Travel for Two

A Madison couple combines love and a passion for travel

Mar 19, 2013

It’s a wonderful thing to travel the world—and the experience is only made better when it’s shared with the person you love most. At least that’s been the case with Kindra Goehler and Ryan Bender.

The couple began traveling together in 2002 and started the blog Love & Adventure to document their trips near to and far from Madison and offer advice for fellow travelers.

The globetrotting husband and wife recently answered a few questions about their favorite destinations, meals, brews and more!

How did you come up with the idea for this blog?

Kindra is a web designer so building websites and blogging are second nature to her. Ryan has kept detailed journals on all of our trips together. We started this project as a fun thing to do together, and to share our traveling tips and tricks with others. Hopefully, it will also inspire other people to travel!

What’s the first trip you took together?

Our very first trip together was a ten-day vacation to the UK during the summer of 2002. We were both attending UW–Madison at that time and after a long academic year, we both felt we needed to escape our tiny apartment on Spring Street and see the world. Neither of us had traveled internationally before and by the end of our first day in London, we had a serious case of permanent wanderlust.

What have been some of your favorite places to visit—and why?

Amsterdam tops our list. It’s so much more than the Red Light District and coffee shops. The beautiful, serene canals and lovely canal houses create a city that is perfect for strolling and taking in the people and sites. We also love the people and their laid-back culture and dedication to good food and good beer. It’s a lot like Madison, really.

We also really enjoy Sevilla. It’s a drop dead gorgeous city with amazing food and shopping. Plus it’s sunny and warm!

Cinque Terre is also one of our favorite places. Where else can you go hiking along a gorgeous coastline and come upon cute old farmers selling limoncello amidst the trees? The pastel houses, pristine water and warm people make this one of the most charming places we’ve ever visited.

How often do you travel and how do you choose your destinations?

We usually take one international trip each year, and several “little” trips in the US. Kindra is a painter and studied art history, so we try and go to places with great art like Florence, Madrid, etc. Ryan, despite his red hair, likes to lounge on the beach and go hiking or sightseeing, so places like Barcelona and Cinque Terre are perfect for that.

What are the best parts about traveling as a couple?

Traveling with someone you love is not only fun, it also allows you to see your partner in a new light. Dealing with challenges together—whether they are imposed by bureaucracy, weather or an act of God—brings you closer together.

Do you ever have troubles traveling together? Any Amazing Race-style spats or tensions?

We rarely argue on vacation anymore. Most of our spats in the past were based on misunderstandings, tiredness or hunger. Now, we always pack snacks, take naps if we need them and take a breath before we start arguing.

Not all couples travel well together. Do you have any advice for others?

Being really clear about the things you want to “accomplish” on your trip is important. For some people, it’s spending hours at the Louvre, while others would prefer to use that time shopping or eating crepes. Setting priorities before you embark on a journey is really important. Being flexible is also key. After all, most people travel to go outside their comfort zone and learn a little bit about the world. That being said, sometimes it’s fun to split up, then meet for dinner and drinks at a cafe and discuss your solo adventures.

I love that you focus on beer around the world. What have been some standouts?

The prize for most dramatic brewery goes to Aegir Brewery in Flam, Norway. Perched on the edge of a Fjord, the tap house looks like it came straight out of Middle Earth. You sit on sheepskins surrounding a hearth in the middle of the wooden room.

One of our other favorites is on the island of Texel in the Netherlands. This brewery is set amid rolling, grassy farmland on a breezy island. To get there, you catch a ferry from the mainland, then rent bikes and cycle to the brewery. The tasting room has a large outdoor patio with cute sheep that watch you drink beer.

What are some of the best meals you’ve had while traveling? Any places you'd go back to just for the food?

Italy has the best food on the planet. We’re actually going back again this summer, and our plan is basically to eat and drink our way around the country. Japan has amazing food as well. One of our most memorable meals was served to us at a Ryokan (a traditional Japanese inn). The elaborate presentation and delicious flavors were out of this world.

What Travel Tip has proved most significant to you?

Pack light and carry on! (We even made a poster about it.) Seriously though, we can’t stress this enough, especially on the way to your destination. Lost or delayed luggage is bad enough, but lugging multiple heavy bags around quickly sucks the fun out of traveling.

What destinations would you most love to visit but haven’t yet?

Thailand is on Kindra’s bucket list, and Ryan would really love to visit India. We’d also like to travel more extensively through North America. We’d love to go to Crater Lake and Banff.

What’s one place you wish every person could see once in their life?

Paris. It’s a city that is effortlessly beautiful and chic. The food is fabulous and the art and architecture are even better. Being there is like being in a romantic, calorie-filled dream.

What are some cool places close to Madison that you’ve visited?

One of the reasons we love Madison so much is that it really is a stand-out place to live. The Memorial Union, farmers’ market and restaurants like Graze and The Old Fashioned, make Madison a worthy destination for any traveler. We also really enjoy hiking at Devil’s Lake and poking around little towns like Lake Mills and New Glarus.

What have you learned from traveling, and how do you apply these lessons to life in Madison?

Mostly we’ve learned to relax. When you’re traveling you’re forced to accept that sometimes things aren’t going to go your way, and that is true at home too!

For more information on Love & Adventure, visit love-and-adventure.com.

Photos of the couple, Amsterdam and Paris courtesy of Kindra Goehler and Ryan Bender.

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