Posts tagged: favorite countries

Couple Of The Week: Yours Truly

By , May 11, 2011 4:52 pm

I hope we don’t need any introductions. The couple of the week is Boris and MuiMui. While we were interviewing couples for our weekly couple section, we actually got asked to answer a few questions for Holly, who will be starting her travels in a few months. You can read the original interview on her blog.

MeAndFrenchie

Boris And MuiMui

Relationship Status: | Attached to the hip.
How long have you been together? | Over 3 years.
How long have you been traveling? | 13 months.
How long is your total planned trip? | 12 to 18 months.

What attracted you to traveling in the first place and how did it become a reality?
Boris: I grew up in France and have always been attracted to the US. I finally went there for an internship and loved it. Once I graduated, I immediately found a job in San Francisco. I loved the city so much that I was disappointed to have ended up there before seeing more of the world. One year before our world tour, I told MuiMui that I wanted to move abroad and experience life in a different country. She replied that if she had to leave everything, she wanted to see more of the world. We agreed to go on a world tour together.

MuiMui: My desire for travel grew from loving parents who worked all the time and basically from their lack of travel. In college, I snatched every chance I had to travel outside of the US. Then when I joined the corporate world, travel became my yearly escape. When I met my Boris, he would challenge me whenever I would say, “I wish I could …” so here we are, circling the globe.

How is traveling different from taking a two week holiday?
Boris: Traveling has nothing to with going on holiday. First, you always have to look at your budget to make you can make it to the end of your travel and that you don’t have a bad impact on the populations. Second, traveling is, for us, more oriented towards meeting people and learning cultures than just sightseeing. Last, I would say that when you travel you have to give yourself time to rest and reenergize.

MuiMui: The two do not have to be so different but as a typical American, my short and infrequent holidays seem to dictate how I traveled initially, so I would automatically try to maximize my experience by seeing as much as I can and within the western comforts I am use to. It was when I went to Vietnam for the first time on holiday and explored the small villages and did away with my usual comforts that made me realize how much I was missing out on.

How do you organize world travel among the both of you?
Boris: Before entering a new country we will both do 1 or 2 hours of research and then compare our results. Then with the information, we will try to make an itinerary that would allow us to see most of it within our allocated time frame. Once we arrive in a city, we will start looking together for a place to stay and I usually get tired and let MuiMui find the best deal in town.

MuiMui: A world trip is a lot to take in so with some planning, it makes things a little easier for us and more efficient. We split up the work by who wants to do what. Two things we learned not to do is over plan, leave out some of the small details to be explored together, and for each country, it is good if the both of you read up a little about it as you enjoy a place more if you know more about it.

What did you learn about each other?
Boris: She is extremely good at bargaining and finding deals. She can be very cheap and will get extremely upset if she finds out somebody else got a better deal. No matter how hard it is, if she has decided to go somewhere, she will find a way to get there (and without getting ripped off).

MuiMui: I did not necessarily learn something new about Boris, but the small details I looked passed before the trip were more apparent during the trip. For example, I know he is a nice guy, but I found at times he was being too nice and polite to a stranger in a situation that I did not feel comfortable being in.

Would you do it again? What would you change?
Boris: Yes but after a little break. I would do more research beforehand and visit fewer countries. I would also try to dedicate more time for personal activities like photography walks with locals, cooking lessons, or Spanish classes.

MuiMui: Yes! I feel like this past year was just a taste of more to come. I have more ideas for future trips such as becoming fluent in another language and staying longer in one place.

Any scary stories or low points?!
Boris: Nothing really scary as we never got robbed but if I have to choose a low point, it would be our experience in Indonesia on the road to Mount Bromo: A driver tried to rip us off and then a group of youngsters on motorbikes “saved” us, which was all an organized scam. We were in the middle on nowhere with no other tourists or public transportation around. It took us 3 hours to get out of there.

MuiMui: When we arrived in Arequipa and was looking around for a hotel, we met a female traveler who just experienced an attempted taxi kidnapping the evening before. She was still trembling and emotional and that woke me up how we always have to be careful in any country and as much as we are, shit still happens when there are bad people.

What was your most recurrent disagreement?
Boris: First money, second transportation.

MuiMui: We had one big recurring disagreement which was about when/how to book transportation. We both liked different styles and in the beginning, I would throw tantrums, not knowing I was, when I couldn’t get him to agree with me.

What are your top three tips for anyone thinking about traveling?
Both:
1: Go.
2: Meet as many people as you can.
3: Be open-minded and never reject something because it is different from what you are used to.
4: Always be aware of your surroundings.

Do you have any tips for traveling with your partner?
Boris: One laptop each or no laptop at all. Find some activities that you can do alone (photography, diving, etc). Even if it is easier to stay in your room, try to go out and engage with other people as much as you can; the experience you share is invaluable and not written in any guidebook.

MuiMui: Traveling to new places is both fun and stressful. Doing it with someone else can be even more challenging so work together instead of trying to be right all the time. There is no right or wrong when it comes to saving $0.50. Be more open minded while being safe and meet fellow travelers.

Any do’s and don’ts?
Both:
DO follow your instincts and change your plans.
DO NOT leave your stuff unattended even for a second. When riding on trains or buses, make sure your things are attached to you at all times. It just takes one second of snoozing for your things to be stolen.
DO learn the local language or at least use basic phrases or words.
DO NOT dress up like you would at home when visiting India. Not only will you shock the people, you may encounter constant harassment.
DO try local cuisine away from tourist areas if possible.

Is your traveling experience any different to how you imagined it would be?
Both: Traveling is more tiring than what we thought. It felt like a full time job at times. People are very different from one country to the other. Usually, the less money they have, the more giving they are and the more interested they are to meet you.

What was your favorite country you visited? Why?
Boris: Hard to say but I have 3 places that stand out:
Thailand because we had a marvelous time there. We met extremely nice people and no matter what kind of experience you are looking for (beach, history, culture, food, city, trekking, mountains, villages, etc), Thailand has it all!
Colombia because we went there with some apprehensions and no positive expectations, but the kindness of the people blew us away. Trust me, Colombia is one of the safest countries we’ve been to and you will love both the landscapes and the people.
Galapagos because it is 100% unique. Everyday we would wake up seeing something that you can only see on TV: Giant Turtles, Endemic birds, penguins, iguanas, and etc. Plus walking on islands made of fresh lava (only a few hundred years old) is quite something.

MuiMui: It’s so difficult to pick a favorite as there is something great (and bad) about each country we went to. I think the country that wins for overall ease of travel, variety of things to see and eat, pleasantness of the people and culture, something for everyone, is Thailand. But I will never forget about how wonderful the people in Colombia were, or how out of this world the animals were in the Galapagos, or the penguins hopping onto the beaches of New Zealand, or the colors and sites of India, and … the gastronomy culture and way of life in the south of France.

Finally what’s the best thing about traveling?
Both: We always think that the best thing is to see beautiful and famous places. After coming back, I don’t think that is true anymore. Learning is the best thing that happens when you travel. Meeting people from different cultures will open your eyes on the world and your own life. This is, in our opinion, an invaluable experience.

Couple Of The Week: Dominique & Théo

By , May 5, 2011 2:30 am

Running alongside with us, as we are being chased by Komodo Dragons on Rinca Island in Indonesia, was the lovely couple, Dominique and Théo. We shared an unforgettable experience together and we are so happy to have met them.

In addition to being great people, what amazed us the most about this couple is that when they decided to take a break from law school to travel, they made the most out of their small budget and turned it into an 7-month tour of Southeast Asia. They are living proofs that amazing travels DO NOT require large budgets.

Dominique and Théo

Dominique and Théo

Relationship Status: | Dating.
How long have you been together? | 2 years.
How long have you been traveling? | 5 months.
How long is your total planned trip? | 7 months.

How do you organize world travel among the both of you?
Dominique & Théo: We did not really organize this trip before leaving Quebec. We often change our plans and I think it’s what made our trip more exciting, but sometimes it puts more stress on us and it’s difficult for a couple.

What did you learn about each other?
Dominique: Théo is more patient than me. He can tolerate more dirt than me. He is also a very calm person. I knew that before, but I just realized it more.
Théo: I was surprised to see how well she adapted herself to difficult situations.

Would you do it again? What would you change?
Dominique: Yes, more organization.
Théo: Yes. Next time I would like to concentrate my trip on specific activities, so there is a goal.

What did you like least?
Dominique: The smell in India and the harassment of people who work in tourism.
Théo: The people who work in tourism.

Do you have any tips for traveling with your partner?
Dominique & Théo: Try to have some time on your own and sometimes it is better not to speak with each other when you are tired to avoid shit talking.

What was your favorite country you visited? Why?
Dominique & Théo: We hope Nepal, but so far India. The landscapes in the north of India are amazing and it is so different than anything else we saw during the past 5 months.

Couple of The Week: Jerome & Maru

By , April 27, 2011 7:27 am

Say hello to our couple of the week, Jerome and Maru. After working two years in Chili, South America, they couldn’t get enough so took off to see the rest of the world. We enjoy reading the couple’s blog, especially how they hire tour guides for their sightseeing and excursions. It’s a fun and an educational way of traveling.

Jerome and Maru

Jerome and Maru

Relationship Status: | Married.
How long have you been together? | 10 years.
How long have you been traveling? | 1 year and 1 month.
How long is your total planned trip? | 1 year.

How do you organize world travel among the both of you?
Jerome: Maru does the planning; I carry the bags and eat a lot at the restaurants. 😉
Maru: Every time we arrive in a new country, I draft out a basic itinerary taking in consideration of the time we plan to stay. Then Jerome does his magic and finds out the most amazing places close to each area. I keep track of budgets, he takes care of maintaining the blog and preparing the platform so I can write the Spanish version. We figure out transport and lodging together.

What did you learn about each other?
Jerome: That we could spend 1 year being together 24/7 without killing each other, and in fact, without any problems.
Maru: The harmony of a couple traveling together comes with a small netbook and a digital camera EACH.

Would you do it again? What would you change?
Jerome: We will… maybe on a motorcycle, maybe with kids. I wouldn’t change much. I think the preparation we did helped us avoid many mistakes. Maybe spend more time by the beach. Oh and yes, investigate the visas before going into a country (like Indonesia where we could have stayed longer if we had gotten a visa before arriving).
Maru: Absolutely! I would add a couple of kids, and a bit more of beforehand preparation, mostly investigating the countries we want to visit. I think we did not visit one or two really awesome places because we did not know we could easily get to them.

What was your most recurrent disagreement?
Jerome: Apart from being in India, no disagreements really.
Maru: mmm…none.

Do you have any tips for traveling with your partner?
Jerome: Let go.
Maru: Talk, always talk. Never let the misunderstandings get bigger.

What was your favorite country you visited? Why?
Jerome: There is not one favorite country overall actually, different countries for different things. But the top 3 are: Colombia (atmosphere + friends we met there), Nepal (hiking), New Caledonia (friends, memories, and beautiful place).
Maru:I agree with Jerome. We really liked all places we visited for a specific reason … well not all places. I still have mixed feelings about India.

Traveling As A Couple: Aud & Tonio

By , April 20, 2011 7:00 am

Without my partner in crime, MeAndFrenchie would not be possible. For those thinking of taking the same plunge, here is the dirty truth about traveling as a couple.

We were told many times by friends that if we could last through this trip then he is the one. While that is partly true, it doesn’t mean it is a good idea to dive into a world trip to test your love. All relationships require work, honesty, communication, compromising without over compromising, and much more. While traveling, you both will continue doing those things, but constantly in new environments. The things you like and don’t like about each other usually take years to realize and accept, but traveling will force it upon you both at a faster rate.

Don’t be intimated by all this because those that work as a team, will find that their relationship will grow stronger and traveling will be one of the best things they did together. Seeing the world and sharing that experience with someone special is blissful.

We will be asking a few couples, who we met along our travels, about how it is to travel together.

Up this week are Aud and Tonio who took the plunge after dating only one month! We had the great pleasure of meeting them on the slow boat along the Mekong River and kept bumping into each other over and over again in Laos and Cambodia.

Aud and Tonio

Aud and Tonio

Relationship Status: | Dating for now.
How long have you been together? | 17 months. Too short.
How long have you been traveling? | We’re on a break with travel now. We’ve traveled 15 months.
How long is your total planned trip? | A lifetime!

How do you organize world travel among the both of you?
Aud: We’ve tried picking countries that none of us has visited before to enjoy discovering them together (or ones that we really loved) and then we just play it be ear and decide as we go. We’ve been reading the Lonely Planet guides too.
Tonio: Aud organizes everything; I am just the follower. Seriously, we discuss each travel plan and make decisions then.

What did you learn about each other?
Well, a lot of things as we were dating only for a month before we started our travels.

Would you do it again? What would you change?
Aud: Definitely do it again. And maybe try and read about the countries a bit more before so we know what we really want to do. It always seems like we could spend more time in each place.
Tonio: Of course. Maybe being a bit more organized and having a joint account from the beginning!

What was your most recurrent disagreement?
Aud: I’m not sure; I don’t think it had much to do with traveling.
Tonio: Huuuuuum no clue.

Do you have any tips for traveling with your partner?
Aud: Patience! And don’t just stay with the two of you. When you’re not travelling alone, you don’t go towards people as much but it’s well worth the effort.
Tonio: Being cool, patient, and meet other travelers to “entertain”.

What was your favorite country you visited? Why?
Aud: Japan, Laos, New Zealand, Bolivia, and Argentina. Amazing people, nature and plenty to do outdoors – love the beautiful landscapes and plenty of trekking to do.
Tonio: Japan, Laos, New Zealand, and Argentina. Respectively for its people, atmosphere, nature, and food.

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