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In April 2015 we took a road trip across the country. We picked up a rental car in Denver and had a one way ticket home from San Francisco two weeks later. As we pulled away from National Car Rental at DEN, I had a flash of inspiration that has completely revolutionized our travel. It is simple, but massive. This moment was the birth of the “BOTD Mode”. I can honestly say, at this point, we can’t travel without it!

“BOTD” stands for “benefit of the doubt”. BOTD mode is a slight shift in mindset that we take on when we travel. This mindset shift is a subtle allowance we grant the other in recognizing that traveling can be stressful, but we both are working toward the same goal; having a blast together!

I am a liiiiittle type A and love structure and my go-with-the-flow husband convinced me to drive across the country for two weeks with no reservations, no set plans, just some camping gear and an atlas (yep, you read that right. An ATLAS! He even said no to a GPS!). As we started off on this adventure, we realized there was a high probability of moments of exhaustion, stress and frustration. But our invention of “benefit of the doubt mode” set us up for success! We made the commitment to let the little things go and enjoy the heck out of whatever this trip would throw at us. Having this mindset gave us both so much freedom to be weak in moments of stress

and exhaustion with the security of knowing that the other would patiently wait for you to work through that emotion, not take anything personal, and be ready to jump right back in to having fun once this moment passed. This was such a huge highlight for us! Now, whenever we start out on an adventure, we voice that we are switching to “benefit of the doubt mode”! This proclamation is honestly an exciting moment where we both realize the journey we’ve been anticipating has officially begun!

The flash of inspiration that is now known as “BOTD mode” was triggered by our “plans” getting upended before our trip even started! Our original plan was to zip across to Moab, UT (usually a fairly direct 5 hour drive) and start things out with some hot desert hiking… but… the night before we were set to leave, Colorado gave us FEET of snow across the state and I-70 was completely shut down. As that GPS that I wasn’t allowed to bring would say… “recalculating”… The stress, anxiety, and feelings of our vacation already being “ruined” were very real as we struggled down snow-covered roads toward the airport to pick up our rental. Tension was high and we were both a little short with each other as we tried to decide what the heck we were going to do next. In the silence in that car, my mind started racing and the idea of “benefit of the doubt mode” came to be.

BOTD mode came in handy as we arrived in Santa Barbara, CA one early afternoon towards the end of our trip. We walked the beautiful streets downtown, had a drink on the beach and enjoyed the sunset. Then we decided we should find a place to stay that night (remember-zero things planned ahead of time). We started to check out hotels in the area, but it happened to be alumni weekend for the University of California Santa Barbra. Everything was booked! So we got back into the car and drove north until we got to Morrow Bay, about an hour and a half away. At this point I’m tired and absolutely done. We started checking out hotels in Morrow Bay. But, yep, you guessed it – there happened to be an international “kite flying convention” in town that weekend (what the heck?!?) so there was also no availability at any of the big hotels there either.

{ I have an unfortunate “done” mode where a switch goes off and I’m over it; I have no interest in my current situation and have no chill.}

At this point I was really done with being in the car and not sleeping. Kev was so patient with my exhaustion and just kept calling around. The next hotel we found was a little spot called the Masterpiece Hotel. They had one room left. Probably the LAST room available for miles. And it was the penthouse suite. We booked it! It was a boutique hotel; styled in their own words, “with reproductions of great artistic masterpieces”. The penthouse was amazing! We had two rooftop terraces, a bathtub you could swim in and a huge circle bedroom with floor to ceiling windows overlooking the ocean. Dreamy! We quickly settled into the robes and slippers provided, drank wine on the terrace, and enjoyed the sound of the waves and gazed at the stars. Without the BOTD mode I would have been grumpy that we didn’t have any plans and wasn’t comfortable in a room until hours later that we thought. Kev would have been very justified in being frustrated with my “done” mode, complete with sassiness and attitude. Instead the memories are of a wonderful time at a penthouse suite in a charming beach town where we were able to overcome inconveniences quickly and get right back to having a blast!

There are countless memories from this crazy road trip similar to this. It was such a great discovery for us and has made us the best travel buddies. Next time you start an adventure with your loved ones give it a try! Say it out loud that you’re switching to “benefit of the doubt mode” – it seriously makes a massive difference! And embrace the adventure!

“The Masterpiece Hotel is a unique and stunning property, decorated with reproductions of great artistic masterpieces. The Spanish-Moorish architecture adds a unique element of style, while the Roman Style Bath provides the ultimate in relaxation.”

From  masterpiecehotel.com

(That was our room at the top of the tower!)

– Missy

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