One of the things my husband, Scott, and I bonded over in the early days of our relationship, was our love of traveling. Admittedly, we are not the MOST experienced adventurers, but compared to some, we have seen a little of the world. His travels include Boston, D.C., Wisconsin, New York, Mexico, and cruise here and there. I spent a good part of my single days traveling with my girlfriends to New Orleans, Atlanta, The Bahamas, and a very life changing trip to Ireland (more on that later).
As a couple, we like to think we caught the travel bug last summer when his company called him out to Los Angeles for a week. As a middle school teacher, of course I have the summer months off, so away I went with my then fiance. During that wonderful week of long beach walks, Rodeo Drive shopping, and craft cocktails, we discovered that traveling together was enjoyable.
So many things go into planning a trip, and then actually making those plans happen can be difficult for some couples. Perhaps it’s what holds some people back from traveling. We like to think that we are quite good at picking a place we want to see, and then we choose of few things we both want to do in that place. We save the right amount of money, we pick the right hotel, and we even hit a home run with our honeymoon in the Dominican Republic (you must consider this beautiful place if you are looking for romance) because Scott did excellent research on resorts.
For me, the typical things like planning, organizing, and compromising are not what hold me back from traveling at times. As a Shy Girl, the thing I struggle most with is meeting the people from a new strange land. A majority of the people I have met during my travels have been English speaking, but it was our recent summer trip to Rome, Italy that really challenged my introverted nature. Though English is a very popular language in Europe (most Europeans speak at least 2 languages based on my limited experience), we found that not everyone we met along our journey was fluent. This posed a small problem when we ordered lunch or dinner. Fortunately, when ordering in a restaurant, all you really have to do is point to the thing you want on the menu, and eventually some type of communication will take place. It’s not like they are going to say “No English” and tell you leave! Unfortunately, I suffer from extreme embarrassment, and so, I get a little red faced when the non-English speaking person gives me a questionable look. During these situations, I feel a little judged, and fear that they are saying in their mind, “Stupid American!” This trip, however, I had an epiphany: So what!
So what if my Italian sucks. So what if I mispronounce the ending to every word ending in E. So what if I can’t roll my R’s! Towards the end of our trip, I began to feel a bit more confident ordering my meals, and it’s not because I memorized my numbers and learned the difference between Ciao and Buon Giorno. I realized that most of the people I encountered seemed to appreciate the fact that my husband and I were TRYING to speak their native language. It opened the door to the fact that we are indeed traveling, and they soon realize that after a just a few words we are NOT fluent in any other language other an English.
I have this belief that most people are proud of their country and heritage, and so they must appreciate tourists and travelers because it is the upmost compliment to their land. Here we are, we want to see your home, show me why thousands of humans make a pilgrimage to see your land! Food, historical sites, landscape, artwork, and language are just a few things that make each country unique. And so, Humble Darlings, if I may offer a little advice: be brave and try out a few words in their native language to help open the door of communication. It will probably end in you both laughing about your terrible accent, but isn’t laughter the same in every language?