How to Travel With Your Husband Without Killing Him: 

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Learn the Travel Lingo




“I have found out that there ain’t no surer way to find out whether you like people or hate them than to travel with them.”  Mark Twain

“I love being married.  It’s so great to find one special person you want to annoy for the rest of your life.”  Rita Rudner

“A good wife always forgives her husband when she’s wrong.”  Rodney Dangerfield

1976 006

1976 for the Bicentennial in Washington, D.C. One of our first vacations together.

My husband and I have been traveling together for 42 years, more if you count our fairly regular trysts at the Donna Court Motor Lodge in Evansville, Indiana, in my freshman and sophomore years of college.  He loves to travel; I like it.  As I’m pulling the last load of our vacation clothes out of the dryer, he’s pounding the Expedia website looking for our next destination.

This past November he whined, “We’re not going anywhere in December.”

Me: “And your point is?”

Him:  “It’s cold.  I want to go someplace warm.”

Me:  “Go to Hell . . . it’s warm.”

Him:  “Seriously, why can’t we go?”

Me:  “We can’t leave.  We’re having an out-of-town guest:  Santa.”

I lost that one.  We went to Death Valley. dunes

Antarctica 013


We have traveled to all the continents together.  I have to say, there was a time on every trip that I wanted to kill him:  lock him out of our cabin without his clothes in Antarctica; throw him over the Great Wall of China, hold his head down in the Great Barrier Reef.

A favorite spot in the Great Smokey Mountains

A favorite spot in the Great Smokey Mountains

Yesterday, as we drove home from Gatlinburg in such companionable silence, I realized we had reached travel détente.  I’d been with him four days and not once did I want to feed him to a bear.  Now that I understand his travel language, I know when to alter my expectations.


When he asks, “What time do you want to leave for the airport,” I now understand that this is just an opening bid.  He already knows what time we’re leaving.  Here’s how it goes:

Him:  What time do you want to leave for the airport in the morning?DSCN3061

Me:  Oh, I don’t know.  Maybe 8:00.

Him:  I was thinking 7:00 or 7:30.

Me:  Okay, then, 7:30.

Him:  I’ll set the alarm for 6:00 so we can pull out at 7:00.

 1999.2000 0152.  SELFLESSNESS

He has a way of making it sound as if decisions have been made for my benefit.  Here’s an example from just three days ago.

Him:  I thought we’d go to Olive Garden because I know how much you love it.boxing gloves

Me:  Okay.  Whatever.  I’m not really all that hungry.

Him:  I’m trying to be nice to you.  I know how much you like their soup and salad.

Then, when the waiter comes to the table and offers us menus, he says, “I don’t need one.  I’ve been dreaming about your Tour of Italy entrée for a week.


Him:  You look so tired.  Why don’t we go back to the room so you can take a nap.

Me:  No, I’m okay.

Him:  I know you had trouble sleeping last night.  You should get your rest.  Come on, take a nap.

 3.  CODE

And by “take a nap” (see #2 above) he doesn’t mean “go to sleep.”

funny-old-car-photo4.  PACKING

He suggests that I go throw the bags in the car.  I understand now that I should literally just throw them in, because he’s going to come out and rearrange them.  “It’s all about spatial relations,” he says, as he arranges them by employing a variety of geometric theorems.  When he finishes, the suitcases look like Danish cookies in a tin.

5.  ACCOMODATIONSbates_intro

It all started with the aforementioned Donna Court in Evansville, Indiana.  I was in love then, you see, so I didn’t complain about the low-wattage lightbulbs, the stained carpet, the wire hangers, the mildew on the shower curtain.

By the time we took our first road trip out west with the kids, I was so over economy lodgings.   When wevacancy pulled up to the Pinecrest Inn in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, with its algae-slicked pool and quarter-for-a-massage bed, I put my foot down.

“I don’t think I can stay here.”  He chuckled.  “No, I mean it.  I won’t stay here.”

My kids became accustomed to me saying, as we pulled up to various versions of the Bates Motel, “I don’t think I can stay here.”  Finally, I instigated ground rules:

  • I would not stay any place that was not at least as clean as our house (which was setting the bar mighty low).
  • I would not stay in any motel with a number or color in its name.

It is only now, with the insight that a long marriage gives you, that I had missed the teachable moment when we pulled up in his Mustang to the Donna Court back in 1971 the first time.  But I was distracted, and I was sitting on his lap at the time.

Now he primes me, as we approach our hotel, by telling me that it was the highest rated place in the area, and then he mumbles, “at this price.”


He says:  “The sunrise should be spectacular tomorrow.”sunrise

Translation:  “I’ve set the alarm for 4:30 AM and put my tripod in the car.  You might want to get out your long underwear.”


When we get home to the apartment, he unlocks the door and enters, leaving the suitcases in the hall.  He immediately rips off all his clothes and he encourages me to do the same.  We run to the shower together.  Lust?  No, fear of bringing home bedbugs, as we did when we returned from China.


He says, as we lug our suitcases down to the car, “Did you forget anything?”

Translation:  “Did you forget anything again?”

He knows he better not say “again,” that I will go ballistic and accuse him of patronizing me.

I mean, everyone will forget something, sometime, right?

Like “her” ID when they drive to Dayton to catch a plane to San Francisco, for instance.

Or maybe  one of “her” shoes or “her” anti-anxiety medication.

Or perhaps her coat, scarf, and mittens at a Courtyard in Detroit on the way to Canada.


He says, “I think we’re ready to go.”

Translation:  “Basically, you just have to show up, because I have bought the plane tickets;  gone to the bankwod_brain-1 to check exchange rates and buy Euros and Norwegian Kroners; booked the hotels and printed out the confirmations; alerted the credit card companies that we’re traveling; watered the plants; canceled the newspaper;  sent typed itineraries to the kids and our parents; carried the luggage to the car; turned down the thermostat;  gotten the passports out of the safe deposit box; made copies of the passports in case they’re lost or stolen; watered the plants; written a post-dated check for the rent; consulted Trip Advisor to find the best restaurants and tours; entered the addresses we’ll need into the GPS; emptied the trash and recyclables; and scheduled a few surprises to make you happy, like a trip to Tom Jones’s birthplace in Pontypridde, Wales, Louisa May Alcott’s Orchard House in Massachussetts, or the Seattle Library.  Yes, we’re ready.  All you have to do is get in the car.”

Yes, it’s a pain to travel with my husband, but now that I know the lingo, I won’t kill him.  We’re “ready to go.”


Copyright © 2015 Sandy Lingo, All Rights Reserved





  1. Really I’m on the other end of this Travel scenario, Jerry just follows along because I have done “EVERYTHING”. The advantage of this is we do all the things I like to do, he is at my mercy, no help no input. Best line in the piece, “I would not stay in a place with a number or a color in its name” Hilarious, but true!!!

    • I have to give the credit for that line to Scott Nichols.

  2. I love the out of town guest…Santa

  3. I laughed so hard about the photography section, I think I spit some of my dinner on the floor. Basically, I’m acting like my kids now. :)

  4. I have experienced many of these. Especially loading the car. My husband loves to set the GPS and then argue that it doesn’t know the best way to go. Drives me crazy.

  5. I loved the familiar ring of this story, Sandy! Like the hints of patronizing, the bedbugs from China (ours were local) and the “it’s all about spatial relations.” This must be a male point of pride!

  6. I can’t wait for Ken to read this because he will see himself! Especially the repacking the trunk and THE NAP. Love it! You never fail to explain my life better than I ever could.

  7. 2 things:
    1. I really need to start reading these before I share them with my friends. TMI! Either your writing needs to get a little less R rated or I need to grow up!
    2. Yes, the photography section made me LOL too!

  8. Being happily divorced for over 30 years, I pretty much travel alone or on a tour. However, I have dim memories of hubby repacking the trunk so everything fit perfectly, and wanting to leave way earlier than I would have. One bonus: he always agreed to stop at the special restaurant we had discovered on a previous trip and insisted on very nice motels.

    I love this story; I got excited when I saw the title, and thought,”This is gonna be a good one!” I was right!! Carry on, Mrs. Lingo!

  9. Sandy, I love this! My husband and I have a deal – I choose & pay for accommodations, he pays for everything else. That way we don’t end up at Motel 6.

  10. Sandy, We could be clones! I’ll have to show you our travel list when we lived in England. We practically lived out of our suitcases the entire time – Tom insisted on traveling all the time and I went along. Now I’m dragging my feet and he’ll take trips with friends. He is definitely getting a forward on this.

  11. I’m laughing to the point of tears. I’ve actually had to stop reading this for now until my stomach stops hurting.

  12. Sandy,
    Besides this being so funny and detailed and beautifully crafted, I can’t believe all the places you’ve been to. You are a history teacher’s envy and wealth of knowledge.

  13. Sandy, You have illustrated so well the “dance” that takes place while traveling with a husband! The old familar “moves” play over and over again throughout a trip. Such an enjoyable read!

  14. Wonderful, as always!!!

  15. Oh, how true. That’s why I leave my husband at home. Friends don’t mind if you miss the turnoff or if you have to wait at the airport. Maybe I’m missing something but can’t think what!

  16. The foreplay and selflessness sections felt strangely familiar…hilarious!

  17. This is hilarious! (OK-you never told us about the bed bugs-that’s not so hilarious!) Chuck and I have come to an understanding about travel. I say I’m going somewhere and would he like to come with me? Then I make all the arrangements, pack the clothes and stand back while he loads the suitcases into the car. I figure it’s my way of taking care of him since he takes such good care of me everyday by going to work every day

  18. Sandy,
    You made me laugh and I don’t even have a spouse to travel with. And I’m still home under healing house arrest. So laughing post-surgery CAN mean a bit of pain…..but it was worth it. You. Are. So. Funny.



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Sandy Lingo

Life itself is the proper binge.  - Julia Child

A writing friend said that when she reads my writing, she always wants a second helping.



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