In January 2012, Hoboken residents Anne and Mike Howard set off on a honeymoon that was supposed to last a year. Instead, it has no end in sight.
The couple intended to take a year off from their jobs in New York, originally.
“It was a joint realization,” said Mike last week. “There were so many amazing things we wanted to see in the world. We put Post-its of places we wanted to see on this map of the world that we had, and before we knew it was just a sea of Post-it notes.”
Since the launch of their trip, the couple has traveled to all seven continents, 53 countries, and “within those countries, 510 different regions of the world,” said Mike.
Now the couple has a blog and a new book, just released on Sept. 5, published by National Geographic, with 75 destinations, travel tips, and personal anecdotes from the road.
Why not now?
Mike and Anne said they were inspired after reading a quote by Randy Komisar that states, “And then there is the most dangerous risk of all — the risk of spending your life not doing what you want on the bet you can buy yourself the freedom to do it later.”
“We just thought that was so poignant,” said Anne. “Traveling is such an incredible way to start your life together. The memories we’ve made will be something we’ll cherish and learn from forever. We’re so glad we had these experiences now, rather than trying to cram them into our retirement years.”
“We were hard workers, going into work at 9 a.m. and leaving at 10 p.m., and there is nothing wrong with that, but many people save up their entire lives in order to travel the world when they are older. So often it just doesn’t happen like that,” said Mike. “Life changes on you.”
Anne said she couldn’t pick a favorite destination or memory. Mike said his favorite moments often occur as they are traveling to a new destination.
“We love doing trains and ferries and chicken buses [that transport animals and people],” Mike said. “I would say eight out of 10 times, our funniest most memorable stories involve transportation, whether it’s a motorbike breaking down in Thailand and a local taking us in. It always turns out in the most fantastic way.”
Anne said, “If you have the right attitude, there’s an adventure at every turn.”
The Howards have gone to Brazil, Argentina, Zambia, Malawi, Nepal, Australia, Scotland, Jamaica, Israel, and Antarctica, just to name a few.
Anne said it’s important to travel for many reasons, one, because it’s so educational.
“We think it’s the greatest education you could have,” she said. “You learn so much about yourself and your place in the world and how different cultures live. We have learned there are many different way to achieve success and happiness and it’s humbling to see how other people do so.”
At first the Howards used their savings to fund the epic trip, but they now make an income from writing, photography, and their travel blog, HoneyTrek.com, and the new book titled Ultimate Journeys for Two.
“It’s not your typical travel guide,” said Anne. “While it does have our 75 best places to see as well as where to eat and stay, we also give you a behind-the-scenes talk about things like transit blunders and a lot of personal stories. It’s a combination of a travel guide and memoir.”
The two also survive on a very minimal budget of less than $15 a day each.
“It is way more affordable to take a long trip than people think,” said Mike.
Anne said the trip has allowed them to each grow and change for the better.
“We’ve become more open minded and we’ve become really nimble,” she said. “You can throw anything at us and we will be just fine.”
“It’s brought use closer together,” said Mike. We still fight about things like every couple does, but you become a unit out there and work as a team.”
“When you have a wedding and a honeymoon, then there’s a bit of let-down when you get back to everyday life,” Anne said. “If you have a honeymoon forever, then that won’t happen.”
The two had met at an intramural volleyball league hosted at Hoboken High School and began dating, spending time at the then-Goldhawk and buying a home in 2008, which they still own. They got married in 2011.
They said they miss the community and of course, like any true Hobokenite, the fresh mozzarella.
“We miss good mutz,” said Mike, while Anne said they each have their own favorites and debate whose is better, Vito’s or Lisa’s.
“We miss the sense of community, because it is just a mile square town and you’re always around people you know and love,” said Anne.
Trips and tips
The Howards shared a few tips and tricks for anyone who is looking to try and take a long trip.
“What’s made our trip so special is the people,” Anne said. “Go out of your way and meet the locals. That is the heart of the culture.”
Mike said, “Don’t be scared of your credit score, and get frequent flyer miles from a diversity of airlines.”
He added that everyone should learn to say the word “delicious” in as many languages as possible,
“Most people learn to say ‘thank you’ and ‘hello,’ but if you learn the word ‘delicious,’ ” he said, “their smiles will be so big and genuine.”
Marilyn Baer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.