Pilot or Navigator? Be one, respect the other

If there is one thing we have learned through all the travels we have taken as a couple, it’s that we each have our strengths and weaknesses.

For Ari, his strength is his ability to drive — and park — just about any vehicle, and to take on long-haul drives without complaint because he truly enjoys driving. His weakness is navigating — he’ll honestly admit (which is admirable), that he gets turned around easily and if you really want to get him lost, give him cardinal directions instead of “turn left.”

Ari in one of his favorite places: behind the wheel of our Roadtrek as we seek out another adventure.

For Jessi, her strength is navigating — give her any map and a minute to get her bearings, and she can get you just about anywhere you want to go. Her “weakness,” which she will also admit, is that she would rather be sightseeing and taking pictures out the window than driving. (Jessi’s secondary weakness is that she is as vertically challenged as Ari is directionally challenged, meaning reaching pedals and trying to see surroundings when parking or backing up isn’t easy.)

So when it comes to our travels in the Roadtrek, that gives us the honorary titles of Pilot and Navigator. We even do a “pre-flight checklist” with each other to ensure we’ve remembered all the miscellaneous things that need to be done to the van before we drive away.

We’re both capable adults and can back each other up. While Jessi rarely drives the van, she could if she needed to. And if Ari had to find his way out of someplace with a map and a compass, he’d get us out eventually. (We might just end up, as Ari likes to claim, “taking the more scenic route.”)

Jessi captured herself capturing a shot of the scenery on one of our trips.

What’s tough for us to remember sometimes is that we need to play to our strengths and weaknesses. Jessi is better at this than Ari because Jessi is quite good at not being the proverbial “back seat driver.” Ari, on the other hand, sometimes likes to take over the navigating duties because he has more experience operating — and a shorter reach to — the GPS unit. But whenever we end up having intense discussions about where we’re at and when we’re supposed to turn next, it tends to be because Ari is relying too much on his GPS and doesn’t listen to Jessi.

What we both need to remember always is that Ari is a great pilot and Jessi is an outstanding navigator. But together, we’re stronger than either of us could ever be alone.

So one travel tip we would offer is to be a pilot or be a navigator depending on your strengths, but respect the other one for what they’re best at and try to stay in your lane.

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