Tag Archives | adventure travel

Six reasons to skip Santorini for Samos

Spend any time on Pinterest and you are likely to stumble across a pictures of the blue domes and white sandy beaches of Santorini, Greece.  Wow, you are thinking.  That is where I must go.   We know it sounds a little preciouses to favor one Greek Island over another, but hey, you may only get to Greece once in a lifetime.  We want you to pick the right place for your couple’s getaway.  We want to introduce you to a Greek paradise you likely have never heard of: Samos.

Greek Island1) Small Island Slow

We elected to arrive in Samos as one should, on the water.  Our ferry motored into the small protected port of Vathy.  From the second that we set foot on the island, we felt the pace of life slow.  Take it from two driven type A nuts, this place is laid back.  Truly, that is what makes the island special.  Forget staying in a hotel, stay in a villa !

2) Visiting the Island will make you smarter!

One of the little known facts about the island paradise of Samos, is that it is the home to some of the greatest thinkers in history!  The great math genius Pythagoras, called Samos home.  While sunning himself on one of the sandy beaches, Pythagoras developed the Pythagorean Theorem.  The Theorem is important in ways, we just can’t remember from grade school.  The isle was also home to Epicurus, the astronomer that came up with the idea that the earth should revolve around the sun, and it has done so since then.    Just like Luci, Samos just goes to prove that you can be both smart and beautiful.

3) Samos Side trips

If it were ever possible, once you explored every inch of Samos Island, the options for exploration further afield are plentiful.  Take a regular scheduled ferry west for an hour and you can explore ancient world of the Ottoman empire.  Today Turkey offers more Roman ruins than Italy!   There are a number of islands within a short distance of Samos include Rhodes and Lesbos.

Samos Greece4) The Food-

The Greeks do a lot of things well:  Olympics, togas, and transport strikes.  Perhaps the best product to come out of Greece is the food.  Samos offers the foodie a virtual plethora of yummy victuals!  Due to is location just off Asia Minor is takes the very best of Ottoman and traditional Mediterranean cuisine.  How could you visit Greece without taking in the amazing fish and olives.

5)The Sun!

If you are a sunshine seeker, look no further than Samos.  The sun shines in on Samos 76% of the year!  Bask in the warm rays on one of the Island’s white sand or pebble beaches.  The Mediterranean sun is special.  It wraps around you and takes you in.   Samos has over a dozen pristine beaches, some remote and secluded, others right in the center of all the action.

6)The Heart of Samos-The people

We saved the very best of the Island for last, the people.   The Greeks have a word: Xenia, roughly translated it encapsulates friendship, welcome, and hospitality all into one.  From the second that we set foot on Samos we felt welcome.  People stopped and helped when we were a little lost.  We arrived at an eatery earlier than the posted opening, the proprietor engaged us in conversation and ordered the cook into early service.  Samos is one of the friendliest places out travels have taken us to.

Have questions about Samos or Santorini?  You can “Ask us Anything“.

Why not make up your own mind.  Visit both!  Have you been to Samos or Santorini?  What is your take on the two?  We would love to hear your feedback.  Just leave us a comment below.  See you on Samos Island!

7 Questions with 20 Years Hence

In the Fighting Couple’s continued quest to bring the the back story of some of the best blogging couples out there, we want to introduce you to the traveling couple: Tony and Steph of 20 Years Hence:

Blog:  www.20yearshence.com

Twitter:  @20YH

Facebook: 20YearsHence

sail boatWhat made you strike out to explore the world together?  What has traveling meant to you as a couple?

We met and fell in love in Nashville, TN having found each other through Match.com (true story!). When we first met, Steph was a graduate student working towards her PhD in Psychology and the way academia operates is that you pretty much never stay at the school you earn your degree from. So even from the beginning, we felt that we were simply biding our time, waiting for the chance to move somewhere new.

We both felt increasingly disenfranchised with the career paths we were each on. As Steph’s graduation day began to loom closer on the horizon, we began to bandy about the idea of taking a summer holiday—maybe six weeks to Europe—before resettling somewhere and getting new jobs with limited vacation. The list of places we wanted to go in Europe rapidly increased and we pushed the “holiday” idea to 3 months. When our good friend, Laura, took a sabbatical from her job to travel for 8 months, we had the epiphany that we could do the same!  We would get to have the adventure of a lifetime AND give ourselves the time to figure out what direction we wanted to take our lives. It took us about 3 years of planning, saving, and dreaming, but finally in August 2012, we said goodbye to our old life and flew to Japan on a one-way ticket!

1) How many countries visited between the two of you? 20

couple2) If you had to travel with someone else besides your travel partner, who would it be?  (this person can be living, historical or mythical?.)

He Said: Even though it would be a huge hassle,  I would want to travel with our two dogs, Rory and Emmy. They are super awesome and I know travelling with them would be crazy fun.  If I had to choose an actual person though, I would say the guy I read about once who is a language savant. Apparently he had a serious head injury or something and now he can learn a language in two weeks. He speaks 15 or more languages, and that seems like it would be pretty handy.

She Said: One of the best things we have done on this trip has been to finally learn to SCUBA dive, so if I couldn’t travel with Tony, I would probably want to travel with the big kahuna of the underwater world, Jacques Cousteau. He pretty much pioneered recreational diving and dove and discovered most of the world’s best dive sites, so I figure you can’t get a better dive buddy than that! I just hope he is as good to spend time with above land as he would be underwater.


3) We understand that the two of you are avid readers (you have a book blog?).   We have noticed that many serious travelers are also hard core readers.  Why is that?

He said: I think people who love to travel are innately curious, and have a thirst for knowledge. Reading, for me, is a continuous journey of learning, even fiction. There is always something you can learn from a book, even if it is just a greater understanding of beauty or critical thought, and I feel like travel is approaching the world in a similar way. I’m always questing for insight and want to know more about everything.

She said: I think Tony is exactly right—travelers and readers alike tend to be intensely curious and thoughtful individuals, and both activities offer us the opportunity to better understand the world, as well as our place in it. When I read, I seek wisdom and enlightenment, truth and beauty, and I love that a great book can help me know the world in a way I never would have on my own. I think traveling can, and often does, serve the same purpose. I’m pretty sure that those who love to travel and those who love to read ultimately are individuals who are constantly looking for ways to celebrate the richness of life.

 Travel couple4)  A question for you Dr. Steph, How will your degree/training help you with your travels?  Relating with people of different cultures?

She said: I am always joking that for all the hard work I put into earning my degree, I’ve somehow managed to choose a path in which it doesn’t apply whatsoever! Of course that’s not true since all aspects of Psychology are concerned with trying to understand the principles underlying the human mind, and as it turns out, the world is full of people… I certainly have bits of trivia that I picked up over the 10+ years of studying Psychology—I can tell you all the theories on why we are more likely to claim that people from other races all look the same, or even the neurological reasons & psychological principles that explain why tonal languages are hard for non-tonal speakers to learn—but on a daily basis, I wouldn’t say that I am explicitly using my degree in our travels. I got into Psychology because I wanted to try to understand people, and so it’s probably no surprise that interacting with people and learning about their local customs and how they view the world has become the most rewarding part of our trip for me!

I will also say that many of the skills I developed during grad school and that helped me earn my doctorate have proved immensely helpful on this trip. I’m great with numbers and am very good at tracking our money, which keeps us from burning through our savings too quickly and proves extremely helpful when we write our country summary posts. I’m also good at researching destinations efficiently but extremely thoroughly, which helps with the day-to-day mechanics of getting from place-to-place and figuring our what we need to do. If you need someone to synthesize and summarize a chunk of information and come up with a plan of attack, I am your girl!

5) Tony,  you are quite the photographer!  Love your pics of Japan!  Give us novices a few hints into how you work your magic behind the viewfinder.

He said: Thanks! Wow, well, I’ve been shooting for well over a decade now, so a lot of what I do is just instinct now, but I’ll do my best to help!

First, always think about the story you’re trying to tell with your photographs. It can be a series of shots or just one, but always try to imagine what you want someone seeing the shot to think. It doesn’t have to be grand, just try to have something in mind.

Second, think about your composition! Find out what the rule of thirds is and use it when you frame your photos, you’ll notice immediate improvement in the general interest of your photos when you pay attention to your framing!

Finally, think about all the aspects of where you are and what you’re shooting. Capture details, small elements and unusual perspectives. Never be afraid to take a shot, if you think there is a chance it will turn out (and even if you don’t) take the shot! You might be surprised at what works. Shoot everything!

shopping6) If you could solve one problem in the world what would it be?

He said: Prejudice. If we all approached life and each other with a more open mind it would be a lot easier for everyone to work together to solve the many problems that plague the world. Keeping someone else down because of your own misguided thoughts doesn’t make your own life any better, it just drags everyone down together.

She said: Wanton disregard and destruction of the environment. One of the things that has been the most disheartening to me as a traveler has been seeing the huge amounts of trash that wind up on beaches, in jungles, along the sides of roads and in the water. Or the number of endangered animals that wind up on menus or in zoos or are on the verge of extinction because of habitat destruction. So many dive sites we have visited have been potentially irreversibly damaged due to unsustainable fishing practices such as dynamite and cyanide fishing. Greed and the unceasing desire to turn a profit are putting the most beautiful parts of our planet at risk, and I really wish people were more invested in protecting our resources.

7) You knew it was coming….What has been your greatest travel fight/disagreement?

He said: I guess it was more of a period than any one fight. We had a pretty hard time in Japan, not because of anything to do with the country, Japan was lovely, but because of us. The time leading up to our departure was pretty stressful and full of a lot of big life events for us (Steph defended her PhD, I quit my job, we left our beloved dogs behind, sold all our things, etc. etc.) and we had a hard time adjusting to the new lifestyle we’d chosen for ourselves. Not to mention our schedule in Japan was just way too demanding, so we were worn out a lot of the time. We just sniped at each other more than we deserved and didn’t have enough patience. I definitely didn’t deal with the stress well, and that caused some issues. We worked it out (obviously!) and are doing really well now, but the first month or so of our trip was pretty fraught.

She said: I wouldn’t say that Tony & I have a perfect relationship or that we’re one of those mythical couples who never fight, but honestly, prior to leaving on this trip, we hardly fought at all. But we’ve been fighting a lot more since we hit the road, which I think has been a surprise for both of us. In some ways, I think it’s only natural that we would get on each other’s nerves more as we are together 24/7 now, which is considerably less dreamy in practice than it sounded in theory!

As Tony said, the first month of traveling was rocky for us as we adjusted to our new lifestyle and tried to decompress from all the stress we had undergone leading up to leaving, but we worked through it and thought it was smooth sailing… and then we got to Melaka, Malaysia. We both really loved the city, but some things neither of us deals very well with is extreme heat or big crowds. Melaka has oodles of both, and we were both getting cranky. We had been dodging cars and wandering around in the scorching heat when we finally reached a museum: Tony asked if I wanted to go in, and I said that you weren’t allowed to take pictures in it and it was rather expensive compared to all the other attractions so I didn’t know if I did. Somehow things escalated from there and Tony said that I never have any fun, which caused me to screech in turn that he was the absolute worst before storming off. Ultimately, the fight wasn’t really about the museum but was really the result of us having let a bunch of little things build up rather than talking openly with each other as they arose; in a moment when everything was intensified, we let the simmering cauldron boil over. It was a bad fight, but we learned the importance of keeping our cool, both figuratively and literally!


1000Fights:  Thanks you two!  Happy travels!

How to Kiss Correctly

The Fighting Couple’s  instructions for perform the perfect kiss!

Now that we have your attention, we want to offer you a cultural primer to correct kissing.  Each county that we have traveled to has its own social kissing customs.  We hope that you have the whole romantic kissing down.  We want to offer some of the other social setting in which kissing is appropriate.

Kissing in parisFrench Kiss:

How could we not start with the French?  While they likely didn’t invent the kiss, they came up with an interesting version.  Parisian social kissing is reserved for family, friends and known acquaintances.  The double cheek kiss is very common in French culture.  Both persons lean slightly forward and lightly touch cheek to cheek or lip to cheek.  Male-female and female-female cheek kissing is very common.  Male to male is less common.  A failure to offer a kiss-kiss is often a sign that two people do not get along.   The kiss is initiated on the left, what else would we expect?  Public displays of affections are a national pastime.

German Kuss:

German’s are much more reserved in their expressions of affection.  The double kiss is common amongst family and the closest of friends.  A warm handshake is appropriate for friends and acquaintances.  Hugs or embraces are also frowned upon in a business social setting.

Italian Bacio:

The Italians follow the French model.  The double kiss-kiss is appropriate for friends and family.  Male-male kisses are also more common.  The Italians have turned the kiss-kiss into an art form.  Public displays of affection between couples is also very prevalent.

Aussies Smooch:

The Aussies are a melting pot of Europe with a heady dose of Limeyness.  The single cheek kiss male to female is fairly commonplace between close friends and family.  Before you book your flight down under, brush up on your kissing!

Spain/Portugal Beso:

Spaniards in particular actively practice the kiss-kiss approach with friends and family.  They do make one deviation from the two kissing countries identified above, they start on the right and move left.

Middle East Peck:

Cheek kissing in the Middle East is very commonplace.  It is typically reserved for expressions between friends and relatives. Cheek kissing male-male is very common. However, cheek kissing between a male and female is usually considered inappropriate, unless within the same family.  “Involved” public displays of affection are forbidden and in some locals illegal.

Girl blowing kissUK Snogging:

The Brits are firmly planted in the nod and shake camp.  A nod in the general direction of a friend or an associate indicates a kind acknowledgement.  A firm handshake and a back slap are also very typical.  For the females, a typical embrace is the elbow grab.  Both parties extend arms and place hands lightly on each other’s elbows.

USA: North

The US has a different set of rules depending on where you are.  For the north eastern part of the US, see UK above.

USA: South 

The refined south is likely the most liberal in allowed affection between friends and associates.  The kiss-kiss is still practiced in much of the south on a female-female and male-female basis.

USA: West

Westerners are a combination of north and south.  Much like the northerners, a handshake works fine in most settings.  Westerners do like to hug close friends and family, especially the male-female variety.   It is not uncommon for two close male friends to hug with a back slap.

Some Hints for Kissing:

Regardless of where you are off to, it is best to “follow the leader” in your selection of affection.  Watch your guide and or those around you for the level of affection required.  Don’t feel that you must kiss someone.  Just because you Italian taxi driver gets you to your destination in time, a kiss is certainly never expected (unless is he is extremely handsome!)  Lip to lip contact is reserved for husband or wife or couples in all the locations that we have traveled.

Now it is time to practice!  Gold luck!  Mwah!  Kiss, Kiss!

Keep Calm and Carry on: Taking the Stress out of Your Spring Break

Keep calm and carry on:  How to take the stress out of your spring break

Travelling over spring break can be fraught with delays, hiccups and mishaps. Whether you’re a seasoned or occasional traveler  make sure you’re prepared for any eventuality to guarantee a stress-free journey.  We thought we would put together some helpful tips to aid you in your spring break travel.

Here’s a quick reminder of the most typical scrapes, how to get out of them and most importantly, how to keep calm and carry on travelling.

airport suitcase“Um I think that might be my plane taking off…”

Airports are usually vast buildings filled with thousands of travelers and trip-inducing wheelie suitcases. Avoiding them and the numerous shopping opportunities as you attempt to get from A to B can be time consuming. Boarding the plane late and enduring the walk of shame to your seat may be bad enough, but missing your flight altogether is worse. We recommend that you get to your gate first.  Check first hand what your flight status is, and then do some window shopping.

What to do if you miss your flight?: head for your airline’s helpdesk. Ideally they will be able to sort another flight as soon as possible. However, if it’s deemed you are at fault rather than the airline, you may have to pay for the additional flight or pay those pesky fees. Check your travel insurance and the airline’s missed flight policy before you leave.

“Tickets, money, passport…where’s my passport?!”

Not only are passports expensive, they are also your ticket to travel. Without one most of the world is inaccessible, so it’s a complete pain when you discover it’s lost or stolen.

What to do: trying to get home without a passport is a little tricky and will take extensive knowledge of the movie, The Bourne Supremacy. So firstly you need to report your lost or stolen passport to the police and get a police report. Then inform the local Embassy, Consulate or High Commission and they will provide a lost passport form for you to complete, plus emergency travel documentation.

Lost luggage“Where’s my Louis Vuitton?!”

It can be tedious waiting and jostling with fellow passengers to retrieve your luggage on landing. However it becomes a whole lot more stressful when you realize your precious luggage is not one of the four unloved, battered cases left on the baggage carousel. Then what?

What to do: make a beeline for your airline’s helpdesk. They are all too familiar with lost luggage reports as literally thousands of bags are misplaced on a daily basis. You’ll be asked to fill out a lost luggage report/claim and in the meantime your airline will set about tracking your prized possessions. Most stories of wayward luggage have a happy ending and find owner and suitcase reunited within 72 hours.  If your luggage has headed to destinations unknown and taken a permanent break, you can always file a claim with your homeowners insurance.


Venice for Couples

1000Fights had a fight about Venice (big surprise). The fight wasn’t while we were there, but if we should go there. Mike said, yes. Luci said, no. Mike won. Luci is glad he did. Venice is one of those locations you can’t miss. It’s on the bucket list. It’s like the Taj Mahal and the Great Wall of China. Once a world super power, now one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations, Venice is a perfect place for couples to get lost in its history, ambiance, food, and extravagance. To ensure your trip is fight free and memorable, follow the following 10 tips.

venice church

Venice at dusk.

1. Accept Venice for what it is. Venice is trapped in the past. There is no industry there. Some of Europe’s great cities couple history and the present for a modern-day experience. Venice does not. Venice is historical Disneyland. More than 20 million people visit Venice; only 250,000 people actually live there. It’s a tourist trap. However, that doesn’t mean it isn’t splendid and worth the visit. Just know when you go that 90 percent of the people you see are just like you, tourists.

2. Stay away from the Grand Canal. The Grand Canal is well, Grand. You’ll see a parade of historical sites, but it’s not the best location to stay. It’s crowded and overpriced. We suggest staying on Isola Della Guidecca. It’s Venice’s southern district and home to several independent B&B’s and the massive Hilton Molino Stucky.  By staying on Isola Della Guidecca, you’ll get away from the majority of tourists and wake up overlooking Venice. It’s easy to get there. Take the vaporetto (water bus).

3. Get lost and buy a pop-up map. Remember, Venice is an island. You can walk and walk and you won’t fall off the edge of the earth. Take it in and just walk around. By walking around, we found places we didn’t read about in any travel book or website. See #10. From personal experience, it was hard to find our bearings in Venice. Take our advice, find a good map. It was a life saver. You might be tempted to use your smart phone. Buy the map before you go. On Amazon, it’s only $6.95 and the size of a 3 X 5 card. It also has the vaporetto route. By buying the map, you don’t have to worry about finding Wi-Fi on your phone. Just stuff the map in your back pocket. No fuss and no fight!

Venice Italy

A view from one of the many bridges.

4. Kiss at St. Mark’s Square (Piazza San Marco.) Supposedly Napoleon called it the “drawing room of Europe.”  The piazza hosts St. Marks Bacillia, the famous Clock Tower, and pigeons of course. But that’s not all; you’ll hear live music in the form of string quartets and grand pianos, and opera singers, serenading the guests of the restaurants that line the square. This is when you know Venice is for lovers!

5. Watch your pocketbook at Murano. It’s easy to go trinket and souvenir shopping in Venice. Glass! Jewelry! Masks! Gondolier shirts! Handbags! There is no shortage of stores wanting your money and that’s appropriate considering Venice’s merchant history. But mind your pennies. One of the easiest ways for your romantic time to crash and burn is fighting over souvenirs. We know; we’ve fought over them a lot. So, decide before you ever set first on the island, develop a budget. Decide how much each of you gets to spend on souvenirs. 1000Fights spent the day in Murano to spend our cash. Murano is a short boat ride away from Venice and it’s where the majority of the glass is made. Buy your glass directly from the factory to avoid buying overpriced Chinese glass.  While we are on the topic to price…don’t overpay for a trip to Venice.

bosnia croatia 2011 three 097

Hot gondolier. Yes, please.

6. Swoon over hot gondoliers, but don’t waste your money by riding in a gondola.  1000Fights has an eye for beauty and that includes in the form of hot gondoliers. They are everywhere in Venice. You’d think riding in a gondola would be the ultimate romantic experience. It’s really not. It’s crowded on the canals and riding in a gondola is expensive. Expect to pay at least 75 Euros for a gondola ride. For a better romantic experience, spend your money on going to the opera at the Fenice or a candle light dinner.

7. Be prepared to be seasick. The streets are flooded in Venice. LOL. Seriously, there is only one way to get around the city: by boat. There is a comprehensive waterbus system called vaporetto. But the bus stops float. And rock. And sway. If you get seasick, like the female half of 1000Fights, know that you could get sick riding the vaporetto as well as waiting for them. Take precautions and have sympathy for your queasy stomached spouse. Nothing says I love you more than puking on vacation.

8. Read the book, and then Visit the Fenice. 1000Fights picked up the book, “The City of Falling Angels” by John Berendt on clearance long before they decided to go to Venice. The book details the devastating fire of Venice’s opera house, the Fenice, and its subsequent rebirth. You’ll get a taste of the people of Venice and its historic landmark. The book is fascinating and it makes a visit to the beautiful Fenice even more meaningful.

Inlaid Marble

The Santa Maria Assunta Church

9. Eat bruschetta and drink wine. The food in Venice is fantastic, if you avoid the typical tourist restaurants. We found a restaurant in Venice on Isola Della Guidecca that we went to twice it was that good! Trattoria al Cacciatori overlooks the canal and the service is terrific. The bruschetta was the best we’d ever eaten. We’d go back to Venice just for the bruschetta. No trip to Italy would be complete without Italian wine. Drink up.

10. Find This Church. When 1000Fights was getting lost, we stumbled upon a church we never read about in any travel book. The Santa Maria Assunta Church or known as Gesuiti I is almost 300 years old. Its outside is ostentatious baroque with statutes, columns, and a gigantic door that would fit the Giant from Jack and the Beanstalk. The inside is washed in black and white inlaid marble that is breathtaking. Even the balcony’s draperies are actually marble cut to look like curtains. Do not miss this historic and over the top ornate church. 

Venice is the perfect place for a honeymoon or for pretending that you are on one!  Take in all the food, the sights, and of course the wonderful experience that is Venice.

Bon Voyage!

bosnia croatia 2011 three 025

1000Fights says don’t fight about Venice. Go and enjoy Historical Disneyland!

Do I Need an International Driver’s Licence?

One thing that the Fighting Couple loves… international driving.  We get asked lots of questions about the infamous “International Driving License.”  What is that?  Do we need one?  Do I have to pass a driving test?  Do I have to own a Ferrari?  What if we get pulled over and don’t have one?  Will we spend a month in a Russian Gulag if we don’t get one?  Where does one get an International Drivers License?

Do I Really Need an International Drivers License?

First off, Lets define what this is and isn’t.  First off, you cannot buy an International Drivers License.  You can buy an International Drivers Permit.  This is an important difference. Candidly, an International Driving Permit is a collection of your driving and identification information translated into ten languages.  It must be accompanied by your government issued driver’s license to be valid.

Italy policeHow did the International Diving Permit come to be?

The whole International Driving Permit movement came into being on Nov. 8, 1968 with the signing of the Vienna Convention on Road Traffic.  The treaty outlined the duties of drivers from foreign lands visiting their respective counties.  It spelled out what is contained on the permit.   Over 70 counties signed on to the treaty.  Notable counties that did not agree to the treaty: Japan, China, Israel, and the Holy See (forget driving that Pope-mobile.)  Each of these countries have special requirements for foreign drivers.  Please confirm the regulations before you book a trip to Japan or other non-signatory countries.

How do you get one?

Getting an International Drivers Permit….It’s really pretty easy.  Each participating country has their own procedures to acquire a permit.  We will give the low down on both the USA and the UK.  If you know the procedure for another country, would you give us the process in the comments section below?  In the states, there are two non-governmental agencies that issue the permits:  the American Automobile Association or AAA (http://www.aaa.com/vacation/idpf.html)  and the National Automobile Club NAC (http://www.thenac.com/idp_faqs.htm) .  Both of their websites offer helpful info on the ins and out of acquiring a permit.  For our good friends across the pond in the UK, you can visit your local AA (http://www.theaa.com/index.html).  (That acronym has a little different meaning here in the states.)   You are required to have passport style picture fixed to the permit.  A driving test is not required.  A current and valid driver’s license issued by the state is required.

Speaking of international driving….Have you checked out our Couple Road Trip Survival Guide?

Car Hires

So do I need a permit to rent a car?  Probably not.  We cannot definitively say no, you will never, ever need one.  We can tell you in our extensive travels in Europe, North & South America, South Africa, and South East Asia, we have never been asked for one.   In visiting with the major car rental companies, all recommended the permit.  Should you get one?  Probably yes.  It also gives you one more form of identification.

car hire

Should you get a permit? Mike says yes.

What if I get pulled over?

This is where the value of the permit really shines through.  You can’t select the language ability of the law enforcement that pulls you over.  Trust us, you definitely want that conversation to go smoothly.  Having an international permit can be the difference between a ticket or not.  Most permits cost $20ish USD.  Why not have one?  The Fighting Couple has had two run ins with the law whilst traveling.  We admit it.  One was passing in an “unmarked” passing zone (Mike still thinks he was in the right one that one) and on another occasion we did not have the appropriate sticker on our car (again Mike’s fault.)  Both of these occurrences happened in non-English speaking Euro zone countries.  We were not asked for the permit.  We of course had to provide our insurance and USA issued driver’s license.  During the entire experience…not once were we asked for an International Driver ID.  Crazy huh?

So that’s the skinny on international driving permits.  Avoid the hassle, and buy one before you head out.  We would love to hear from you on this topic.  Have you been pulled over abroad?  Have you been turned away from renting a car?  Leave us a comment below.  Do you have any questions about an international drivers license?

Discovering the Seven Secrets of Rome

We understand that there will be something happening in Rome in the coming weeks?  The focus will be on one of our favorite fighting destinations, Rome.  Home to gladiators, Popes (including a new one,) painters, and poets, a stroll around the Eternal City of Rome is an adventure in itself.  We want to offer you some of our secrets, and some of the off the beaten path sights to take in while in Rome.

rome church

Santa Maria Del Priorato

Secret Rome Keyhole

For our first secret of Rome, head to the Piazza dei Cavalieri di Malta, wander around to the back side of the square, there you will find the church of Santa Maria Del Priorato.  Find the door leading into the church.  Peer through the small bronze keyhole in the gate.  Spoiler alert!  As you gaze through the small hole you will see perfectly framed by trees and scrubs, the Basilica of St. Peter.  It is truly a sight to behold.  It is difficult to fully describe just how beautiful and unexpected this view is.  We highly recommend!

 The Holy Fun House

Our next stop on our adventure is the Rooms of St. Ignatius, located at Piazza del Gesu 45.  This is the former home and monastery of St. Ignatius.   He actually designed and built the rooms and corridor.  This honored Jesuit had his important vision of service to God and Church in these hallowed halls.  Don’t miss seeing the patron saint’s shoes in the display case!

Sometimes called The Holy Fun House, the entire complex holds wonderful examples of perspective painting and distortion in art.  Flat walls seem to transfigure into flying buttresses!  As you walk down the corridor the walls truly seem to come alive!

Protestant Cemetery

Not all of the holy sites in Rome are related to the Catholic Church.  In one of the most well-kept cemeteries in the city,  the Protestant Cemetery, you will find a couple of interesting internees.   Both John Keats and Percy Shelley are buried here!  The walls of the cemetery are actually the walls of the “old” city.  They held out fierce attacks from the barbarians for more than 100 years.

Rome Fountian

Trevi fountain

The Secret Perch

Our next adventure takes us to the Vatican.   It is a little known fact that you can actually go up in the dome of St. Peters!  The trek is not for the faint of heart.  You must climb 200 stairs to the elevator that takes you to the top.  For those wanting the further challenge, they can skip the elevator and take on another 300 steps to the top!  The vista is truly one of the best in all of Rome!

The Underground Wonderland

Just like peeling the layers of an onion, the deeper you journey into the bowels of the Basilica of San Clemente, the more you learn.  The “new” part of the church was constructed in the late 12th century.  It includes beautiful art and mosaics.  Take the stairs down and you enter what was a 4th century church!  As you wander around this subterranean church, take in the amazing art etched into the walls.  Continue your quest by going one level lower, into the deep.  In the very depths of the building, you will find a 2nd century Mithraic Temple, complete with altar!  The entire structure exudes history.  The Basilica is still undergoing excavation.

What will they find next?

Rome-The Italian Hollywood?

It’s no secret that Rome has been captured on film over the years.  What is stunning is the sheer number of films and genres that feature the city.  For those of you that want to retrace some cinematic magic, we tracked down some of the locations from a few films.  Of course you want to travel like a Hollywood Starlette but dont have the budget?

Oceans 12: Airport scenes were filmed in Rome’s Fiumicino Airport.

Eat, Pray, Love:  Piazza Nabona

The Gladiator:  Russell Crowe and Joaquin Phoenix were filmed in Coliseum.

The Talented Mr. Ripley:  Cafe Dinelli: The terrace cafe, where Ripley arranges for Meredith, Marge and Peter Smith-Kingsley to meet up was filmed in Piazza di Spagna.

And of course how could we leave out:

Roman Holiday, a separate category on its own.

Joe Bradley’s apartment was filmed in Via Margutta 51.

The bench where Bradley finds the Princess asleep  was filmed in Via dei Fori Imperiali.

Mouth of Truth was filmed in Santa Maria in Cosmedin.

The Final Secret

This one is up to you!  You must find your own secret in the city of secrets!  Enjoy Rome.  It is truly one of the most amazing cities we have visited.  The city is a perfect blend of history, architecture and of course adventure.  Enjoy Rome!




A Couple’s Survival Guide To Long-Term Travel

Guest Post by Sofia von Porat: Sofia writes forAsWeTravel, a travel blog sharing travel tips, videos, guides and inspiration from around the world – you can follow her at www.aswetravel.com.

Before you consider getting married, starting a business or moving in together – there is a way to find out how all that will work out: go traveling!

Traveling together on a round the world trip is the most effective way to figure out if you’re suited for each other – when you take your first long-term trip together, you will either break up, or grow stronger as a couple.  Nothing puts as much pressure on a relationship than the uncertainty and stress of traveling, which tends to bring out the worst in people.  But there are ways and secrets to make traveling with each other easier.

After years of full-time travel and running a business together, these are the 5 things that have helped us the most…

traveling coupleIf I Like You Today, I Want To See You Tomorrow

We believe that one of the things that have made staying together so much easier is a simple mindset about our relationship.  Every rule you have is like planting a landmine on the road in front of you, and laying out too many of them increases the risk of stepping on one and blowing up the whole thing.  The fewer rules you have – the fewer rules you will break.

When we first met, Nathan explained his thoughts on relationships in a simple sentence, one that we have lived by ever since: I like you today, and I want to see you tomorrow.   If a day comes when we no longer feel that way about each other, we know it’s time to go our separate ways.

Play On Each Others Strengths

We try to stick to what each of us does best, and play on each other’s strengths.

I usually do the travel planning, while Nathan keeps track of our budget – same goes for work, one of us usually does the writing, the other does the coding and so forth.


Knowing and being strict about your core values is important, but make sure you get rid of the “fluff” and keep it simple.  One thing  many solo travelers say they enjoy is that they can choose what they want to do and where they want to go without having to discuss it with someone else first.  We’ve found that when we keep it simple and don’t get attached to everything those kind of discussions become less and less frequent.

One thing we try to always live by in every aspect of life – especially in relationships, is K.I.S.S – keep it simple stupid. ;)

travel loveDon’t Expect Anything In Return

Doing something that you might not enjoy for the sake of your partner is crucial in a relationship – but only if you don’t expect anything in return.  Compromising by saying “I’ll do this for you if you do that for me” might work in the short run but will build up resentment and create unnecessary fights.

Knowing that you make the other person happy is enough, besides, you’ll often find that you get more in return when you don’t expect anything back.

Ask Yourself “What Else Could This Mean?”

Anyone can be the most amazing person in the world when they’re relaxed and happy, but when we’re stressed, hungry and tired, the worst in us gets brought into the spotlight.  We do and say terrible things that we don’t really mean. Something which has helped us solve fights faster is to ask ourselves “what else could this mean?”.  When people get angry they tend to let the anger out on those they love the most, or sometimes whoever is closest to them at that moment.  For example, if a waiter is rude to you, it’s usually not about you at all but about something completely different – the same goes for your partner.

Try not to take anything personally, from each other or anyone else.

When All Else Fails…

… a handhold and a kiss will be worth more than a thousand words.

Sometimes, when the world is upside down and chaos surrounds you, it’s nice to let each other know that no matter what happens, you will be there to hold each other’s hands.

The best thing about traveling as a couple is that all your experiences are magnified when you get to share them with the person you love the most, and that handhold can make all the difference in the world.

1000Fights:  A sincere thanks to Sofia.  We especially like the last suggestion.  Sometimes a little tenderness goes a long way.  Please give their blog a look:  www.aswetravel.com .  Not sure we could survive traveling together long term…

A Ticket to South Africa

“All I wanted to do now was get back to Africa.  We had not left it yet, but when I would wake in the night, I would lie, listening, homesick for it already.”—Ernest Hemingway

They say that you shouldn’t start blog posts with a quote.  They say that it some how takes away from rest of the post.  I think that is bunk.  Hemingway was onto something.  His thoughtful comment completely captures how we feel about Africa.  While our visit to South Africa was short, it changed us forever.  We want to take you along on our discovery.

Township south Africa

A view of Soweto

The Soweto

Our African experience began in Johannesburg, South Africa, affectionately known as Jo’Burg.  We endured the long flight from the States.  It continues to amaze us that you can board a flying tin can and travel half way around the world in less than a day.  Once we got our feet underneath us, we joined up with our guide Henry and headed for the Soweto.  Soweto is short for “South Western Township.”   The sprawling shanty metropolis is the home to 1.3 million people.  It has a rough and difficult history that we won’t dive into here; needless to say, we felt that it was important to see and attempt to understand first hand.  Our guide drove us around the Soweto, pointing out the hospital, when electricity came to the area, and how all the city functioned. Our guide took us into a couple of homes. We met the families that lived there.  Our “abundance guilt” bubbled up in our hearts.  A visit to the township was powerfully instructive. We ended our tour at Nelson Mandela’s house and mentally exhausted.

The next morning we hired our rental car for our adventure.   You would think that we would engage a Range Rover for the self-guided safari that we were embarking on?  No, we went cheap.  We opted for the four-cylinder Chevy Aveo.  Bad decision.  But we will save that story for a little later.  We headed north on highway one.  Our destination:  Zimbabwe.

Going into Zimbabwe

Crossing the border into Zimbabwe

Destination Zimbabwe

One of Luci’s lifetime goals is to visit Zimbabwe.  Why would an Idaho farm girl set a crazy goal like that?  We do not know.  The journey took a little over 5 hours.  As we approached the border crossing, we began to have second thoughts.  Zimbabwe does not have the friendliest relations with our fair country.  We parked at the South African checkpoint on the south bank of the Limpopo River.  We went in and were greeted by a grim-faced bureaucrat.  We explained our intent to cross into Zimbabwe, get our Passport stamped and return.  We both saw the blood kind of drain out of his face.

“Why are you doing this thing?” He politely asked.  We smiled and tried to explain.  Rather than attempt to counter our stupidity, he instructed us to do a number of things for our safety.  “Pull your car around to the front of the building, it will likely be stolen or broken into.  Go there, come back quickly and see me when you return so I know that you have returned safely.”

Zimbabwe border

Welcome to Zimbabwe

At this point, both of us were having second thoughts.  If our rental car company didn’t want us to drive across this river into this country, why in the world are we going across?  Like walking the plank, we bravely marched across the baboon ridden bridge.  We were headed by foot to Zimbabwe.  We were obviously tourists. Luci had her camera around her neck.  We didn’t have our belongings wrapped in a sheet or carrying grocery sacks across the bridge on our heads like others crossing.  As we approached, we were welcomed by camo-clad militia men with AK-47s strapped to their backs.  Each in turn looked at us with healthy suspicion.  We nervously whispered back and forth to each other…”keep walking, keep walking.”   We entered the run down custom’s house.  It was sheer craziness.  Crowds pushed forward to face the three to four border agents that were behind bars.

The heat that day was blistering.  Humidity was off the charts.  The air was close in the steamy small room.  We were unsure of ourselves.  Our naivety was written on our faces.  A couple of different agents came from one of the back rooms and pulled us aside and suggested that we pay them to make the process go faster.  We declined.  The price was adjusted.  Again we opted out.  In the developing situation, it soon became clear that the likelihood that we were going to make it out of the experience without our wallets being lightened significantly was highly unlikely.  Was it worth it for the Passport stamp?  I said, “Let’s go.”  We walked out.  We dashed back across the bridge to check back with our caring friend and find our car unmolested.  We had accomplished our goal.  We had set foot in Zimbabwe.  The adventure was just beginning.

South Africa Safari woman

The view from the veranda of the lodge.


A peaceful outpost

We made our way back into the savanna of South Africa.  We had done our research and found a quaint bed and breakfast on a small reservoir, the Shiluvari Lakeside Lodge.  This was our first taste of the night sounds of Africa.  It was wonderful.  We had our dinner on the veranda overlooking the water and listened.  We recounted our brave adventures that day and started to connect with the place that we had traveled so far to see.

The next morning we would head out on our self-serve safari to see some of the most incredible animals in the world.

Africa was truly a grand adventure!


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7 Questions with Getting Stamped

The new year is a great time to ask yourself…What if?  What if I could travel anywhere that I wanted to go?  What if….I could travel with the person that I love indefinitely   What if….I sold everything that I owned and just left.  If you want to follow a couple that didn’t just think about the what if…they are actually are going to live it, you must follow Hannah and Adam of www.GettingStamped.com.

Blog: www.gettingstamped.com

Twitter: Getting Stamped

Facebook: Getting Stamped

Pinterest: Hannah and Adam

So lets get to know this daring couple a little better.

Travel couple

Hannah and Adam of Getting Stamped

1.)    Tell us a little about yourselves.  How long have you been together?  How did you meet? Whats this we hear about a Lady’s Night?

We actually just celebrated 7 years together last week at one of new favorite Thai restaurants. We have owned a house together for the last 4 years, and married just under a year 2.12.12. So we are used to not following the normal rules.

We met while Hannah had one of the best jobs a college student could ever have, she was paid to hand out free beer! The night we met happen to be a Monday night, and yes also a ladies night. Hannah was handing out free beer, Adam’s Friends wanted free beer and Adam wanted to talk more with Hannah. So Adam and his friends follow Hannah around to 3 different bars where she was promoting and handing out beer. 7 years and a lot of beers later, we are still together and getting ready to be with each other 24/7 for over a year straight!


2.) If you had to travel with someone else besides your travel partner, who would it be?  (this person can be living, historical or mythical?.)

He said: It would probably have to be my friend Matt, it was with him that I think I caught my travel bug initially. My first trip out of the country came with Matt on our spring break trips and other adventures. No matter where we go we have a good time, and we always seem to come back with a story or two.

She said: I wish I could say my best friend Rachel, but she would never be able to leave her family for the duration that we are planning.  I would travel with anyone who has the same passion for travel as I do! It could be a life long friend, or another backpacker I just met.  If we have similar travel habits/wants/needs we could make it happen!


couple ocean3.) A tax auditor and a mechanical engineer, you guys are up and coming professionals.   What made you guys want to sell everything and travel?

He said: Up and coming comes at a cost, 60-70 hour work weeks are a regular occurrence. Sure the money is good, but its not worth it if you don’t even have time to enjoy it. Basically my life balance is pretty far out of whack.

She said: We realized we are working and working and for what…we have a bunch of “stuff” but there was a lot more to life than “stuff & work”.  It came apparent it was now or never to take this trip.


4.) With adventures are sure to come incidents, and we have had our fair share already. We have only let a few of our Travel Fails out of the bag on our website so far. Our much worse ones will be coming out soon (and some of those resulted in some real fights).

He said: I was actually kinda surprised that Hannah volunteered to go on our deep sea fishing trip, that sort of stuff isn’t really her thing. I am pretty sure I will never get her to go on another trip like that again after nearly going under while 2 miles off shore in the Dominican Republic. We didn’t catch any fish on our short expedition, but Hannah did get to feed them, if you know what I mean.

She said: I ended up on the boat only because I didn’t want to be stranded on the beach by myself, for who knows how many hours…..I would have never gone had I know how far out we were going or how rough the seas were.  This trip is where I learned that I get sea sick!


5.)  What is the hardest part about leaving your “home” for so long?

He said: The hardest part of being gone for me is going to be missing the people in our lives. I will miss the months of April, June-September at home, the rest of the year I will be more than glad to be gone. I will miss the baseball games with friends, the beer festivals, and all the good summer time fun.

She said: Can I say my cat, Tinkerbell? Everyone knows I love her to death, and I would do anything for my baby…. Besides my cat, I am really going to miss my friends & family.  Almost every weekend we have some sort of get together with friends or family.  We are going to miss 2 baseball seasons, 2 summers, friends 30th birthdays, weddings, and maybe some babies too…


6.)  If you could solve one problem in the world what would it be?

He said: The great inequalities between classes of people that always seem to exist in developing countries. We have planned for a few volunteering opportunities along with our world tour, in Laos and Kenya, we are hoping to find something in Central America as well.

She said: Adam nailed it, and I have an issue seeing hungry children.  I will stop and buy some food for a hungry children and not even think twice.


couple on beach7.)  You knew it was coming….What has been your greatest travel fight/disagreement?

He said: If we fight it is usually toward the end of a trip, and the stress of returning home makes us cranky. One of the biggest I can remember is an old one, where I let Hannah’s 18 year old brother borrow our rental car during a family wedding in Hawaii. Several hours later we are stranded without a car, I’m getting yelled at, and Hannah is so mad she is crying.

She said:  Currently we have the ongoing packing fight.  I have a slight clothing/bikini issue, and we cannot agree on the amount of clothing I am allowed to bring. I may have to sneak a few more things in! (Don’t tell Adam)

1000Fights:  Adam we are with you.  It is always at the end of a long trip that things get a little dicey. Any you guys are going to be gone how long?  Ha!  Keep in touch.  We always need more material for our “Fights” section.  Thank again you two.  We look forward to meeting you guys out there on your grand adventure.