Back Home and Taking Stock

We arrived back home from our trip to New Zealand on Thursday night, March 12. It was a truly fantastic trip, everything I had hoped it would be and more. Here are a few summary observations that are relevant to how Kate did on the trip and the state of things today.

Besides simply making the observation that the trip went well, I need to say that my guiding assumptions for the trip turned out to be correct. I deliberately chose for us to do the trip on our own rather than going with a group like Overseas Adventure Travel. I did this based on the fact that I felt under a good bit of pressure on our last trip with OAT to South America. There were so many times each day that we had to meet the group at a specific time that it put undue pressure on me to see that Kate was ready. That, in turn, put pressure on her that she does not like. Then we are both uncomfortable.

Second, I decided that we would go without any rigid plans other than the places we would visit and the lodging. I felt that we would do it in a leisurely way without worrying about trying to do everything. We would simply enjoy what we were able to do, and this is exactly what we did.

These two things made the trip go well. Even so, I felt a good bit of pressure during the entire trip. Prior to this trip I thought this might be the last trip of this type and duration. I am convinced of this now. It is simply too stressful for both of us. I think I will focus on more cruises in the future.

I am thinking this in large measure because of issues surrounding packing and unpacking her suitcase. This has been a problem for me on each of the recent occasions we have traveled. It is hard (no impossible) for her to plan what she needs to take with her. It seems she invariably doesn’t take enough underwear or socks. On the trip to South America and this one, there were occasions she wore my underwear and socks. When I tried to encourage her to take an ample supply of both of these items before the trip, she was resentful of my trying to tell what she should do when she feels she knows how to handle this kind of matter.

Prior to our packing, I did get her to agree that I would do the packing if she would give me the clothes she was to take. I noticed that she seemed to have a disproportionate number of pants and few socks and undergarments. To the best of my memory, she took 12 pair of slacks, 2 bras, 2-3 pair of panties, and 2-3 pair of socks. I bought her a duffle bag that had a bottom compartment in which I put all the slacks and a few other things likes blouses or jackets. I bought several packing bags in which I put all the others things in the top part of the bag along with 2 pair of shoes.

I did not expect her to remember where the items were, but I did want her to let me get things out for her and put them back. Nevertheless, she would start pulling things out of the suitcase. If she didn’t find what she wanted. she would throw the things on the floor. This meant that I was routinely re-packing. As the trip progressed, I was able to gain some control over this. I was never completely successful. I think this problem would be minimized on a cruise where we would not have to pack and unpack so frequently.

Even though our trip was leisurely there were times we had to be some place. That meant that there were times that I needed to prod her to get her ready. She moves very slowly and doesn’t like me to rush her. That is just as true at home as it is on a trip.

Additionally, there are many things she doesn’t understand. That can lead to problems when you are traveling. For example, in the Auckland airport, they have a line with a camera that takes a picture to match with your picture on your passport. This was new to me as well; so I didn’t realize until it was happening that I was having my picture taken. At any rate, I walked up to a doorway something like the security doorways at airports. There was a mark on the floor prior to getting to the doorway and a sign that asked that people wait behind that line until the person ahead was finished. Kate didn’t see it and walked up right behind me. The camera was “confused because there were two people. I got a message that they couldn’t clear me, that I would have to have special assistance. That meant that I had to go around another way and leave Kate to go through the line by herself. She was confused as to what to do. I had to coach her from the inside of the area where she was going.

The next time we went through equipment like this I was able to get through without any problem, but I think she moved while her picture was being taken; so she had to seek special assistance. Again, that left me on one side while she was on the other. Fortunately, there was visibility; so I could direct her where to go for help.

I also worried that we would get separated in some of the places we visited and knew that she would not know how to tell somebody where she was staying.

Despite these things, we really did have a great time and are looking forward to subsequent trips though they will be easier to manage than this one.