Welcome to Wanderlust Friday! Today we have an interview with Mike and Anne Howard of HoneyTrek.com. We started to read their blog way before we left on our own adventure and were truly inspired by them. Even more neat, when we signed up for HousetoLaos twitter account and clicked “follow” HoneyTrek button, we actually got a response, and got a conversation going with Mike and Anne about great places to hike around the world. So yea, we are pretty stoked to host Mike and Anne over here for an interview AND (!) they even put together a special offer for House to Laos readers (read on to find out all about it.)
Greetings, fellow traveler, explorer, seeker of adventures! Tell us a little about yourself:
We are Mike & Anne Howard, an American couple who thought a ten-day honeymoon wasn’t nearly enough to celebrate a new life together so we quit our jobs, rented our apartment, and embarked on a 675-day honeymoon! Using Anne’s background as a magazine editor and Mike’s as a digital media strategist and photographer, we started HoneyTrek.com to share our journey across six continents, 33 countries, and 302 places. Extremely passionate about long-term travel, we are now taking everything we’ve learned from our two years on the road and helping more people explore the globe with HoneyTrek Trip Coach, one-on-one workshops for independent world travel.
Tell us more about your most recent adventure?
In choosing our route, the plan was to go places too far to visit with full-time jobs and too rugged to tackle when we get old. That meant skipping nearby Central America and most of cushy Europe and focusing on the far-flung places we’d always dreamt of visiting.
Here is the country by country breakdown (live blogs are linked, the rest are on the way!
South America: Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Chile, Bolivia and Peru
Africa: South Africa, Lesotho, Zambia, Malawi, Mozambique, Tanzania and Kenya
Asia: Nepal, China, Japan, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar, Philippines and Indonesia
Oceania: New Zealand, Australia
Europe: Scotland, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Wales, England, Norway and Turkey
Travel is: Leaving your comfort zone and going into the unknown with the faith that if you smile, the world will smile back.
What’s your favorite mode of transportation?
The “Jeepney.” The main form of public transportation in the Philippines, made from leftover World War II Jeeps, stretched and decorated to the nines. The drivers take great pride in their vehicles, tricking them out with paintings and chrome embellishments, and often adding quotes and jokes on the walls for passengers to enjoy. When the inside gets too tight they let you ride on the roof for fresh air and incredible views. Our only word of caution…HOLD ON and bring a backpack to sit on!
List your Top Five favorite place on earth, and give a descriptor:
We have loved every single country we visited for different reasons, if we had to pick five here they go: New Zealand (mountains=ridiculous), Thailand (food=delectable), Zambia (wildlife=raw), Japan (culture=fascinating), and Myanmar tops our list for the kindest people on the planet. Kids and grandmas blow you kisses as you pass by, strangers invite you over for tea, and proud locals offer to show you around their town in exchange for nothing but your company.
What’s the best thing that happened during your trip?
We honestly have a lifetime worth of memories from two straight years of traveling but here is one experience that really touched us:
Teaching English in a Red Tzao village outside of Sapa, Vietnam during the week leading up to Tet New Year. By living in the school house and working closely with the students, we quickly became accepted into this community. The students thanked us with invitations to pre-Tet dinners, sacrificial rituals, and a very exclusive New Year’s spirit cleansing ceremony that few Western eyes have seen. To be welcomed into this tribal community during one of the most familial and celebrated times of the year was unforgettable.
How do you record your trip memories?
Long answer: Anne keeps a written journal and takes photos of signs, business cards, menus and books to remember the nitty gritty details. Mike is such a visual person and a shutterbug who’s memories are deeply built into his photographs. Then on a larger level, our memories endure through each other. So much happens in any day on the road that it’s easy to forget something, but by talking through things, laughing, and reminiscing about them together, they become etched in our minds. That’s one of the things that makes traveling as a couple so special….for all the things you can’t write, photograph, or even explain…you have that one person who completely and effortlessly understands it all.
What’s you best advice for someone who wants to travel long term?
There are so many things you need to know before you leave on a trip like this, but they are not always the things you would imagine.
- Don’t worry too much about what clothes you are packing (they are for sale everywhere), but be very mindful of what tech you bring (most important gadgets are not available, or they are incredibly expensive abroad).
- Don’t buy the around-the-world plane ticket; you will waste months trying to plan a route that will change in the first month and cost you way more money than buying flights a la carte.
- Do start collecting frequent flyer miles before your trip and fly around the world for next to nothing. We accumulated 430,000 miles (without taking a single flight) in the seven months before we left for our around-the-world trip; that covered every long-haul flight we took during our 2-year trip.
- Most importantly, the world is massive and nearly impossible explore on ten-day vacations alone. You have to carve out the time, open your mind, and mobilize your journey.
We have learned so much from our time on the road and are so passionate about the benefits of long-term travel, that’s why we started HoneyTrek Trip Coach.
OK, so we have to ask — what’s HoneyTrek Trip Coach all about?
Trip Coach is a one-on-one workshop for career breaks, gap years, extended honeymoons, or any trip that gets people out of the office for more than a few weeks. When we were planning our trip around the world, the main thing we wanted was to sit down and talk face-to-face with someone who’d done it. Now with over 125,000+ miles of international travel under our belt, we want to be that mentor for anyone dreaming of hitting the road, but who’s not quite sure how to make it a reality. We show our students you how we saved over $11,000 on inter-continental flights, to no-cost volunteering opportunities around the world, to the things you definitely do NOT need to pack, to numerous free lodging options (sometimes even with free lobster dinners and home-brew), to backing up a terrabyte of photos from a Vietnamese internet cafe…and everything in between. Long-term travel IS achievable for anyone who sets their mind to it. If you are wondering how you can mobilize your journey of a lifetime, check out Trip Coach and reach out to us at TripCoach@HoneyTrek.com or heck…just give us a ring, (888) 852-9383. Life is short; it’s time to get after it!
So – the life of a vagabond, is it for you? Or, will you go back to taking shorter trips from an established home base?
Funny enough we are somewhat looking for a new home-base but we want to travel as a means to find it. The plan is to buy a campervan and road trip around the USA, exploring different towns until we find the right place to call home…for a few years or more. However, even when we find the new home-base we will constantly traveling the world and America, in search of the next adventure! Then at some point when we have kids and they are old enough to hike and comprehend the awesomeness of the world, we’ll start HoneyTrek II.
On the road in El Chalten, Argentina – Round II, someday!
Your next destination:
We are obsessed with housesitting so we are doing a five-week house-sitting gig, taking care of a bungalow and vegetable garden in Seattle! While we are in Washington, we will be hiking the Cascades, boating between the islands, and going on road trips around the Pacific Northwest.
TripCoach Special Offer for House to Laos fans:
Mike & Anne are offering every visitor from House to Laos 10% Friends & Family discount on any of their Trip Coach courses. Just mention House to Laos when you reach out to them, and they will take great care of you — now, GO TRAVEL!