By: Alex Bak

I open the doors of Burke Science Building and go into room 147 for my first class. The first question I get asked is “What did you do over the summer?”

Of course, I ask them as well. Small talk. This goes on throughout the day and then it suddenly hit me.

Things are different now. When I ask another what they did this summer, it’s no longer just out of social etiquette and curiosity but also as a means of validating whether my summer was ‘worth something’ this time. This time, I didn’t just squander my summer away. I actually had a “valid” story to tell.

When the curriculum regurgitates the same content to 600 students at a time and career counsellors advise the same summer pathways as most of the alumni have chosen, I felt little short of becoming generic. That’s why I decided to go backpacking. Destination? New Zealand.

From my experience, I firmly believe that experiential learning abroad fills the holes of a traditional post-secondary education.

It gives an insight into what a big picture really is; life isn’t only governed by facts you learn from the curriculum or textbooks, there are also nuanced socio-cultural aspects that are unique to every community: building blocks that connect the world.

Travel didn’t just give me an experience I can share. It also came with a pinch of headaches, a dash of invigorating patriotism and a plate full of skills with global applications.

I packed my life in a backpack, bought a plane ticket, booked the first four nights at a hotel and nothing else. Now looking back, it was the best decision I have ever made.

Contrary to what I thought, the things I remember the most and learned from aren’t gut-wrenchingly enjoyable activities like skydiving or rafting. It was struggling to find a place to stay or food to eat. It was asking questions like, should I starve a meal so I can go out tonight?

Travel didn’t just give me an experience I can share. It also came with a pinch of headaches, a dash of invigorating patriotism and a plate full of skills with global applications.

It was witnessing first-hand the financial, educational and healthcare disparity that indigenous Māori people experience and how relatable it was to Canada.

Interacting with people from all over the world and listening to their life experiences are one of the most profound facets of travel.

It completely changed my way of thinking when listening to how they’re planning on climbing Everest next year as they already summited the rest of the seven summits or casually listening to how they gave up their six-figure salary at a top firm in Vancouver to travel while we’re surfing.

The world is larger than just the campus and every student should experience ‘this’. Whatever ‘this’ can be for you.

I encourage McMaster students to take advantage of these exchange programs like MacAbroad and travel aids such as scholarships and clubs like the McMaster Exchange Club available to you.

Through travel, I encountered situations I’d never have imagined and had a lot of struggles I’ll never want to have again but the values I gained were precious. I came back to school and I could confidently and proudly say no, I didn’t do four months of research at a prestigious centre nor publish papers. I didn’t ace summer school or build houses.

So what did I do? I failed to get a job. I slept overnight on airport couches. I ate pasta with half a can of tuna and peanut butter for most of my meals.

I had to leave two weeks early because I ran out of money. And I am so glad that I did for I learned how to successfully fail and redefine what is valuable.

Venture the unknown, explore the impossible and learn how to push further, love deeper, soar higher and repeat steps one through three.

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By: Kaitlyn Jong

By now, I’m sure many of you have heard about Elizabeth Gallagher and can completely understand why every single person would want to change their name to her name. Basically, her ex-boyfriend has turned to Reddit to search for someone with the exact same name to tag along on his Christmas trip around the world.

Jordan Axani and his ex-girlfriend purchased around-the-world tickets to six different countries, but came to an issue when the relationship dissolved, and found it way too expensive to change the name on all of the flight tickets. He is now on the search to find another Elizabeth Gallagher with a Canadian passport to make use of these tickets, free of charge. Since my name is nowhere close to Elizabeth Gallagher, I spend my days dreaming of a life where my parents made the right choice in giving me a proper name.

First stop: Milan

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The first place I would visit in this beautiful Italian city would not be the gorgeous buildings, or shopping at the designer shops. No, the first place I would go would be a gelato shop for the biggest scoop of authentic lemon gelato I could imagine (sorry Mom, the pictures can wait). Being my first time in Italy, I want to take advantage of what I value the most, and that is Italian food. After gaining about 25 pounds eating pasta and risotto, the next stop is shopping. Of course I dream about shopping at brands such as Prada, Versace and Valentino that are headquartered in the city but realistically, that would leave me broke and fat.

Second stop: Prague

prague-day-trip-from-vienna-in-vienna-137753

A couple days in Czech Republic’s capital city would be spent sightseeing and taking photos of the beautiful gothic churches and castles in this city.

Third stop: Paris

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It has always been one of the main destinations I’d love to visit before I die, and as Elizabeth Gallagher, I would finally be able to. You can’t visit Paris without taking an Instagram picture of the Eiffel Tower at night covered in lights, which would be my first stop in the beautiful city. The Louvre would be another major stop in Paris, just so I can really see how tiny the Mona Lisa is in real life. I would end my travels in Paris with a Parisian croissant on the plane to my next destination.

Fourth stop: Bangkok

Grand-Palace-Bangkok

Thailand is another country renowned for their cuisine. I’m not trying to recreate Eat Pray Love, but my first stop in Bangkok would be the markets to try the delicious authentic Thai street food. Of course, no trip to Bangkok would be complete without seeing their beautiful temples and riding an elephant, a sacred animal in Thailand.

A trip around the world would be a dream, and I’ve already planned it. I wish the best of luck to Jordan Axani on finding another Elizabeth Gallagher to travel with, but I so desperately wish I were her.

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Karen Piper
The Silhouette

In 1492, Christopher Columbus embarked on a journey to find a new route for British trade ships to sail to India. However, he inadvertently ended up crossing the Atlantic Ocean, all the way to the New World: the Caribbean Islands and the Americas. Columbus was astonished to discover that that these minute islands were already inhabited.

Like Columbus many times in life we set forth on a journey with a specific goal or destination in mind, but some unexpected obstacle may alter our original course, thereby leading us to stumble upon something even more fascinating and worthwhile.

This is exactly what happened to me when I commenced my academic journey. I had everything strategically planned.

I am from the beautiful island of Saint Lucia, which is known as a world-renowned wedding and honeymoon destination. I decided to pursue an associate degree in Travel and Tourism at the island’s community college. Well, I am sure you have heard industry professionals claim that no amount of classroom theory compares to practical training, and they are quite right. After completing two internships at leading five star resorts on the island, I decided that this field was not right for me.

In 2011, through the help of an island scholarship, I began an entirely new educational experience: pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree in Finance at the City University of New York (CUNY). Prior to this event, I worked at a bank in Saint Lucia for two years. It was at then I discovered my love for the banking and finance industries. At this point you may be wondering why I am enrolled at McMaster University in 2013.

Along the way, I soon realized that life in New York as a student did not correlate with my personality or lifestyle. Now, before you judge me, let me just say that – like many emblazoned shirts - I love New York. But being a student there means costly travel expenses due to long train rides to and from school, not to mention the burden of finding accommodations as the majority of universities there do not offer campus housing.

My fundamental point here is that life is all about finding out what works best for YOU. After all, it is YOUR life.  This is why I made the decision to enroll at McMaster University.

It occurred to me that this is the opportune time to travel and obtain a diverse educational profile. It is true that I struggled to fit into the culture of New York; however, being in such an environment forced me to grow both personally and intellectually. As a result, I am a much better manager of time and money.

At the end of the day, I feel as if I am three people in one: Saint Lucian of course, a former New Yorker and now, up-and-coming Canadian.  Moreover, when potential employers recognize that you have studied or lived in multiple countries, they ultimately establish that you are a risk-taker and someone who can adapt swiftly to change, being able to handle uncertainty. A valuable asset.

As young people we need to exploit the advantages that our youth affords us. We should dare to learn of new cultures: music, fashion, art, dance and so forth. It is not always about where you end up, but the experiences and the wealth of knowledge acquired along the way. In addition, during these occurrences, we should also be respectful of cultural diversity and various ethnic traditions. This is how we develop our character and learn from each other. Some of you may be thinking of doing an exchange program in which you attend school in Italy or France or wherever.

Go for it. This occasion will change your outlook on life and expand your comfort zone beyond where you thought possible. We don’t grow when we are comfortable or stagnant. There is an entire globe out there, explore it, cherish it, respect it, and use it to your full advantage. The world is your oyster.

And mine as well.

As anyone who knows me well can attest to, I have an inexhaustible, uninhibited, all-consuming desire to travel. And while my modest means can’t currently match my wanderlust, I am determined to see the world – sooner rather than later.

So when I read about the recent tragedy in New Zealand, it hit close to home. As you can read in detail on A5, recent Mac grad Joanna Lam and her boyfriend Connor Hayes lost their lives in a freak accident on a beautiful Fox Glacier highway, when it appears that a sudden landslide sent their rented car over a cliff into a river, and their vacation prior to starting new jobs to a horrible end. So far, only Ms. Lam’s body has been found.

It’s stories like that that make me wonder. Make me anxious to travel, to explore, to go on adventures.

It’s not just sudden natural disasters; it’s Kenyan mall shootings and London bus bombings and Boston Marathon terrorism that make it easier and easier to find excuses to retreat back into the comfort of home and the safety of the familiar.

Contrast that with the international study/volunteer abroad fair held in the student centre atrium on Monday. There’s a wealth of opportunity at McMaster students’ fingertips, be it in the form of eight-month exchanges to summer abroad research scholarships to even part-time campus jobs to put towards a post-grad travel fund. I have yet to meet a person who has said their travels were time and money ill-spent.

It is through travelling that we learn the most about other people, other places, and most importantly, ourselves.

If I had never gone to Europe, I wouldn’t know what it feels like to sip beer in a real German biergarten (table dancing and all), or to sit spellbound as Judi Dench commands the London stage, or to lay in wonder in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower.

I also wouldn’t know that I’m capable of taking planes and trains in foreign countries on my own; of getting lost where no one speaks English and finding my way; of realizing that if I save and plan and just go, I don’t have to wait for anybody - I can make my own adventures.

Like Joanna Lam, I’m a recent Mac grad. I’m also in my early twenties. And I have often talked with my own boyfriend (who patiently humours my itch to travel) about spending time in Australia and New Zealand, and seeing all the wonders of that amazing corner of the world. In some ways, that couple could have - or could be - us.

But thinking like that is no way to live. Certainly, travel requires one to be savvy, street-smart and to plan for the unexpected. Travel also requires one to let go of the fear of fate.

While I cannot speak for Ms. Lam, I would bet that she wouldn’t advise her McMaster peers to stay home and let the world pass them by.

Neither would I.

 

With a summer of tour guiding behind me, I’ve seen the other side of the tourist experience. And I’m not so sure I liked what I saw.

As months of work made the novelty of my workplace diminish a little, it became more and more evident to me how people experienced their visit.

I had been enthralled by my surroundings at the outset; I was working in Parliament, which was something a political nerd like me found thrilling. But I knew that I would return every day, while the majority of our visitors were at Parliament for a couple hours, perhaps only in Ottawa for a day.

I watched as thousands of people went through the building, day in, day out. And even if they weren’t inside, I saw them roaming around Parliament Hill and its surroundings. But what struck me about these hordes of tourists was how they chose to interact with their setting.

Sure, Parliament is a pretty recognizable building. I understand the instinct to pose in front for memory’s sake, for an entry in the family photo album. But I was surprised that people were inclined to do so while missing the real thing.

Visitors would snap hundreds of photos over the course of a visit. Not just one photo for each new spaces, but photos of every angle, every inch of the place. And yet, in doing so, they lost the opportunity to understand what it was they were seeing. Explanations were offered; guides were always on hand, taking people to all the sights. But the explanations were ignored in favour of composing their shots.

These tourists didn’t actually see what they came to see—they experienced it all through a lens.

I wondered what people were going to do with these photos. I’d imagine them getting home, bringing their memory card full of photos to show to their friends and family. They’d sit down, open the files, and then be at a loss for what it actually was they were looking at.

Maybe my imagination was a little ungenerous. Naturally, not everyone has the same interests, and things that I find fascinating may be boring to someone else. People don’t go on vacation for purely educational purposes. But in seeing how these tourists reacted to Canada’s most recognizable landmark, I had a sinking feeling that mine wasn’t the only experience with the photo-tourism phenomenon.

It’s something I can see upon logging into Facebook, too. The photo albums of friends’ trips around the world prove to me that I’m just as affected from the other side of things. It’s nice to see where my friends travel, and what they noticed while they were there. In seeing their photos, even without context, I can to some degree understand their experiences from a distance. And I’m sure for them it’s nice to be able to relive a little of their travels when they get home as well, be it immediately after or years down the road.

Although I get the gist, the whole thing seems, well, two-dimensional. Photos can’t tell you the stories of the places you went to; the little quirks and interesting details won’t show up on your screen.

I wish I could have taken away those tourists’ cameras this summer. Maybe it would have made them actually see what they were looking at.

As long as you’re not driving or flying the plane, there’s no reason why the hours leading up to your arrival have to be boring or PG-13.

The rising action of travel takes place during the journey to the destination. Don’t let it take on the face of a bad M. Night Shyamalan movie - create a worthwhile lead up to the climax with a whimsical adventure in travel-safe activities. Make the most of your journey by coming prepared and hyping up the adventure before it officially begins.

 

Activities Worth Your Time

 

1) Madlibs: Entertainment for the masses.

Whenever people travel, it seems completely necessary to pack a journal. “I’m going to write down everything I do so I’ll never forget what happened”- theoretically, a great idea, but let’s get real, you’re not a nine-year-old girl going to camp for the first time who loves scrapbooking and is obsessed with her mom. You’re not going to end up writing in the journal. Instead, pack something that has fun rewarding principles not just for yourself, but for those around you. Madlibs is not only a great way to befriend that foreign old man sitting next to you on the plane, but it’s a fun way to pass time and practice your use of inappropriate adjectives in casual pre-written phrases.

 

2) Airport scavenger hunts or road trip bingo.

Before you set sail (maybe literally), write out a list of items you could potentially find while awaiting your arrival or departure. For instance, an airport scavenger hunt could include: locate one family of Japanese tourists, or construct a hat out of free luggage tags. Road trip bingo could include a number of boxes with different possible sights such as: an abandoned farmhouse that may or may not have been in a low-budget horror film, or a cow with low self-esteem. Write down the location of where you saw it, and whoever makes a line first, wins.

 

3) Alternate between catnaps and staring contests with strangers.

Napping during a car ride or flight is easier said than done. They both provide long uninterrupted times for relaxation, but uncomfortable body positions and noisy neighbors

 

Other possible activities: singing around an iPhone campfire, Taboo, or consensual touching.

 

Munchies

 

1) Border-approved snacks.

It’s always disappointing when you spend time crafting an artisan peanut butter and jelly sandwich only to have it taken away by a greasy looking security guard who’s convinced it may contain crystal meth. The next time you’re making an international run, be sure to carry snacks that cannot be hijacked by the hijack police.

Fresh fruit is a no-no. So is raw meat, but that’s a given. Dried apples and rice cakes are nutritious, delicious and stale enough to not be taken away. Pre-packaged food is always a good way to go. I recommend Fundip. This actually crystal meth-like snack is quirky, nostalgic and an activity in itself.

 

2) Become a teeny tiny bartender.

Airplane food is not exactly gourmet. But, it tastes a lot better if you’re drunk enough to not know what you’re eating. Don’t get out of control, but also don’t be hesitant about mixing your own drinks on your flight. Numerous tiny, adorable bottles of alcohol are at your disposal. Find out what happens when pineapple juice and vodka come together, or what happens when a university student goes ham on airplane liquor at high altitudes. Just remember to drink responsibly and don’t go overboard, you do not want to be that person who vomits during turbulence.

 

Other possible snacks: dried or candied anything.

 

Playlist

 

1)   Midnight Train to Georgia- Gladys Knight

2)   Life is a Highway- Rascall Flats

3)   Leaving on a Jet Plane- Peter, Paul and Mary

4)   I Just Called to Say I Love You- Stevie Wonder

5)   I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)- The Proclaimers

6)   America- Simon and Garfunkel

7)   California Dreamin’- The Mamas and the Papas

8)   Rocket Man- Elton John

9)   Island in the Sun- Weezer

10)                   Africa- Toto

11)                   Down Under- Men at Work

12)                   Holiday- Madonna

13)                   I Can Go the Distance- Tate Donovan (Hercules) (not the Michael Bolton version, for the love of God)

14)                   In the Sun- She and Him

15)                  Road Regrets- Dan Mangan

16)                   I Want to Soak Up the Sun- Sheryl Crow

17)                   Summertime Sadness- Lana Del Rey

18)                  Drive By- Train

19)                   Walk it Out- UNK

20)                   Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa- Vampire Weekend

21)                   Saskatchewan- Les Trois Accords

22)                   Home for a Rest- Spirit of the West

Traveling to Make A Difference: How you can find voluntourism or meaningful global work opportunities

 

The term voluntourism has sprung up in the past few years to explain the increasing number of people seeking vacations with volunteering components. For students, this has been especially appealing in order to fit travel and work together within the confines of Reading Week, winter or summer break.

But what are the implications of voluntourism? And are you really making a difference?

Some important distinctions should be made when you’re searching for an international volunteer or work experience. Organizations that tout “making a difference” and “helping others” as main selling points in a two-week, $3000 trip, are selling you false hope.

For these corporate endeavours, only small portions of your time are spent volunteering, while large portions of your trip are spent whitewater rafting or snorkeling and sightseeing. While these are great, is there any point in volunteering so minimally? How much of a culture, a country or a community will you really get to know?

My goal here isn’t to simply denigrate the act of travelling and volunteering. Enough articles have been written to criticize voluntourism as an extension of neo-colonialism and its presentation of the benevolent West.

Instead, as students interested in travel and becoming a global citizen, we should be engaging in critical evaluation and reflection about global volunteering opportunities.

A couple key things to look at when thinking about voluntourism are the three R’s: reputation, reciprocity and resilience.

Does the organization you’re looking at have a reputation as being socially responsible? There are handfuls of online setups which appear to have popped up over night and have very few positive testimonials or long-term connection to the communities they send students too.

Some reputable providers of global work or volunteer opportunities at McMaster are AIESEC, Engineers Without Borders, Habitat for Humanity, MacServe and Student International Health Initiative (SIHI).

Outside of Mac, but still equally popular with students, are opportunities with Canada World Youth, Parks Canada, World-Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF), Outward Bound, Rotary Club and the Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) Programme.

Once you’ve narrowed things down a bit, found an organization that has good relationships with its host communities and has a timeline that works for you, it’s time to evaluate the reciprocity of the opportunity.

Does the organization just drop into the community then leave? Is there local and/or grassroots involvement that is integral in project planning? Or is this simply a venture pre-formulated in the West and meant to be a “band-aid” solution?

Xochil Argueta-Warden, a Mac student who went on exchange with Canada World Youth, first in Newfoundland, then a three-month exchange in Ghana, noted how, “ it’s important to remember when volunteering that you are visiting and that you must help in a way that works for the community.”

“People have to be careful not to go into a new place with a big agenda that may make members of the community feel disconnected from their own home.”

Similarly, students should be open to not just giving their time and helping out, but learning from the culture and community they are emerged in.

Alexandra Steinberg, a Mac student who volunteered with SIHI in India recollected how much she learned while on her trip.

“We had open discussions with individuals from diverse professional, demographic, geographic and socioeconomic backgrounds. They taught me many unforeseen benefits to their methods of education, and their less high-paced and consumption focused lifestyles.”

When you’re finalizing your volunteering plans, remember to truly assess the rippling effect of your work in another country. Resilience is meant to describe the sustainability of the project you take part in.

If you’ve provided schools with supplies, how will they receive these supplies after you leave? If you have worked on an eco-project, will the project continue to run and grow after you leave?

Jasleen Grewal, a Mac student who went on an internship with AIESEC McMaster to Brazil, shared how her project team, made up of AIESEC members from around the world, facilitated sessions on racism and cultural diversity.

“Our goal was not just to teach…but to instill confidence in the students and give them a sense of global citizenship. These skills and ideas resonated with them long after the workshops were over.”

While it’s important to be critical of what volunteering venture you are part of, there is certainly room to both engage in community learning and live a global experience. So go forth, learn, travel and be engaged in both the moment and the issue.

 

Jennifer Bacher / Silhouette Staff

 

Dear USA Border Control,

 

It’s been a while.

I know you probably miss our long talks about how you believe I am entering the United States to work and permanently stay, but like I said before, I am not. I hope you enjoyed all those oranges you took from my Grandmother’s purse. Funny how they can leave the United States to be sold in Canada but not return via the vehicle of a kindly old lady. Well, I hope they were tasty. I could have used one while I waited in your crammed waiting room for two hours.

I would also like to point out that I found your racial profiling very obvious. Although, you probably already knew that.

The last time I saw you was at the New York City airport when I was connecting from Switzerland to Canada, and I really enjoyed when you had no consideration for the fact that I was connecting within 45 minutes. Though it was of no concern to you because really, someone who is connecting back to their homeland of Canada is definitely a red flag for future illegal immigrant.

The next time I come to your country I will only be visiting for less then 24 hours so that I can fulfill the American dream: consumerism. That is correct, I do not want a job, I want to shop. So no, I am not bringing firearms or alcohol into your country and yes, I do have stores to go shopping at in Canada. I’m sure you think you are very funny when you ask “What?! You don’t have ‘em stores in Canada?” or “Why do you need shorts and t-shirts for Canada? Shouldn’t you be skiing or something?” I’m not sure if you’re aware of this, but you can see Canada from where you are currently sitting.

Truly, I think you should be shaking my hand and welcoming me into your country. I have, for some odd reason, decided to spend my money in your country. I could be shopping in Canada right now, but no I want to come to the United States to empty my wallet at Macy’s and JCPenney for just 24 hours. And I promise, when I’m done, I will go back to where I came from.

I really don’t understand why you need to be so uptight anyway. I thought we were friends?

 

Yours truly,

A frustrated Canadian traveler

Ronald Leung / Silhouette Staff

 

Since vacationing is a luxury for cash-strapped students, every dollar counts. How do you get the most of your money when exploring a new destination? Should you book a tour bus, or decide to go lassiez-faire? At first, the latter seems to be the more attractive option. Who wouldn’t want the freedom of drifting through a romantic foreign city, tasting cultural snacks and discovering quirks and curiosities in every nook and cranny? You’d be free to stay as long as you please at your favourite attraction, and spend as long as you want sipping a exquisite coffee or shopping along the promenade. However, the cost of this self-directed journey is the large preparation needed to actually pull off a satisfying trip. Hours of research needs to be done in order to scout out potential attractions and famous gems of the destination you’d be visiting, hours that as students, many of us don’t have. In addition, the trial-and-error format of self-journey often racks up higher costs as we dip our toes continuously until we find just the right temperature.

A tour bus on the other hand, usually comes in a neat package with transportation, lodging, and most meals covered. A fluent interpreter and tour guide often accompanies every bus, where they provide commentary about attractions and banter with the locals, avoiding a lot of embarrassing miming on your part. They also have a packed itinerary, so all you have to do is follow along and enjoy the experience. However, this could also be considered a downfall for many travelers. Package tours are notorious for their early mornings and late evenings, so you may find yourself struggling to stay awake. In addition, they have strict time limits at attractions, so many vacationers often complain of feeling rushed as they are herded from destination to destination. Not everything on the itinerary may be to your liking which may also be an annoyance.

At the end of the day, it’s difficult to judge without trying out both. If you find planning too much, an organized tour bus may be perfect for you. If you’re proactive in your travels, a self-directed experience may yield much more freedom and sight-seeing. Whatever you chose, never forget that you’re on vacation. Enjoy the sights, breathe, laugh and sleep, because before you know it, it’ll all be over.

By: Paulina Prazmo

 

It begins with a smile, a hello and then a “may I have your number?” Fast-forward to the first kiss, first fight, first time meeting the parents. First “I love you.” And then, for some, escalating to that first big trip you take together as a couple. How do you know when it’s the right time for you and your significant other to take a vacation together? Will it put a strain on your relationship? Or will it make it stronger?

McMaster couple Alex Holjevac and Kelsey Murray, both psychology majors, have been together for a year and offered to shed some light on this relationship milestone. The two of them recently took a horse-drive trip to Kananaskis, Alberta, located right outside of Banff National Park. This was no ordinary romantic “let’s fall in love again horseback riding into the sunset” trip. It involved pain from being on the horses for five hours a day, being thrown off the horse into horse waste and the potential of being trampled in a stampede. It included sleeping in tents, being drenched from the recent thunderstorm and completely losing it because the last meal they had was a granola bar six hours ago. It sounds downright frightening - especially when you look over to your travel buddy and it’s your boyfriend or girlfriend. Nevertheless, Alex and Kelsey both said with grins as big as horseshoes that it was the single greatest experience of their life.

They explained how such a trip out of the city to a more rural setting taught them something new about each other. Each of them got to see a different side of one another. Alex said it was a really good time to test their relationship and step outside of their comfort zone to see what they are like when taken away from everything that is familiar to them. It provided an opportunity to learn new things about each other and about their relationship. Alex learned that Kelsey is strongly driven and wants to succeed in everything that she does, even if there are obstacles in the way.  Kelsey learned that Alex has a lot more mental strength than she thought before. “I also learned how much he wants to be a cowboy,” she laughed. They both learned that they do not necessarily need to have everything in common between the two of them and it is definitely important to respect the other person and understand where they are coming from.

Alex and Kelsey recommended that if you are thinking of traveling with your significant other to make sure that both of you have been in a healthy and comfortable relationship for no less than seven months. They said it is a good idea to start off taking day trips together and working up to weekend trips to feel out the possibility of a longer trip. To those couples who are already thinking or planning a trip together, they advised to plan ahead and not to let the little things disrupt the exciting trip you two are going on together. “Relax and enjoy it. Don’t focus on the small things because in the end that doesn’t matter. What matters is having an adventure together,” said Alex. Kelsey also gave some insight about traveling with your significant other: “Try not to have too many expectations. You start looking for things that aren’t there. Have things fall where they should and let the memories make themselves.”

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