My husband and I knew that we wanted our honeymoon to be different from the start. We got to know each other through conversations on travel, expanded our relationship through it, and ultimately fell in love while on the road. For us, the honeymoon was not just an expression of our feelings on starting our life together but also a celebration of the very thing that brought us together in the first place.
Originally we targeted Southeast Asia, maybe a stopover in Bali or Thailand would do the trick. However, that thing started to happen to us when we started planning. You know the thing, the one where you start looking into traveling in one part of the world and you find a link about how to get from that place to somewhere else, and then a link about the secret waterfall hike you must see before you die which leads to a link of swimming in the ocean next to the last deserted beach on the planet. If you’ve ever planned a trip abroad, you know what I’m talking about. Before we knew it, we were mapping out the mileage between Thailand and the Cambodian border, the flight time between Bali and New Zealand, and our trip was busting out of the seams of our two-week timeline.
So we did what all the couples on the Instagram were doing and booked ourselves a one-way ticket, gave two weeks notice to the jobs that had long been “not the right fit”, and skipped out of the country. Before we left, however, there were years of planning involved. We were embarking on a trip to a part of the world that neither of us had ever been before, traveling long term for the first time ever, and had just about no idea what we were doing. The “what ifs” were deafening, we were nervous and routinely questioned ourselves.
The hardest part came first: we had the world at our disposal, how did we decide where to go? Budgets, timelines, seasons, and specific activities all played a major part in where we wanted to be and when we wanted to be there. Through the painful process of mashing together everything we learned from Google, Pinterest, and guidebooks, an itinerary was born: Indonesia first to skip out on rainy season, New Zealand in time for Spring, Fiji for a quick refuel with the family, up to Cambodia in time to run a half-marathon we’d spotted, across to Vietnam for a proper luxury honeymoon, back across to Thailand for some city eating and outdoor adventure, hop to Europe on the cheapest flight possible (in this case, Germany), and finally Italy for five full weeks of living the good life.
The planning continued after the outline formed. Pinterest boards were carefully curated from the comforts of our apartment’s couch before setting off, stacked with blog posts and news articles on every possible hike we might wander onto, road trip we might take, and local food stand we could not wait to try. By the time we left, there were hundreds of articles locked and loaded, ready to guide us to all the must-see spots of everywhere we would be traveling to.
These little pieces of information eventually transformed into a Google document of copied and pasted tidbits in varying fonts and styles that was too complicated to ever actually reference. The ensuing issue, then, became how to actually use this information. The long and short of it is we didn’t, not really anyway. We made a feeble attempt at first to open up the document, on our phones or in hotel rooms but seeing as how it had no search functionality, it became easier to simply re-search for the information than to try to read through what had become a 15-page disorganized monster of a document.
It’s alright, we reasoned, we had more than just the Google Doc on hand. In an ambitious attempt to support us, our parents had dutifully filled our birthday and Christmas bags with guidebooks on each of the countries and regions that we would be visiting. While I absolutely love reading guide books, I read them like any book, from start to finish, gleefully highlighting and underlining the places I want to stay and food I simply must eat, I must now admit that they too have their limitations. For starters, we were backpacking around the world, hitting 3 continents, 8 countries, and countless cities and sites in between. Taking an extra weight in the form of at least 8 heavy books was not really an option. We started off with some but quickly ditched them in favor of trying to keep our spine straight.
While the Google Document, the Guidebooks, and the Pinterest board collectively held more information than we would ever need, we never did find a way to make any of them fully useable. Each was missing a component to make it easy or reliable. In addition, none of them were able to supplement the awesome knowledge we received while actually on the road.
While it probably comes as no surprise to most people, it was again proven that the locals and other travelers had the best actual intel, the most up to date and useful logistical information and real feedback on where to go or what to avoid and why. So once traveling, we took to using an App called Map. Me to store people’s recommendations that we met. The app’s one and only feature was the ability to download maps offline, anywhere in the world, and then save items to the map. The details were kept to a minimum, there was no other way to store info on the map then to drop a small pin and label it.
While this covered the tricky task of remembering the awesome places to stay, eat, and see that we were constantly informed of, it still could not capture what turned out to be some of the most important information from these sources. There was no field, for example, to input what one very well-traveled man told us about how taking the overnight bus to Laos was the absolute worst trip he’d ever taken, worse than a bus with wooden seats in Nepal. Or the fact that while local guides hung outside the entrance to these spectacular waterfalls in Lombok, Indonesia, there was actually a pretty easy way to DIY the hike without hiring one. These were the invaluable pieces of advice that, in the end, made our trip the journey that it was, giving us an insight into places and cultures that we simply would not have been able to find elsewhere.
At the time, there was no all-encompassing solution. However, in the short time that we’ve been home, we’ve already found a new way to travel plan. Tiplr is a platform where app meets guidebook, a community-supported pool of information that is written by travelers for travelers. Instead of needing my cringe-worthy google doc, Pinterest boards, guidebooks, and map app, Tiplr is a one-stop-shop.
Tiplr houses thousands of traveler created tips, pieces of information that are meant to be useable, tangible resources. Tips can vary in length and content, whether to accommodate the entirety of that Indonesian hike I mentioned or the simple but helpful reminder of DO NOT TAKE THE BUS TO LAOS. Creating a tip is easy, quick, and will automatically save onto your profile.
Probably the most valuable aspect of the app is its community-based model. All those conversations that sustained our time abroad? Those pieces of information, and others just like them from around the world, are things you can find from fellow travelers on the platform. Anyone’s tips can then be saved in the suitcase feature of the Tiplr app, which can then further be sorted into Travel Guides that you create, for quick and easy reference while on the road. Instead of having to find the right Pinterest board, search for the relevant pin, load a blog post, and then find the actual component of it that I needed, with Tiplr I only have to click on my suitcase, select the Travel Guide I need, and locate the useful tip.
We have been home for a little over six months, and the itch to travel has got us good again. We booked an upcoming trip to Austin, Texas (working on a BBQ travel guide as this is written), have plans for a long weekend in Galway for the annual oyster festival, and are eyeing up a warm destination once winter hits the Northeastern United States. Much to our parent’s dismay, we are still waiting for that “urge to settle down” to hit us, and are still creating budgets for trips instead of down payments on homes. One thing we do know as we get older and our traveling evolves, traveling smarter, not harder, has become much more our style.
All photos property of Miles Less Traveled