ve been through a lot. We’ve learned more about each other than ever. We’ve talked through tough times. We’ve laughed through ridiculous situations. We’ve smiled as we complete the other’s thoughts. We’ve accomplished some amazing things. And through it all we’ve grown as individuals, as travel partners and as a couple.
I can’t wait until our actual 30th anniversary, but I feel like we’ve got some good life adventures in store before then. I smile just thinking about it.