To stand out from the crowd of endless honeymoon and travel books, Anne and Mike Howard made sure to create a product that highlighted the uniqueness of each excursion. Having been approached by National Geographic to write the company's first book on couple's adventure travel, the pair found a way to curate their exceptional journey into a 272-page tale of pure exploration in Ultimate Journeys For Two: Extraordinary Destinations For Every Continent ($23; amazon.com). "While we were definitely fortunate to have our health and bit of savings to help get us moving, we didn't get a special permission slip from our bosses or hit the lottery to travel the world," explains Anne, "we just made it our priority."
When talking to the duo about the variety of sites profiled in the book, you could say that narrowing down their "favorite visited destination" was an impossible task. "Having been to over 500 places, this is truly the hardest question, so we always qualify it with 'What's your favorite kind of place?'" recalls Anne. "If you're a beach person, then we'd likely say, Eleuthera, Bahamas, for the pink sand, colonial architecture, contrasting teal and deep blue seas, and the fact they don't have any big box stores or a single traffic light. You're a mountain person? Book it to Nepal. This little country packs in 8 of the 10 highest mountains in the world, though unlike the Patagonia or New Zealand (both equally stunning and incredible for trekking), Nepal has thriving ancient cultures tucked in their mountains, miles above the nearest road or telephone pole.
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For architecture and the friendliest people on the planet? Bump Myanmar to the top of your bucket list. Deserts? "We swoon for Chile's Atacama," says Anne. The passport-packed twosome chose to organize their book by similar categories (Beaches & Islands, Snow & Ice, Jungles & Rainforests, etc), giving readers a chance to search for the perfect honeymoon destination based on their individual interests.
Having endured more tourism challenges than most couples will brave in a lifetime—all within the first few years of their marriage—it's safe to say this fearless team knows a thing or two about traveling with your spouse. "For couples, especially newlyweds, long-term travel has to be the greatest learning and bonding experience you could ever have," explains Anne. "The beauty and kindness you'll experience is nearly impossible to explain to people, but something you two will never forget and share forever." One specific trek stands out in Anne's mind when it comes to a particularly rigorous voyage. "500 miles up the coast of East Africa, took us 4 days and 14 legs of transit, including a hitchhike on a banana truck and leaky rowboat through hippo-ridden water. It has been our most challenging journey to date, but easily the most memorable."
In terms of advice, it's hard not to beg the question of how the adventure-seeking couple manages to keep their cool when things don't go as planned. "One of our best pieces of advice is to drop the notion of 'a perfect vacation' and learn to roll with the punches. Find the humor and adventure with every bump in the road...it might become the highlight of the trip." Another useful piece of advice? Learn the word "delicious" in almost every language. "It's our favorite and handiest word to learn because when you're out on the road in countries where English isn't the main language, being able to compliment a grandma cooking at the street stall, or even the waiter at a fancy restaurant, is a great way to spark up a friendly interaction."
Continuing to make wanderlust a priority in their nomadic lives, Anne and Mike remain eager to travel the world together. "Living in other cultures, getting out of your comfort zone, and making memories to cherish for the rest of your lives...that's priceless."