Mike and Anne run a very successful blog. They have been travelling continuously since 2011 and have made travel a well paying career and a moment for Living The Dream. Take a look into how they make it happen.
Mike & Anne Howard
What was the first country you visited? Who with and why did you choose it?
Anne: Japan. I was seven years old, my dad was working there and commuting home to California, but that was a heck of a commute so we took a trip to see if we wanted to move to Tokyo. I have vivid memories of looking at potential homes with paper walls, visiting classrooms where you had to take off your shoes, and attempting to eat meals with chopsticks (I thought I was going to die of starvation...until I discovered Mango Hi-C and Hello-Kitty cookies). We didn't wind up moving to Japan but I think it piqued my interest for other cultures at an early age.
Mike: The Bahamas. My dad was there on a one-year project building the sales team for a new resort. During my summer break he invited me down for three weeks, and it was a blast. Eating seafood on the docks, hammocks swinging in the breeze, chasing crabs on the beach, biking around the island...seriously good times. Miss you, Dad!
When did you start a travel lifestyle? What inspired that change?
It all started at Oktoberfest in Munich when a German couple told us they had just returned from a 12-month journey around the world, and it cost them less than we were paying in rent! Our jaw hit the floor. So when we started dreaming where we would go on our honeymoon, our list of destinations was running off the page...and that German couple's trip kept crossing our mind. Then we thought, “We've got some money saved, we don't have kids yet, we're healthy, and heck, we're only young once...will there ever be a better time to travel than now?” That night we set the HoneyTrek dream in motion.
Do you have a base you travel from? Or is it continuous travel? And why do you choose that style?
Short Answer: No home-base since 2011...wherever we are, that's home!
Long Answer: We traveled continuously for two years visiting 300+ places in 33 countries, across six continents. We originally thought we'd go back to our New York City, but after seeing so many different ways to live and find happiness, returning to the high-pressure and excessively expensive NYC lifestyle didn't seem like a chapter we needed to revisit. Instead we found a shared ski house in Vermont and explored the Green Mountains as caught up on HoneyTrek blogs and explored some business ideas. We'd ski the powder sessions all winter and housesit during the shoulder seasons—like Mexico for a few months last fall and Seattle this past spring. As for where we land next, we are working with production company on a travel show concept. If that takes off, it looks like we'll be taking a couple year road trip with cameras!
How do you fund your travel lifestyle? Is it something you do when travelling or are you a saver?
To begin our HoneyTrek, we decided to crack open our nest egg. We had been working hard and saving for years towards “something” (a bigger house, a better car, a white picket fence, whatever) but we realized traveling the world and creating memories for the rest of our lives was worth way more than any material goods. After traveling continuously for a couple years, gaining a loyal HoneyTrek audience, and honing our writing, photography and travel hacking skills, we have morphed our travels into a career. We earn money from sponsorships on HoneyTrek, photography sales, and freelance writing gigs, but our favorite kind of work is being a long-term travel coach. HoneyTrek Trip Coach is a one-on-one workshop, live via Skype, where we teach our best travel hacks and takeaways from our years on the road, tailored to each student's specific journey, destinations, budget, concerns, and goals. From how to save thousands of dollars on flights (we are writing this interview from the 54th mileage flight) to creative ways to get free lodging to backing up a terabyte of photos from a Vietnamese internet cafe and everything in between. We want to give people the support, tools, confidence and skills to explore the world on any budget.
If you could tell yourself one tip before you started your travel lifestyle, what would it be?
Try to start each country visit with a Couchsurf. It wasn't until we were nine months into our trip and hit Japan, one of the most expensive countries in the world, that we started Couchsurfing. But after we did it, we immediately realized the value of Couchsurfing is so much more than saving money. Being a guest in a locals home, living as they do, getting the insider tour and lay of the land is better than virtually any hostel or even a five-star hotel experience. Travel is all about the locals, and Couchsurfing is one of the best ways to immediately immerse yourself into a culture.
Second Tip (we wish we knew a lot of stuff before we left ;) : You can always get better at collecting frequent flyer miles. We managed to collect 430,000 miles in the seven months leading up to our trip and those frequent flyer miles saved us over $9,000 in flights, but there are countless ways we could have collected even more miles. Yes, signing up for credit cards will yield huge bonuses, but there are countless other ways to earn thousands of miles per month (for example: last year we earned enough miles for two one-way flights just for sending three Mother's Day bouquets).
What does "Living The Dream" mean to you?
Flexibility! Having the freedom to do what you want, when and where you want. We work really hard to keep our business going but when it's a beautiful weekday, a unique opportunity arises, or we just have an itch to explore...we can. Since we run HoneyTrek as a couple, our schedules easily align so we can make most of these moments together.