I am so excited to introduce (for those not already smitten with them) Julia & Yuriy. He and I have been traveling the U.S. Despite having just lived the first part of our own road-trip journey.. we are supremely jealous of these two! Newlyweds that bucked tradition, took off, no major plan, no car (no airstream), one..ONE.. suitcase each and minds & bodies ready for adventure, except instead of our little corner of the world they went worldwide. Like I said, be prepared to be green with envy, we sure are!
They are professional photographers and if I lived in Seattle (their home base, another I’m so jealous moment…) I would be the first to sign up if they were willing to teach photography because their photographs are nothing short of amazing. Good news if you’ve been searching for some new artwork, they have an online shop, Handle with Care, where you can purchase various photos from their travels in a variety of sizes. Their photographs honest to goodness transport & inspire me in ways that no other travel photos have ever even come close to. I wish I could have grabbed a bag and tagged along….except I really don’t like to fly all that much so some serious hypnosis would have been in order (;
They’ve been to Hong Kong (their blog posts & photographs of this very lively city are so energized and capture the culture so well), Italy, Austria, Greece, Turkey, Indonesia, to name a few.. along with the place that is on the tip top of my list to see.. Montenegro. And this doesn’t even cover all the places they’ve been. Lucky for all of us you can virtually tag along to all of the spots they’ve visited on their website Mr & Mrs Globetrot, plus learn a little about each place along the way. Below you will see some of their photography mixed in with a big session of question and answer. Thanks so much Julia & Yuriy for taking time out of your busy schedules to “chat” with us all!! Oh! and if you want to hire them to photograph your wedding, that’s their specialty… click here for more info.
1. What do you love most about traveling?
The chance to step out of your daily routine and comfortable settings at home. It frees up your mind and time to learn, explore, and grow.
2. What were the challenges of traveling with just a suitcase versus traveling with a car or travel trailer, etc.? Benefits?
When traveling with just a suitcase and no car/trailer, you have to find a place to sleep and figure out the sometimes-crazy public transportation system in a new city. This is usually a benefit since you don’t have to worry about driving or finding/paying for street parking. Using the public transportation system in a city helps you get a better feel for the city and experience a local’s lifestyle. The subway is the best place to people watch– you’ll see people commuting to work in professional dress, school kids in uniform chatting or fighting, mothers feeding kids lunch on the go, etc.
3. With regards to the people you met, what did you find to be the most culturally different (from Americans) in the various places you visited?
We found in many countries that people aren’t too concerned about their appearance or belongings. In Turkey, a poor family invited us into their home for dinner. Their home was very simple, wasn’t cleaned, and they were eager to serve us dinner on the floor of their kitchen. They didn’t care if we judged them—they were friendly and welcoming without a second thought. In America, you don’t get invited to a stranger’s home, and if you do, it’s because they cleaned and prepared to impress. It was refreshing to put materialistic concerns aside and focus on the way you treat people instead.
4. If you could take one aspect of the attitudes you found and infuse it into Americans, what would it be?
Work less, live more. We’re so focused on accomplishments, getting promoted, buying bigger/better homes, cars, & stuff. Most cultures around the world work to provide for daily living and spend more time with family, friends, and enjoying the world. At home in America, people couldn’t understand how we took off to travel for 6 months, because they’re so used to getting just one week every year for vacation. We rarely saw American travelers abroad, but ran into so many Europeans & Australians traveling for months or even years at a time!
5. What things about home (besides friends & family) did you miss the most?
A kitchen—we got tired of eating out and not being able to cook. A few times we stayed in apartments with kitchens and that was such a luxury.
A closet— a suitcase wardrobe gets old pretty quick. Clothes were constantly wrinkled and smelled a little funny.
Our bikes—we missed being active. Our only exercise while traveling was walking, and that was usually through cities.
6. Our readers love travel, and although we are traveling across the U.S., many want to do just what you did.. what would your number one tip be for anyone wanting to follow in your footsteps?
Save some money, quit your job if you have to, and go travel for an extended time at least once in your lifetime! You will regret purchases you make at home, but nobody regrets spending money on a trip. It’s experiences and memories you will treasure for the rest of you life. And please don’t put it off for retirement! We didn’t see any old people doing anything very adventurous. They were usually on a cruise ship, staying at overpriced hotels, and stuck in the tourist traps because they don’t like to walk far. It’s an entirely different experience to travel when you’re young. Not only will you be more adventurous and have more fun, but you’ll have this learning experience to live with for a long time.
7. Do you ever want to travel the U.S. in a similar manner? or will you stick to more traditional vacations when traveling here?
We’d love to see more of the US. Our traveling style stays pretty constant whether we’re far away or close to home. We don’t plan much in advance. We recently took some short trips to Denver, Boston, and New York City, and we got some last minute apartment deals online, and took public buses and trains between and around the cities. We walked a lot and explored funky neighborhoods.
8. Was it hard to adjust to spending money (amazing how fast it adds up!) while your money-making was on hold?
That is an adjustment for anyone traveling and taking a work hiatus and a huge point of interest for people wanting to take off and do the same.
The first month was blissful since we weren’t working and had a fatty stack of money in our savings. Oh yeah, and we were newlyweds. The last few months were more difficult since our savings dwindled down and we wanted to stay away from home longer. We started with a mindset that if we ran out of money, we’d come home from our 6 month trip early. This pushed us to be wiser with our money, avoid shopping sprees, and bargain with anyone we could.
9. Now you’re home. Is it hard to adjust to a routine again? Do you feel more settled now that you have seen a good bit of the world and what’s out there…or does it make you less settled, wanting to be back in travel mode?
We were really looking forward to a routine when we made it back to the States—planning to wake up at 7am each morning, have a healthy breakfast, hit the gym, and get to work. Yeah right. It took us quite a while to break our habit of sleeping in, staying up way too late, and being way too spontaneous with our time. We still haven’t returned to the gym. Our trip was just a little taste of what the world has to offer. I wish we were satisfied, but we’re not. Our list of dream destinations has grown like crazy. But we’re still young… we have time to see more.
10. Home base is Seattle for you two, what makes you love it there? Do you think you would live anywhere else? Have to ask.. do you mind all the rain we hear you get?
We adore Seattle. It’s got all the benefits of living in a big city and in the wild. We love that we’re close to the ocean and close to the mountains. We love to hike, kayak, mountain bike, camp, and ski/snowboard together in our area. Other times we like to dress up and go see a play, concert, or eat at a shnazzy sushi bar downtown. Best of both worlds. The rain only helps you appreciate the sun more, and those are the days everyone in Seattle is outside playing and in high spirits. We’d really like to experience living somewhere else, but trying to find a reason to move.
11. What did you (individually) learn about yourselves on this journey?
[Yuriy] I learned that the world is big. I wanted to see and do everything in each city, but didn’t have enough time and energy to devote to each. And I realized that I married a tough and patient travel partner.
[Julia] Traveling makes you feel small. Like a tree in a forest. The things I valued and spent so much time on back home (things like work & school) suddenly seemed so unimportant. I realized that there are so many people doing things differently around the world, and it is working for them. So often we think that our way is the best way, and if anyone is different, they aren’t doing it right. I realized that we can learn and grow so much by observing other people, appreciating their culture, and not being afraid of change.
12. Absolute favorite places you traveled to?
Everyone loves to ask this question and it’s impossible to answer! We loved driving down the Adriatic Coast in Croatia and Montenegro. It was dotted with ancient towns and castle walls. The scenery was gorgeous. We stopped to explore old cities, eat a slow lunch on the water, and pick wild pomegranates on the side of the road. Turkey had so much to offer—a mystical and vibrant culture, amazing food, ancient Biblical towns, and some of the nicest people. It was really hard to leave Koh Phangan, a small Thai island, at the end of our trip. It was the most relaxed atmosphere and a hippie’s dream. Sunshine, hammock, bare feet, and fresh watermelon smoothies almost everyday.
13. Words of wisdom for fellow (or wannabe) travelers.
Let your guard down. Talk to locals and ask lots of questions. You’ll learn more from them than from a guide book and you’ll feel closer to the people and culture of the country you’re in. It’s easy to ignore people around you (especially since you speak different languages) and be self-centered, but every time we took the time to chat with a stranger, we were so glad we did. Traveling feels more meaningful when you can relate to people instead of just visiting the tourist sights.
All photographs are the property of Julia & Yuriy, no copies please!