It was our first trip. I was the seasoned traveler. He was a bit more sheltered and hesitant.
I knew my way around maps and foreign languages. I knew how airports worked, and I knew exactly what you should and shouldn't bring into a hostel.
I was proud of this knowledge, carried it like a badge of honor, something I would have put on my resume if it wasn't so obnoxious.
Looking back, I was probably a complete travel snob- a complete elitist about all the places I would- and wouldn't- visit. My husband was calm and patient, letting me lead and take matters into my own hands.
His parents traveled to the same places every year, which I scoffed at. I mean, what sane person gets a timeshare when everyone knows they are a complete rip-off. Today, I'm embarrassed by how judgmental I used to be. Today, I'm disgusted with the way I looked down on how people "vacationed."
Oh, yes, I traveled. It was supposed to hurt and be uncomfortable. It was supposed to make you question yourself, existentially and morally, and it was supposed to be a growing, learning, healing lesson. Not just a lounging time on the beach. Not an excuse to indulge or (gasp) spend money.
Naturally, we went to Cancun, the all-inclusive capital of the tropical world. To the timeshare. To where his family had a rental.
And, naturally, we did all the "vacation-like" things you do on a vacation with your partner. Lounged in the infinity pool. Drank fruity alcoholic smoothies. Woke up late very single day. Enjoyed Mexican food in actual Mexican restaurants (yes, I was one of those people who prided myself on only eating street food). Someone at our resort had a drone- an actual drone- and I remember feeling amazed that someone was that dedicated to capturing their fun (this is someone who used to judge people for taking photos during their trips).
And, guess what? It was one of the greatest, happiest memories of my life- one of the defining, beautiful memories that solidified our relationship.
This was before we were engaged. Before we were married. Just two, twenty-somethings with barely any money- taking advantage of his generous parents' timeshare- enjoying life and love together.
As a snobby traveler, I do believe that seeing the world with someone else can make or break your relationship. It's as intimate as it is stressful, as detailed and meticulous as it is spontaneous.
Today, we've been to many countries with no intentions of slowing down. But it's not just about the places or sights we see. In fact, that's really just a fraction of my experience. It's about the memories I experience and the person I do it with.
And, I get to do it with my best friend. And, one day, I'll get to do it with the children we bring into this world.
I learned that in Cancun, in the timeshare that I once ridiculed- and even though we've never stayed in a timeshare again (old habits die hard), the joy of travel can be captured in a feeling, not just in a dirty hostel.