Here we have Heather Daley (HD) and Jonathan Vanderschrick (JV) here with us in Belgium!
Heather is an American expat living in Belgium for past three years with Jonathan who is a native Belgian.
Both of them are actually great friends of mine. I knew Heather back in my early college years at Gallaudet. Jonathan and I met in my hometown, Austin, TX, while he was traveling in the US in 2010.
I’m really fortunate to receive their wonderful welcome to Europe. Couldn’t be any happier to start my Eurotrip in Belgium with their heartwarming hospitality! I’ll let them share their story and a few tips here.
Now the JV-HD Tips Takeover begins.
How Did All of This Start?
JV: The whole thing actually started when I was traveling in America back in 2010. I met Heather at one point of my trip and we hit it off, thus we went on a roadtrip together around the US for around two weeks.
That was when we realized that we shared a passion in traveling. We really enjoyed each other’s company and we fell in love.
As soon as the year 2011 came, we started traveling around the world for 11 months. It was a huge step for both of us, but absolutely no regrets at all.
Throughout the 11-month trip, we went to: India, Nepal, Hong Kong, China, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia (Bali), Australia, and New Zealand.
HD: That’s 11 countries in merely less than a year. Wonderful times.
Few Tips About Traveling in a Pair
HD: There’s too many tips to share, but there are five important tips that everybody should keep in mind about traveling in a pair.
JV: Yeah, we made a lot of mistakes together while traveling together. We surely learned a lot from each other.
1. Be sure to give some space to yourself if you happen to get in a heated argument with your partner
HD: If we couldn’t come down to any agreement together and the scene became very escalated, we would walk away from each other to give each other some space. It is okay to make alone time for yourself to recollect yourself and what happened in the argument.
You can do things like: taking a walk; going somewhere new; meeting a new person; grabbing a book to read; or even just pick a spot to chill and think about what happened.
I would suggest you to give at least an hour or two to yourself before getting with your buddy again to exchange thoughts and perspectives, and find a solution.
Jonathan and I would get together to discuss our sides of stories. We both had to keep our minds wide-open because we both were not born and raised in the same country. I’m an American and he’s a Belgian. We both had different cultures, yet we kept our minds open to exchange culture.
2. Keep your minds open, always
HD: Just because we’re from different countries and we kept our minds open when it comes to resolving problems doesn’t mean you shouldn’t keep your minds open with your partner if you both are born and raised in the same country.
It can apply to different scenarios. For instance: a female traveling with a male; both of them will have different perspectives of culture and life, so there will be disagreements at least. You will need to make sure you are open to exchange different culture and perspectives with your travel buddy.
JV: That goes the same with meeting people and Deaf communities from different destinations all over the world. It’s important to be open to cultural differences. Accept and adjust to their culture customs and traditions.
I can’t emphasize how important it is to respect every aspect of their attributes. You will gain respect from the locals if you do that.
Never. Never be dominant about your home country. Don’t ever walk into a country thinking that they would speak your language or adjust to you according to the attributes of your home country’s culture.
Just allow the country welcome you into their culture naturally and the locals of the country will appreciate you more. The golden rule applies to all. =)
From there, you would be exchanging culture attributes and expanding your knowledge and perspective in no time!
3. Plan your trips in advance
HD: Planning in advance with your buddy is a must! This is one of few things I learned about Jonathan while traveling.
Let’s start with an example: Jonathan had been into photography. It’s passion and he would all the time to himself to capture the perfect shot. I’m a simple person myself, so I would get impatient waiting for him. Sometimes I would end up reading a book while waiting for him.
In that case, I kind of would waste quality time of seeing things I wanted to see for his photography. That became an unfair game for both of us.
That’s why we always plan our upcoming trips in detail in advance. We have to make sure we share what we wanted to see and do. From there, we would put it together into plan to make our trip more complete and up to each other’s satisfactory.
I’m sure you all would want the same =)
4. Get to know your partner before you travel
HD: if you’re planning a long-term traveling with a buddy, it’s ideal for you and your buddy to at least know each other beforehand. I’m very fortunate to have known Jonathan before we traveled around the world.
11 months is a long time and a big deal, indeed. Imagine, we only met and traveled together for just two weeks. Just two weeks.
We just fell in love and we knew we shared the same passion. It was easy for us to connect and get along. We were confident that we would get along and get through the travels just fine, and we did.
I personally would recommend you to make a small trip with your partner before planning out a big trip. That way you can get to know your partner more. It can be a simple road trip. It doesn’t necessarily be a big out-of-country trip.
JV: It’s also a good idea for you and your partner to share common interests. That will definitely make things easier on you and your partner while traveling.
Hence the reason we traveled the world together.
5. Have fun!
HD: “To travel is to live” – Hans Christian Andersen
Seize thy opportunity to explore our exquisite planet! Go and get out to see what’s out there in the world. Enjoy and appreciate your beautiful life while traveling.
JV: Amen to that! Good luck to you all and happy travels!