This Thursday on #CultureTrav, we’re excited to welcome guest hosts Mike and Anne Howard from HoneyTrek! Ahead of the chat, Nicolette and I wanted to share this fun interview (originally posted here) about Mike and Anne’s round-the-world trip and how they’d love to inspire others to consider long-term travel. No matter what type of traveler you are (part-time, full-time, adventure seeker, family traveler or other), we are sure you’ll love to hear from Mike and Anne on Thursday! Read their interview below to get to know them a bit better.
Mike and Anne Howard left on their honeymoon in January 2012 and have been traveling the world ever since. HoneyTrek.com is where the couple chronicles their adventures across 36 countries (and counting!), while their writing, photography and story can also be found in Condé Nast Traveler, The Knot, Los Angeles Times, Daily Mail, Huffington Post, CBS, and dozens of international publications. Extremely passionate about long-term travel, the Howards are now helping more people mobilize their travel dreams with HoneyTrek Trip Coach: one-on-one workshops for gap years, career breaks, extended honeymoons, and any trip beyond a ten-day vacation.
Q: What sparked your trip around the world?
Mike & Anne: It all started at Oktoberfest in Munich when a couple told us they had just completed a 12-month journey around the world, spending less than $50 per person per day–all in! The idea of two people spending one year circumnavigating the globe for less than the cost of a mid-sized sedan seemed unfathomable, yet it affixed itself in our brains. Then eight months before our wedding, we started seriously contemplating our own around-the-world trip. “We’ve got some money saved. We don’t have kids. There is a lot of the world to see, and we’re only young once… Will there ever be a better time to travel than now?” That night we set our HoneyTrek dream in motion.
Q: It’s a bold step to quit your jobs and travel for two+ years. Were you scared?
Mike & Anne: Yes, it was a little scary leaving stable jobs and a great group of friends, but the risk of not following our dream seemed far more frightening. Travel is the greatest learning experience imaginable and a resume builder at the same time. Immersing yourself in other cultures and throwing yourself into new environments sharpens your skills–from communication to negotiation to problem-solving to global thinking…a good employer will definitely value those skills. We will have plenty of impressive stories to share in any job interview. So were we scared? Heck yeah! Was it worth it? No doubt!
Q: Where did you go and why?
Mike & Anne: We explored 36 countries across six continents. Our travel philosophy has always been to go places too far to visit while we have full-time jobs and too rugged to tackle when we get old. Initially that meant skipping Central America and most of Europe and focusing on the places we’d dreamed of visiting in South America, Africa, Asia and Oceania. Here is the country by country breakdown (live blogs are linked, the rest are on the way!) Subscribe here for all the updates.
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 and Australia
Europe: Scotland, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Wales, England, Norway and Turkey
Q: What was your favorite place?
Mike & Anne: We have loved every single country we visited for different reasons. Here are a few of our favorites by category: Best Islands (Philippines), Mountains (Patagonia), Food (Thailand), Temples (Cambodia), Trekking (Nepal), Wildlife (Zambia), Scuba (Indonesia), Parties (Brazil), Culture (Japan), and the sheer travel challenge (China). Though if you forced us to pick one favorite, it would probably be Myanmar. We have never met friendlier people any place in the world. Plus Myanmar’s placement in the Golden Triangle and as a former British colony makes it a fascinating blend of styles and cultures.
Q: What are your top three most memorable moments?
Mike & Anne: We honestly have a lifetime worth of memories from our two straight years of traveling but here are few that really moved us:
1. Getting pulled out of our car by a band of elderly Peruvians to join their village dance party. They had us all holding hands doing a communal jig, drinking homemade brew from a shared mug, and playing tunes on exotic instruments well into the evening.
2. Teaching English in a tribal Red Tzao village outside of Sapa, Vietnam during the week of Tet New Year. The students thanked us with invitations to pre-Tet dinners, sacrificial rituals, and a very exclusive New Year’s spirit cleansing ceremony. To be accepted into this tribal community during one of the most familial and celebrated times of the year was unforgettable.
3. Having a cheetah jump on top of our open-roof safari vehicle in the Maasai Mara, Kenya. She was scouting the grassland for food, but of course we thought she was eyeing us up as a quick snack. Watch this video and tell us if your heart is in your throat when the cheetah walks right toward Anne.
Q: What was your budget?
Mike & Anne: We did our trip around the world for just under $37 per person per day, including flights, food, lodging, visas, activities…the works. This is an average of the pricier countries like Japan, Australia and Norway ($75+ pppd) with the less expensive places like Bolivia and Southeast Asia (under $20 pppd). We learned all sorts of ways to save money with mileage hacking, homestays, no-fee credit/debit cards, and tons of other little tricks to keep our budget low while maximizing experiences. People think you need to be a millionaire, but traveling around the world turned out to be less expensive than our rent.
Q: How does someone start saving for a trip like this?
Mike & Anne:
1. Evaluate Your Funds. Divide your savings by $40 and that’s approximately how long you can travel. Not enough time for your liking? Follow our small-dose savings strategy (we are living proof of these numbers).
2. Small-dose Saving. Open a separate bank account, and start saving $10 a day for two years and you can travel for six straight months. Save $13 a day for three years and travel for a full year. Pick a pace that’s right for you, and most importantly, stick with it. Your dreams depend on it!
3. Mileage Hack. Earn 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 two-year HoneyTrek.
Q: What are a few pointers for someone considering or planning a RTW?
Mike & Anne: 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 (there are clothes for sale everywhere), but you should be vigilant about your tech solutions (which are not available or 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” as you need them. 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.
Q: So what’s HoneyTrek Trip Coach all about?
Mike & Anne: 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 two 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 150,000+ 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 reality. We will show you how we saved over $18,000 on flights, to no-cost volunteering, to the things you definitely do NOT need to pack, to numerous $0 per night lodging options (sometimes even with 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 with a sense of adventure. If you are wondering how you can mobilize your journey of a lifetime, check out Trip Coach or reach out to us at TripCoach@HoneyTrek.com or just give us a ring, (888) 852-9383. Life is short; it’s time to get after it!