–by Mary Helen Darah
PUBLICATION DATE: JULY 05, 2018
I recently returned from a destination event that included over 25 family members, a few type A+ personalities and thankfully tropical alcoholic beverages. I quickly came to the conclusion that you cannot know someone’s true character until you travel with them. This lead to an epiphany of sorts. Forget online dating. I think someone could make a small fortune by coming up with a service that plans short getaways for prospective matches. If a service verified that you were not hitting the road with a potential serial killer, someone who owns a double-digit number of felines or is way too attached to their mother, I believe this concept could work.
Traveling forces people out of their comfort zones, exposes “nuances” of one’s personality and would save months of dating someone that you could never share a suitcase with due to opposing (aka OCD) packing techniques. The insights gained could be endless but I believe a few of the “biggies” would pop up to the traveler the minute you depart.
Traveling may determine if someone is willing to drive 30 miles out of their way not to pay a toll or save 5 cents on a gallon of gas, or inform you that you owe $4.29 for your half of the turkey sandwich (even though perspective mate scarfed down all the fries).
There are countless ways to pack. I believe you need to wave the red flag if you witness extreme variances on both ends of the spectrum. Does he/she bring the entire contents of their closet or the bare minimum, which may lead to an endless search for a pair of flip flops? Having a more than 3 inch stack of professional journals, four electronic devices, and multiple backup chargers in a carry-on is also concerning. That being said, I have found that unpacking is far more insightful. If a prospective mate needs to hang his/her items 1.2 inches apart on matching hangers and begins to place their socks in color-coded order when they could be out enjoying the sunshine, you may want to pack it up, so to speak.
One of the things I love about traveling is that you learn to let go, as circumstances reinforce the hard truth that we really aren’t in control. Things happen. Suitcases are lost. Bags are 2.3 pounds over the limit causing the Allegiant Airlines counter person (who acts as if she has an extreme case of constipation) to suggest you take things out of your bag and wear three layers of clothing or fork over $50 for a checked bag.
If the travel companion can handle difficult people with grace and kindness, they may be able to handle interacting with your crazy, annoying “Aunt Mabel” when she discusses her surgeries in chronological order dating back to 1983. Mindset is everything. If you find yourself with someone who is willing to visit the alligator farm, attempt zip lining, bond with the locals and try the regional cuisine, you may be at the beginning of a beautiful journey.
I must admit, it has been a LONG time since I traveled with a member of the opposite sex. I have had the pleasure of experiencing numerous adventures with my buddy Pam. Friendships are also put to the test on the road. We jokingly say that we need to buy travel insurance… just in case. It’s not necessary though. We have survived small living quarters on a ship, where you could brush your teeth, tinkle and shower simultaneously. We have also endured black fly season at my Canadian cabin, a hotel that ended up being a pit stop for truckers and their overnight “guests,” and what we thought were (OK my bad) 30 minute hikes that ended up feeling like a 23,000 step near-death experience.
Pam rolls with the punches, handles “hot reactors” like a pro, is open to new experiences, travels light, enjoys “happy time” (Canadians don’t like to limit things to an ‘hour’) and is accepting of other people’s cultures, views, and on our most recent excursion, my crazy family. Maybe my idea of “travel dating” will take flight. Al Gore once said, “Travel has a way of making you look like your passport.” Sadly, when it comes to my excursions with the opposite sex, that rings true. I am always the optimist though. I’m willing to set sail if the opportunity presents itself. As Yogi Berra once said, “When it comes to the fork in the road… take it.” I plan on doing just that.