Erica & Matt Chua: He Said/She Said: When One has “Done That”

The period before time, before we started traveling together, we each did a lot of traveling in different areas. In multiple trips, thinkCHUA spent over a year in South America and LOCAVORista spent almost as long in Europe. This means each of us has “been there, done that”, so what do you do when one partner has “not done that, but wants to”?



South America is the first place on this trip that either of us had spent a considerable amount of time. I did the tourist circuit from Tierra del Fuego to Ecaudor almost 10 years ago. We returned because there are so many awesome things to do, many things I missed, and experiences I wanted to share with my wife. The other side of the coin is that there are many overrated tourist destinations that I have no interest in returning to…but they are considered the “must-dos” by fellow tourists and guide books. South America has made us make more compromises than anywhere else on the trip.

Some places I was excited to go back to. One of these was Madidi National Park in Bolivia and the nearby pampas. Containing a startling 44% of all mammal species, I have found memories of piranha fishing, swimming with dolphins, and watching alligators devour capybaras. Excited to go back we booked a trip (this time taking the 50 minute flight instead of the 20-40 hour bus ride). Arriving, we found rainy season had just ended, the pampas were underwater and the mammals had run off. The things I wanted to see together, weren’t there, letting me down and making me question my fond memories.

Then there are the places I don’t want to return to. The places that the Lonely Planet plays up, but having been there I know it’s just not that cool. Not going is hard, I am only arguing to skip something because I have been there, but if I hadn’t gone, I probably would go. So what to do? There is no easy answer, because compromising isn’t an easy answer. I don’t know for certain that LOCAVORista wouldn’t like something just because I didn’t, but I’m also not about to get on a 17 hour bus to check it out. Sadly I had to put my foot down on a couple places and say, “not this trip”.

There are no easy answers…it is so much easier if we just kept going to new places…



Our first date was in South America when thinkCHUA was studying in Chile, we traveled through Peru and I fell in love. I fell in love with both my now husband and South America. I couldn’t wait for the day that I would return and see the amazing sights that thinkCHUA described, I wanted to see the grafitti-filled streets of Valparaiso, the rodents of unusual size in Bolivia and venture to the southern most point of Chile. Little did I know my return visit would be with him and that he wouldn’t want to see all of these things again.

I’m glad I saw the hills of Valparaiso, even though thinkCHUA spent months there. I wouldn’t have wanted to miss this view.

I’m a see everything, do everything kind of person, so missing something is not an option. However, thinkCHUA put his foot down on a few long bus rides, refusing to re-trace his steps. While I might have missed out on a few places, I was able to make my own decisions about seeing some places that he deemed “not worth my time”. I did my research and talked to other travelers to decide if making the trip myself would be worth it, and I’m glad I trekked out to Valle de La Luna in Chile, insisted on seeing live tango in Buenos Aires and required thinkCHUA to make a return visit to Madidi National Park.

Compromising is never easy, but I felt like I had a knowledgeable guide with me throughout South America. We were able to visit a few more off the beaten track destinations and I still didn’t miss out on the tourist “must-sees”. When one partner has “been there, done that” do your homework and decide what you want to see, they might also see it through new eyes. It may not be easy, but enjoy sharing these old and new places together, you might both get a new perspective!

YOUR TURN: What do you do when one person has already visited a place?

(Cross-posted from


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