Most compromises of marriage elude me. No matter how many years I remain married, I will probably never understand how we should be decorating a room, handling joint accounts, or divvying holidays with our parents.
The one thing I have mastered, however, is travel with my husband. It took some misadventures, but I’ve now gotten the alchemy down. I know the formula to ensuring a couple travels well together. I’ve devised a little handbook of basic guidelines to ensure the adventurous duo gets some sun, eats good food, and remains out of a Thai prison.
1. Pack His Passport.
You will come across your husband’s passport in the most unlikely of places, like among his baseball card collection or in the drawer he keeps his old jockstraps. You’ll remind him gently over the course of several weeks leading up to the trip to pack the passport. He’ll look at you like you’re telling him to remember to bring his private parts. However, in between tying up loose ends at work, nagging you to launder every floral shirt from his fraternity years, and checking his pants to ensure his private parts are, in fact, ready for the trip, he’s going to forget that most essential document. So unless you feel like eating vending machine Doritos at the La Quinta around the corner for the next week, tuck his passport in your purse.
2. Screen The Shoes.
Men don’t carefully weigh their footwear options the way women preparing for a vacation will. We devote an entire suitcase to holding our myriad resort-wear choices. Platform wedges, flip flops, high heels, strappy sandals, not-so-strappy sandals, tennis shoes in case we want to exercise (even though we won’t), and nautical espadrilles purchased on a last-minute shopping siege declared after we realized we forgot to lose weight.
Men, on the other hand, liberate themselves from these choices by packing only one pair of shoes: Sandals. Most men would never deign to wear a leather sandal before their friends, coworkers or mail carrier. Something about sand and surf misleads them to believe the vacationing world wants to see their hairy toes. Remove these offenders and replace with flip flops. While his toes remain unsheathed, at least he doesn’t resemble a middle-aged man from Minnesota who sells wireless devices for a living.
3. Keep Him Out Of The Gift Shop.
We all want to be the glossy versions of our matte selves when we’re on vacation. When we board an airplane that flies over an ocean, we are leaving our mundane souls in our zip code, ready to self-actualize into tanner, fitter people who know how to do things like return a tennis ball or rappel from a cliff. We women reinvent ourselves through an Aztec-printed maxi dress and a crapload of turquoise jewelry. Men, however, reinvent themselves as Crocodile Dundee. If a man is allowed in a gift shop unattended, he will emerge with a leather hat, a pair of cowboy boots or a machete. All these items are useless in your native home, and will also make for the most annoying souvenirs to pass through TSA.
4. Figure Out Your Birth Control.
You’re about to stay in a hotel. Without your children. While this presents to the woman the opportunity to sleep late, through the night, and with limbs stretched across the mattress, to the man it just means there is ample time for sex. Even though he will be anticipating all this amorous romping for weeks leading up to the trip, he will absolutely forget to bring any protection of his own. Should you proceed with the reckless notion that women never get pregnant when drinking 80 proof cocktails before noon, I have a baby album to show you.
5. Learn the Native Tongue.
Any intrepid traveler knows to become conversational in the language of the locals. You need to know how to request a taxi, a fork, a bill, a pack of Immodium. It’s also handy to know when the natives are insulting your pasty skin and bangle bracelets. More critically, though, it is going to become absolutely necessary to blame your husband for a terrible situation that has befallen you both at some point on this vacation. These situations are not limited to: being forgotten by your scuba diving team, taking food off the buffet without using tongs, drifting out to sea in a catamaran neither of you knows how to operate, or breaking numerous bones in a bungee-jumping accident.
A sensible phrase to have handy in many languages, like I have memorized in Spanish, is:
“Mi marido es un hombre estúpido. Lo siento para los problemas él ha causado. Si recupera al hotel, yo le permitiré tomarlo como su esclavo.”
(Translation: My husband is a stupid man. I am sorry for the trouble he has caused. If you get me back to the hotel, I will allow you to take him as your slave.)
Erin Donovan moved with her family to the Midcoast where she constantly is told she says the word “scallops” incorrectly. She performs live and produces Web sketches derived from her popular humor blog “I’m Gonna Kill Him.” Follow her misadventures at imgonnakillhim.bangordailynews.com and on Twitter @gonnakillhim.