15 Travel Tips from the Couple That's on the World's Longest Honeymoon
For this regular series, we reached out to globetrotting travel bloggers, chefs, designers, and other tastemakers to find out everything from their go-to gadgets and in-flight beauty secrets to the most romantic meal they've ever had. Because who better to share their insight about how to have an unforgettable honeymoon (or really, any future vacation as a married couple) than those who have spent a lot of time on the road?
Mike and Anne Howard began their honeymoon in January 2012-and have been traveling the world ever since, having reached six continents and 38 countries (and counting!). They chronicle their adventures on HoneyTrek.com-and even offer one-on-one advice to other couples that are interested in taking an extended honeymoon.
Aisle or window?
Window. Whether using it for views, photographs, natural light, or a headrest, it's a win-win.
Check or carry-on?
If a trip spans multiple seasons or we go further off the grid for a few months, we'll check bags for extra clothes and gear to be more self-sufficient (with TSA no-nos like a Leatherman multi-tool and bulky-but-comforting travel sheets). Otherwise, we like to be nimble with a carry-on, packing only our favorite and most versatile things.
Must-have electronics or travel gadgets?
Oh boy...we are slightly obsessed with travel technology, so we built a site called RTW Packing List to answer this question. In addition to tech, we list every single item in our bags, why they made the cut, and their various uses. Though if we had to choose, here are three of our favorite gadgets: SteriPEN water purifier, which has enabled us to avoid buying a single plastic water bottle since April 2012. It has saved us over $2,200 and kept more than 4,400 plastic bottles from landfills and watersheds. The Belkin mini powerstrip allows us to charge multiple things at once-especially clutch when you are abroad and relying on one power converter. And our smartphones, the most powerful travel tool you can carry. From GPS to currency conversion and language translation, the uses are literally endless.
The trick for fitting souvenirs in your suitcase?
Roll your clothes to maximize space and stuff smaller things into the gaps and corners. For souvenirs, don't bother with bubble wrap or tissue-your clothes are the most efficient and effective padding. Use them to wrap each item and if something is extra fragile, you should probably carry it in your hand luggage.
Favorite souvenir from your travels?
A Red Dzao hat from Ta Phin Village, Vietnam. We came to this tribal village among the mountains and rice terraces outside of Sa Pa to teach English and provide more opportunities for the women living there. Our students thanked us with numerous feasts, an invitation to a spiritual cleansing ceremony, and the gift of a traditional hat. Red Dzao children wear intricately sewn hats with shells, bells, coins, and tassels to keep evil spirits away. Our host mother's son had outgrown his cap and wanted us to have it as a reminder of the village.
Most romantic destination you've visited and why?
Kinondo Kwetu in Diani Beach, Kenya, was one of our absolute favorites. It was a Swahili-style house tucked between the sea cliffs and a sacred forest. It embraced the coastal Kenyan style and history with antiques, vibrant textiles, and plenty of chic and cozy places to curl up together. They surprised us each night with a private dinner, one set atop a water tower and another on a beached dhow boat.
Most romantic meal?
Chile chocolate soufflé paired with the Starlight Aromatherapy Bath at Verana resort in Yelapa, Mexico. The hostess showed us to the outdoor spa and dining area on the cliffs with hundreds of candles shimmering around the steaming bath, massage tables, and flower-covered bed. Then she said, "It's yours for the night, enjoy!" Unbelievable. Giving each other massages, soaking in the fragrant tub, nibbling on chocolate, and counting shooting stars (we saw 14!). We are still swooning.
Tips for preparing for a long flight?
We make sure to have a charged iPod with audiobooks and sleep music, a filled collapsible water bottle, a sarong for a blanket or pillow, snacks, and a proper meal. Remembering to pack a meal takes a little extra planning but is well worth it when it comes to taste, health, and savings.
Things to know before planning a once-in-a-lifetime trip?
Don't overplan. Make a general route and pinpoint your must-see places, but leave wiggle room for local recommendations and interesting opportunities that will arise. When you are flexible and open to adventure, that is when the most memorable and magical travel experiences happen.
Best camera for traveling?
We cannot say enough good things about our Canon T5i Digital SLR. This camera is a workhorse, and creates stunning images, cinema-quality 1080p HD Video, with features you will not find on a point and shoot or phone camera.
Go-to travel apps?
MapsWithMe gives you GPS and hyper-detailed maps anywhere in the world, without an internet connection or a local SIM card. XE Currency Exchange for fast and up-to-date money conversion. TripIt to organize, share, and stay up-to-date on changing travel itineraries. And 8Tracks for great free music playlists abroad.
In-flight beauty tips?
Avoid salty snacks, drink lots of water, catch a catnap, and retouch your makeup just before landing.
Starting the day before we leave or on the plane, we try to adjust our bedtime to be more in sync with the next time zone. When we arrive at our destination, we like to take a nice long walk to get the blood flowing, stop for caffeine at a local cafe, and find a fun night activity like live music to keep us up past 9 p.m.
Best ways for killing time during a layover?
Lounge Pass. We got it free with the Ritz Carlton Rewards, but it's available through a number of other credit cards, and it gets you access to VIP lounges in hundreds of international airports. With free food, drinks, Wi-Fi, TV, and comfy seating, it makes the time fly. We'd take a layover in Tokyo just for bottomless sushi and sake!
Where are you going next?
After New Year's on the ski slopes of Killington, Vermont, we'll likely be staying in an 18th-century home on a vineyard in Santorini, Greece. It's a B&B that is closed until March and the owners have asked us to keep an eye on the place for the winter.