The Unwilling Companion


“On this super horror journey [into China] I wheedled an Unwilling Companion, hereinafter referred to as U.C., into going where he had no wish to go.” – Martha Gellhorn referring to her husband, Ernest Hemmingway as he accompanied her on disastrous worldly trips as a journalist.

I have a lot of nicknames for people, and it brought a smile to my face to I learn that Martha did the same. If you know anything of their lives, Ernest fell madly in love with her, left his wife, married her, only to be tormented by her success and pegged it against himself as a writer, eventually killing himself because he could no longer write as he as consumed by her. Most of Martha’s life, as she refers to it, is a journey of horror stories, claiming that is what life is about. She states that, “the only aspect of our travels that is guaranteed to hold an audience is disaster.”

And so it is true.

Yet lately, it seems many have tried to fool you with lovely ideas and photoshopped photos of how a place can look. Myself included. That is when I realized that the truly unwilling companion is….ourselves. 

Think of how many selfless things you have done in life in the name of others. Especially as parents – once you become one, your outlook on the world changes. You give up plans, showers….sleep. You work exponentially harder to fill their lunch boxes with healthy food and their 529 funds with money. 

As the traveling for the year starts at its peak again, I just look back at last year’s debauchery and smile. These travels are documentation that prove that you never really have control over anything. And the more you try to contain it, the more things will go wrong. Thankfully, we still can look back and have full belly laughs on the situations, just as Martha. We may not be trudging through the trenches of China during the Black Plague, but we fight our battles. It’s just important to enjoy the journey and let it lead you instead of trying to lead it.  

[tweet_box]We’re not heroic like the great travelers but all the same, we amateurs are a pretty tough breed. No matter how horrendous the last journey we never give up in hope for the next one, God knows why.”[/tweet_box]”

Case in point. The time (in the name of love) that Karen, Geanine and I thought a Memorial Weekend in DC with five kids would be – somehow fun? Highlights included Charlotte flashing a crowd of  Veterans (we’re talking, a full frontal, fellas) at the WWII Memorial, Max taking a poop in the splash park, and Jack tossing Karen’s brand new camera to the cement ground and breaking a lens minutes after we arrived at the George Washington Memorial. All meaningless moments in time, yet horrors as they happened and now a year later, come together in one of the greatest travel stories ever told. (Read the full DC story here).

That time you missed the weather was bad and you had to sit in an airport all day only to actually have the time to sit down as a family and have dinner together. That time the subway broke down and you had to actually sit and talk to people for a while. When the baby threw up in the car and you had to pull over and clean it up only to throw up yourself and have the lady whose yard you were in call the cops because she thinks you’re drunk and driving with a kid. 

This is just a reminder to us all (more myself) as to why I started writing in the first place. I always wanted to be Martha, but being a mom doesn’t really mean you should be venturing into the most dangerous places on Earth to give your first-hand accounts. That’s when I realized, being a mom can actually be more treacherous, and produces its own set of horror stories. So here is to sharing more of those first-hand stories with you. 





By | 2017-11-18T11:51:47+00:00 May 22nd, 2016|be a better parent, Motherhood, Travel|Comments Off on The Unwilling Companion

About the Author:

Stephanie Barnhart is an award-winning blogger, columnist, and outdoor enthusiast writer featured in the Huffington Post, New York Times and other media outlets. She is also the NYC Editor for