How to avoid being murdered by your travel partner

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This is an archive of a letter we wrote to our subscribers on 29 November, 2018.

Dear Discoverers,

Love trumps all, except when you want to kill your loved one.

We’ve been through our share of crises that has had us at each other’s necks, or had that potential. All relatively minor, so far… luckily. Nothing life-threatening, other than each other.

Discover Discomfort - Principles for Adventure Travel - Sunset

Crisis #1: The Lost Keys

First, there was the time that somehow one of us lost the car keys during a difficult hike. They fell right out of a pocket (we think). At the end of the hike we were exhausted, hot and hungry, so realising we had lost our keys was… not fun.

When we realised, we took a long look at each other. Each of us expected the other to explode or get frustrated. But surprisingly (to both of us) neither of us did. Instead, we methodically decided what we’d do and began executing.

We decided to hitchhike down the mountain to a place with reception, call an Uber, go back to our place, get the spare key and then get a Lyft back to pick up the car before the park closed at sunset.

We ended up meeting some quirky campers, seeing a beautiful sunset (the photo above) and finishing the night with a delicious dinner at an amazing Peruvian restaurant we wouldn’t have otherwise found.

That was the time we learned we could get through crises through communicating, planning and executing. Lucky, because it wasn’t our last crisis.

Crisis #2: The Self-Inflicted Drought

Then there was a time one of us forgot a portable water filter, only noticing we didn’t have it around an hour into a three-day hike. We needed that filter to finish the hike. We knew how it had happened—we had packed in a hurry that morning, and one person was responsible for the equipment packing—but that didn’t help because being able to blame a situation or person doesn’t fix anything in the moment.

Luckily, we found it after around ten minutes of rummaging.

But it didn’t stop us from learning a lesson: for mission-critical elements of any operation we both have to perform a task (“double-perform”, don’t just “double-do”), so we’re both accountable and reduce errors.

NO, it wasn’t the same person in both those crises. Quit guessing who it could have been. Short answer: could have been either of us.

And things always go wrong, and that’s fine; it’s how you deal with it and what you learn that makes for a great adventure.

Principles for Adventure Crisis Management

Eventually we started boiling what we learned into a list of “Principles”. Like Ray Dalio’s book of the same name. (If you haven’t read it, I suggest you do. It’s better than most business porn out there.)

It’s a living document, and you can read them here. Some of our favourites are

  • Designate a head chef and sous chef in key tasks. We learned this one in the kitchen. It makes managing projects so much easier if one person is the head chef. It’s also pretty fun to remind the other person you’re head chef and get to decide how something is done. Don’t let it go to your head as next time, the head chef’s shoe will be on the sous’ foot.
  • Communicate extra clearly when stressed. When either of us stressed out we tend to lock down, and not give the other a chance to help. This does us both a disservice and of course rarely solves anything.
  • Avoid unnecessary risks. I love taking risks, even if it’s with small things like “I wonder if I can hold all these glasses, my phone and my camera in my hands to avoid making multiple trips?” Works 9 times out of 10 and then one time I drop my phone in the water. I get a mild rush out my phone still working, but is that healthy?

We have been adding to the list of principles over the last few years and find it useful to look back at the principles and say them out loud before doing something that would violate them.

What would you add?

Your sous chefs,

Dana & Jo

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