I was lucky enough to meet the couple on the world’s longest honeymoon, back in September in Austin. We were all attending TravelCon, the first travel media conference of its kind and I couldn’t wait to learn more about these adventurous honeymooners. Plus, they hosted an epic kick-off party before the conference began and anyone that gives out free drinks is a friend of mine! Super intrigued to find out more about Mike and Anne, I made it my business to connect with them during the 3-day conference. The most intriguing thing about this duo is that these eternal honeymooners aren’t trust-fund babies or the type for all-inclusive beach resorts. They’ve explored all seven continents, doing everything from jungle survival school in the Amazon to standup paddleboarding in Antarctica(now, that’s honeymoon goals right there). They’re reinventing the concept of couples travel, going beyond candlelit dinners and massages, showing us how romantic adventure can be. Since January 2012, they’ve been sharing their journey and travel tips on their acclaimed blog HoneyTrek.com; flash forward to six years and they’ve released National Geographic’s first book on couples adventure travel. I’ve read it and it’s damn good!
So you’re on the World’s Longest Honeymoon. How did that come about?
When we were brainstorming honeymoon destinations back in 2011, our list of dream places and experiences was running off the page. A ten-day honeymoon wasn’t going to cut it. We realized life is short, the world is big, and the value of travel was too great to wait until we were 65. So with good health and new marriage to celebrate, we decided there was no better time than now. We thought it was going to be a one-year honeymoon but as the months went on, we got hooked on the beauty and kindness in the world and January 2018 will mark our sixth year on the road.
It’s not easy putting together a 272-page book with 310 photographs, what made you want to create a book?
I’m not sure we would’ve had the guts or discipline to do something of this scale unless National Geographic asked us to. It’s the holy grail in travel publishing so when given the opportunity to write their first book on couples adventure travel and share our favorite stories from around the world, we had to rise to the challenge. We worked hard to narrow down the 500+ destinations we visited, our absolute favorite 75 and cull down all we’ve learned from five years on the road to our most impactful advice. We wanted to share the places that have touched our souls and inspire more people to follow their dreams of traveling the world with the one they love. That kept us writing every day.
What makes Ultimate Journeys for Two different than a traditional guidebook?
A number of ways. Not just pulled from research and rankings, every destination in this book is written from first-hand experience and an absolute love for each. Rather than organizing the book by regions of the world, the chapters are based on the type of place and experience—Mountains, Beaches, Deserts, Snow, Rain Forests, Road Trips, etc. We want you to discover destinations based on your interests and travel cravings. There aren’t too many household names in here, because you already know Paris and Kyoto are fabulous, and for the well-known sites, we did include, we always share a fresh approach to shake the crowds. (Ever seen Niagara Falls encrusted with icicles? Did you know there is more than one Inca trail to Machu Picchu?) This is not your typical nitty-gritty guide with lists of restaurant recommendations and price ratings. We get to the essence of each place and the experiences that make it shine. There is also a raw honesty to this book. We share the blunders, comical encounters, touching moments, and the human side to life on the road.
Why did you focus on couples adventure travel?
There are many books on romantic travel, showcasing the destinations with the finest candlelit dinners, couples massages, and silkiest sheets. And, hey, we like those things too, but lasting memories run deeper than a few nights in a fancy hotel. When you discover a beach cove without a footprint, a temple covered in vines, or a waterfall nestled in the forest, and the only person around is the one you love . . . it’s sweeter than a chocolate on your pillow. Getting out of your comfort zone, immersing yourself in other cultures, and making memories to cherish for the rest of your lives…there is no better bonding experience than that. The beauty and kindness you’ll experience are nearly impossible to explain to people but something you two will never forget and share forever.
What are some your favorite adventures in Ultimate Journeys for Two?
Scuba diving through the wheelhouse of a World War II ship; cruising the world’s largest salt flat in a luxury Airstream; rock climbing the sea stacks to the soundtrack of crashing waves; paragliding over Roman ruins and a mountain of white travertines…and these are just a handful of the 300+ adventures in the book. One of our favorite pages is “Choose Your Own Adventure,” where we list out some of the wildest activities. Pick the one that gets your heart racing then flip to the corresponding page number to discover where it is in the world. This book is not meant to be read linearly, it’s filled with rabbit holes and bridges like this for you to keep exploring.
Describe one of the most memorable moments from your journey.
On our way to one of the deepest canyons in the world, hugging the curves of the Andes and yielding to cows, a fiesta of elderly Peruvians appeared in the middle of the road. We crept forward, assuming they’d move to the side, but instead a woman wearing a traditional embroidered dress knocked on our window. “Come dance!” she said in Spanish with a smile. “You may not pass until you dance!” Mike and I looked at each other, and then simultaneously swung open our doors. The partygoers cheered and the band of wooden instruments got louder. She took our hands and pulled us into a circle of twirling ladies. Around and around we went, with leg kicks and hip shakes, until the shot master appeared with an earthen jug. He poured us an overflowing chicha corn brew, and we toasted with an exuberant, “Salud!” Arm in arm with our new amigos, we danced until dark and happily never made it to the famed canyon…That story actually kicks off the first page of Ultimate Journeys for Two.
I’m sure there’s many but what is the biggest lesson you’ve learned from traveling:
There are many ways to find success and be happy. That definition plays out very differently around the world and it never seems to correlate with how much money you have. Love, health, and a positive outlook seem to be the secret to the good life.
What are your best tips for traveling as a couple?
One of our best pieces of advice is to drop the notion of “a perfect vacation” and learn to roll with the punches. Find the humor and adventure with every bump in the road…it might become the highlight of the trip. We have plenty more tips on traveling as a pair–not just from us, but from 11 other world-traveling couples across ages, nationalities, and orientations. For every chapter, we feature a “Power Couple” sharing their absolute favorite place in the world, plus their secret to keeping your travels a breeze and romance on fire.
You’ve been traveling for over six years. What’s your advice for a couple to find more time and money for travel?
Start a travel fund and direct 5 percent of your paycheck automatically into that account; travel is an investment in yourself–don’t skimp! Join airline and hotel loyalty programs, and use credit cards that reward your everyday spending. Join sharing-economy sites and communities. The more you immerse yourself in the travel community, the more opportunities will present themselves. Don’t think just about planning your next Instagramable vacation, think about the experiences you want in your life and how to make them a reality. We dive deep into the savvy planning process in our Travel Smart section of the book.
Why should a duo buy this book?
While this book would be a great engagement present, this is not just a book for honeymooners. Whether newlyweds, empty-nesters, or parents that need a little more alone time, every travel-lover needs something to feed their wanderlust. We want this to be on every couples’ shelf so when they have a hankering to the trek the mountains, meditate in ancient temples, swim among tropical fish, wander exotic markets, or dine in a castle, they know where to turn.
Pick up a copy of Ultimate Journeys for Two on Amazon.com and get signed/personalized copies on the HoneyTrek shop. To follow Mike & Anne’s ongoing journey, visit HoneyTrek.com and @HoneyTrek across all social media channels.
Thanks so much to Mike and Anne for taking the time to answer these questions. I don’t know about you, but a never-ending honeymoon sounds pretty good to me!