Your honeymoon is the perfect excuse to plan an epic adventure – to dust off that bucket list, scrape together your hard-earned cash and finally make that travel dream a reality. And while most of us would go googly-eyed at the prospect of a three-week break, what would you say to a 500-day honeymoon?
Enter Mike and Anne from HoneyTrek (honeytrek.com), whose 500-day honeymoon is now at five years and counting... Realising that life is short and there’s a whole lot of world out there to discover, these two set off to celebrate the next chapter of their lives together with the ultimate (and seemingly never-ending) round-the-world trip. We caught up with them to find out more.
Where was your last trip?
Anne: We recently travelled through Europe, going from Portugal to Spain then onto Hungary and Croatia. We were headed to Portugal for a wedding but thought we’d make the most of our time in Europe, so picked up a house-sitting gig taking care of a two-hectare farm, and then went on to visit friends in Spain and Budapest.
Mike: At the moment we’re planning a trip to the Caribbean for February and after that we’re speaking at a blogger conference in Jerusalem, so we’ll probably use that trip to check out Jordan and Oman as well. Then in April the goal is to do a six-month road trip around the US, Canada and Mexico.
What are your first travel-related memories?
Anne: When I was six years old my dad was living in Japan and we decided the family should move out there with him. I remember taking a trip over to check out schools and houses and being so struck by the cultural differences – having to take your shoes off before going into the classrooms at school, the houses having rice paper walls, even the juice flavours.
Mike: When I was about five or six we went on a family trip to the Bahamas and there were all these snails around our resort. I thought it would be a good idea to keep some of them as pets during our time there, so I put maybe 15 snails in a cardboard box and brought them back to our hotel room. The next morning we woke up to find a snail on my mum’s bed and one on the lampshade, and when we looked in the box there were no snails left to be seen. We must have looked hilarious hunting around the hotel room for the rogue snails. That was my lesson to never mess with the local wildlife.
Aisle or window seat?
Anne: We prefer both. Since we’re two people, we will book both the aisle and the window seat in the hopes that no one will book the middle seat and we’ll wind up getting all three.
Mike: It’s a really good hack for couples because, unless every other seat is taken, people rarely book the middle seat. And in the worst case scenario, if someone does book it, you’re able to offer them an aisle seat and they’re totally stoked because it’s likely they didn’t want the middle seat anyway.
Do you have any travel habits or rituals?
Anne: We always pack our own pillows. It might seem quite extravagant space-wise, but it’s so worth it to have that piece of home and consistency on the road.
Favourite city or country or region?
Anne: That’s a hard question because we have a favourite for absolutely everything! Antarctica sort of wins all categories for drama and wildlife. Patagonia is our favourite for mountains, Thailand for food.
But for all-round love affair it has to be Flores, Indonesia. It’s got epic diving, amazing marine life, volcanoes with lakes that change colour, fascinating cultures and just island upon island with no one on them.
What sparked your decision to go on a 500-day honeymoon?
Mike: It all started when I got talking to a German guy at Oktoberfest who told me he had just got back from a 12-month trip around the world – and all on a budget of $50 a day. I was totally amazed. Here was a normal guy – he wasn’t an uber-rich millionaire or anything – and he had just spent the entire year seeing the world.
Anne and I agreed we had to do something similar ourselves and our honeymoon seemed like the perfect opportunity. We had some money saved for who-knows-what – a bigger car or a bigger house – but we thought we'd invest in ourselves instead. So many people wait until their retirement to travel, but by then you’ve lived most of your life without those experiences. We figured you’ve got to do these things early in your life, so that you can have those experiences and memories to share for longer. Five years later we’re still on the road!
What has been your most unforgettable travel moment?
Anne: I don’t know why, but we thought it would be a great idea to go straight from New York City to the Amazon jungle. Within a couple days of arriving we were canoeing into the depths of the Amazon, living with a tribe, making shelters out of palm leaves, catching our own dinner and swimming with piranhas. In a way it was the perfect start to the trip because after that experience we were ready for anything.
What’s your top tip for travelling long-term with your partner?
Anne: Deal with issues in the moment and learn to shake things off. In the heat of the day tiffs can happen, but you need to try to not take them personally and understand how circumstantial factors can seriously play into your moods.
What makes a destination romantic?
Anne: We think that it’s about having experiences. Sure, the way people paint romantic destinations is often lying on a beach with a drink, just relaxing. But in our opinion, memories are really made by doing and experiencing new things.
Mike: We like doing big adventures like bungee jumping or scuba diving so we structured our honeymoon with that in mind and peppered a little bit of luxury in here and there.
What’s your top hack for sustaining long-term travel?
Mike: We’ve become very good at mileage hacking, so we often fly around the world on frequent flyer miles. Of the 146 flights we’ve taken so far on our trip, 102 of them have been free.
Anne: House-sitting is great because that’s entirely free lodging and typically gives you a more local perspective of a place. This summer we took care of a beach house in Costa Rica with two infinity pools, use of the host’s car and all the utilities included for free.
Another hack we have is to book as much as possible on the ground rather than online. It often works out cheaper and means you can check out your options before booking. People worry that everything is going to fill up if they don’t book ahead, but typically what’s online is only a fraction of what’s actually available.
What is your best or worst travel souvenir?
Anne: This is kind of our best and worst. Mike loves to collect heart-shaped rocks – it’s like taking a little piece of the geology and history of the place with you. But those things are heavy man and he’ll often sneak them into my bag when I’m not looking.
What’s your biggest travel fail?
Mike: We had booked a flight from China to Japan on 12 November, but when we showed up at the airport they couldn’t find any record of our booking on the system. The flight number and the time were exactly correct, but when we double checked the date we realised we had book the flights for 11 December – the date and month on the website had been written the opposite way to the US ‘month/date’ format we were used to. Thankfully, it all worked out in the end and we were able to get on the correct flight.
Quick, an asteroid is going to hit the earth in one week! Which is the one travel dream you’d rush to fulfil?
Anne: The sensible thing would be to get to the moon, right?! It’ll be safer and we’ve always wanted to see the moon some day – space travel is definitely on our bucket list.
What advice would you give a first-time traveller?
Anne: Don’t over plan. Give yourself some flexibility to feel out a place and let your adventures unfold naturally.