#WanderableGypset: The Broke Backpacker

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Will, the Broke Backpacker, is a self-described “wandering adventurer, travel writer and amateur photographer.” Although, judging from his photos below, we’d like to call his bluff on the “amateur.” He starts his bio on his well-trafficked site by saying, “I like to get muddy, naked and painted.” He has lived in India for a year, worked on bars in Vietnam, herded goats in the Holy Land and conquered the highest navigable pass in the world armed with a poorly drawn map and a packet of ritz crackers. Will insists that if you know how to travel cheap, you really can travel forever, and his beautiful blog generously teaches you the tricks of his trade. We had to interview him for our Gypset series, for obvious reasons, and he graciously obliged.

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Wanderable: Walk me through an average day in your un-average life.

Broke Backpacker (Will): Pretty hard to do to be honest as every day is totally different. Sometimes, I wake up early, do a bit of a workout and then hit the town / mountain / beach or jungle to explore for the day! Other times, I have work to do and end up spending most of the day on my laptop… but I try to avoid that!

W: How did you come to lead such a life? Did you always want to be a traveler, or did you just fall into this?

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BB: I’ve always wanted to travel, I like maps… since I was a kid I have been obsessed with putting pins in maps and collecting National Geographics. I first started travelling when I was 18 and although there has been the odd hiccup I would not change it for the world…

W: Which Wanderable Experience would you most love to try ?

BB: Wow! These look pretty awesome – Ok, I guess I would have to go for one of the Hawaii experiences, I have never been there– it looks likes an amazing place to be.

W: What pays the bills?

BB: I make some money off my website but I also write articles for a few travel companies on a freelance basis – this is what keeps me travelling and pays for flights!

W: What do you miss about “home” (where you’re originally from)?

BB: Crossfit. I am obsessed. My biggest complaint about travelling is I miss out on my workouts… I actually wrote an article about the 7 things I miss about home just last week.

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W: If you could bring anything/anyone from home, what/who would that be?

BB: I miss a couple of my friends particularly badly – we’re like brothers. I also miss my actual Brother! But I am heading to the Philippines with him in a few months 🙂

W: Advice for aspiring backpackers? Go.

BB: The best advice I can give anyone who want’s this kind of lifestyle is make the transition, make an active decision to get out there and explore on your own. Don’t wait for the perfect time, the perfect flight or the perfect travel buddy – none of these things will ever align, just grab your pack and hit the road.

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 W: What location is on your bucket list, and why?

BB: Iran – I’ve heard the people are amazingly friendly and I’m a mountain junkie… there’s a lot of mountains. I would also love to explore Papau New Guinea, it’s raw, untamed and largely unexplored by the backpacker crowds.

W: What are your go-to travel essentials?

BB: I never travel anywhere without my Morakniv Knife. My iPod Touch is also super useful, I can write entire articles on a super bumpy bus!

How to Choose

W: What was the best thing you recently ate?

BB: Just today, I found one of the best ice-cream parlours I have ever visited… in the middle of a tiny fishing village in the middle of nowhere.

#WanderOn

From a Real #WanderableCouple: Why a Honeymoon Registry

Advice from a real couple on why they decided to register for experiences, over things.

I don’t know if you know this, but it’s officially engagement season! Which means love is in the air… right? We caught up with real #WanderableCouple Morgan and Logan on how he proposed, how they love to travel and ultimately why they choose to go with a honeymoon registry (hint: why they went with Wanderable). Read on, Wanderers… there’s some great stuff in here (especially if you’re planning to propose…wink).

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Wanderable: Give us a little background on you and your beau: how you met, how long you’ve been together, when you got married, and any interesting fun facts about the two of you

Morgan: Logan and I met in 2006, within the first few months of our freshman year at USC. We’ve been together for eight years now, and just got married in May.

W: How did he propose?

M: Logan popped the question while we were on a trip to Thailand and Cambodia. The first week of our trip, we were planning to see temples in Chiang Mai, visit elephant sanctuaries, and explore the Angkor Wat temple complex before heading to Koh Samui to relax on the beach. I had a feeling that he was going to propose, but was not expecting it on the second day of our trip – we were out in the jungle and I had no makeup on, just before we were about to take a ride on an elephant. It caught me completely off-guard!


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 W: Why did you decide to go with a honeymoon registry?

 M: We currently live in Boston in a tiny apartment, and don’t have much space for things. Using Wanderable gave us the chance to design memorable experiences and do things together, rather than accumulate items we didn’t really need.

W: What was your favorite part about using Wanderable? Can you talk a little bit about your overall experience using the site?

M: Wanderable helped us share our ideas and excitement allowing us to be creative with pictures and layouts. Also, we really liked being able to absorb the transaction fees rather than passing them along to our guests.

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W: How did you parents/grandparents react when you told them you were registering for experiences over things?

M: Many of our older family and guests wanted to get us things that we could hold onto, like vases and kitchen goods, but appreciated how excited we were to be taking an incredible trip together.

W: Where did you go on your honeymoon?

M: We spent a few days in Zurich, Switzerland, then took the train through the alps to Lake Como, Italy. After that we rented a car and drove to the Portofino coast!

W: Is there anything you wish you could have done on your honeymoon, but didn’t get too?

M: We wish we could have stayed longer!

W: What place is on your bucket list right now?

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M:
 Petra, Jordan

W: Do you have any advice for people getting engaged over the holidays? What should they do RIGHT away, what should they wait on?

M: Find a planner and a location first, then build the rest around that! And obviously a start a honeymoon registry!

W: What new Wanderable experience would you like to try today?

M: I’m thinking it’s just about time for some cocktail making classes and wine tasting…

You crazy kids. We’re SO GLAD we helped you #WanderOn

 

Wanderable Gypset: Mike & Anne of HoneyTrek

Wanderable Gypset: Mike and Anne Howard from the incredible travel blog, HoneyTrek! 

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On this #TravelTuesday, we caught up with Mike and Anne (also known as HoneyTrek), two American newlyweds who thought a one week honeymoon wasn’t nearly enough to celebrate a new life together.  They quit their jobs, rented their apartment, and set out on a 675 day honeymoon around the world. They’ve been featured in Conde Nast Traveler, Mail Online, The Los Angeles Times, and now, the Wanderable Blog! We’re obsessed with these two: they truly embody everything we’re about. Read on to hear about their incredible journey, their travel essentials, which Wanderable experience they would love to try, and how they really travel for adventure, and live for love.

Wanderable: Walk me through an average day in your un-average life.

Mike & Anne: We spent 675 days running around the world on our honeymoon, trying to soak up, see, and do as much as humanly possible in all 33 countries we visited. Since we got “home” we are still very much nomadic; however, we move at a much slower pace and live longer in the places we visit. For example, we just did a six-week house-sitting gig in the Mazatlan, Mexico and an average day went something like this: Wake up in our apartment in Spanish colonial beach town, walk our two pups along the malecon/promenade and ocean cliffs…stop at our local market for papaya, pineapple, guava, and banana to make a tropical fruit salad, work on our blog HoneyTrek, and help our students plan their dream honeymoons and long-term travels with Trip Coach, take a bike ride to our favorite taco stand for lunch, work until thirty minutes before sunset, grab a Pacifico Ballena beer to watch the cliff divers against the fabulous pink skies, eat freshly made Tostiloco ceviche, chat with locals in Spanish, listen to some live banda music in Plaza Machado, and call it a great day!

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W: How did you come to lead such a life? Did you always want to be a traveler, or did you just fall into this?

M&A: It all started at Oktoberfest in Munich when a German couple told us they had just returned from a 12-month journey around the world, for less than our rent payment!!!…and our jaw hit the floor. So when it came to thinking about where we would go on our honeymoon, our list of destinations was endless, and that German couple’s trip kept crossing our mind. Then we thought, “We’ve got some time to inflate our savings account, we don’t have kids yet, there’s a lot of world to experience, and heck, we’re only young once…will there ever be a better time to travel?!” That night we set the HoneyTrek around-the-world honeymoon dream in motion.

W: Which Wanderable Experience would you most love to try?

M&A:  Hawaii Forest & Trails twilight volcano adventure tour! We’ve always wanted to see the lava run on the Big Island of Hawaii. Walking through a lava tube, volcanic formations and hunting for active lava flows…that would be amazing! 

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W: What is the difference between somewhere you’d want to live & somewhere you’d want to visit?

M&A: You can have the most beautiful mountains and beaches, but unless you connect with the people on a real human level, it’s just a visit. Myanmar, Mexico, Philippines, Thailand, and New Zealand had the warm hearted spirit, plus the natural beauty, that made them feel like a place we could someday call home.

What are you feeling/loving/eating/reading right now?

M&A: Day of the Day Dead! We happened to be in Mexico for this holiday where everyone honors their ancestors with this nation-wide party. In Mazatlan there is massive parade where everyone dresses as skeletons decked out in feather boas, floral hats, and elaborate face makeup. They then walk through historic center, along with the donkeys carts pulling kegs of free beer, stopping at the altars of important figures who’ve passed, and dancing all the way. We got dressed up and joined in with the best of them! But this is just the half-way mark. The next day everyone heads to the cemetery to visit their ancestors and pay homage with a picnic of their family’s favorite foods, drinks, and music. We love this attitude towards death. Rather than mourning a person, remember and celebrate their amazing lives!

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W: What do you miss about “home?” (Where you’re from.)

M&A: Pineapple cottage cheese on whole-grain waffles with Vermont maple syrup! Our friends and family are by far what we miss the most, but pineapple cottage cheese is one of our favorite breakfast foods and it can’t be found anywhere in Africa, Asia or South America.

W: Advice for aspiring Gypsets? Go.

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M&A: The world is massive and you can’t truly explore it on ten-day vacations. You have to carve out the time, open your mind, and mobilize. To get ready to set off into the world, here are some of the most important things you could do today:

Evaluate your savings. Divided your savings account by $40/day, and that will give you a ballpark of how many days you can spend on the road. That was our budget per person…all in: flights + food + drinks + overland travel + visas + gear + lodging + excursions + everything else…so it’s entirely possible! And if you don’t have anything saved, start putting $20 a day for the next two years and you will have enough to travel the world!

School yourself in the art of mileage hacking. Whether your trip is in three months or three years. We read books, blogs, and even signed up for a course to learn how to maximize our miles and we were able to earn 430,000 frequent flier miles in the eight months leading up to our trip. It was no small task but considering it saved us $11,8834 in flights, it was well worth it!

Join the travel community! It’s a big step to put your life on pause, but talking to people who’ve already done it is a big support! Meet Plan Go is a great community that hosts meet-ups for anyone considering a long journey, and if you need someone to breakdown the essentials of traveling the world and help you make real plan of action, reach to us: TripCoach@HoneyTrek.com. We’d love to help!

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W: What location is on your bucket list, and why? 

M&A: We would love to go to Egypt and explore the ancient civilizations, camel through the desert, scuba dive the Red Sea, and cruise up the Nile river!

W: What are your go-to travel essentials?

M&A:

STERIPen. This UV-light water purifier allowed us to make our own water in every country, and not consume a single plastic water bottle (yes, we don’t even drink the free ones) since April 2012. It has saved us over $2,190 and kept approximately 4,400 plastic bottles from a landfill.

A good smart-phone is the best gadget you can have on your hip. From GPS applications, to currency converters, to language translators, to passing the time on long journeys….the uses are literally endless.

Our own pillows and sheets. It might sound like a space-splurge but it makes every single place we rest our head feel a little closer to home

A jar of peanut butter. It is the perfect travel food, high protein, no refrigeration needed, and oh so tasty.


W: What are your favorite & least favorite words (one each, and they can totally be in another language)

M&A:

Favorite Word: “Delicious”  We learned this word in every country we visited. When you can tell the grandma cooking at the street stall that her food is delicious it will brighten her day and always spark up a friendly interaction…even if you don’t know a single other word in that language, learn delicious!

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Least Favorite: “Touristic”  It usually means: A fabricated experience in “authentic” clothing. When we hear that word we usually walk in the other direction until we find a side-street with a yummy street stall, pull up a small plastic chair, and get ready to say delicious :)…that’s when the authentic experiences really happen.

W: What has recently taken your breath away?

M&A: The Starlight Aromatherapy Bath at Verana in Yelapa, Mexico. It was unlike any couples spa treatment we have ever experienced through 675 days of honeymooning. The hostess showed us into the outdoor spa on the cliffs and 100s of candles were shimmering around the steaming bath, massage tables, and flower-covered bed. Then she said, “It’s yours for the night, Enjoy!” Unbelievable. Giving each other massages, soaking in the fragrant tub, sipping tea, and counting shooting stars (we saw 14!)—literally took our breath away.

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W: What was the last thing you bought abroad?

M&A: In the adorable Mexican town of El Quelite there was a lady with a sweets stand on the corner of a cobble stone street. She was selling Cajeta, a treat similar to Dulce de Leche but not as sweet and with more vanilla and a crispy topping. She packaged them in homemade pine boxes wrapped in red ribbons that were so cute we brought 12 to bring home as gifts.

W: What was the best thing you recently ate?

M&A: Chiles en Nogada from La Hacienda in Durango, Mexico. It is a poblano pepper stuffed with cinnamon spiced meat, dried apricot, and nuts then topped with a walnut sauce and pomegranates. Delish!
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W: What is the best part about traveling with the one you love?

M&A: Exploring the world, seeing awe-inspiring sights, discovering other cultures and trying new things will give you memories and learning experiences for ten lifetimes together. No one else could possibly understand the magnitude and intricacies of what you’ve seen, but as a couple who’s been through it together, you’ll always have this intensely special connection.

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W: What have you learned about each other?

M&A: Mike likes to push the boundaries of adventure and frugalness, while I enjoy a few more creature comforts, so we’ve learned to find a happy medium. Traveling around the world has brought us more in tune with each other’s needs and desires…nothing can shake us now!

#WanderOn

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Wanderable On The Road: Vernon, Honfleur, Caudebeuc & Pays D’Auge

Perhaps More Romantic Than Paris…Wanderable Explores Tiny Towns in France.

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Bonjour, Wanderers.

So, if you follow us on Twitter and Instagram (and you better!), you know we’ve been in France for the last few days (and we’re thanking our lucky stars).

Travelers link France subconsciously with Paris, but we’re here to report that there is so, so, so much more to this marvelous country than one iconic metropolis, and we’ve wandered through quaint towns in Normandy that could make you rethink your French itinerary. From fragrant farmers’ markets to mouth-watering homemade apple cider, these honeymoon oases are sites for sore eyes.  So far we’ve visited Vernon, Honfleur, Caudebec and Pays D’Auge, and we’re all about the quiet, sultry energy of these small towns. Tomorrow’s itinerary includes riding bikes and visiting a local brewery in Reuon. Sorry we’re not sorry!

Keep reading below to tag along as we #WanderOn.

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Our first stop was Vernon, home of awe- inspiring church L’Eglise Catholique. It’s huge, and its size warrants its status as the focal point of the city. Trip down a few side streets, and lunch is covered: grab a baguette by the local baker, some cheese from the Fromagerie and some smoked ham from the Charcuterie next door and you’ll be one happy camper (we didn’t leave that bench for hours).

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The next day, we visited the tiny fishing town Honfleur, where the salt air woke us up and the cuteness of the town kept us up. It started raining, which only made the day feel cozier. We meandered down cobblestone streets to local shops that offered hot cider, caramel candies, artisan jams with toast, and foie gras. As the sun set, we grabbed some warm drinks and crepes with butter, sucre et fleur de del (sugar and salt). Since Honfleur is known for its seafood, we tasted a few local faves (mmmm…oysters,) and that was a truly surreal experience.

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Honfleur is a hidden jewel, totally off-the-beaten-path. Apparently, the super-chic, in-the-know Parasians come here (its only a 2 hour drive from Paris) for the weekend, to shop, eat and drink Calvados (liquor made from apples). The Fire Island of France, if you will.

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Moving on…let’s talk about the Farmer’s Market in Caudebeuc: Jean, pictured above, is THE MAN when it comes to fresh seafood. We wanted to eat a raw scallop– and he obliged: he cleaned it and prepared it for us to eat. It was the sweetest scallop we’ve ever tasted. There was also fresh salmon lox, oysters, mackerel, tuna and crayfish– all caught by Jean and his partners earlier that day.  There were also live chickens, home-made paella, sausages with fresh sauerkraut and an epic cheese selection. This market is the social event of the week in Caudebeuc…the locals all gather here, buy their food for the week, and then meet their friends for coffee and drinks. We tried to fit right in.
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Sunday rolled around and we visited  Pays D’Auge. Because it was Sunday, we were basically the only people in town (if you can’t tell from the photo). It was so quiet we just perused the local shops, and finally stopped for lunch where we shared escargots, duck confit and a salad avec chèvre chaud (salad with hot goat cheese). The owners brought out fresh bread and two beers for us, on the house. It was the freshest end to the freshest weekend.

The fabulous news is that we’re here till Thursday…so stay tuned, Wanderers. There are more delicious meals to be consumed and more cobblestone streets to be strolled.

#WanderOn

The Wanderable Gypset: Nicole Anderson

Wanderable will be featuring wanderlust-y individuals literally living their dreams in our new feature, The Wanderable Gypset.  Nicole Anderson is the inaugural bohemian tastemaker in this brand new series.

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What is a gypset?

A gypset is a gypsy-jetsetter, a free spirit who is young and heart and leads an unconventional career and life, traveling the globe and wandering through life at her own pace, in her own style.

Who is Nicole Anderson?

Nikki is a professional wedding photographer (check out her drop-dead gorg portfolio) who studied Russian literature at Harvard and lives in Singapore with her fiance. Her itinerary this month includes Madrid, Cordoba, Seville, Marrakech, London, Glasgow, and Singapore.

We picked her brain with this lovingly curated questionnaire, and we are happy to reveal the responses to you.

Wanderable: Walk me through an average day in your un-average life.

Nicole: As a wedding photographer, I’m lucky to have a very flexible workday and really no two days are the same. But on most days, I’ve likely gone out for coffee, done some photo editing, made time for reading, thought about going to yoga and then thought up excuses for not going, spent way too much time on Instagram/Style Me Pretty/100 Layer Cake, and somewhere along the way opened a bottle of wine.

W: Did you always want to be a traveler, or did you just fall into this lifestyle?

N: My family spent a summer in Austria when I was 16, and I remember the wild sense of freedom I had wandering around Salzburg. I loved being able to create each day, get lost, hop on a bus, see works of art, discover hidden cafes, and read all afternoon. After college, I had a great job in marketing but I just wasn’t happy tied to a desk. I had no idea if I could make it as a photographer, but I knew it was worth trying. Being able to spend a month in Paris last February during the wedding off-season or book a last minute flight to Culebra with a friend without asking anyone for vacation time definitely confirmed that this was the job for me.

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W: What are you feeling/loving/eating/reading right now?

N:

  • Feeling: blessed
  • Loving : my fiance Daniel
  • Eating: In the past two weeks, Spanish tapas to Moroccan tagines to my friend’s delicious Pakistani food
  • Reading: The Savage Detectives by Robert Bolano and The Debt to Pleasure by John Lanchester

W: If you could bring anything/anyone from home, what/who would that be?

N: If I have Daniel and a good book with me, I don’t need anything else.

W: What location is on your bucket list, and why?

 N: One of the many reasons I love my fiancé is that even while we were traveling on our engagement trip (I asked for a trip instead of a ring!), we couldn’t help talking about all the places we want to go together. There’s such a lot of world to see. For our honeymoon we have already tossed around wildly different ideas, like beaches in Greece + Albania + Croatia OR a wine + cycling tour of Italy OR Iceland adventuring!

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 W: What are your go-to travel essentials?

  • ONA Bowery camera bag
  • Canon Mark III
  • Journal/book
  • A great necklace (currently alternating between a gold and white 31 Bits necklace and a colorful one scored at an Anthropologie sale)
  • Flowy maxi dresses
  • Comfy but cute walking shoes (currently tribal patterned Toms and trusty Birkenstocks)
  • MAC red lipstick and sunscreen
  • A scarf that can double as a picnic blanket when the occasion calls for it

 W: What has recently taken your breath away?

 N: In Madrid, some of Goya’s later paintings at the Prado Museum. In Cordoba, the stunning Mezquita Cathedral. In Seville, the Puente de Triana at night. And in Morocco, an incredible Berber village perched atop a mountain in Ouirgane.

W: What have you learned about your Significant Other other through your travels?

 N: He’s learned that I wait to eat sketchy street food until the last day of a trip in case I get sick and that when I have my game face on I’ll haggle toe to toe with any Marrakech shop keeper! I’ve learned that his shoulder is my favorite travel pillow, he has a way better sense of direction than I do, and that when I’m sick he’ll rush out to get me tea and lie with me in bed reading Borges stories aloud to keep my mind off my stomach ache. And together we’ve learned that we will both shamelessly tie our sweaters around our waists when the forecast has fooled us.

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W: Advice for aspiring Gypsets? Go.

N: There’s always a way to satisfy your wanderlust. I once took a semester off college and was practically broke, so I worked on a farm through WWOOF in Cornwall, crashed with a cousin in London, and Couchsurfed in Italy and France. That trip cost me very little, but it was one of the best of my life. Make friends that live in other cities and countries. A hundred times better than staying in a hotel, and a heck of a lot cheaper too. Be bold in what you ask of the universe.

Follow Nicole’s adventures at www.sorella-muse.com and on her Instagram

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