Category: Preparation

9 Fun Ways To Keep In Touch

By , November 15, 2011 9:39 pm

While we traveled 17 countries, we found it difficult to keep in touch with others on a regular basis, but we made our best effort. Some travelers we met had mobile phones everywhere they went. We thought that was too easy and expensive in the long run. It was more important to have our laptops with us so we could blog and we took advantage of the free communication technology options over the Internet.

Here is a great example about a couple who found a fun, unique way to stay close while being physically far apart:

“Every night, I record the story of my day and send it to Erik as a private track on SoundCloud. He listens later at night on the West Coast or early in the morning. This is one of the things we do to stay close while we’re far apart. (San Francisco and Boston, while I’m away at school.)”

Not only is this a cute story and SoundCloud a great source for music, this is another way travelers can keep in touch with others while traveling.

For us, having a blog by far has been the best way to share our travels with you all, but sometimes my family and friends want to have face-to-face communication. I find it difficult to make regular phone calls, especially to several people. So why not record one brief message and share it with multiple people?

I’m not going to list every communication technology out there, but here are some ways to keep in touch.

Blog: share everything and anything, but it is honestly a lot of work to keep it updated regularly.

E-mail: send one-on-one e-mails or a summary e-mail.

Facebook: you know how it works.

Web Chat (free or low calling rates):
-Google Voice

Sound recordings (record and listen later):

-TokBox: TokBooth allows your readers to record a video message for you.

Try it out and say HELLO to MeAndFrenchie by submitting a video message.  We will only get this message and it will NOT be shared with others. Thanks!

As We Return, Another Couple Departs For a World Tour!

By , October 27, 2011 7:07 pm

Hello Readers! As we return home from our world trip, a new couple from NYC gets ready for their big trip. We are excited to introduce you to Allie and Nelson, a very sweet couple who are filled with excitement and anticipation, as they are only days away from completing their things-to-do-list and finally taking off with only one-way tickets. We will get to follow them on their incredible journey from start to finish.

Allie & Nelson

Allie & Nelson

Relationship Status: | Dating/Best Friends.
How long have you been together? | 4+ years.
Where do you currently live? | White Plains, NY.
How did you meet? | Through a mutual friend.
How long is your total planned trip? | 6-7 months and no return flight booked yet!
Which countries are you planning to visit? | Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Peru, Chile, New Zealand, Australia, Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand, Japan, United Kingdom, Portugal, France, Italy, Croatia, Netherlands, Austria, Czech Republic … and maybe more!

Tell us a bit about yourself?
I am a fun 27-year-old woman with a passion for travel and food! I love being with my family and will miss them dearly! I love to cook (will miss my kitchen dearly) and I am excited to try new foods and cooking methods. I love New York City, running, hiking, and the New York Yankees. I am eager to learn Spanish while on this trip and work on my photography skills with our new camera. I have worked as a project manager for the past 3 years. I also have an MBA and am a six sigma certified black belt.

I am a 28-year-old man who works for a large financial firm as a banker with a HUGE passion for travel. I love new food, the New York Yankees, and I am a big family guy.

How did you decide on doing this big trip?
I, like many people in the States, have a passion I have been putting off due to many reasons: can’t risk losing a promotion, would I have enough money, what would people think? I have adopted a new way of thinking lately, I ask myself “How many lives do we live?” The answer is only one. Allie and I did our research and took a look at our finances. We soon realized it was not only possible, but it was easy to make it a reality.

I’ve always loved traveling since I was very young. Our trip to Costa Rica really sealed the deal. Why go back to a position or a lifestyle you dread? Life is far too short to not enjoy what you are doing every day!

Where have you travelled before?
I have traveled much of the US and done some international travel to Europe and Central America.

I have backpacked through some of Europe, traveled through the US, and frequently to the Dominican Republic where I was born.

What excites you the most about this upcoming trip?
Seeing so many different people, cultures, customs, and religions. I hope to make many friends while on the road and meet up with old ones! I’m excited to simplify our lives: very little TV, iPhone, internet, American media and a shift in daily priorities. I want to be able to appreciate the things we take for granted in the US like reliable public transportation, hot water, a washer/dryer, or even our public restrooms! I want to get back to basics and enjoy our surroundings.

I am excited to meet new people, learn different cultures, try new foods, and observe how others live. I want to compare daily life in these countries we are visiting to life in the US and hopefully adopt a new way of thinking and living.

What scares you the most about this trip?
Not seeing my family for this long period of time. I miss them just thinking about it.

The unknown! It’s scary to not know what to expect, how we will feel, will we enjoy ourselves?

What did you do to prepare for your trip?
Lots of shopping, researching, and planning … and a lot of mental preparation.

Lots of research, planning and excel sheets. We have been saving our pennies and planning our trip non-stop for the past few months.

What is your favorite thing you always pack with you?
My New York Yankees sweatshirt from my brother.

My iPhone. Please don’t get this wrong, it’s not to stay connected, but for the tools on the phone such as maps, clock, calculator, etc.

Do you have any rules set between the two of you for this trip?
We need to be supportive of one another. We know we will feel ups and downs as we go along our journey. Some days I will have to pick Nelson up and other days I will need to get picked up. We realize we will be out there alone together. We are all we got! So we will have to work as a strong partnership. Also, we have promised to communicate. If there is something bothering us we need to speak up and let the other person know so the issue doesn’t snowball to a bigger problem. Nelson will be teaching me Spanish on our journey so we have agreed to speak only Spanish for an hour a day!

Be there for one another if we get home sick, have doubt and be each other’s support.

How do you imagine traveling will be like on this trip?
I feel like this will be an experience like none other. Adventurous, educational, and spiritual.

It will be hectic but fun! Very adventurous and eye opening.

Do you have any expectations of how you two will be when you return?
I strongly feel we are going to come back wiser from this trip due to all we will see and experience and be much more culturally diverse.

We will for sure be changed and be given a whole new perspective on life. What that perspective will be, I don’t know. There is no doubt I will be an improved woman due to this experience when we return, that is, if we return. 😉

What resources are you using to help you prepare for your trip?
Of course has been very helpful, along with other sites. There is so much information out there once you start digging!

What is your strategy with flights?
Round the world ticket through UK to South America, New Zealand, Australia, Asia, return to UK. Then we will travel Europe on our own (Flights and train).

Allie and Nelson are leaving for their World trip on November 8th.  Check out their blog to follow their adventures: The World is Ours

Our Around The World Trip Statistics

By , June 20, 2011 7:11 am

On March 17th 2010, we left our beloved city of San Francisco with the hopes of seeking new adventures while circling the globe. After 384 days (1 year and 19 days) of doing exactly that, we finished on April 5th, 2011 with our arrival into France. We want to THANK YOU, our readers and supporters, for following us along the way on our amazing journey that had us circling the globe 2.4 times! And while we completed our first “world trip”, we are never going to be done with traveling so when you are in need of an escape, MeAndFrenchie will be here as we still have lots to share.

around the world trip statistics

Here are some of our atw trip statistics:

around the world glove » Days gone:  384
» Countries visited:  17 [USA, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, China, Vietnam, France, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Argentina, New Zealand, Australia, Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, India]
around the world glove » Fights occurred between Me & Frenchie:  80
» Nights spent apart:  0
around the world camera » Photos taken:  7512 [MuiMui],  27280 [Boris]
» Photos kept:  7512 [MuiMui],  3382 [Boris]
» Average photos taken per day:  20 [MuiMui],  71 [Boris]
around the world pen » Posts written:  153 x 2 [English and French]
around the world backpack » Total weight of bags at start:  24 + 10 pounds  [for large + small bag each person; weight lessened along the way as we started to donate things we did not need like clothing]
» Total weight of bags at end:  35 + 10 pounds  [because of souvenirs]
around the world lock » Stolen goods:  0
» Lost or broken goods:  2 [MuiMui lost one camera and then broke another]
around the world people » People we already knew before and met along the way:  28[Big shout outs to the following people: Holly, Megan F., Anthony, Matthieu, Damien, Noel, Sam, Michael, Kin, Tony, Megan Y., Amy, Damien M., Coralie, Marie-Hélène, Gerard, Zhi, Uyen, Leon, Caellum, Aleki, Ben, Daveena, Tai, Shan, Lia, Nolan, Kaylene]
around the world lodging
  • » Sleeping arrangements …
  • Hotels+guesthouses:  303
  • Friends+family:  45
  • Airport:  1
  • Plane:  3
  • Boat:  9
  • Bus:  4
  • Caravan:  12
  • Train:  7
» Best paid accommodation:  House rental  [aka White House] in Koh Samui, Thailand
» Worst paid accommodation:  Guesthouse in Chiang Khong, Thailand [before crossing border to Laos]
around the world sick » Days Sick:  6 [MuiMui],  5 [Boris] from local food and ice
around the world diving » Scuba dives:  14 [Boris]
» Best dive:  Manta Ray in Komodo National Park, Indonesia
around the world animals
  • » Chased by …
  • 1 alpha male Sea Lion in The Galapagos
  • 1 female Komodo Dragon in Indonesia
around the world crime » Crime experienced:  0
» Kidnapping stories heard in Peru:  4
» Crime heard in Colombia:  0
around the world jetsetter » Flights flown:  40
» Flight hours:  146 [over 6 days]
» Miles flown:  60,193 [over 2.4 times around the globe]
» Free hotel nights due To flight cancellations:  2 [at 5 star hotels!!]
around the world elevation » Highest elevation:  16,000 feet  [Peru]
around the world moments » Favorite country to visit overall:  Thailand
» Least favorite country to visit overall:  Indonesia
» Most visited country:  Thailand [3 times]
around the world likes » Favorite place to live:  France [MuiMui], USA or anywhere in South America [Boris]
» Least favorite place to live:  Cambodia [not entirely fair as we spent the least time here]
around the world surprise » Country with the greatest culture shock:  India
» Country with the least culture shock:  Singapore [if you don’t include the life of Singaporean housewives]
around the world gear » Most useful item: silk mummy sheetsaround the world sheets [MuiMui],  siliconized storage bagsaround the world bags [Boris]
» Least used item:  compassaround the world compass and emergency aluminized blanketaround the world emergency
» Favorite travel item:  iXpenseIt app [MuiMui],  Camera Canon T2iaround the world iXpenseIt [Boris]
around the world wifi » Best wifi:  Buenos Aires, Argentina  [free]
» Worst wifi:  China [does not exist],  New Zealand [rare and expensive]
around the world food » Best local dish:  foie gras in Paris [MuiMui],   chicken tikka masala + naan in Kolkatta, India  [Boris]
» Worst local dish:  Vegemitearound the world vegemite in Australia
» Strangest dish:  coconut worm in Amazon, Ecuador
around the world coffee » Best coffee:  Colombia
» Worst coffee:  Indonesia [taste bad and not filtered]
» Best non-alcoholic drink:  Sugar cane juice with a little bit of lemon or orange
» Best alcoholic drink:  Pisco Sour in Peru
around the world durian » Tastiest fruit:  mangosteen
» Smelliest fruit:  durian [tip: pinch your nose before and while eating it]
around the world flag » Most overrated town:  Vang Vieng, Laos  [beautiful but spoiled by tourism]
» Most underrated town:  Salento, Colombia
» Worst border crossing:  Laos
around the world moments » Most inspiring moment:  Meeting a family who is biking through Southeast Asia for 1 year with their 1 & 4 year old children
» Most frustrated moment:  Trying to find transportation to Mt. Bromo
» Funniest moment:  Watching a waitress hang out inside a large glass freezer because it was so hot and the restaurant had no air conditioner in Vientiane, Laos
around the world bugs » Worst bugs:  sun flies in the Amazon [luckily we were not bitten by a botfly]
around the world skill » Best skill learned:  Flipping over roaches[Full story: In one of the hotels we stayed in Cambodia, we encountered the biggest roaches we had ever seen. Before going to sleep, we try to sweep them out of our room, but they would come right back. Instead, we put them upside down during the night and flipped them back up during the day.]

How You Can Win Free Custom Lasik

By , June 10, 2011 7:57 am
Me And Frenchie

Me And Frenchie

Back in January 2010, we shared our Custom Lasik experience with you. Two months after having Custom Lasik surgery, our eyes were doing great and we got the thumbs up to leave for our world tour.

Throughout our travels, we did not experience any dryness, irritation, or night vision halo. In fact, we did not have any problems with our eyes. Maybe we would have been okay traveling with glasses (even traveling with contact lens), but we are so much happier with Custom Lasik. We don’t take for granted our new vision and it has really allowed us to travel worry-free and live hassle-free.

If you are considering getting Custom Lasik, don’t choose a doctor by price. We recommend selecting a doctor by experience, technology they use, and how personal they are. In any case, check if you can set up a flexing spending account with your employer to help with the costs. Even better than that, if you live in the bay area, you can win free Lasik with Dr. George Simon, our Custom Lasik Vision surgeon.

Official Rules for Custom Lasik Vision Will Change Your Life or How Custom Lasik Vision Changed My Life:

You have to be a legal resident of California and reside in one the following counties:
Alameda, Contra Costa, Lake Marin, Mendocino, Napa, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Sonoma. Hurry because the deadline is June 30, 2011.

We entered the “How Custom Lasik Vision Changed My Life” part of the contest. Here is our video:

THANKS and good luck!

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.


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?
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?
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.

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