Yesterday, while sipping a honey-lavender latte at Bliss Cafe, I got to talking with the most gorgeous woman. And I don't just mean her face -- her whole soul was radiant with joy. When the topic shifted to one that is dear to me, travel, she said something fascinating:
"One week of travel produces a year's worth of memories."
In other words, when you travel, your brain stores so much information -- sensory information, like how the sunlight felt on your skin, the weight of the humidity, or the smell of gardenia in the air; emotional information, like that strange combination of bemusement, nervousness and joy; factual information, like the historic and ecological significance of a place; and temporal information, like the month, year, and time of your life.
The number of details you remember about a week of travel can rival months' worth of memories from your college, work, or home life.
I haven't vetted this research myself, but it really wouldn't surprise me. After all, it's a universal truth that travel is magical, perspective-changing and eye-opening. It's confidence-building, and has longterm benefits on your physical and mental health. (Assuming you got your vaccinations.)
Which is why, if your partner loves you, they will always want you to travel -- even if they can't go with you.
As I wrote in I don't want a man who loves my intelligence, I've been extremely lucky in love. I've had to invent my own words for "love," because we mutually decided that "love" wasn't enough to describe how we felt. I've had countless adventures, waterfall kisses, and late-night conversations.
And I've always had boyfriends who loved and respected me enough not only to "allow" me to pop off to Saint Thomas for a month without them -- but also to encourage me to go.
Check out this Caribbean lobster dinner I caught! #onebreath #freediving
Sure, they sometimes worry -- that's fine. They should worry, because people who care about each other worry about each other. Especially when one is traveling alone in one of the world's "kidnapping capitals," or, perhaps, whitewater kayaking a class-V rapid.
Exploring Monte Alban in Oaxaca, Mexico. I met the coolest couple there.
And sometimes... we leave things uncertain. Just a month after meeting the most intelligent, incredible man at all of Stanford, I cleared the waiting list to study abroad at Oxford. Even though we'd (somehow) been spending 10-12 hours per day together, climbing mountains, swimming in lakes, and biking up the Highway 280 on-ramp (oops!)... he still encouraged me to go. Even though it was unclear where that left us. Can you really be long-distance for six months after only knowing each other for only a month?
I went, and it was one of the best decisions of my life.
Did I join the Corpus Christi men's rowing team? Why, yes -- I did!
After the most ridiculous, educational, amazing term abroad ever, I spent two months traveling in the Balkans, where I saw the clearest, bluest water anyone's ever seen:
Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia
Did amazing hikes in the mountains of Montenegro:
It was hot and I had no water. It was basically a near-death experience. But so worth it!
Saw the Rolling Stones in Budva, Montenegro, with a bus full of law students that picked me up while I was hitchhiking:
Pretty sure that guy's, like, a senator now.
And so much more.
Fun fact: Albania is full of all these weird bunker things. They're everywhere -- beaches, mountains, vineyards, cities. Because... isolationist Stalinism?
Another fun fact: Albanians LOVED George W. Bush, as well as anything United States.
And guess what? Because we had such a strong connection -- because we were such a stellar couple -- we picked up right where we'd left off, just as soon as I got back to Stanford that fall.
Another time, I wanted to go to Costa Rica, Panama, and Nicaragua...somewhat indefinitely. I mean, I do most of my work remotely, so why not? At the very least, I could go down for a couple of months -- I work super hard on Paved With Verbs from June till January, but I have all spring to travel and work on other pursuits.
At first, my boyfriend didn't want me to go -- yet. He said, "Let's just spend one more month together. We'll spend a week in Tahoe. We'll check a few things off our bucket list. And then go. After that... I guess we'll play it by ear."
It was a great plan!
Still, leaving was hard. And kind of scary. We'd been together for a long time, and it was hard to picture my life without him. But, again, it was absolutely the right decision. I made a ton of friends, I saw a ton of mountains, and I surfed about twice per day the whole time I was gone.
That's a pretty big wave.
I spent a few nights crashing on a fellow surfer's sailboat -- though, obviously, nothing sexual happened, and he knew that would be the case from the get-go. (I feel bad for people who don't understand that men and women can enjoy spending time together without having sex -- what a pathetic, limiting view of humanity.)
I also spent a week surfing, four-wheeling and hiking with a guy named Mickey -- we have the best "first moment I saw you" stories about each other ever.
I also got to surf amazing sunsets like this one -- and immediately start eating fresh mangoes, right off the tree, as soon as I got out of the water.
The real was always more fantastic than the fantastical. #SantaTeresa
It was a fantastic dos meses! And, in the end, everything worked out romantically, too.
(I mean, if your relationship is so fragile that your partner might leave you or cheat on you with some dude she met while traveling, maybe you should consider ending the relationship.)
Because of my chunky workflow, I have a really unique opportunity to travel each year. Most people don't. Yet there are times in everyone's life when they have opportunities to see the world -- after losing a job, or graduating, or during the summer. For example, after Justin graduated from his PhD program last June, we planned a dive trip in Bonaire, a small Dutch-Caribbean island off the coast of Venezuela.
Because he'd already accepted a postdoc position, he could only stay for nine days -- but was really excited for me when I said I wanted to stay en extra week without him. I got to watch the Fourth of July fireworks from forty feet below the sea, add fifteen new dives to my dive log, hike several miles, and meet two American Ninja Warriors.
We crammed a LOT of muscle into one small phone booth.
Meanwhile, he's had a few opportunities to travel that I couldn't be a part of. For example, he's a class-IV (and, sometimes, class-V) whitewater kayaker. I've done a handful of class-III's, and one class-IV. So when he won a permit to kayak the Grand Canyon, I obviously couldn't go.
But how could I ask him to miss out on a rare chance to kayak the Grand, camping out in some of the most beautiful, remote spots in the world?
How could I deprive him of the chance to do this:
I mean, I wasn't thrilled that his permit was for a Valentine's Day launch. I love being ridiculously adventurous and silly on Valentine's Day, and it kind of sucked celebrating without him.
For about five minutes, until I made other plans -- brunch, skateboarding and surfing in Santa Cruz with some of my favorite friends.
Because what kind of horrible girlfriend would I be if I told him he "couldn't" do the Grand Canyon?
What kind of terrible boyfriend would be be if he'd told me I couldn't stay in Bonaire another week, just because he was leaving?
What kind of horrible partner asks you not to take advantage of an incredible time in your life when you're completely free to travel?
I couldn't stay with someone who wanted me to say no to road trips with college friends; parties at the exploratorium; weddings in New York, Mystic, and Colorado; fishing trips; and surf sessions -- just because he couldn't make it.
Did you know that Park City has an Alpine roller coaster? I'm pretty sure it was, like, $20 -- but it was totally worth it!
Because it would be proof he didn't love me.
Time is the one thing you can never have back. Once it's gone, it's gone.
About the Author
Eva is a content specialist with a passion for play, travel... and a little bit of girl power. Read more >
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