Trippers Christy and Kali spent a year traveling around the U.S. and are about to embark on a new trip to the UK and EU. They are this week’s fascinating Trippers…
Tell us a little bit about your background.
We’ve known each other since middle school (we grew up in the same small town in southern Oregon), but didn’t start dating until high school. After graduation both of us attended college in the Bay Area, then lived in San Francisco for a year before moving to San Diego so I (Christy) could get my masters degree.
I’ve now been out of school for a year, and in that time we’ve been working online while traveling around the U.S. in a motorhome (aptly dubbed Mayhem, to our occasional dismay!) with our rambunctious border collie Koa. We just sold Mayhem last month, however, and are now transitioning into a more freewheeling and international mode of travel.
You spent a year traveling around the U.S. What inspired you to take that journey and what was it like to be nomadic for a year?
It took us longer than it should have to realize how well positioned we were to be location independent. After I finished my program, it finally just clicked that we were young, had no kids, had a mobile income, and could basically live absolutely anywhere!
We weren’t ready to settle down in a single location, though, so a motorhome seemed like the perfect compromise: we still had a homebase, but we could move it around the U.S. at whim.
It was quite an adjustment at first, but after our first small taste of the nomadic lifestyle we were hooked — in fact, we now we have a hard time seeing ourselves stopping anytime soon. Where we used to consider a place and think “we could move there…” we now mentally finish that sentence with “…at least for for a few months, before moving on to our next adventure”!
What was the most memorable instance of cultural exchange on your cross-country travels?
Many of our cultural encounters center around our never-ending exploration of local foods, so it’s not too surprising that one of our more memorable experiences was at Mrs. Wilkes Dining Room in Savannah, GA. It’s a fairly small restaurant that serves lunch family-style, which means everyone sits together at these huge tables which are absolutely covered with various traditional dishes.
It was an awesome opportunity to taste a variety of Southern staples (like okra, rutabaga, and fried chicken!), but the real kicker was the interesting conversations we had with our seatmates. Some of the folks were from the South, though there were also many travelers from all over the United States. We got into a rousing conversation about Southern values compared to the lifestyle choices of folks from San Francisco (which we tentatively call home), so it offered some great insight into the diversity of U.S. culture.
In terms of a single meal exposing us to an entire (delicious!) culinary culture as well as the rich diversity of the U.S., it was definitely one of the best experiences we’ve had on the road.
The United States is a huge melting pot of cultures, so cross-country travelers have the opportunity to experience a wide variety of cuisines. You blog about some of the mouth-watering dishes you encountered along your journey; if you had to pick 3 dishes you discovered as you traveled, which would be your favorites?
In addition to all those spectacular dishes at Mrs. Wilkes, we also extensively explored Creole cooking while in New Orleans and Central American cuisine in Miami.
In New Orleans we tried everything from po’ boy sandwiches to gumbo, but our absolute favorite dish was jambalaya. All of the jambalayas we tried were a deliciously savory mingling of rice, sausage, chicken, tomatoes… with, of course, the holy trinity of Creole vegetables (celery, peppers, and onions).
In Miami we sampled Cuban, Honduran, and Salvadoran cuisine, but our favorite discovery by far was the Nicaraguan manuelita. It’s a sweet little pastry that’s basically a pancake (presumably deep fried) rolled up with sugar, cinammon, and cheese (?!) on the inside. Words don’t really do it justice, but when it hits your tongue you know you’ve in heaven!
What top tips do you have for any travelers considering bringing along their pets?
We haven’t done any international travel with pets, mostly because our pup really wouldn’t be able to handle the stress of an international flight in a cargo hold. However, we recently discovered a whole new blog specifically about international travel with dogs (The Road Unleashed) that seems like it will be a great resource in this area.
For traveling closer to home, though, one of the main advantages of an RV is that you can definitely bring your pets along! Dogs and cats are hugely popular traveling companions for many RVers, and we’ve even seen a monkey and heard tales of a pot-bellied pig (oh, I so want one!).
The biggest piece of advice we can give is to spend time early on acclimating your pet to travel. We quickly learned that positive reinforcement is The Best Thing Ever, so we covered the RV in bits of cheese before we brought our pup inside for the first time. After that I’m fairly certain he thought it was his own personal treat machine! The more you can make each experience positive, the easier it will be for your four-legged family members to adjust to the new digs.
Of course, there are tons of other things to consider as well – from safety tips and exercise options to locations for the litter box – so we put together a fairly extensive guide on RV travel with pets for folks who are interested in the lifestyle but uncertain about what it entails.
You take amazing photos of natural landscapes! What are your top 3 tips for those of us who wish to capture the beautiful landscapes we encounter on our travels?
Thanks for the compliment, but we certainly aren’t photography pros! Because we’re still in the learning stage, we take tons and tons of photos from different angles, with different exposures, and of different compositions.
Not only does this increase our chances of getting a great shot, but it also means we’re learning a lot every time we take out our camera. Of course the downside to this is that you can come home from a day in Arches National Park with over 1,000 photos (true story), but the beauty of DSLRs is that it’s really easy to delete files.
For us the process of culling photos is also really instructive, as after awhile it becomes very obvious which ones should be deleted immediately (and maybe shouldn’t be taken at all next time!), which ones might need some processing work, and which ones stand out as superb.
What destinations are you considering for your upcoming travels?
Our next stop is London, where we have a fabulous housesitting gig for the month of August. After that we’ll probably travel around the U.K. and E.U., then most likely head over to India (one of our favorite travel destinations).
We’re trying to remain as flexible as we can, so all we really know is that we’ll start in London and then explore the world via short-term flat rentals, housesitting gigs, and whatever random opportunities arise!
Heading off to the U.K. and E.U. and India sounds like a great adventure! Happy travels!