CARSON CITY— Paul and Layne McKinley’s wedding vows included more than sticking together in sickness, health, poverty and wealth. They vowed also to travel together.
Paul works for the Michigan Department of Transportation while Layne works as a hospice nurse for Sparrow Hospital. They both put in many hours of work. But, since 1988 when they tied the knot, the couple has stuck to their vow of seeing the world together.
Before their marriage, each had a stark difference in their traveling experiences. Paul, 60, has been to every state but Hawaii. Layne, who lived in California in her youth, has been to Hawaii, but not so many of the continental states. She did, however, enjoy many family trips within the state limits.
“When I was growing up, my parents were so good about taking us to places. We went to places where I could see nature and the beautiful natural resources we have. I had a very blessed childhood,” said Layne, 60, who was raising two sons when she married Paul.
Family trips were also part of Paul’s upbringing but it wasn’t until he was a college student that he enjoy more extensive trips, experience many hiking and kayaking expeditions.
Soon after they married, the McKinleys celebrated their honeymoon visiting Washington D.C, Gettysburg and Philadelphia. The first few years as a couple, their travels took them camping out West, hitting tourism hot spots like Mount Rushmore, Yellowstone National Park and the Grand Canyon.
“We enjoyed camping, but found it a better use of our time to fly to our destination and rent a car there, if needed,” Layne said. “There are certainly benefits to driving and seeing sights along the way but, for us, it was timing-consuming to set up camp each time.”
Layne’s favorite trip was a three-week European vacation to Paris, Belgium and Germany. Their trip to Alaska, however, was just as special for her.
“I couldn’t chose a favorite,” Paul said. “Each one is unique and has its own qualities.”
Both agree they enjoy viewing the architecture of a city, especially churches.
Planning a trip
For the McKinleys, locales to visit are chosen with many criteria. Paul loves war history, especially World War II, and Layne loves quilts and looks forward to visiting areas with rich Amish crafts, such as Holmes County, Ohio and Lancaster, Pa., for example.
Family history plays a role, as well. They have taken trips to Canada to see the homestead of Paul’s paternal grandmother and to the eastern states to follow Layne’s grandmother’s emigration route.
The two also own McKinley Portrait Studio in Carson City, stationed in the former Carson City Gazette building, displaying many of Paul’s work in photography. Photographs are usually the only souvenirs the McKinleys usually bring back from a trip.
“We don’t bring back a lot of trinkets,” Layne said.
“The neat thing about photos is you can see them and relive the memories. Layne is so good about organizing them all in books,” Paul said.
Preparing for a trip
One of the most important ways to prepare for a trip is by doing research, according to the McKinleys.
“Paul is very good about that,” Layne said. “We talk about what we think we might want to see or do, we plan it out. But you also must be flexible that if something else comes along, or takes longer than expected, or you just decide you want a respite and take some down time, that you are able to go with the flow.”
Paul recommends taking care of yourself before you leave.
“You need to be fit and healthy. I prepare months in advance if I’m going hiking. Also plan a budget, and stick to it, sensibly,” he said.
They both agree that often people wait until later, when they retire, when the kids are grown, to travel, but so often they then are facing health issues.
“Do it now while you are young and healthy,” Layne said. “You don’t want to finally take that big trip you have been dreaming of for years only to have health issues be a deterrent, and then come home feeling cheated.”
The two have mastered packing only one bag each, something Layne was hesitant about, but now agrees is a good idea.
“You pack basic bottoms and mix and match shirts. You can dress in layers and always take things off if you need to. You wash things out in the sink and hang them to dry,” she said.
She always packs a clothesline and clothes pins and comfortable walking shoes.
To help keep expenses down, they book inexpensive motels and limit eating out at restaurants.
“You don’t spend a lot of time in your motel, and we only want someplace that is clean and safe, in a safe neighborhood,” Layne said.
“You want to mix with the local people and learn about what they think you should see and do. Try the local cuisine,” Paul added.
Comprises is key to a great vacation
The couple is currently finalizing plans for a Florida trip next month, one state Layne yet to visit. They are also planning a summer trip to Utah. One thing the couple hasn’t agreed on is how they get there. Paul wants to drive his two-passenger Harley Davidson motorcycle but has yet to win his wife’s approval.
“When you travel as a couple, you do have to have some give and take,” Paul said. “Sometimes she may want to go to another art museum and I would rather do something else. Sometimes we do split up and meet back later, but usually it is best to go along. I love to watch her enjoy herself, and if she is happy, I’m happy, too.”