Anne and Mike Howard are incredible goal achievers. As American newlyweds, they decided to document their epic honeymoon adventure on a travel blog called HoneyTrek. This was no ordinary honeymoon! The trip took them across 6 continents, 33 countries, and 302 places in 675 days. The couple is now focused on helping others turn their travel dreams into reality, through HoneyTrek and Trip Coach courses.
HoneyTrek has been featured in publications such as Los Angeles Times, Daily Mail, The Huffington Post, CBS and more.
The Achievers Story
Tell us who you are, where you’re from and something that people would find interesting about you?
We’re Anne and Mike Howard, the world’s longest honeymooners. To celebrate our marriage we traveled to 33 countries across six continents and have been keeping a travel blog, HoneyTrek, to share all our adventures and help more people to get out there and explore the world with our long-term travel courses.
Give us a brief overview about the goal you achieved and why it was so important?
Anne: We got thinking about all the places we wanted to experience in the world and realized it would never happen with only two weeks vacation or even retirement. Who’s to say that everything lines up perfectly at 65 to be able to travel? So, for our honeymoon, we decided there was no better time to travel than now and set out on a trip around the world. The memories we’ve gained are invaluable something we will have, learn, laugh, and grow from for the rest of our lives.
Every story has a beginning, middle, and an end; where we’ve been, where we’re going, and everything in between. Give us an example of what your life was like before achieving this goal?
Mike: Before we achieved this goal, we were both normal 9 to 9 New York workers. I did social media marketing and advertising. Anne was an editor for design magazines and websites.
Anne: We always liked those jobs and thought we were going down a great career and life path.
Mike: Yes, we loved the path we were on but just knew there was so much more in the world to see, explore and people to meet. We just couldn’t wait another 30 years until hopefully, we had money, our hips worked and we still wanted to travel. We knew we had to get out there.
Help us understand what caused you to move in a different direction?
Mike: I was at Octoberfest in Munich with a German buddy of mine. I was chatting with one of his friends and after a couple steins of Hofbrau he said he just went on this really long trip with his girlfriend. Being the normal worker with 10 day vacations I asked him how long the trip was. I was thinking 3 or 4 weeks but then he said it was 52 weeks long. My jaw hit the floor.
Anne: When Mike told me about this I was equally flabbergasted, especially when he said they did their trip around the world for $50 a day per person. We were living outside of New York City and our rent alone was more than $50 a day!
Mike: We knew people who traveled through Europe to backpack for a few months after college before starting their job but never really knew someone personally who had gone on a true around the world trip to multi continents for a year or longer. When we heard that this guy had done it, we said we are going to do this too.
Once we had this realization we started planning. We got an Atlas and started thinking about places to go. Over the next year and a half or so, from when we had this realization until our actual wedding day, we were aggressively saving frequent flyer miles, saving money, cutting expenses, joining different travel groups, reading blogs, buying books.
Anne: It does take time to plan for these things because you are basically putting your life on hold and there are a lot of steps to make that happen. So, we said before our first year anniversary we would set off on this trip.
So 6 continents and 33 countries, did I read that correctly?
What were some of the places that you went to?
Anne: It all started in Brazil. It was a bold first move going from our cubicle in New York to the Amazon jungle, hiking into the wild for 5 days, catching piranhas for dinner and sleeping in trees. It was extreme but we quickly acclimated to our new lives as travelers.
Mike: From Brazil we looped South America for four months, continued to Africa for three months taking local buses from South Africa up to Kenya, spent nine months traveling Asia and then Oceania. We almost went home after that but were on a roll and once you have dialed in your life for travel, it’s easy to continue. We’d learned so many ways to keep our expenses low and just felt like we were gaining so much from this experience that we extended to Europe and went through the UK, Norway and Turkey.
Now that you are home, what have been some of your biggest takeaways from traveling around the world?
Mike: When you watch the news these days, I think one of the big reasons people don’t travel is because you see so many negative things around the world. There is a perception that people in other countries are not receptive to people from the United States. When you get out there and meet those people, the real people that are in these countries, you realize that’s not the case. We went to 33 countries on this trip and every single country had warm, loving people. Now, when we are home we just feel like we need to pay that forward.
Anne: One example of the incredible kindness of strangers…we were broken down on the side of the road and a random guy not only helped us fix our motorcycle, he took us in for the night, fed us multiple meals, and treated us like family. He never asked for a single dime, just our address to keep in touch.
Also, getting out there and seeing how much wealth Americans have compared to the rest of the world and realizing that happiness is not about stuff. Its about experiences, human connection and focusing on what matters. You don’t need much to be happy.
Overcoming The Obstacles
If there’s one thing I know for sure it’s that obstacles like fear, time and money among other things can prevent us from or motivate us towards achieving goals. What are the top 3 obstacles you faced, why were they obstacles to begin with, and how were they conquered?
Mike: There were definitely a few obstacles in preparing a trip like this—though some were rational and some were irrational. Saving and budgeting is a big one. Yes, it does cost a good amount of money to travel the world but we did our trip for less than the monthly rent on our apartment so it’s a lot cheaper than people think.
We tell students that we have in our Trip Coach courses that if they save $10 a day for two years, that will be enough money to travel around the world for six months. If you packed a lunch, stopped buying coffee and saved with intention, travel can be on the horizon.
Anne: It’s about setting goals and sticking with them. You are never going to be fully ready but if you set a date, and take the right steps to prepare, you can hit the road and have things fall into place.
Another obstacle was career concerns. Though the soft and hard skills you get from traveling like communicating, negotiating and being a risk taker which brings more confidence for having put ourselves out there. We’ve learned a ton about ourselves and the workings of the world so in the end it was actually good for our career and who we are as people.
Mike: I will throw one more fear in there which wasn’t too big a fear for us but we hear it a lot. It was the fear of the unknown and leaving your comfort zone. We can say that coming back from that unknown of around the world travel, it’s anything but scary. If you go into it with a positive disposition and smile on your face, there are so many doors that are going to be opened.
You mentioned the courses that you offer. Can you talk a little bit more about that; how you put them together and the process you take people through?
Anne: Sure, when we were starting out, all we wanted to do was talk to somebody who had survived a trip around the world and could give us tested and approved recommendations and advice. We want to be that mentor for other people. We want to take all the knowledge we’ve gained and share it with people who dream of traveling the world but could use the support to make it happen.
Trip Coach is the name of the one-on-one courses and it can be anything from an hour-long Skype call, where we tailor the conversation based on your goals to a 3 or 6 hour course where we go into everything from saving to budgeting to racking up frequent flyer miles, how to get free or affordable lodging, the best health insurance, safety tips, health tips, packing and everything you really need to know to have a smooth, safe, affordable and completely epic trip.
The next part of the interview is the Triumph. The triumph is all about taking the success of achievement to the next level of personal greatness. The idea of greatness can be different for everyone. For me, greatness is all about the pursuit rather than the destination. What does greatness mean to you and how has achieving this goal contributed to that idea?
Mike: I’m not sure I will do it justice but to me being great isn’t about having the best job or the biggest house in the neighborhood or having a title next to your name. I think being great is about being a kind and generous person, being true to your beliefs and what you stand for. Doing what you love and following your dreams. Find your passion and turn that into your business or turn that into your pursuit, as you were saying. Live a life that you’re proud to talk about. To me, that’s the meaning of greatness.
Roadmap To Goal Achievement
What is the best advice you ever received that helped you clarify and/or achieve this goal?
Anne: A lot of people are afraid to leave because they are afraid of what they will miss. But rest assured, how much will you gain from putting yourself out there, taking risks and going into the unknown is infinitely greater than things you left behind.
What are some of the resources or tools that helped you achieve this goal?
Meet Plan Go – This career break community and website has different cities around the States that do quarterly meet-ups about long term travel. Attending their events allows you to meet other people who have done or are about to take a long term trip. There is nothing better than talking to somebody who can speak from experience.
What did you do to stay motivated throughout the process?
Mike: If you pick up a copy of National Geographic or read any travel blogs, it’s pretty easy to stay motivated towards the long-term travel goal when there is so much beauty and adventure out there. That said, it does take diligent planning and saving.
Anne: Talking to around the world travelers. There are a million things that come across your mind and it was incredibly comforting when we could find those people. We met a guy who traveled around the world with his wife and two kids and we were always peppering him with questions.
We would work through any stresses that pop up by just thinking about how much we would grow and gain from such travels and that also kept us motivated.
Is there a book that helped you achieve this goal? If so, how?
Anne: Vagabonding: An Uncommon Guide to the Art of Long-Term World Travel by Ralph Potts was great not just as a resource about concrete things but he has a great perspective. He has been a world traveler for 20+ years and goes through all your various phases from doubt to planning to re-acclimating into the western world. I read the book before we left, during the trip and after we got back. You learn something new every time you read it.
What Blogs and Podcasts do you recommend?
If you were advising someone on how to achieve the same goal or something similar, what specific steps would you have them follow?
Mike: The #1 thing that would have helped us achieve this goal sooner or stayed traveling longer would be getting into the frequent flyer mile game a lot earlier. There are so many ways to earn miles without even taking a flight and it’s a phenomenal way to save money and be nimble.
In the 7 months leading up to our trip, we earned 430,000 frequent flyer miles without even stepping on an airplane. Those points allowed us to save between the two of us $12,500 on flights. If you go by our daily budget it allowed us to extend the HoneyTrek 120 days longer than if we had to pay for all the flights we took with cash.
Talk to someone who has done it. You can build up the fears in your head but when you start to hear the stories of not just their successes but how they work through challenges that is hugely comforting. There is a lot of information about around the world travel but there is no substitute for experience.
Anne: It does start with your savings account. Look at your account and divide it by $40 and that’s how many days you can travel. If you want to travel longer, start making your savings plan like we referenced earlier, until you achieve that goal.
We had these students who are planning this trip in one year from now and we said great, how much do you have saved and they said we are in debt $2,000. We helped them come up with a strategy and through various tips we gave them and their own determination they’ve already saved thousands of dollars.
Mike: Another easy thing to do is sign up for Couch Surfing. It’s an amazing community of people who open up their homes to travelers and its completely free. We’ve couchsurfed all over the world and staying in a locals home is an instant window into that culture. Before we left, we knew we were going to be couch surfing so, we said if you are going to take from the world, you have to give to the world so, we hosted a good handful of people in our apartment. We met the most amazing people. You start sharing stories and learning about other places through them. You honestly have a connection and friend for life.
What’s the best way for people to connect with you?
Is there anything else you would like to share before we conclude?
We are so passionate about long term travel and all the benefits. We think more people should be out there doing it. That’s why we run the Trip Coach courses. We would like to offer a complimentary call to anyone interested in asking us questions about around the world travel and how they can do it too.
We would also like to extend to your audience a discount on any of our courses. If they mention GoalsAreCool we will give them 10% off any course that we offer on Trip Coach.
We love talking to anyone who has questions and whatever we can do to help get them on the road that’s what we’re going to do.