1. When did you first start traveling and which is your favorite travel memory?
We first started traveling together when we were just out of college, and we still look at travel as one of the great tests of a relationship’s strength. If you can travel together for a length of time, anything is possible.
That trip took us around Western Europe, and to Spain for the first time. We hitchhiked, saw as much as possible, and ended up in Ireland to catch a flight home, having spent every cent we had except a hidden twenty dollar bill for ’emergencies!’
But that gave us a taste, and after we were married, we immediately quit our jobs and moved to Europe. We spent a few months in London, then headed back to Spain–drawn by a hotter sun, better food, lower prices. Pretty quickly we found jobs in Madrid and stayed there for more than a year. Spain is the place we return to most frequently.
2. What is your favorite travel movie/song/book? Any traveller – dead or alive – who inspired you to travel in the first place?
Tom selects Lonesome Dove, the book by Larry McMurtry, because he identifies with Gus (even if Tom won’t get on a horse). Kris was inspired early on by Mark Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer, as read aloud while her family was vacationing in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area of Northern Minnesota or at Lake Itasca, the source of the Mississippi River.
3. What do you focus on while traveling to a new place – people, culture, attractions, food, adventure, or nature?
We like to find UNESCO World Heritage Sites and National Parks and plan itineraries including those points. A typical city day might include a trip to an art or history museum, and a meal in a local restaurant. Of course, we feel obliged to sample local brews, wines, and spirits, too.
4. What is your number 1 money-saving tip to other travelers?
More than one idea: Use a credit card that charges no international transaction fees, and a debit card that doesn’t charge for ATM withdrawals. Walk or use public transport; fill your own water bottle; shop local markets and keep some food on hand to avoid eating in restaurants all the time. We’ve saved considerable time and money using T-Mobile’s unlimited data plan. And if you are on extended travels, negotiate rental properties for longer stays. (Housesitting is another money-saving option, but remember this is a job and a commitment.)
5. What is the longest you have travelled for? What advice would you give to travelers thinking of long-term travel but are hesitant to go ahead?
We’ve been traveling since 2010, with occasional visits home to see family. Our advice: Do it. Try it. If it doesn’t work out, you can always go back to living where and how you want.
6. What is the craziest thing you’ve done during your travels?
In Tom’s opinion, it was the five-day trek through the Guatemalan jungle to El Mirador. We jumped in knowing nothing about what we were getting into, nor anything about our guides. It was a long, hot trek. The food was bad; the tents were miserable. But it ended up OK. As for Kris, she recalls some crazy hitchhiking episodes.
7. We know that travel affects our lives in many positive ways, but no one ever talks about the negative side of it (i.e. relationships can suffer, etc). Has traveling affected your life negatively in any way?
Even though we’ve had some negative experiences, we don’t look at the last five years of travel as having any negative effects. Quite the opposite! But some observations: a) traveling the world can be surprisingly isolating, as we are generally alone with each other; b) it is difficult but not impossible to maintain an exercise regime, a healthy diet, and regular work routine; c) we miss some special occasions with our family, and we sometimes feel the lack of a home base for working and recharging.
Oddly, even though we are constantly seeing and learning new things, it can be hard to carry on a conversation with old friends who are in their same old routines and don’t relate to travel or cross-cultural experiences.
8. Why did you decide to blog? Has it had any impact on the way you travel?
We come from a publishing background– writing, reporting, photography–so it was natural for us to keep on writing. In fact, we had separate blogs earlier in our travels, but finally realized we could grow an audience and market ourselves with a travel blog based on our experiences. The blog and social media motivate us to keep on recording our travels and sharing our stories. It’s handy, too, for us to look back at our own blog to remember where we’ve been!
9. Any upcoming trips you’re looking forward to? Where do you see yourself in a year? In five years? Is it on your plans to settle down somewhere in the future and stop traveling as much?
We’re in transition, but we’re not quite sure what is next. This coming year will be less travel and slower travel for a couple reasons. We’re trying to improve our planning, build our freelance work, spend a little more time with family, and a little less time in hotels. We are looking at more National Park tours, maybe a trip to Alaska. Kris is leaning toward a return to South America; Tom is thinking of a US music city tour including New Orleans, Memphis, and Nashville.