Positive Personal Changes After a Year+ of Travel, Part 3

When it comes to good habits I picked up on the road, the majority of them apply to health and nutrition. It is a strange thing to zero in on, but since returning to the United States, I have taken a closer look at what we eat, how much we eat and even the ingredients we put inside our meals. The irony is that Tara started getting into health, nutrition and fitness a few years before we left, but I didn’t pay too much attention to the information she was learning and sharing. Fast-forward to me losing 40 pounds by the end of our RTW trip through increased exercise and an improved diet and suddenly all of this seems vitally important.

Pre 10-miler racers

Pre 10-miler racers

When we first got back, I wrote an article about my weight loss. This was motivated by my thoughts of, “Wow, I actually lost around 40 pounds,” but the post lacked the contrast of life on the road versus full-time living in the U.S. In this case, it’s been about 9 months since we’ve returned and I am better now able to spot the good habits we picked up while traveling, as well as the ones that can be applied to anyone looking to improve their health. Here are a few of my top tips.

First and foremost, you are what you eat. Every time you step into a restaurant you are giving up control over your diet. Sure, you can see the ingredients listed on some menus, but the preparation and details of where your food came from are not always known. It’s tough to make sense of the amount of calories, fat, sodium and sugar you can and should consume in a meal, but when I am in my own kitchen and I see a recipe call for 2 cups of sugar, at least I can adjust to what I think is appropriate and desirable for myself. This is one of the reasons Tara and I rarely eat out (plus, we save a ton of money by making our own meals). Also, we stopped eating meat years ago, and while some restaurants have begun catering to vegetarians, it is still not as prevalent as it could be. Continue reading

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Positive Personal Changes After a Year+ of Travel, Part 2

Let’s be real for a minute. Everyone has fought with his or her significant other in some way. Sometimes it’s audibly evident from a block away, and other times the silent treatment or cold shoulder is given instead.

Mike and I are no different. Our pre-trip arguments were mostly petty and quickly resolved. “Tara, you should vacuum more,” Mike shouts over the roar of the vacuum. “Mike, you should clean the bathroom more,” I say while scrubbing the porcelain goddess. We aren’t big on chores, but we each have fallen into doing the same ones over and over. Make no mistake, we don’t actually enjoy what have unwillingly become our assigned duties – that’s why we’re always trying to get the other person to step it up.

Swan towels

If swan towels argue but there’s no one around to hear them, do they make noise? Bad joke? 🙂

After most of our disagreements having been about the frequency in which the other person does X chore, we knew that spending 10,000 consecutive hours together on our RTW was going to test us in new ways. Many people have asked how we were able to do it without getting sick of each other or needing time apart. We didn’t actually go into our trip with a game plan, but one certainly developed over the first few months as we got a better feel for what sparked impatience or negative attitudes (mostly low blood sugar) and gradually made minor adjustments to our behavior (like carrying snacks). Continue reading

Positive Personal Changes After a Year+ of Travel, Part 1

Mike and I live differently now. Maybe it’s just another year of maturing or perhaps it’s a result of our 14-month RTW trip. I like to think it’s the latter because I truly believe that a lot of positive things came from the people we met and what we experienced.

It’s been easy for us to spot some of the changes. A quick look around our apartment reveals simplicity, nothing excessive. Tabletops are generally clear of clutter. Our shoes are left in foyer; our feet bare when we’re inside the apartment (a great habit we picked up in Asia).

Before we left on our trip, we spent at least eight solid months selling and donating anything we owned that didn’t have immense meaning to us – books, clothes, furniture, electronics, kitchenware, unopened pantry items, and more. The amount of possessions we saved could easily fit in a small closet. Doing this allowed us to store our remaining things with my aunt and uncle instead of shelling out monthly payments for a storage unit (A big thanks to Rick & Lisa!!!). It saved us money during our trip, but most importantly, it provided us with a fresh start when we moved into an efficiency apartment in DC in February. Instead of being burdened with hand-me-downs, possessions that had been grandfathered into our relationship and items that we may have otherwise never gotten rid of, we were able to furnish and decorate our new space from scratch.

Kitchen & Dining Room

The kitchen and dining room area of our efficiency apartment.

Continue reading

Friday Chewable: Inspiration for the New Year

Welcome to our series called Friday Chewable: Food for Thought. Once per month we will post a new topic to open your mind, challenge your ideas or just give you something to think about over the weekend.

This fourth installment of Food for Thought will motivate you to pinpoint your dream and pursue it – now!

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We’re pretty stoked that you’re following our blog. Long-term travel, or even a round-the-world trip, isn’t something that everyone has a desire to pursue. We understand that because it wasn’t something we always wanted to do. But at the heart of our mindset, this blog and our RTW journey is the idea of turning a great desire or lifelong dream into a reality. Isn’t that what you’re living for – to pursue the things you’re passionate about? Continue reading

RTW Recovery: Tara is Employed!

Tara in Mui Ne, Vietnam

Yay, I’m employed! This isn’t the view from my desk, but I can deal with that.

You’ve already read the spoiler, but I’ll say it anyway: I accepted a position with an international e-commerce company only two months after our RTW trip ended! Yay!!!

Before I dive into how this process unfolded upon our return, it’s important for me to explain how I got there. From the very beginning planning stages this trip, Mike and I felt like we were taking a big risk quitting our secure, well-paying jobs in the middle of an economic depression to travel around the world. I thought my employment gap would be frowned upon and my résumé skipped over. I imagined it would take months to get an interview and even longer to be offered a job. If anything was holding me back from completely embracing the idea of a RTW trip, it was the fear of being unable to land another job that I felt good about (read: as opposed to a bottom-rung position being paid minimum wage). Continue reading

Friday Chewable: The Diminishing Returns of Postcards

Welcome to our all-new series called Friday Chewable: Food for Thought. Once per month we will post a new topic to open your mind, challenge your ideas or just give you something to think about over the weekend.

This third installment of Food for Thought, written by Mike, deals with postcards and the value we attach to them.

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Postcards from around the world

Postcards from around the world

There is something about the tactile nature of postcards that keeps me from giving up on them completely. Perhaps it is their nostalgia? Fond memories of my years in Prague a decade ago, a cloudy haze of absinthe and pilsner-fueled days and nights. The obscene amount of postcards I would scrawl on and send off, like messages in bottles, hopeful they would find their recipient. Yet, for all my love for this correspondence, this medium as the message, they seem to be fading in the consciousness of the world. Continue reading

Friday Chewable: Experiencing Genuine Kindness

Welcome to our all-new series called Friday Chewable: Food for Thought. Once per month we will post a new topic to open your mind, challenge your ideas or just give you something to think about over the weekend.

This second installment of Food for Thought, written by Mike, deals with kindness and humanity.

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I like to think I’m a nice person. I try to be friendly and understanding, even during trying times. Over the course of our 14 months traveling, I realized there is a vast ocean of difference between being nice and the genuine kindness that we experienced from others.

Early in our trip we were fortunate enough to Couchsurf with an awesome couple, Clelia and Ruslan, at their home in Trieste, Italy. We stayed with them for two nights, and over the course of many conversations, we tried to reconcile how most Americans’ attitude of friendliness is based on a superficial model. Continue reading