You and Me Against the World
Five lessons from actor and comedian Ezequiel Campa on how to survive the riskiest extreme sport in the world: traveling as a couple. The following text is best read with an Argentinean accent.
TEXT: Ezequiel Campa | illustration: Francisco J. Olea
“My love, I think we have to go south!”
“No, we have to head towards the avenue.”
“Why are we going towards the avenue if we just came from there?”
(Ten minutes later.)
“I told you it was the other way. We just walked eight blocks in the wrong direction. I hate you.”
Having an argument like this at a subway exit in the Big Apple may seem exaggerated, but it accurately reflects an experience that happens repeatedly, all around the world. When you’re traveling as a couple, you have to make decisions by committee over and over again: Do we visit a museum or go shopping? Do we bring the camera or leave it at the hotel? Should we walk or take a cab? In short, you are looking at the ideal conditions for even minor disagreements to turn into a nightmare.
“How could you pick a Thai restaurant when you knew we were going to spend all afternoon walking around a city without bathrooms?”
“I just wanted to try something different! I didn’t come all this way to eat the same kind of thing I can get around the corner from home!”
“If we were around the corner from home at least we’d have a bathroom nearby!”
And just like preparing for any natural disaster, you should carry a survival kit. Memorize this list of situations before traveling in pairs and get ready to get through it.
1. Be Considerate, Don’t Exaggerate
Carelessness on the part of someone else can turn us into monsters. We’re lying on a sunny beach, sweetly caressing the shoulder of our loved one when we’re struck by a tortuous thought: “How could he (or she) have forgotten those beach blankets we got in Brazil? How could he? It’s the only time of year we’ll need them! What was he thinking? He brought gloves and a scarf to the Caribbean ‘in case it cools down at night,’ but he forgot the beach blanket. Just who did I fall in love with?”
The solution is simpler than might you think. Think of the trip as a solitary adventure, and if didn’t occur to you to bring the good beach blankets, then you’ll have only yourself to blame when they are left at home and you’re sitting on a towel covered in wet sand. As your therapist might say, it’s better to expect nothing from the other person. And you should be careful not to exaggerate your reaction, mostly because when you mess up later, you’ll feel like digging a hole in the sand and crawling into it.
2. Sometimes It’s a Matter of Time
“I set the alarm for 6:00 a.m. – at 7:00 a.m. the bus leaves for
“Six in the morning? I don’t even get up that early for work, and I’m going to have to wake up to see ruins? Six in the morning!? It’s my vacation, too! And you never have to get up as early as I do!”
Author’s note: It’s advisable to take a moment to reflect in a form of internal dialogue before you speak, unless you want to end your trip… and your relationship. One possible solution to this problem can be found in the next section.
3. Divorced for the Afternoon
If your chosen destination offers a wide variety of activities, it’s always a good idea to check with your significant other first so that you can enjoy some things on your own. This way, you avoid annoying them with an excursion in which they have no interest, and you can skip out on “the guided tour of the city’s oldest flower shop.”
Faced with the impossible task of coming to an agreement on how to spend your time and the uncontrollable urge to pick something that doesn’t appeal to either of you, try these useful marketing tools:
“It’s a museum of motorcycles and tools.”
“Motorcycles and tools?”
“Yes! But the good news is that they have Ferrari engines, which are absolute perfection… just like you, my love!
“You’re comparing me to a car? You want me to spend all morning in a museum looking at wrenches and screwdrivers, and now you’re comparing me to a car?”
“I’m sorry, you’re right. I’ve been inconsiderate. This museum isn’t worth it. I deserve to be punished, and my punishment will be being without you today. I’ll have to go to that museum alone. That’s how I’ll learn to think of others first.”
Few things in life test the strength of a relationship like traveling as a couple.
4. The “I Didn’t Bring Any” Traveler
Your partner may be one of those people who brings absolutely nothing with them when they travel: the “I Didn’t Bring Any” traveler. This type of traveler has developed some ingenious strategies for justifying why he or she didn’t bring along various essential items.
“Can you lend me some sunscreen?”
“I didn’t bring any; I didn’t want to carry extra baggage.”
“Get dressed so we can go to dinner.”
“I didn’t bring any clothes. I wanted to buy them here.”
(The best coping mechanism is to breathe deeply… and be patient.)
5. The “Swiss Army” Traveler
The other extreme is the kind of traveler who brings so many things that if you didn’t know them, you wouldn’t be able to tell whether they were going on vacation or moving to another city. In their carry-on alone, they pack books, magazines, a pillow, a water bottle, cereal bars, gum, earplugs, a sleep mask, headphones, an MP3 player, eye drops, candy, lip balm and a jacket (in case the air conditioning is too cold). That’s not even getting into what they brought for the rest of the trip.
It’s easy to fall for the fantasy that this is the best-case scenario, because if you forget something, the full-on obsessive-compulsive traveler must have brought it. The problem is that in addition to being super well equipped, this kind of tourist also has the whole trip organized day by day, minute by minute and absolutely nothing is left to chance.
“The Eiffel Tower is so beautiful!”
“We only have two minutes to look at it because from here we’re going to the Louvre. If we don’t leave now, we’re going to miss the metro that comes by in exactly seven minutes, and we can’t run that risk. So enjoy! Why aren’t you enjoying yourself? Come on!”
Your mission is simple: to remind the love of your life, as many times as necessary, what the word “vacation” means. It should be fun, not boot camp.
Ah yes, traveling with your significant other can have its charms. That and an undeniable advantage: they can stop us in time when we’re about to make an insane purchase.
“My love, that Persian rug is seven meters long and our living room is barely five! And it’s the third carpet you’ve bought on this trip.”
“Thank you, my darling. I love you.” in