Cou­ple have been hon­ey­moon­ing for 2,500 days

USA TODAY Weekend Extra - - TRAVEL - Nancy Tre­jos

Mike and Anne Howard got mar­ried in 2011. On Jan. 22, 2012, they boarded a one-way flight to Brazil for their honey­moon. They haven’t stopped hon­ey­moon­ing since.

They have now been on their honey­moon, or “HoneyTrek” as they call it, for more than 2,500 days. They have been to seven con­ti­nents and 53 coun­tries.

“When we were plan­ning our honey­moon, we re­al­ized how many places we wanted to ex­plore, all the ex­pe­ri­ences we hoped to have in our lives, and that a 10-day trip just wasn't go­ing to cut it,” Mike Howard says. “Life is short, the world is big, and the value of travel is too great to wait un­til re­tire­ment.”

They earn their liv­ing by blog­ging about their ad­ven­tures on HoneyTrek.com. They have also just pub­lished a Na­tional Geo­graphic book on cou­ples ad­ven­ture travel, “Ul­ti­mate Jour­neys for Two.”

When they em­barked on their jour­ney, they hit the high­lights first: Machu Pic­chu in Peru, the Great Bar­rier Reef in Aus­tralia, a sa­fari in the Serengeti.

Af­ter check­ing off their bucket list items over six months, they de­cided to ex­plore more ob­scure places. At the mo­ment, they are hous­esit­ting for two months on the is­land of Roatan in Hon­duras.

“By not stay­ing on the ho­tel strip, hav­ing ac­tual neigh­bors, shop­ping in lo­cal mar­kets and mak­ing Hon­duran friends, we’re truly ex­pe­ri­enc­ing this des­ti­na­tion,” Howard says.

The Howards say it’s pos­si­ble to travel with­out hav­ing a trust fund. They saved and planned for a year be­fore they left. They bud­geted for 16 months of travel at $40 per per­son per day.

They learned how to be “travel hack­ers.” Now, they spend $20 per per­son per day. They learned how to fly for free. They read blogs, at­tended meet-ups and signed up for a course to max­i­mize their miles.

They have fig­ured out how to get free ac­com­mo­da­tions through the shar­ing econ­omy.

“There are a lots of ways to get free lodg­ing and, more­over, find truly unique ex­pe­ri­ences,” Howard says.

In Ja­pan, they vol­un­teered via World Wide Op­por­tu­ni­ties on Or­ganic Farms, on a farm in Hon­shu. They har­vested veg­eta­bles for four hours a day, which left them time to ex­plore the hot springs, vol­ca­noes and vil­lages.

Through Couch­surf­ing.com, they con­nected with a cou­ple in Mex­ico City, who let them spend three nights in their spare bed­room and showed them around dur­ing the day.

They’ve stayed in five-star ho­tels and zero-star hov­els. One time, while hitch­hik­ing from Mozam­bique to Tan­za­nia, their driver said he would take them only as far as his cousin’s vil­lage. They stayed in the cousin’s hut, crammed on a thatch cot with mice scur­ry­ing around.

“It sounds hor­ri­ble, and it was, but to this day we have some of our best belly laughs about that night,” Howard says.

They’ve been all over the USA and the world. They’ve ex­plored the moun­tains of Nepal, eaten all kinds of food in Thai­land, gone scuba div­ing in In­done­sia and vis­ited tem­ples in Myanmar.

Their last of­fi­cial ad­dress was in Hobo­ken, New Jer­sey, in De­cem­ber 2011. They’ve been to 823 towns since.

They re­cently set­tled down in the only way they know how to these days. They bought a vin­tage Toy­ota Sun­rader, which has a bed, closet, kitchen and bath­room with a shower.

“Buddy the Camper and a two-per­son kayak on the roof have en­abled us to spon­ta­neously ex­plore 45 states and three Cana­dian prov­inces at our own speed,” Howard says.

But they have no plans to stop. “We’ve owned a home, worked the 9to-5, and started a 401(k),” Howard says. “But it took this trip around the world to re­al­ize there are so many more ways to find suc­cess and hap­pi­ness. Ev­ery day we travel, we learn some­thing new, cre­ate a mem­ory or make a friend.”

HONEYTREK

Mike and Anne Howard stopped at Salmon Glacier in Bri­tish Columbia on their more than 2,500-day honey­moon.

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