Want to know how to travel in style, just like the pros? We check in with frequent fliers to find out how often they fly, their favorite destinations and what they never leave home without.
Name: Mike & Anne Howard
Occupation: Professional Honeymooners, Travel Journalists, and Trip Coaches
Hometown: Mike: Poconos, PA; Anne: Los Angeles, CA
Residence: N/A…digital nomads since January 2012
College: Mike: Business, Carnegie Mellon; Anne: English, Franklin & Marshall
Facebook: Mike & Anne’s – HoneyTrek.com
Bio: Mike & Anne Howard left on their honeymoon in January, 2012 and have been traveling the world ever since. HoneyTrek.com is where the couple chronicles their adventures across six continents and 38 countries (and counting!), while their writing, photography and story of the “World’s Longest Honeymoon” can also be found on Condé Nast Traveler, The Knot, Los Angeles Times, Daily Mail, Huffington Post, CBS, and dozens of international publications. Extremely passionate about long-term travel, the Howards are now helping more people mobilize their travel dreams with HoneyTrek Trip Coach: one-on-one workshops for gap years, career breaks, extended honeymoons, and any trip beyond a ten-day vacation.
How many countries have you been to? 57 countries, six continents (Antarctica, we are coming for you!).
Favorite American city: Seattle, Washington.
Favorite international city: Cape Town, South Africa.
Friendliest people in the world: We have never met friendlier people than in Myanmar (and with the incredible kindness around the world, that is saying something!)—kids and grandmas alike will blow you kisses as you pass by, strangers invite you for tea and proud locals offer to show you around their town in exchange for nothing but your company and some friendly conversation.
Country with the meanest immigration officers: (Caveat: partially our fault.) During an insane three days and 14 legs of transit to Zanzibar, we took a motorboat across the river to the Tanzania border office—but it was already closed. The night officer gave us an earful for being so late and threatened to leave our us in limbo between nations (by the hippo-infested river). We handed him our money for the visa but he wouldn’t accept our $100 bill since it was older than 2002 (always check the date on your bills!). Now what? More lectures ensued and then he embarrassingly strong-armed our pickup truck full of East African travelers to pony up enough shillings to cover our visa. To make matters worse, the visa he sold us wasn’t enough to cover our stay in the country and the Zanzibar border office made us pay again AND they wrote a shady permanent note about it in our passport!
Favorite World Heritage Site: Angkor Wat Archaelogical Site. The actual temple of Angkor Wat is over-run with tourists and tshotshke-peddlers, but there are 111 other ancient and incredible buildings waiting to be explored. Riding your bike to Preah Khan or taking a tuk tuk to the far-flung ruins of Beng-Mealea allows you to revel in this ancient kingdom’s beauty and nature’s desire to reclaim it. Plus, exploring the abandoned jungle-covered ruins gives you that awesome Indiana Jones feeling.
Favorite airline: Hands down Southwest Airlines. With their smiles, two free checked bags, by far the cheapest mileage flights in the USA/Caribbean/Central America, no-fee/full-refund flight cancellation up until ten minutes before boarding, free snacks on-board, free live TV on-board, and amazing customer service. It’s a wonder there are any other US airlines still in business.
Favorite hotel: The Cove on the out island of Eleuthera, Bahamas used to be a hippie lodge in a pineapple field, then in 2013 this unbelievable piece of real estate, with its twin beach coves framed in coral cliffs, reopened as the most beautiful beach resort we have ever experienced. The rock-outcropping that runs down the center of the property and into the ocean just calls to for sunrise yoga and sunset cocktails. Tranquility, luxury and adventure…it’s perfection.
Favorite cruise line: I’m not even sure you can call Hurtigruten a cruise line, but that’s why we like it so much. It used to be Norway’s mailboat and ferry to connect Norway’s coastal towns and villages. While it still hauls cargo and acts as the carpool for high school sports team, it also carries its share of intrepid travelers. We ventured into the fjords by day, ate our weight in smoked fish for lunch and chased the aurora borealis by night.
Favorite travel credit card: Our workhorse card is the Southwest personal and business card (especially since we have the Companion Pass, doubling the value of every mile). But for special occasions we break out the solid-metal Ritz-Carlton Black Card. The sign-up bonus on this card was 23 free nights (Marriott Level 1), free Lounge Club access (for you and a guest), and $300 per year credit towards ANY airline incidentals (Wi-Fi, food, drinks, upgrades, luggage, etc.).
Favorite island: Flores, Indonesia. We went there for some of the world’s most epic muck and drift diving in Komodo National Park, then we motorbiked and chicken-bused our way through the friendliest tribal villages, pristine beaches and active volcanoes. If you’re longing for the Bali of 25 years ago, you’ll love Flores.
Favorite fancy restaurant: The dining experience at Hoshinoya Kyoto begins with a riverboat up the city’s Ōi River to their historic ryokan tucked in the cliffs of Arashiyama. You slip into contemporary kimonos and are seated on tatami mats for a kaiseki nine-course meal—one of the most decadent and exquisite dishes was a cocktail of steamed abalone, topped with green apple, fresh sea urchin and caviar osetra. The beauty of the presentation is not just how the food is plated, but also the exquisite hand-painted ceramics that appear with each course.
Favorite hole-in-the-wall: We’re avid street cart diners so our favorite hole-in-walls tend to not even have walls, let alone names; however, one that is traceable and dear to Anne’s heart from her childhood is Ana Maria’s taco stall in Los Angeles’ Grand Central Market. Her carnitas tacos will blow your mind…and eating in this historic market, still brimming with authentic international foods, adds to the flavor.
Favorite bar: We were exploring the colonial center of Santo Domingo, in the Dominican Republic, following the sounds of bongos, cowbells and laughter to Colmado Anthony. Colmados are open-air corner stores with a few bar stools and a beer fridge, so while people stop in for a loaf of bread they stay for Cerveza Presidente. We love this concept of a hyper-local bar and they are all over the country. Colmado Anthony had us dancing merengue, cheering on the city baseball team, sipping Mama Juana rum-wine, and shutting the place down with new friends…until we returned the following day.
Favorite fruit: We met a cacao farmer in Indonesia and he let us taste the tangy-sweet fruit that encompasses each cacao seed. You’ll never find it in the markets because it would be prohibitively expensive but if you’re ever near a cacao plantation, try and get a taste!
5 things you bring on a plane: Eye mask, our collapsible Platypus water bottle, iPod loaded with sleep music, and an audio book, charged laptop, and sarong for a blanket or pillow. To see a list of everything in our pack, along with why we carry it, check out RTW Packing List.
Favorite travel app(s): MapswithMe, XE Currency Exchange, TripIt, 8Tracks.
Worst travel moment: Impending darkness on the side of the road at a small junction while hitchhiking in Mozambique…for four hours with zero cars in sight. Adding to the uneasiness, a drunk guy kept babbling to us in Portuguese, making slit-your-throat gestures while saying either “Stay with me so you don’t get killed,” or “Stay with me and I’ll kill you.” Either way we had to get the hell out of there. Just as the sun was going down, a pickup truck pulled up. The driver said he couldn’t take us as far as our intended destination but said that we could sleep on the floor of his cousin’s mud hut. This was looking like the bright side of a grim day until we attempted to sleep and the mice started running around the packed-dirt rafters, knocking mud chunks on us with each scurry. If it wasn’t for fits of delirious laughter, we would have never made it out of that day.
Favorite travel charity: We love the concept of MovingWorlds. You don’t donate any money (just your skills), and you get to travel to your region of choice, all while making meaningful and lasting change. We are a proud partner with this organization that connects volunteers/experteers with no-cost opportunities around the globe. They facilitate the planning process between you and your hosting organization to make sure all parties are prepared for this mutually beneficial relationship, and then give you the guides, training, confidence, and resources to help you have the best possible experience. Find out more in our interview with the MovingWorlds founder.
Best travel tip: School yourself in the art of mileage-hacking. Before we began our around-the-world trip, we read books, blogs, and even signed up for a course to learn how to maximize our miles and we were able to earn 430,000 frequent flier miles in the eight months leading up to our departure. It was no small task but considering it saved us more than $9,000 in flights, it was well worth it! One of our favorite tools for tracking your reward accounts is AwardWallet.com (paired with a detailed excel spreadsheet)…and we have so many tips on the topic that we built a Trip Coach course specifically for mileage hacking if you want to know more!