Last updateWed, 18 Oct 2017 10am


Traveling together: Downsizing the epic journeys of old

Photo By: Courtesy of Benh Lieu Song
Photo Courtesy Of Benh Lieu Song Fairy chimneys in Greme, Turkey, add character to the Anatolian town. Balance an adventurous visit to the region’s cave hotels with watching boats on the Bosphorus.

It would be nice if we all paired up like we were boarding Noah’s Ark – elephants with elephants, horses with horses, and so on, but it doesn’t usually work that way, as any travel agent will tell you.

Someone should develop a travel app for couples with varying travel personalities.

Deciding where to go on vacation takes work, unless you like to return to the same resort with a different good book every year. Some travelers like change, after all, and others like routine.

The other day, for example, as we talked about visiting my native Istanbul this year, my partner reminded me that he wasn’t going to sit on the patio and watch the boats cross the Bosphorus, metaphorically speaking. That suited my nomadic soul just fine.

So we took out the brochures for Cappadocia, a region in central Anatolia where you can see fairy chimneys and sleep in cave hotels near the Taurus Mountains. Picture a hot-air balloon ride over Göreme, a rocky town where the ancients lived.

If your significant other also likes adventure, then planning gets easier. But couples often have different travel needs. Some resolve this by taking separate vacations, or setting different courses within the same trip.

I know of a couple who determined that the wife would travel to Bali for a yoga retreat while the husband stayed home with their teenagers. Later, he went on a hiking trip. I don’t know where they would have gone if they had gone together.

It helps to buffer your differences by traveling in groups, whether with children or other couples.

My dentist once told me that he liked vacationing with his children, because then he could water-ski with his son while his wife stayed on the beach. Of course, that’s why the nest can feel so empty when the children leave for college. At some point, you have to pay the piper.

Special-interest tours make a good choice. Alumni cruises and tours have the benefit of putting you together with likeminded people and offer enough activity for everyone. Also try www.aaa.com and spiritual travel tour providers for meditation trips or learning about sacred places. Gay and lesbian tour operators like www.olivia.com provide both cruises and hotel packages.

Choosing a destination requires you to consider why you travel. A recent New York Times column in The Stone noted that we used to voyage to find ourselves, like in “The Odyssey.” Now, according to Stavans and Ellison, “our once-epic journeys have been downsized” to cruise ships and guided tours.

The authors talk about travel as a social, not “lonely pursuit,” which requires us to be good guests as well as hosts. In other words, travel should challenge us to become better people in some way.

They argue against escapism, but there’s a place for that. A three-day getaway to Monterey for the Aug. 11 Winemakers’ Celebration (see below) or a $70 master cooking class at North Lake Tahoe’s Ritz-Carlton (www.ritzcarlton.com/en/Properties/LakeTahoe) may be all the break you need.

In other cultures, entire extended families voyage together. Surely we can all just get along, somehow.

Contributing editor Eren Göknar is a journalist and lifelong traveler. Email her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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