Why we’re named what we’re named

by Carmen Allan-Petale

Quite a few people have asked us why we’re called ‘double-barrelled travel’, indeed some have even joked that we sound like a pair of travelling assassins complete with shotguns in hand.

But I’ll clear it up – we’ve named ourselves ‘double-barrelled travel’ because of our surname, which is double-barrelled, a.k.a. ‘Allan-Petale’.

Née Carmen Allan, when we got married in March 2012, I considered taking on Dave’s Italian surname ‘Petale’. But the thought made me squeamish, as it’s the 21st century after all, and it felt somehow backwards and against my feminist principles. Although it’s tradition to take on the husband’s name, it was only done so in the past so that the woman could legally take the man’s property / land in the event that he died. In the present day, this isn’t something you need to be concerned with, as even de facto partners are entitled to an estate in most developed countries.

Dave quickly pointed out that as I’m an only child and the only person to come from the Allan family tree that’s still alive (aside from my dad) my name would be gone forever if I took on ‘Petale’. Plus, as a former journalist, any of my articles previously published under my former name would be no longer associated to me.

So he suggested that I double-barrelled my name. But this only brought a further dilemma. With Dave keeping his name as ‘Petale’, our future children would either have his name or mine – ‘Allan-Petale’ – but evidently not both. So Dave decided to double-barrel his too.

When we told our friends at a dinner party a couple of weeks after making the decision, there was an awkward silence and then some stifled laughter. Our friends are British and pointed out that double-barrelling your name is something ‘posh’ people do. Low and behold, I’d kept my feminism views but we’d somehow become ‘posh’!

At the end of the day we just had to giggle about this. When we eventually return to our native Australia we doubt many of our friends will know about this connotation – well, perhaps until now.

What do you think? Would you, or did you, change your name when married?

Me and Dave on our wedding day

2 thoughts on “Why we’re named what we’re named

  1. Hey Carmen, nice blog. In response to your question: my situation is slightly complicated by the fact that my name is already double-barrelled. My Dad\’s name is not double-barrelled, but my Mum\’s is. What to do if I get married? I can\’t exactly triple-barrel it. I think I will keep my double-barrelled name as it is, as if I change it, I too will have the same publishing problems as you describe. The problem will come when I have kids. What the hell to do then. The only thing I can think of is choosing one of my surnames and double-barrelling that with the father\’s. : / A friend of mine is pushing her fiancé to merge their names i.e. Petale + Allan = Petallan. haha. He\’s not going for it though. Any suggestions for my potential kids?

    • Hi Rachel,

      I know what you mean! We wanted to combine our names, as you mention 😉 but our families were against it because that way you lose both sets of names.
      What about taking one name of your double-barrelled names and then double barrelling this with your future husband’s name?

      Eg. If your name now it Robert-Brown and your boyfriend’s surname is Lloyd, you could both change your names to Lloyd-Brown. See what I mean? Then your kids would have both your names and you’d get to keep one of your former names. Although this does make it difficult when you’ve got work published under your maiden name…

      Thanks for your thoughts,
      Carmen xx

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