We’re a couple of science geeks who love to travel. In 2016, we were emboldened to pack up conventional life and spend the year circumnavigating the globe. During our twelve months abroad, we journeyed over 58,000 miles across 32 countries and 3 continents. Now back in the U.S., we’re striving to integrate travel into our stationary lifestyle as much as possible, all while getting accustomed to life with our rescue dog we adopted from Thailand and planning for our next long-term adventure.
We hope our experiences inspire you to take the plunge, get out and explore this great world, and make your greatest travel dreams a reality!
A born and bred New Englander, I grew up in a quiet New Hampshire town nestled beneath Mount Monadnock’s granite summit – a community that sprang to life each autumn with colorful foliage and the amber glow of nearly 30,000 jack-o-lanterns. From an early age, I’d had a keen interest in the world and nature. My go-to book was one of every kid’s favorites – the 1985 World Almanac. I’d sit in my grandfather’s recliner and stare at it for hours memorizing world maps, flags, capitals. In addition to the dense reference manual, my most beloved reads were a set of musty, twenty-year-old Time Life Nature Library hardbacks, whose spines were arranged in a satisfying rainbow on my grandparents’ bookshelf. I’d gaze at the pages with admiration, dreaming of someday exploring far-flung lands as I flipped through photographs of the Serengeti, the deep sea, and the South American rainforests.
While my childhood ambitions to become an archaeologist, marine biologist, or the next Dr. Livingstone didn’t quite pan out, my passion for science and nature was unwavering. I eventually completed undergraduate and graduate degrees in biology and microbiology, and now currently spend my life vacillating between a functional adult (part scientist, part nomad) and Muppet-loving child who never matured beyond her six-year-old self.
Back in 2004, I took a little fishing trip off the company pier and miraculously hooked Stephan – similarly fun-loving, adventurous, ambitious, and dorky, yet delightfully less neurotic. In 2007, when we took our first international trip together to Costa Rica, I was instantly bit by the travel bug. Recollections of those treasured Time Life volumes flooded my mind, and I was in awe that I was actually standing amongst giant palms flecked with toucans and sloths. I fell head over heels with the lush rainforests, venting volcanoes, and flourishing wildlife, and I knew from that instant I was destined to explore the world’s wonders.
Stephan and I continued traveling internationally as much as possible as I returned to school for my doctorate, visiting the Galapagos Islands, Peru, Tanzania, and the Canadian Rockies. Finally, on December 18, 2015, my doctoral diploma was placed in my hand, and just sixteen days later we were boarding a plane bound for New Zealand, each with one backpack in hand and no intention of returning until the following Christmas.
Even as I stepped foot onto that one-way flight to Auckland, I’m not sure I still truly believed my dream of long-term travel was possible. I’ve always admired those fearless and free-spirited souls who dare to break from convention and fulfill their travels dreams – but I never thought it could actually be me. Finally emboldened to give it a try, I was taken aback to discover that it really was me, and that it brought me a joy unlike any I’d ever known. I can’t wait to see where our adventures take us.
Ever since I can remember, I’ve been encouraged to explore. As a kid, growing up in rural New England, I had parents that nurtured my inquisitiveness and my imagination.
My dad always had a deep-seated curiosity, a need to tinker and understand how the world around him worked. Whether it was the examining functions of a computer’s circuitboard, or the distant view of Saturn’s rings through a telescope, I definitely inherited his desire to comprehend the inner workings of all things big and small. My mom continually fostered a longing to explore, be it as simple as encouraging me to climb trees and get lost in the woods (no matter how late, dirty, or bloody I was when I got home), or scraping together the time and money to go on a couple of epic road trips across the US and Canada. From childhood through adulthood, I was always aware of just how big the world was, and how much there was to understand.
Until I met Jenn, though, I’m not sure I had realized how accessible traveling was, if I made it a priority in my life. Since she gifted me our first trip together, to Costa Rica, we haven’t looked back, always planning our next adventure.
A geek at heart, with a camera always at the ready – and always on the lookout for a good craft beer – I find there is little in life as exciting as those first steps in a new place.
I grew up in the rural forests of northern Thailand, outside of Chiang Mai, and was taken in to the Elephant Nature Park dog sanctuary with my mom and sisters when I was just a puppy. The caring staff at ENP saved my family from a life on the streets, and gave me everything I needed, including lots of love and a bunch of great friends I could romp and play with all day. But even though I had a pretty wonderful life in Thailand, there was one thing I was missing… secretly, I always dreamed of having a family of my very own.
When I was about 1.5 years old, I met my mom and dad for the first time. They came to the park to volunteer with the elephants, but ended up spending all their free time helping with us dogs. They came into my run one morning and, as I ran up to mom and snuggled in her lap, I knew they were meant to be my forever family. I didn’t know it at the time, but after giving me one last hug goodbye, they submitted paperwork for my adoption.
Nine months later, after my parents finished their year-long journey, I made the long flight to the U.S. to live with them. It was a bit daunting at first, but like them, I have a quiet adventurousness hiding beneath my furry exterior. Now, I love spending time exploring outdoors – hiking, running through the woods, swimming, and investigating the myriad of new smells. I never knew what a great big world there was beyond my humble, fenced-in run in Thailand, but I am so excited to be able to explore it all.