WSGT’s next Travel Influencers are Mike and Anne Howard of Honey Trek, a travel blog dedicated to what has become “The World’s Longest Honeymoon.” Exciting news! This dynamic travel due have an upcoming book release with National Geographic: Ultimate Journeys for Two.
1.) Where was the first place you traveled that made you think WOW—travel is amazing (think history book come to life or …..)
Anne: At sixteen, I studied abroad in Costa Rica and lived with a local family at the foot of a volcano, surrounded by coffee plantations. I convinced my mom to let me go to improve my Spanish. Living in Central America absolutely improved my language skills, but more importantly, it opened me up a new way of living. It made me more curious, adventurous, outgoing, and open-minded.
Mike: Mine would be Venice. I went there on a high school trip and was in total awe. I spent an entire day with my Canon AE-1, getting lost in the curvy streets and bridges over the canals, and I have never been the same. It left me craving a life of exploration.
2.) If you had unlimited resources, where would you go and what would you do?
Ever since we visited Antarctica, we have fallen in love with polar landscapes and wildlife. To walk with king penguins of South Georgia or the polar bears of Churchill, Canada would be a dream!
3.) What were you afraid to do and how did you find the courage to overcome it?
Leaving our jobs, house, family, friends, and the comforts of home to travel indefinitely was a scary prospect. We just reminded ourselves that taking the safe route and never having these incredible life experiences on the road was a far greater risk.
4.) What apps do you use regularly that make your life easier?
5.) What place do you wish more people have seen?
East Africa and the Middle East (at the very least Jordan, Turkey & Israel). These are incredible regions of the world that are wildly misunderstood. There is a lot of fear around these areas, but we know that a visit, experiencing the kindness of the people and beauty behind its vibrant cultures, would build a lot more tolerance and compassion. Not to mention places like Petra, Wadi Rum, the Serengeti, Istanbul, Cappadocia, and the Swahili Coast are stunning!
6.) Best advice you have been given and by whom?
“No matter where you are, who you are with, and what you are doing (even the dishes), find the enjoyment in that very moment.” This was expressed to us inthe form of a prayer meditation before our meal with a Buddhist monk, Pi Nan, on a communal farm outside Chiang Mai. It reminds us to not race to the next thing and always make the most of our time in each place.
7.) When were you surprised by the kindness of strangers on a trip?
Oh so many times! Realizing the kindness in the world is our greatest takeaway from our travels. Like the time (two weeks ago) when we needed a ride from Petra to Amman (on the holy day when no public buses were running), and a private bus of sightseeing locals picked us up, fed us tea and sandwiches, taught us dance moves: See this video then took us to an incredible party in the desert, and wouldn’t accept a single dollar. Or when our motorbike broke down in the mountains of Thailand and a family picked us up and took us into their home for two days, making us a bed in their living room and cooking us feasts. Incredible instances of kindness happened to us in ALL 53 countries and these experiences always remind us to be open-hearted and pay it forward.
8.) What inspired you to travel for extended periods of time or live in a new country?
It all started at Oktoberfest in Munich when a German couple told us they had just returned from a 12-month journey to 18 countries for less than we were paying in rent…and our jaw hit the floor. 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 savings, no 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.
9.) I travel because….
At first it was to tick off our bucket list, then we realized it was the heart-warming people we met along the way. This kindness has truly touched our souls and in our sixth year of continuous travel, it is more and more about sharing the good in humanity. We want to inspire others to have adventures, step out of their comfort zone, and open their minds to other ways to live and be happy. We want to foster that connection between people because the more we realize how much we all have in common, the more compassionate and loving we become as a society. That sounds a bit lofty, but in a political climate where fear and prejudice seems to be mounting, the more we are committed to sharing all the good in the world.
For up-and-coming travel writers, Mike and Anne recommend: Go to TBEX. The Travel Bloggers Exchange conference is a great way to build your network of fellow writers and to get noticed by brands. Their lectures and workshops will help you hone your craft and business. We’ve made incredible relationships and partnerships from their worldwide conferences, plus they are always a blast! We are flying back from TBEX Jerusalem as we type this interview!
Mike and Anne Howard left on their honeymoon in January 2012 and have been traveling the globe ever since. They realized life is short, the world is big, and the value of travel too great to wait until retirement, so to kick off their marriage they decided to take a trip around the world–on what has become “The World’s Longest Honeymoon.” Using Anne’s background as a national magazine editor and Mike’s as a digital marketing executive and photographer, they created HoneyTrek.com to chronicle their journey to over 50 countries and show people how to mobilize their travel dreams. Having reviewed over 100 luxury hotels and excursions across seven continents, they know the five-star side of travel, while they also understand how to get to the heart of local culture. Teaching English in tribal Vietnam, housesitting in Costa Rica, and riding local mini-buses across East Africa, they know that variety is the spice of life and travel. Their unique journey, savvy tips, and engaging blog have been acclaimed by Washington Post, Condé Nast Traveler, Los Angeles Times, Daily Mail, CBS and more, including a recent Microsoft Windows’ TV ad campaign. Firm believers that love and travel make the world a better place, they continue to spread this message and their know-how as Smithsonian speakers and National Geographic authors; their book Ultimate Journeys for Two releases September 2017.
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Our next Travel Influencer interview will be up in a week, follow the series here.