Let’s just put it out there: when it comes to travel, Louise and I are tramps.
An explanation is in order. We like to group travelers into two categories. Most travelers are transients: they take two-week vacations, rent hotel rooms, take conducted tours, and eat meals in familiar restaurants (McDonald’s are everywhere!). I’m not being judgmental. Two weeks are all that’s afforded to many people, and often there’s no time to plan adventuresome alternatives to organized tours and Big Macs. Adventure may not even be the goal. “Give me a cold beer in the hand and a week away from the office.” I get it.
Tramps, on the other hand, have abandoned their homes, divested themselves of most worldly possessions, and hit the road for lengthy—if not infinite—adventure. No clocks are ticking. Stay as long as you want. Learn the culture. Speak the language. Eat the food. Drink the drink.
This is how Louise and I choose to travel. We’re tramps. We stay a minimum of one month wherever we go—preferably longer. Learn which aisle has the butter, if you will. Get to know a place.
There are a couple of significant advantages to this strategy:
It saves money. The financial advantages of paying a single rent are evident. More subtle but just as significant are the advantages of having a kitchen (most tramps stay in apartments with kitchens) and “cooking in,” riding mass transit, enjoying an occasional quiet evening at home rather than a night on the town, and eating the way the locals eat. In Puerto Vallarta, for example, the best breakfast is found on the street: taco stands. They abound in the city. The stands have often been in the family for two or three generations, and so have the recipes. The tacos are delicious, they’re made from fresh ingredients, the servings are generous, and they cost about a dollar. On the main street—called Basilio Badillo—there are three or four gringo restaurants offering eggs over easy and hash browns for five bucks. There are often lines to get a table.
But just around the corner is our favorite Tacos de Marisma—family operated, always convivial, and meal-sized smoked marlin tacos priced at fifteen pesos. It takes a while to discover a place like Marismas. That’s why we like being tramps.
This is personal. It may be unique to Louise and I: Tramping smooths our discords. When we began promoting our book, our first TV interview launched with the question: “How did you handle fights?” We should’ve had a cute reply (we do now), but instead we just looked at each other blankly and replied, “We don’t fight.”
Which is true. But we do have significantly divergent attitudes about travel. I am nonchalant: I’m content to sit in a cafe on a plaza somewhere and immerse in the people and the place. Louise, on the other hand, is restless: gotta see it all, gotta see it now, gotta go, gotta go. By living in one place for a month or longer, those differences are mitigated. Louise doesn’t feel as much anxiety when time is her ally, and I can accompany her on one of her madcap expeditions knowing that tomorrow I can claim that cafe as my own.
This is why we are tramps. We can’t afford to travel any other way, and—in pursuit of matrimonial peace—we don’t want to.
Charlie Chaplin once defined a tramp as “…a gentleman, a poet, a dreamer…always hopeful of romance and adventure.” Yeah. That’s about it.
Laura Wilde (laura-wilde.deviantart.com/)