In the past month we’ve caught up with lots of friends and talked to lots of people and fielded many questions about our past year of travels. So we thought it would be a great idea to post these questions along with our answers!
If your question isn't on this list, feel free to leave it in the comments!
1. Does the whole world think we (US citizens) are crazy?
Zac: Early on in our travels people would ask us if everybody has a gun in America. There were jokes about sending us in to get a table or to settle a disagreement by simply telling them that we are Americans and if they didn’t comply we would just shoot them or call in an airstrike. So yes, in terms of violence, they think we are crazy. But when it comes to politics it’s more disbelief that Trump could even be in the running. Is it even possible they would ask? Can it really happen? The answer is yes. It is happening. It could happen. So in general I think the response is this. Yes we are insane. But only about 40% of us are insane.
Jill: As Zac said, we have fielded a lot of questions about our current political situation, guns and violence in America. However, the overwhelming follow up to finding out we are American is the statement "I love America!". It seems that even though our politics are messed up and we are a violent people, somehow through watching the Simpsons, Family Guy and movies, people seem to think we're all right.
2. What has been your favorite place to visit?
Zac: I like to say that the last place I visited was my favorite, but that isn’t always true. Distance does make the heart grow fonder, but I found that my favorite places were those where we got out into nature or were more in touch with locals. Boating down Mekong in Laos, hiking the Kumano Kudo in Japan, harvesting olives in Croatia, learning how mescal is made in Mexico, picking flowers in Italy...it’s been a year long best of list.
Jill: I really have loved just about everywhere we've visited. The list for where I haven't liked is much shorter.
3. Do you have places you didn’t like?
Zac: I’m a glass half full kind of person, so there isn’t a place I wouldn’t go back to. I didn’t really like Beijing. We spent too long there, but there was a ton of stuff we saw, and I’ll be happy to never see it again. Manila wasn’t great, but I would go back and do it differently, treating it as a jumping off point for other places in the Philippines.
Jill: Sri Lanka (Colombo, mainly. The coast was good but having someone steal $6000 from our account while there just sort of leaves a bad taste in my mouth), Manila, Beijing, Phnom Penh. I can tell you why if you want to know, but we'll just leave it here for now.
4. Are you ever coming back to the U.S.?
Zac: Of course! I’m writing this from Minnesota. Our friends are here. Our families are in the States. But if I think about settling down, which I rarely do anymore, I think it would have to be mixed locations – I don’t care to ever see a snowflake again, unless I go to find it. Our whole break from our previous lives was designed to find a new way of living, to determine how much we really need (or don’t) to survive. So I can’t see coming back to our former lives. It would have to be another new model or a new test. It’s all a test, isn’t it?
Jill: Not sure. Probably for ease of Visas we will need to. I waver on this depending on where I am and what I'm doing. When we first came back for our visit I was all topsy turvy and wanted to immediately leave. After a few weeks, I could see settling in for a bit more. Things would have to be different than they were before - what that means, I have no idea.
5. How did you find all these house sitting gigs?
Zac: We’ve used a number of websites to search for opportunities, but have only found success with TrustedHouseSitters. That’s how we wound up in Italy for three months, Wabasha, Scotland and Brittany are upcoming. But the majority of our trip was in hotels and apartments.
Jill: The house sits are a more recent addition to our time spent abroad. In fact, booking these sits allowed us to extend our time by nine months!
6. Have you been working while you travel?
Zac: I’ve kept a few clients and fired one early on. Mostly project work in short bursts. It’s been a nice distraction from the travel and easier than I thought it would be – there are a ton of tools out there to enable you to invoice and get paid and sign documents all digitally. The internet has really made all of this possible.
Jill: Nope, not at all. Although, I do have to say planning and managing our travel details has been a full time job for me.
7. What was the worst travel experience you had?
Zac: We’ve been really lucky in all our travels. I would say the most stressful was getting kicked off of AirBnb, which happened early, and in the States, or being robbed of about 6k in Sri Lanka. Any of the other bad experiences can be chalked up to our bad reactions to things that are mainly out of our control – like getting on the wrong train in Italy and having to wait in the mosquito infested and swelteringly hot station for hours. I wasn’t my best self then.
Jill: Yeh, the pirated $6000 from our accounts really sucked. Other than that, we have been really fortunate. I did completely blow a tire on my first 15 minute drive in Tasmania so that was not fun. Oh and the weird bacteria eating my eye was a little alarming too. But nothing we couldn't deal with.
8. Don’t you get sick of one another?
Zac: Of course. Probably more so in the last year than ever before. We have largely removed all roots and distractions from our lives, which leaves only the two of us to focus on. Normally couples have distractions like jobs and hobbies and friends to go out with. We have none of that anymore. Which means our lives overlap about 95% of the time. It’s a situation that’s ripe for frustration.
Jill: Yes. It's really tough to spend all our time together in very small spaces and also going out doing the same things with each other. We have nothing really to talk about when we are done because we both did the same things! We started breaking our days up a bit and going to different sites, so that helped, but yeh, tiny living can be really tough on a relationship.
9. When did it feel like not "just another vacation"?
Zac: We never set out thinking this was anything close to a vacation. When you sell your house and 90% of your stuff, you aren't thinking of your bed when you come back. Because well, you aren't planning on coming back. We have had vacations within our travels, where we take a day trip from a city (like Pejo or Male in Italy, or Belfast for a night from Scotland).
Jill: For me, it never felt like a vacation. This became our lives as soon as we put everything in storage and I was making decisions on what I was going to pack for a year. Those types of decisions change how you see what you are doing.
10. What is your ability to recall the experience as a whole? Does all that travel turn into a blur?
Zac: To consider the trip as a whole, I have to blur all the individual moments, which I rarely do. Random memories do pop up in conversation or are triggered by strange food cravings - like some wicked good street food - or when I see a campervan. By and large we can just look back at our pictures and see the timestamp and affix the memory to a place.
Jill: There are certainly moments that stick out more readily than others. I think the details of the many, many experiences we have had get jumbled up sometimes (like, were we in Vietnam or Laos when x happened) but the overall tone and experiences we've had stand out from each other. It is interesting how they all mesh together though to build this incredible year.
11. Was there anytime when you wanted to be "home" or at least leave where you were at the time?
Zac: Home doesn't exist for us since we are on what could be considered a permanent travel schedule, so I've not really had that craving. Come to think of it, even when we did have a home and we would travel, I never felt a longing to be back. There were some long days of wandering around a city where I wished for that magic ticket back to the hotel - the kind where you blink and are back. I would say that Beijing wasn't the best choice and I was ready to leave. I knew that London was coming after that, so was anxious to move on. I was also a little itchy to travel again after being in Wabasha for so long.
Jill: Oddly, I haven't had any thoughts of wanting to go "home". I think because we don't have a permanent place anywhere helps with that. I haven't had any freak out moments of wanting to urgently leave a place, but I sure was ready to leave Sri Lanka, Manila and Beijing.
12. Were there any medical issues that needed to be dealt with?
Zac: My teeth were feeling a little scurmy by the time we got to Glasgow. I was probably 6 months after my scheduled cleaning, so went and had that taken care of. It was a joke. I could have done a better job myself. Dude didn't even floss me. What the hell people!?
Jill: Not many, luckily. I had a weird eye infection by the time I got to Australia. I totally fell and bruised my knee and wrist in Beijing (I was so lucky I didn't break anything. I hit the ground hard!). And then needed to get prescriptions refilled and teeth cleaned in Glasgow.