Don’t assume that you know what your partner is thinking.
My retirement lifestyle partmer is my wife (of 42 years) but this outrageous travel lesson applies to any travel partner. If you are sharing your travel experience with someone else (or several someone else’s) it is important that you do not assume anything about what they are thinking. Have them tell you what they think before you jump to any conclusions. They may be people that you have known forever or people that you have known for only a short while. Accept as an unquestioned truth that you are not a mind reader. You are perhaps an expert in understanding what your own thought and feelings are- and you should never be too sure of that- but never pretend to understand what is going on in anybody else’s mind. And be absolutely certain that you take no action based solely on your guesses. When you commit to creating a retirement lifestyle by making each trip, a trip of a lifetime, you can’t afford to guess.
The risk here is not that you will guess correctly. The risk is that you won’t and that your guess will be destructive. Being wrong can turn an outrageous travel triumph into a disaster. You may doubt yourself, question the decisions made jointly in the past and risk the success of the entire trip for no good reason. Don’t second guess your travel experiences.
When we arrived in Buenos Aires, I was not prepared for the experience and my first impression of the city caused me to seriously doubt the wisdom of our decision to stay for a month. Although my wife and I had discussed this decision thoroughly and performed careful research, I wasn’t prepared for the reality presented that first day. Buenos Aires doesn’t show its best face on the drive from the airport and the trendy Palermo neighborhood where we decided to live looked ragged and seedy at first sight. Fortunately, our apartment was just as pictured but I couldn’t stop thinking about how different the real Buenos Aires seemed from my imagined one. As I went to bed on the first night, listening to the traffic noise on the busy street below, I questioned everything about the trip and seriously considered pulling out. Maybe outrageous travel wasn’t what I thought.
What is telling about my thoughts at that time, is that I wasn’t disappointed and ready to cancel because of my own feelings. I was ready to cope with whatever Buenos Aires had to offer. The problem was what I imagined my wife was thinking. I was convinced that my wife was finding Buenos Aires completely unacceptable; that I had pushed her into this trip without adequate information and, most important of all, she would never let me suggest another exotic destination and we would be stuck in a rut. I feared that our retirement lifestyle travel experiences would end right here in Buenos Aires. I was afraid to even discuss my disappointment with my wife because I thought I knew what she was thinking. I was completely wrong.
The next morning, we woke up and began to explore Buenos Aires starting with the corner coffee shop. We discovered the wonderful coffee, fresh squeezed orange juice, medialunas and tostada which constitute breakfast for Portenos (residents of Buenos Aires) and began to embrace life in Buenos Aires. We began to make Buenos Aires part of our retirement lifestyle. We used the overcrowded subway system to find Argentine SIM cards for our cellphones. We started to explore the city. My doubts began to recede but I was still afraid to discuss them with my wife.
Later on after we were fully engaged with the energetic lifestyle of Buenos Aires, I confessed my doubts to my wife expecting that she would share them. To my surprise she told me that she was fine with the trip. Her only concern would have been if the apartment had been substandard. All the rest was fine. She had been open to whatever Buenos Aires might offer in contrast with my high expectations and initial disappointment. She wasn’t surprised or let down and she certainly wasn’t ready to throw in the towel just when the whole outrageous travel experience was beginning. She was better prepared for our new retirement lifestyle than I.