Personal Stories

Introducing Mr. Valise: My #1 Travel Buddy & Life Partner

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Bill Murray once said, “If you have someone that you think is The One… Buy a plane ticket for the two of you to travel all around the world, and go to places that are hard to go to and hard to get out of. And if when you come back… and you’re still in love with that person, get married at the airport..”

I’m a firm believer in that philosophy, and judge almost all of my relationships (including friendships) to the standard of “we can travel together.” I’ve traveled with all of my closest friends, and as we’re still friends – we obviously can travel together!

If you’ve been reading this blog with any regularity over the past few years, you’ve probably noticed the same person popping up again and again in my photos. While I’ve traveled with some of the friends repeatedly, “Mr. Valise” or “Mr. V” is the most commonly recurring cameo on the Valerie & Valise show.

Many people have asked me: “who is this guy?” and “when are we going to meet Mr. Valise?” Early when we started dating, Mr. V and I discussed how and when he might be introduced on my blog. After all, just because I am a somewhat public person doesn’t mean everyone in my life has to be.

However, for those who follow me on Instagram, you will have noticed a big announcement in late 2018 – and that’s why I’m taking the time to introduce my once-cameo-now-costar!

Who is Mr. Valise? Meet Jacob

Say hi, everybody – this is Jacob! Jacob is from the Seattle-area, and now we live down in the Bay Area together.

How Did We Meet?

Mr. V and I met in auspicious times when I was living in Seattle. I had moved to Seattle less than a year before and took a cool job at a hip data startup. That startup shut down on July 14, 2014 and I lost my job, and I met Mr. V on July 15, 2014.

We actually met on the Tinder app, and had matched six months previously, in January 2014. Mr. V had sent me a message on the app which I didn’t see because I had deleted the app due to the annoyance of interacting with people on Tinder (single ladies, you feel me?!).

I re-downloaded the app after my startup shutdown because I was bored, unemployed, and wanted to fill my social calendar a bit. I found Mr. V’s old message, and replied.

He quickly returned the volley: “Well that was the slowest play ever.” ?

We disagree on the intent, but he invited me to dinner, saying it would be good for me to get out of my apartment and the funk I was quickly sinking into. He insisted it wasn’t a date – and though it was by most definitions of what a date is, I don’t think he was trying to be sneaky at all. One of the best parts of his character is how kind and thoughtful he is.

We went out for dinner and drinks, and during dinner I found out I had won some movie tickets for the next night. I asked him to go with me (did I ask him on our first date??) which he did, and as they say – the rest is history. We’ve been dating for 4.5 years now.

Why Call Him Mr. Valise?

There’s a bit of disagreement on this point, because I’m pretty sure that Jacob said the nickname to me first, early in the days of this blog when we were talking about it.

The name stuck, and though he didn’t make a lot of early appearances, he has cropped up more and more over the years.

Admittedly, this nickname causes a lot of confusion, which is why I usually call him “Mr. V” instead of “Mr. Valise.” Poor confused PR and destination marketers reach out to me “Dear Valerie & Valise,” without realizing there is no person who is actually named Valise. That part of my blog name comes from the bag I travel with on occasion, a beautiful leather valise (weekender).

Why Introduce Him Now?

At some point in the first year of dating, I suggested that I would introduce Mr. V if we ever got engaged. I’m not sure either of us were sure if that would ever happen! But, that seemed like a big enough event, and a signal of our commitment to one another, that it would justify his introduction.

I had blogging about my life for years and had introduced – and documented – many relationships and boyfriends. It always felt weird to have to remove someone from the ‘cast of characters’ and explain where they had gone. I didn’t want to introduce Mr. V only to un-introduce him a few months or year later.

Well, the engagement happened! Back in December, Mr. Valise surprised me with a book of our travel photos, a heartfelt letter, and an engagement ring. We’re not tying the knot until 2020, but one of my 40 Before 40 goals was to introduce him to you, and this seems like as good a time as any.

Do We Travel Together?

In a word? YES.

I know some couples make it work, but I can’t imagine my lifelong relationship being a happy one if my partner didn’t love to travel nearly (and sometimes more) than I do. Mr. V has always been open to traveling with me, and if he’s not with me on any given trip, it’s usually because A) he can’t because of his work schedule or B) there’s a different purpose of the trip where it’s not as appropriate for him to be there.

For example, Mr. V only accompanies me on some of the FAM trips I go on and obviously doesn’t travel on friend trips (like my Chile Mastermind trip or when I went to Sedona with college girlfriends last summer).

Otherwise, if he has the PTO saved up and it makes sense for us financially, he’s my #1 go-to travel buddy.

Where Was Our First Trip Together?

Mr. Valise took our first trip together less than a month after we started dating. We picked a weekend and headed west toward the Pacific Coast. We spent the weekend exploring a small part of Washington near Westport (you can read the post I wrote about it here).

I came home excited about the fact that we seemed to travel well together and Mr. V displayed the same curiosity for new experiences and the interesting small details of the world that I do.

Where Have We Traveled Together?

Since that first trip, Mr. V and I have been a pretty unstoppable travel force.

In 2014 after that first trip together, we took a long trip to Cancun for his birthday (I really spoil him on his birthdays!).

In 2015, we did a lot of trips around Washington and the Pacific Northwest – and started toying with the idea of a big, long-term trip.

During the second half of 2016, we set out on that trip, which took us to U.S. cities like New Orleans, New York, and Chicago, and across European countries including Greece, Croatia, Romania (which y’all helped us pick!), Germany, France, England, the Czech Republic, and Austria. We were both freelancing and working remotely during this time, which was what allowed us to pick up and go.

In 2017, we landed back in Seattle and laid a bit low. We did some regional trips in the Pacific Northwest and moved to the Bay Area. We started exploring California and made a trip to Chicago for a friend’s wedding. Mr. V rocks a tux well enough that the ladies got him a martini and we did a photo shoot!

In 2018, both with full-time jobs, we traveled a bit less again, mostly making work and family trips in California and beyond.

Finally, this year we’ve done more work and California trips, went on a cruise in Hawaii, and looked at going to the Middle East with my Space Tourism Guide tour (which has been bumped to early 2020).

In short, Mr. V is fearless about traveling with me and exploring the parts of the world I’m keen to see – and I’m slowly learning he has his own to-travel list that we’re going to start tackling too!

So What’s Next?

As I mentioned, we’re not going to get married until the summer of 2020, so we’re early in the stages of wedding planning. I’m hoping we can continue to take 1-2 more trips a year together until Mr. V’s job situation becomes a bit more flexible again.

We’re definitely planning a big long honeymoon. Probably not “never-ending” like some bloggers, but definitely longer than a week.

Lastly, I don’t foresee Mr. V writing here, though you’ll probably see him more often in photos, and on my Instagram Stories. This blog is still Valerie (me) & Valise (my bag), but now I’ve got a companion to help me carry that valise when it gets a bit too heavy.

Do you have questions for Mr. Valise? Let me know in the comments and I’ll have him answer!

Help others discover this post too!

I was born on the East Coast and currently live in the Midwest – but my heart will always be out West. I lived for 15 years in Alaska, as well as four years each in California and Washington. I share travel resources and stories based on my personal experience and knowledge.


  • Jazmin

    Aww & yay! Congratulations Valerie! Happy for you both! I can agree in regards to these dating apps. I snoozed my Bumble account again. Will you be blogging about wedding preparations? I can already imagine the Sky/Galaxy theme :).

  • Polly Coleman

    Valerie, I truly enjoyed every minute of your introduction to “Mr. V.” What an amazing life you must have together! You are obviously an amazing couple, and since I am finding you in 2021, no doubt well into your wedding plans for 2022. Hope you take us admirers along on more of your journeys, and perhaps honeymoon as well!

  • Stan Wiebe

    I’m a road trip travel blogger. I recently returned from a solo road trip of 57 days, visiting all 26 states east of the Mississippi. The next trip will likely be next year to the Big 5 and probably more. My wife will be along on that trip.

    It’s good to read about others’ adventures. (I’m currently seeking a podcaster who might be looking for those with road trip experience.)

  • William Moore

    Is there anyone who guides a tour in April? If not who would you recommemd for a flight tour and when do they start? I enjoyed reading your story!


    Good day, Valerie and Valise. I’m planning a 5-day trip down the Pacific Coast Highway. I’m not sure where to start? What guide to buy? We only have 5 days. Well, actually we’re flying in from Florida on Saturday, 6/17 and returning home on 6/25. So, we’ll have more like 6 days to drive down. I don’t want to get free advise from you. I just don’t know where to start. Could you please tell me what city we should fly in to (to start), and what guide of your sto buy? We’ll figure out the rest. Thank you so much. My name is Leo A. Hurtado.

    Best regards,


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