Freelance Honeymoon FAQs
We get certain questions a lot and thought it would be interesting to post the answers all in one place. Mostly so I can finally start giving the same answer instead of making something new up every time.
What’s your favorite place?
Derek: Budapest, Hungary or Tokyo, Japan. Budapest was an amazing city to be in for a while. It had all the great things that most famous European cities have without the crowds or high prices. It’s one of the places I miss the most. It just felt so comfortable with the perfect balance of being exciting and relaxing. Tokyo was a completely different world. It was everything we hoped Japan would be plus more. Tokyo felt so alive yet so peaceful at the same time. It was a buzzing yet calm city to explore if that makes sense. There’s definitely much more of Tokyo and Japan to explore and our short time in Japan only made us want to go back.
Lauren: Tough call between Budapest and all of Vietnam. Budapest was just such a magical mix of summer weather, beautiful European city, and cheap prices. It was so incredibly walkable with so much so see and enjoy. It was just enough off the main tourist map to still feel authentic.
Vietnam was also a total unexpected surprise for me. It wasn’t on our radar initially and ended up being a very last minute decision. I found the culture warm and the food out of this world (pho – you’ll forever have my heart). To me it was the beautiful Eastern journey that I expected Thailand to be. A refreshing breath of air after coming from a place like Bali (though I loved Bali in it’s own way).
Oh yeah, I loved Greece too.
What was the craziest toilet you saw?
Derek: Using a squat toilet for the first time can be pretty interesting. Two things become immediately apparent: How do I not get shit all over my ankles and holy hell my quads are too weak to support this position for much longer. I’ve seen all the articles extolling the benefits of pooping naturally but I’d need to hit the gym to be able to hold that position comfortably, or at least install handrails. Public toilets anywhere in the world are pretty nasty. Except Japan. In complete contrast to squat toilets are Japan’s famous poo thrones. These technical toilets feature seat warmers, adjustable bidet, air dryer, and soothing sound effects of waterfalls to mask your dirty doody. It’s truly something to experience for yourself.
Lauren: Squat toilets in Indonesia (and a lot of South East asia) were a bit of shell shock that I wasn’t fully prepared for. The other end of the spectrum were the toilets in Japan. Those basically came with remote controls that made me feel like I was controlling a spaceship.
What was your least favorite country?
Derek:Thailand by far, followed by Costa Rica. We met some amazing people in Costa Rica that we love dearly but didn’t enjoy the country as much. There are plenty of places with great beaches with less hassle and better food.
Thailand was a different beast entirely. It’s so overrun by the tourist industry in the worst way possible. I really can’t say many nice things about Thailand so I won’t share my negativity here.
Lauren: Panama – I just felt like we didn’t have quite enough time to explore and see past the generic big city feel of Panama City.
Did you ever get arrested?
Derek: No, but it was threatened a few times. My particular favorite was after a getting rear ended on a scooter in Thailand and were blamed for the accident. Once the police showed up we were told to either pay off the other scooter driver who hit us or go to jail. I think you know which option we chose.
Lauren: No. Though I did get a tiny bit fearful when we overstayed our visa in Indonesia and immigration pulled us to a special room. Turns out we just had to pay a fine.
Where would you go back to?
Derek: Budapest Hungary
Lauren: Nowhere! Too many new places to explore
How many dead bodies did you see?
Derek: 4. But most of them were mummified relics of various kinds.
What was the scariest situation?
Derek: The time we were almost robbed in a medium speed scooter chase on a volcano in Bali. You can’t go very fast on the dirt roads and scooters but the metal pipe and sticks brandished were scary enough. Luckily we were able to get away with our belongings still our belongings but at the time I didn’t think we were going to be so lucky.
Lauren: Tie between almost getting scooter jacked by 13 years olds with pipes in a remote mountain town of Bali, or walking home in Frankfurt. Derek convinced me the walk home wouldn’t be so long and it was not only super long, but we were walking in the pitch black over bridges and tunnels with some scary individuales.
Biggest travel mistake?
Derek:Booking a flight and completely forgetting about it. This one is ridiculously airheaded for us and I really hate to admit this one. It came down to last minute change in plans but had forgotten that we booked an extra flight from Cairns to Melbourne before changing plans to do a campervan in New Zealand. Oops. Lucky for us, Qantas helped fix our mistake with a flight voucher to use on another flight.
Lauren: I think miscalculating our visa time in Indonesia. We had to pay a fine over overstaying.
Biggest business mistake?
Derek:Not doing enough self promotion. We stayed relatively quiet in terms of promoting what we were doing and that we were available for work. We probably could have done a better job advertising ourselves. We eventually got the ball rolling through referrals (which is probably the most solid way to build a network) but the beginning was slow with work. We can’t complain though since that left more time for fun and exploration!
Lauren:Not publicizing ourselves sooner. The sooner you take yourself seriously, the better.
Derek: The wagyu beef in Tokyo was some of the best steak I’ve ever tasted. There was this little hole in the wall place that could only fit about 8 people standing at the counter with their own little grill at each station. The butchers were on the other side of the counter serving up fresh cuts of meat for you to grill at your little grill station. We had a selection of the tastiest steaks I’ve ever had.
Lauren: I would say that most of the little restaurants in Vietnam had excellent food. There were some really really good pho like bowls. Also the steak in Buenos Aires was pretty delicious.
Derek: I would say the cow brain in Jakarta. Cow brain itself didn’t taste too bad. It was served cold and I first I thought it was cauliflower until biting into it. But the restaurant was pretty dirty overall and all the food was served cold from communal dishes that had been sitting out all day. We left after the second cockroach crawled across the table. You get one cockroach but more than that and I’m out!
Lauren: Definitely the nasty one where Derek ate cow brain. Even thought it wasn’t me who accidentally ate the cow brain, the rest of the food clearly had been sitting out for a long time. And we realized it would go from table to table, what you didn’t eat got served to the next customer. AND a cockroach crawled out from one of the plates. So overall, it was a pretty horrible experience.
So What does cow brain taste like?
Derek: It really wasn’t that bad. I thought it was cauliflower at first but quickly discovered I was eating brain. The weirdest part was that it was cold and I didn’t know how long it was sitting out for. It wasn’t my most favorite meal despite being a highly recommended spot in Jakarta.
Most outside your comfort zone?
Derek: Staying in hostels. I should have known better but we decided to book a few hostels while traveling around Australia to save money. They weren’t half bad since we booked private rooms but it became apparent very quickly that we were a bit too old to be staying in hostels. They’re great for that community vibe and meeting new people but I really can’t deal with college kid mentality and behavior. We were much happier in our own airbnb than trying to get any work done in a common area or trying to make a meal in dirty communal kitchens. Travel can be stressful enough, I don’t need to come back from a day out to clean someone else’s dirty dishes just to make my own dinner.
Most surprising thing/place?
Lauren: I think first arriving to Indonesia, and not staying in a super touristy area was my first introduction to a “developing country.”
How many flights did you take?
Derek: We flew a total of 51 flights. The longest haul was 14 hours from Los Angeles to Sydney. That was a long flight but I don’t really remember it as being that uncomfortable. I think my brain blocks out the bad bits so I forget and want to do it again.
Lauren: I think we always carried with us this fomo feeling, if we were traveling and having fun we felt like we should be working. If we were inside working, we always felt like we should be out exploring our surroundings. I think setting better schedules would have helped with a bit of that. I also regret not trying to go to more meetups and make more connections with people. It’s easy to get sucked into work and forget to get out of the zone every once and awhile, especially traveling as a couple.
Derek: We tried to buy as few souvenirs as possible but that doesn’t mean we didn’t buy stuff that sparked joy. I’d say my red and white checkered Croatian soccer jersey sparks a lot of joy. The fact that it doesn’t fit anymore sparks sadness.
Lauren: My earring collection! I tried to buy earrings from as many countries as possible, usually looking for a unique pair that represented the area in some way. My overall favorite is a big silver (nickel?) pair from Peru that features some kind of Quechuan idol. They’re just very unique and always a great conversation starter.
What did you pack
Lauren: We kept it very light. I think for clothes – we had about a weeks worth of outfits, give or take. Two pairs of pants, two pairs of shorts, and maybe 5 tops. They weren’t the most glamorous outfits because we had to keep it minimal and also be able to work with whatever weather we came across (though we did try to stick to mostly warmer temperatures). Layers were key as well as sweaters and light down jackets that could be condensed very small. For shoes I think I carried: everyday sneakers, workout sneakers, nice sandals, pair of flip flops, and one pair of flats that I rarely wore!
We prioritized our working equipement over our clothes and personal items. We both carried computers with accessories and camera equipment. I also carried a very thin travel second monitor for the later part of the trip.
How much did your bag weigh?