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