I first wrote out these questions/answers in 2017, before we began our Big Adventure. When I came across them again last week I was surprised both by what had changed and what had remained constant after two years of traveling. I did update – those things are in italic.
Here we go!
- Which do you prefer: tours or independent travel? I have nothing against tours, or organized travel, but I still prefer doing it on my own. There are travels/places though where I would definitely book a tour (like a photo safari in Africa). We had a wonderful time on our tour in India, and saw and did things we would have never been able to otherwise, and enjoyed our train journey across Australia. I would consider taking a tour again, depending on the location, services provided, and the cost.
- What’s the first thing you check out when you reach your destination? I scout out where I can get a good cup of coffee, hopefully without having to go to Starbucks.
- What’s something sort of ordinary you like to do at your destination? I love to check out local supermarkets, mini marts, etc. It’s interesting to see what food costs, what stores carry, how they’re the same or different from our local stores or American stores in general if we’re overseas. It’s also an interesting way to get a glimpse of the local culture. I also love to visit bakeries.
- Street food: Yea or nay? I mostly say yes to street food, although I check it out pretty carefully before eating. I’ve eaten some amazing things from food stands and carts (and had a few losers too).
- What’s your ideal travel breakfast? Ideally it would be yogurt, fresh fruit and a little granola, but I’ll eat anything as long as it’s not too heavy. However, if I see Eggs Benedict on the menu I’m going to order it.
- What’s your favorite road food? I prefer to eat at local restaurants versus chains if at all possible. Thankfully there are lots of different ways to find those local places these days. Favorite food? It used to be a good hamburger or sandwich for lunch, or something like chicken fried steak with mashed potatoes and gravy for dinner. These days I eat lighter, or share with Brett, and we like to try local specialties. I prefer to fix my own meals most of the time as well. It doesn’t help that I can’t eat salad.
- What’s the most important thing you pack in your suitcase? Along with a desire for adventure and a sense of wonder, it’s a comfortable pair of walking shoes.
- Do you roll or fold your clothes when you pack? I do a little of both. I prefer rolling, but have a couple of items that just don’t want to roll.
- What do you pack in your carry-on? I used to only travel with a carry-on, so everything I needed for the trip went in. When we were checking our bags during the Big Adventure my carry-on had a change of clothes (and a couple of changes of underwear), basic toiletries, electronics, important paperwork and snacks.
- Which do you prefer: tote bag or backpack? I definitely prefer carrying a tote bag if at all possible when we travel. Brett prefers a back pack though, so we’re able to switch things around between us so that we can carry everything where it makes sense. I tried carrying a backpack on our Big Adventure, but eventually went back to a tote bag as it was more comfortable.
- What’s most important when you’re planning travel, transportation, lodging, food, or sightseeing? They all play such different roles, but lodging is probably the most important in my opinion. Even if we don’t spend a lot of time there, without a clean, safe place to sleep and bathe the rest of the trip can fall flat.
- In your opinion, what are the three most important phrases to know in a foreign language? 1) Thank you; 2) Excuse me/ I’m sorry; 3) please. After that you can add I don’t understand, where’s the bathroom?, how much? and so forth. The “magic words” in English are just as important elsewhere else as they are here.
- What have you noticed most about Americans when you travel overseas? We can be very loud, we’re sadly often overweight (me included), and we can be annoyingly condescending at times. We can also be very friendly and helpful. I found all of these to still be true during the Big Adventure.
- What are your least favorite ways to travel? Neither Brett nor I have ever had any desire to pull a trailer or drive an RV – it’s just not our thing. I have nothing against cruises either, but there are other things I’d rather do than float around on a ship (and for the record, I have been on a cruise – once was enough for me). Brett once said he’d like to see what it’s like to take a cruise and not have to work 20 hours a day, but these days a cruise is not appealing in the least.
- If you have a choice, which would you prefer, a road trip or a flight? It really depends on how much time we have. We’ve taken some great road trips, and enjoyed them, but if time is limited, or I want more time at my destination, I’m going to book a flight.
- Which do you prefer: aisle, middle or window seat? If it’s a long flight, I prefer a window seat – it’s easier to find a good sleeping position. Depending on who else is in my row, I’m also OK with a middle seat. With an aisle seat I find I get bumped by people walking down the aisle, and someone has to step over me to get to the bathroom.
- What are your favorite in-flight activities? I like watching movies, doing sudoku puzzles, and sleeping (which I’m getting better at). I’ve tried to read, but have always ended up feeling sick.
- Which is your favorite airport? I love our little airport here in Lihue. When I go through it I’m either going on a trip, or I’m home. My least favorite airports are now Madrid and Bordeaux.
- Do you ever purchase travel insurance? We have purchased insurance a couple of times, on trips where we’ve spent a lot of money, but we’ve thankfully never really needed it. These days our main travel credit card covers many travel-related items like delayed flights, lost luggage, etc. Our health insurance covers us anywhere in the world, so we only need to get insurance to cover the things we’ve paid for, like flights and lodging.
- What’s your favorite travel-day outfit? It depends on which time of year I’m traveling, or where we’re going, but usually a pair of L.L. Bean’s Perfect Fit Pants, a light sweatshirt-type of top (to keep me warm on the plane), and shoes I can easily slip off for security and during the flight. If I’m going somewhere hot I’ll wear linen pants and a light shirt, flip-flops, and carry a light sweater for the plane. Wrinkled linen is OK.
- What are your favorite travel day snacks? They used to be granola bars, Chex Mix, good chocolate, and water. These days I take along nuts, beef jerky, good chocolate, and water. I usually don’t drink alcohol when I fly, and besides water I like Diet Coke or Bloody Mary mixer.
- How many states have your visited in the U.S.? I have visited 48 states – I haven’t been to Montana or Alaska.
- How many national parks have you visited? I’ve visited twenty, from Acadia to Zion, and I’ve stayed at both rims of the Grand Canyon. There are still a lot more parks I want to see though.
- What are your favorite national parks? Yosemite, the Grand Canyon, and Zion are my top three. Bryce Canyon and Crater Lake are right up there as well.
- How many foreign countries have you visited? Before our Big Adventure, just six: Canada, Mexico, China, Hong Kong (when it was a British colony), Taiwan and of course, Japan. We visited or stayed in 12 additional countries on our travels: Argentina, Uruguay, France, Italy, the Vatican, Portugal, Spain, England, Scotland, India, Australia, and New Zealand (we counted any country where we left the airport, stayed overnight, and had to exchange money).
- Who is your favorite travel companion? All of our children have always been fun travel companions, and I’ve taken some great trips with friends, but of course Brett is my favorite. He’s my best friend, we always have lots to talk about and almost always want to do and see the same things when we go somewhere. We did a good job on the Big Adventure of dividing travel responsibilities – Brett was the logistics and budget manager, and served as Head Sherpa, while I was in charge of planning, lodging, and anything food-related.
Can you think of any more questions? And, I’d love to hear your answers to all or just some of the questions!