I knew traveling with Hanane would be different than my solo travels, but I didn’t know exactly how. It’s funny. It’s helped me to learn a little about myself and about how I usually travel.
First, let me say, I definitely married the right woman. Hanane and I have a couple of rules we laid out before we left.
For instance, we each have to carry our own bag. This may sound cruel, but in fact, it is practical. I travel light so I don’t have to carry around a bunch of stuff. I wanted her to learn the benefits of doing the same. Since this is her first trip abroad, I knew she would be tempted to load up on souvenirs and purchases at the beginning of the trip. I think the time to buy things is at the end of a trip so that you don’t spend money you might need for travel on other things. Since she knows that anything she buys adds weight to her bag, this has kept this impulse in check. Also, I didn’t want her to do the American or Moroccan thing and pack 8 changes of clothes, tons of unnecessary things. She packed smart and ended up with a bag that weighed just under 7 kilos and small enough to carry on. My bag is about 5 kilos. We can both wear our bags and they are small enough to carry on and lug around even if we are sight seeing.
Expenses have been different than when I travel solo. That is mainly because while I’m willing to hitch and stay in shoeboxes or even sleep outside, those are a couple of things she is willing to do, but doesn’t want to. So instead of paying double what it would cost me to travel it is actually costing me about 7-8 times as much. A lot of this is because I also want her to experience the things that are available to see, taste, and experience in Turkey. Instead of loading up with free hostel breakfast foods for the day, we are eating nice lunches and pretty good dinners. While she’s willing to couchsurf a lot, I wanted to be extra careful not to cs in party houses or with hosts that are in the least questionable since my wife is a devout Muslim and sometimes tends to trust people that she perhaps shouldn’t. So, we are couchsurfing with great hosts with tons of positive feedback which sometimes means we don’t find a host and end up getting a hotel or pension instead.
I don’t mean to sound like I’m not enjoying this new mode of travel. I certainly am. One of the strange things I never expected was the sense of constancy that comes about from traveling with my wife. For me, there is almost no culture shock because she is a constant that is with me each step of the way. We have no need of finding companions and so there is perhaps less socializing in one way, but since Turkish people are so friendly, we’ve had no trouble making friends.
The other thing I’ve learned is that I’m probably not a good traveler at all. In fact, I’m a bit of a fool about the way I travel when I’m alone. It’s common for me to hop on a bus which I don’t know the destination of, to take long walks and hope to find someplace to stay, to arrive in a place with no idea about what is there, and to throw my plans to the wind when a new opportunity or interesting situation arises. In the past, this has led to all sorts of misadventures which is why I do it, but I’m not willing (and Hanane won’t let me) get away with this sort of behavior. One of the first things I realized in Istanbul was that the uncertainty I thrive on was making her crazy so I ended up spending way too much (30 Euro) for the latest Lonely Planet so that she could see that we had a place to stay and that we were going to nice places. As most of you know, I usually travel with no guidebook and the reason for that is I find that just asking other people for recommendations tends to work out better than planning things using a book and allows me to build new friendships and relationships along the way. This trip is different, but because we are an interesting couple (an Arab Moroccan Girl and a Muslim American white guy) and because she is so gregarious, we end up meeting a lot of people anyway. Still, I’m hoping that with time, she’ll lose a little of that fear of uncertainty and let me leave the guidebook at home on the shelf.
Another thing that’s wonderful about traveling with Hanane is that it really is a beautiful thing to be able to experience a moment like yesterday when the wind was blowing in my face as we rode the roof of a boat across an emerald lake and to say “Hey, come share this with me!” and to sit with my arm around her as the sun cast golden light on the reeds and the cool of evening began to come.
I realize I haven’t been writing about my adventures as I go along and that is a part of traveling in tandem too. The time when I would usually write in my journal, blog, or study a new language is usually spent enjoying my time with my wife. So, I’ll be writing about our travels themselves after we return to Morocco in a week or so.
Another example of my foolish solo travel behavior is that I usually spend my money without regard for how much I have left for the rest of the trip. The fact is I like putting myself in situations where I’ve run out of money and have to survive by my wits, but as a married guy traveling, that isn’t an option. So I can’t just take a hot air balloon trip and tell myself that I’ll figure out some way to get back to Istanbul without any money. And of course, I would.
Of course, I’m still foolish even with my wife. I like to spoil her a little now and then and sometimes I make decisions to ease her worries that cause her to get upset with me and of course then my brain doesn’t seem to function the right way. Here are two ridiculous examples.
When we arrived in Turkey, the transport I’d arranged to meet us with a sign board was a no show. We called them, waited an hour and a half (at 1 am) and finally, I just decided to find something else. Our original price had been ten euros each, the only guy I could find wanted 20 euros each. Taxis wanted 75 euros. I decided to go for it for 20 each not reckoning on Hanane’s fierce pride in haggling and fear of being ripped off. Pretty soon she was tearing into the guy for charging us too much and managed to get him to drop the price to 30 Euros. During the whole ride my brain was sort of…incapacitated with different emotions. When it came time to pay the guy, I paid him with a 50 euro note and since I was a little pissed about her post deal haggling, I told him to take the 30 Euros and to also take a 10 Euro tip which brought things to the 40 Euros I had agreed on. He gave me 10 in change and since I was sort of preoccupied and pissed off, I didn’t notice he gave me a 10 lira note instead of 10 Euros and thus ripped me off for another 5 euros. So, I’m a fool for a couple of things on this one.
Another one was getting ice cream in Istanbul. It was hot and she was tired of being dragged around to museums so I decided to get her an ice cream. The ice cream guy was funny and put on a good show and when it was time to pay said the price was 25 lira (that’s about 12.5 Euros for two ice cream cones about $9 each U.S.), again, I was distracted and just paid the guy. As we walked away, I realized how much I’d just paid for ice cream cones and so I went back and went to his boss to explain what had happened. He apologized and gave us 10 lira back thus dropping the price to about $5 each, which was still high but at least more reasonable, and in truth they were huge and delicious.
So, it’s a new experience for me. And it’s good too, though I admit that I will have to get my Vagobond on at some time and do some rough travel because I miss the stress of not knowing where I am, what I am doing, or how I’m going to pay for my next meal.