Opposites Attract — How To Make a Marriage Work When You Travel Differently

Even though they travel differently, Shawn and Jill have found a way to mix their styles. 

Shawn and Jill almost did not meet. After viewing his online profile, Jill and her sister gave him a thumbs-down. His job as a wild-land firefighter was a bit too dangerous for her tastes. As a physician’s assistant working emergency room shifts, she saw enough injury and trauma at work and was not eager to live with that possibility in her home life as well.

Little did she know when she gave him a second look and agreed to a date that his love of adventure would be the very thing she loved most about him. “I can’t put into words how happy he has made me,” she says. Though she has traveled extensively around the world, her style of travel has always been a little different from his. She packs a carry-on; he packs a bug-out bag. She loves four-star hotels; he is generally happy sleeping under the stars. She likes cruises on the Seine; he kayaks the rapids.

Jill showing off her catch of the day. 

Their first travels together left her waiting breathlessly for what would come next. They went hunting, fishing, and camping, all of which were foreign to her. “He taught me to fish. I caught eight!” she says of that first fishing trip.

After almost a year together, Jill still loved Shawn’s wild world. She posted on Facebook, “This weekend, I got poked by barbed wire, got pelted by the corn from the deer feeder (thanks for the warning babe), hacked up some mesquite, dug up some fossils, shot at some cactus (sorry cactus) … and had a blast!”

Between their outdoor activities, Shawn did his share of adapting, too. They went on a yacht tour, attended a Renaissance fair, and together developed a love of wine. He listened to Italian opera and impressed her with his ever-expanding cooking prowess.

Shawn proposed to Jill on a trip to Italy. 

As much as he might have loved to propose next to a campfire on the side of a mountain somewhere, he chose instead to pop the question on a Thanksgiving trip with her family to Italy. With a little planning help from Jill’s sister (yes, the same one who initially tried to keep them apart), he dropped to his knee at a beautiful overlook near the Isle of Capri.

After the engagement, they continued to merge their travel styles by adding hiking to their winery tours and wine to their camping trips. Even the wedding was a blend of her newfound love of the outdoors and her worldly travels. After an outdoor ranch-style ceremony, they toasted with “flutes that were a gift from my mom that she bought when we were in Venice a few years ago, before I met Shawn,” she says.

Then came the honeymoon, which had to have enough activity for him and enough luxury for her. They chose a beach bungalow at the InterContinental Moorea Resort and Spa followed by InterContinental Bora Bora Le Moana Resort, with its overwater bungalows. The adventure included a sunset sail that turned stormy, a helmet dive, standup paddleboarding, and, much to her initial horror, swimming with sharks.

True love can overcome travel differences. 

“Bora Bora taught me that my husband is a really good Jet Ski driver, that ‘Madame Whitley’ is not, that no matter what you do while snorkeling, you still constantly suck in water,” said Jill. “Even though it looks like a giant blue pool, the ocean is not. Stingrays are pretty cool and not nearly as scary as I thought they’d be when I swam up on one.”

Jill survived the stingrays and sharks and cannot wait to see what her hubby has in store for her next. For him, it’s not all about showing her his world but rather sharing the whole world with her. For their six-month anniversary, Shawn gave her a jar with little slips of paper inside labeled, “Things I love about Jill.”

Now, that is a guy worth going camping for.

Shawn’s six month anniversary gift to Jill. 

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