Eric really doesn’t like it when I attempt to “celebrate” our “other” anniversary. But after spending 20 years together, this certainly won’t be our first well, disagreement. So, here I am talking about it. Twenty years ago today we went on our first date. Although Eric really only likes to celebrate or wedding anniversary, I still believe there is a little something special about how long we’ve been together. Recently, I’ve been thinking about how much we’ve changed over 20 years.
Where We Thought We’d Be
Eric and I met at Rutgers University in May of 1997. As much as there is still a little bit of a dispute about how we met, and what exactly happened on that fateful night at The Knight Club in New Brunswick, New Jersey, one thing is certainly true. We were much different people back then.
That tends to be true for most people who’ve been together for almost half their lives. But for us, it is definitely true. When we met, we both knew we wanted to escape New Jersey. We grew up there, and both attended college within an hour of our home town. It was time for change.
But, we spent our time thinking about living in California, working on our careers, and raising our kids. In fact, the first summer we dated we even named our children.
Eric chose Trevor, so that our son would be named after Trevor Hoffman, a professional baseball player. Let’s just say that never would have happened. I was leaning towards Kirsten, or something similarly starting with a “K” as an homage to my little sister Kayla.
We wondered about our plans for after college graduation. I started freaking out about what a duel major in History and Political Science could do for a living. I thought about law school. Within a year of dating, we were living together (don’t tell my mother-in-law), moving to DC for law school, and planning our future in a way typical of people our age.
Where We Are 20 Years Later
Well, none of that really panned out, uh? We never moved to California. We certainly never had kids. So, how did we get from young college students, getting drunk at The Knight Club, to globetrotters who have lived in Bali and Bangkok.
When we first met, we had barely traveled outside of New Jersey. I traveled to England, Scotland, and France on a trip just after high school. I’d been to Mexico when I was young. But, that was about it. Eric was in the same boat. He’d traveled home to Ireland when he was a kid. Popped into Mexico once. Between the two of us we’d traveled to less than 10 countries.
Over the following decade, the travel bug spread. After our first overseas trip together to Ireland to visit family, we started to explore the world a little more. A few trips to Europe. Our first trip to Southeast Asia. Travel became a craving we had to satisfy. We took every opportunity we could to escape our jobs, even for just a weekend. Labor Day in Rome. Thanksgiving in Amsterdam. Christmas in Hong Kong.
And, the older I got, the less I wanted to have kids. Over time, our initial goal of settling down in a house in Southern California with our two kids, turned into a plan to escape the predictable life.
It was the best decision we ever made. Even if we don’t remember ever specifically making a “decision.”
So, here we are. Twenty years later. We’ve been to about 70 countries and haven’t lived in the US for almost 5 years. Most important, we couldn’t be happier. Both with our lives and the decisions we’ve made.
How Our Travel Style Changed Over 20 Years
As much as the biggest change over the last 20 years together has been the complete and total switch in our lifestyle, other things have changed as well. Namely, how we travel. When we first left the US, we were on the road, moving from place to place. We traveled on buses and trains. We stayed in hostels.
For awhile, this was fun. I assumed that all long term travelers were essentially backpackers, or minimally flashpackers, as we most likely were. But, there were noisy hostels, with uncomfortable beds and shared bathrooms.
There were chicken buses and bug attacks in Central America. Yes, we had some fun experiences. But, I’ve grown up. We are in our forties. And, sure, there are plenty of people who still travel as backpackers in their forties. We are just not those travelers anymore.
Now, not only do we need reliable wifi for our online jobs, but I need more comfort now than I used to. We also need fast wifi to keep in touch with friends and family online. This might mean a quick Skype call or even playing online games with friends to keep connected.
We try to walk the line between renting comfortable apartments with Airbnb (get free credit on Airbnb here), and trying the best we can to travel in an affordable luxury sort of way. Obviously, the blog helps. But even when it comes to the blog, I am a lot more choosy about who we decide to work with and who we don’t. Not only do I need comfort, I also need unique experiences.
Sure, we spend some days just working on the sofa, while streaming Netflix. Not necessarily luxury. Or exotic. Then again, maybe it is. The reason why we made the decisions we did was because I didn’t want my old life. I wanted more freedom. More choices. Right now, we can decide whether we want to be in Bangkok, or Bali, or Barcelona. We can decide to return to some of our favorite places, or explore some place new. We can spend a few days exploring a new city. Or, we can rent an apartment for a few months some place we love. Each day and each month seems to bring something new, and for that I am truly grateful.
The question is, what do we have to look forward to over the next 20 years??? Your guess is as good as mine.
Amber Hoffman, food and travel writer behind With Husband In Tow, is a recovering attorney and professional eater, with a passion for finding new Food and Drink Destinations. She lives with her husband, Eric, in Girona, Catalonia, Spain. Together over the last 20 years, they have traveled to over 70 countries. Amber is the author of the Food Traveler’s Guide to Emilia Romagna.