Hello everyone! Just a quick update from me before I hand you over to much more interesting places and people. I’m in the latter stages of having my new blog design complete – I think by October it’ll be FULLY launched, up and running, which is so exciting. I know I said this last time but I am so thankful to Pete for designing it all exactly how I want it, and I just can’t wait to share it with you all.
I’m back at University on the 3rd October, which means lots of studying! But, I have a few trips I’m planning for later on in the year, so The Veggie Passport will not be vacant for long (if at all)! My trips might include a European Christmas market, London or maybe I’ll get impulsive and just book somewhere random (any tips or recommendations, drop me a comment)!
Anyway: You guys just have to read abut Carrie and Travis from www.twosmallpotatoes.com! Pete and I travel as a couple, so it’s great to see others that do it, and do it well. Solo travel can be cool and invigorating and self-discovering, but I’m sure some of you will agree that sharing it with your beloved can be so much more rewarding (and they can hold the camera once in a while haha)!
Check out some of Two Small Potatoes top posts: Hörnlihütte-Matterhorn Hike, Kayaking the Spreewald Biosphere Reserve and Inside France’s Mer de Glace Glacier and follow them on Instagram; Twitter; Facebook.
Camping beneath the Matterhorn, Switzerland
Tell me a little bit about yourselves…
Hi! I’m Carrie and my husband is Travis. We’re two country bumpkins originally from Idaho, “ex-potatoes” now that we’re living in Europe. Though our home state is famous for its potatoes (or so our license plate claims), we’re from the Panhandle – land of wild rivers, craggy mountains, and absolutely NO potatoes! We were each literally born in a dinky cabin in the woods in the late ’70s, about an hour apart as the crow flies. Travis mostly grew up in a small logging town, population 50+, while I bounced around as a kid. Since we both grew up in working class families – Trav’s dad was a logger and my mom’s a retired school teacher – we didn’t travel outside the US until we were adults.
Apart from travelling, we share a passion for the outdoors. After college in Washington, we landed for a year in New Mexico and fell madly in love with the American Southwest. It was there that we truly discovered our national parks. Our weekends were filled with caving at Carlsbad, kayaking in Colorado, and camping under desert skies. We continued our outdoor adventures for the next seven years from a new home base in Oregon. While Travis earned his PhD, I worked as a social worker for the Oregon Dept. of Human Services. We probably checked off more bucket list items there than anywhere – getting married on the coast, summiting several of Oregon’s highest peaks, and whitewater kayaking the Rogue River.
In 2014, Travis accepted a job at a university in Switzerland, so we sold our belongings, rented out our house, and hopped a plane for Europe – two cats and a dog in tow. We’re now living in Germany…..more about that in our blog!
What inspired you to travel?
It was probably equal parts my mom and National Geographic. My mom loved photography and has always been adventurous, but she had kids young and never got to travel. For years, she scoured yard sales and thrift stores for Nat Geo magazines; I grew up with stacks of them around the house. When I moved away for college, she couldn’t afford to help me pay for it, but she continued to encourage me to travel, sending heavy envelopes filled with magazine clippings of exotic places. Suffering from debilitating shyness as a child and young adult, I never thought I’d actually see any of them. Determined to overcome it, I decided I’d force myself to do things that scared me. When I was 19, I had a chance to spend 6 weeks in Spain and went for it. It was my first plane ride, first time outside the US – so many firsts. From then on, I was hooked on travel.
Travis was a little slower to get on board with traveling since he’d lived his entire life in the same tiny community. While we were in college, he visited me in Costa Rica where I was studying abroad. He saw wild monkeys for the first time, watched lava oozing from Arenal Volcano, and soaked in natural hot springs. From then on, HE was hooked! He always says if he hadn’t been trying to keep up with my restless feet, he’d probably be living in a cave in Idaho right now. Traveling, and especially living abroad, can sometimes be frustrating and exhausting, and the uncomplicated, familiar comfort of that cave can begin to sound quite appealing.
Growing up in Idaho
What’s on your bucket list?
This one is really hard to narrow down because we have such a long list! Since we’re expats with limited vacation time rather than “nomads,” we balance travel with all the responsibilities of regular daily life just like everyone else. We’re excited about taking off next week on a 2-week road trip to hike, camp, and kayak our way through Italy. Eventually we’d also like to drive the Alaska Highway, kayak the fjords of Norway, and maybe live in New Zealand or Australia. Super long term, we’d love to buy some horses and scoop up a log cabin on a piece of property in Montana or maybe Alaska.
Favourite country so far and why?
It might just be the homesickness talkin’, but the longer we live abroad, the more I love the US and the lifestyle we had there. We’ll never regret moving to Europe, but we’ll have a sharper appreciation for how unique our country is when we repatriate. If our home country doesn’t count, then we both agree that our favorite would be Costa Rica. Travis and I both loved it, from the language and friendly people to the raw natural beauty, vibrant wildlife, and tasty food. We could eat fresh mangoes and gallo pinto every day and never get tired of it!
Best experience and why?
For me it was a day kayaking Maligne Lake in Canada’s Jasper National Park. Only motor boats with electric motors are allowed on the lake and with no other boaters in sight, I was paddling alone in a large bay with the sun shining, peaks rimming the shore, and absolute stillness. You know those rare moments of perfect peace when everything in your life makes sense, when you love who and where you are? This was one of those moments. For Travis, it was one particular day in Belize. Days before our wedding, he decided to surprise me with a honeymoon. He bought airfare but didn’t plan anything else, not even lodging. Of all the crazy, memorable experiences we had on the trip, his favorite was a day exploring the Mayan ruins of Caracol. To save money, we “rented” the private car of a rather dubious guest-house owner and then spent the better part of a day battering it on pot-holed roads to reach the ruins. We arrived in the early evening just as all the visitors were boarding tour buses to head back to town with the recommended military escort. They’d had problems with bandits robbing tourists on the road to Caracol. We explored the ruins on our own, then climbed one of the pyramids to look out over the deserted city rising from the jungle. It was an exhilarating experience to be the only ones there! We could feel the crush of the jungle as it closed in on the lower steps of the stone towers, hearing only the wind and the raucous call of monkeys, birds, and giant insects. It was unforgettable.
Travis kayaking on the Oregon coast
Worst experience and why?
Hands down, Slovenia. Though we do our best to always follow the local laws when we travel, you just can’t know everything. Unbeknownst to us as tourists driving through Slovenia, you’re required to buy a vignette, or sticker, in order to be allowed to drive some of their roads. We’d encountered it in countries like Hungary, but they do a good job posting obvious signs before you enter the country. Not so in Slovenia! To us, it was clearly a trap for unsuspecting tourists. The Customs checkpoint was empty when we crossed into Slovenia, yet we were pulled over just inside the border. Then proceeded the most unpleasant hour we’ve ever experienced in a foreign country. The two women who confiscated our documents were downright aggressive and confrontational. They told us our choices were to either pay the fine or they’d confiscate our passports – clearly not an option. We gave our credit card to the “officials” employed by a private company, who processed ouor payment from the back of a van parked along the road. Does it get any sketchier than that?! We’ve tried hard not to let that single experience color our impression of Slovenia, but it’s still a really bad memory.
What’s on your travel playlist?
We don’t have a travel playlist for taking the train or plane, but we do for road trips! We usually prefer to drive so we can travel with our dog, kayaks, and camping gear. We have a tradition of putting together a single cd or two before a big road trip with songs that we really like at that time. Later when we hear those cds, they remind us of that particular road trip.
Tell us about some of your favourite dishes/restaurants from places you’ve visited
We tried our first barracuda in Belize, and it was absolutely delicious. My favorite dessert is cheesecake, and the world’s best just happens to be made with love (and pounds of butter and sugar) at Sweet Life Patisserie in Eugene, Oregon. It’s a crime to drive through town and not stop there for dessert and then Dutch Bros drive-thru coffee for a quad shot 20 oz old-school skinny mocha with extra whipped cream. I’m two years deprived, so please enjoy one for me for me!
Mayan ruins of Caracol, Belize
Are there any things you miss when you’re not at home?
We don’t really feel like we know where “home” is anymore. We’re living in Germany so when we return to our flat after time away, we’re most happy to see our critters again. Besides that, we most feel like the Pacific Northwest of the US is still home, so we miss the mountains and ocean, the ability to get away from people and disappear into the wilderness for at least a few days and completely disconnect from the rest of the world. We haven’t been able to find that yet while living and travelling in Europe, but we haven’t been to Iceland, Ireland, Scotland, or Norway, so we’ll definitely keep looking!
Did you overcome any fears before beginning your journey?
I had a really hard time quitting my job and trusting in my husband’s career as our sole source of income. We’ve always pooled our income, but I’d mostly supported us while he was in grad school and I’ve had some sort of job or another since I was a teenager. I’m not sure I’d say I’ve overcome the fears around not having a steady job, but I’ve made progress.
Hiking the Great Wall at Simatai, China
Have you got any tips for people who want to travel but are perhaps scared or unsure where to start?
Yes, I’d say start small if you’re scared and if you’re not sure how to start, just look around where you live for inspiration. If you’re two hours from a famous national park, museum, or wildlife attraction and have never made the effort to go, start there. It’s not necessary to fly half-way around the world to have an experience that might be better in your own back yard. We see so many people who get caught up in checking off countries visited or travel places they’re not even interested in because that’s what everyone else is doing. There will always be someone who’s been somewhere you haven’t, but when you travel, you get to choose where you go and what you see. And while many folks may have more money or seem like they’re just “lucky” because of the places they visit, remember that if Two Small Potatoes from the boonies of Idaho can travel the world, so can you. Just follow what you love, and the rest will work itself out.