Tying the knot? Celebrating by taking an adventure honeymoon? Then don't miss out on Jeff & Maddie Wilson's Top tips on how to do it right. The adventure couple, The Wandering Wilsons help you navigate the trip of your dreams and while keeping your budding nuptials alive!
The Wandering Wilsons:
We decided we wanted a real adventure to “life’s greatest adventure” of getting married, so we immediately knew we wanted to go to Asia. We didn’t just want to hop over there, rush around, and leave though, so we decided to push the limits and take as much time off from work as possible for us. We really dive deep into the countries we wanted to visit, so we took a two-month sabbatical honeymoon through Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam, and we’d be lying if we told you it wasn’t the most amazing experience we’ve had to-date. We had a blast together, saw some incredibly beautiful landscapes, and made so many memories that we’re going to cherish forever. But we are firm believers in sharing the REALity of our marriage, and it was the trials and bumps in the road that we ran into over those two months and the planning leading up to it that taught us so much about ourselves and each other, and have strengthened our relationship through and through. Here are our top 10 things we learned on our adventure honeymoon:
10 - Constant communication isn’t cliche, it’s key. I know, I know. We see you guys rolling your eyes over there. But this list can’t even start without it. Communication is so important, but we feel like this trip made it a crystal clear reality for us. From booking flights, trains, home stays and excursions to navigating in cabs around new cities and everything in between - you just can’t have a good trip if you aren’t coming up with an action plan together. On our honeymoon, and all of our travels, we make it a focus to do things we both want to do. Even though we usually agree on most things, we do have different bucket list items we want to tackle, and try to be open and honest about those things up front so we made sure to make time for both of our priorities. Jeff really wanted to SCUBA dive in Thailand, and I couldn’t live without seeing an elephant sanctuary. Jeff wanted to eat scorpions, I really wasn’t into that idea. Setting those expectations with each other upfront makes sure you have the opportunity to talk them through, get on board, and make sure you’re both happy with the outcome.
9 - Get your money management and goals aligned. We had so many people express to us that money and a lack of alignment on it causes so many problems in marriages, especially in the early years. Travel has taught us how to talk about this, prioritize our saving, and come to a mutual understanding about our goals and dreams. We both know that our priority is travel, and we are easily able to get on board for saving for trips and adventures that wouldn’t be possible if we weren’t actively working towards them. If we were going to take such a long trip, we had to budget, set a clear savings goal, and then hold each other accountable for that. That meant Jeff telling me I couldn’t get rid of his tacky college furniture for our game room just yet, and that meant he had to cut back on his every-growing running shoe collection. Prioritizing together and compromising is key.
8 - You really have to practice patience. Goodness gracious, y’all, travel takes patience. Sometimes, your train breaks down in the middle of nowhere at 3am and you are incoherently exhausted and agitated, but there’s nothing you can do. Sometimes, one person (usually me) gets sick and the other has to sacrifice a night out to help the other out. The beauty of traveling is that no matter how much you plan, unexpected things will come up and having the patience and perspective to deal with them positively is a game-changer.
7 - Know and play into each other’s strengths. This is a big one. Throughout all of our adventures together, we’ve come to know that each of us has a distinct set of gifts that comes in really handy on the road. Jeff is an awesome planner - he does the research to make informed decisions about what areas we should explore, what places we should stay, what vendors to use and which to ignore. You name it, he’ll figure it out and know all of the details. When we picked our dive shop in Koh Tao (link to https://wanderingwilsons.com/diving-koh-tao-pick-dive-school/), he did all of the dirty work to figure out which one would be best for us, and we couldn’t have asked for a better experience. I probably would have just narrowed down to a few options and picked the cheaper one, and we’d have been eaten by a shark :D I, on the other hand, am all for a spontaneous adventure. We’re sitting here writing this together and according to Jeff, I’m “fearless” when it comes to new challenges and opportunities. That makes me blush, but I suppose it’s accurate. I’m always game for a new challenge, whether it’s negotiating with a spammy tuk-tuk driver to just take us where we need to go and stop trying to take advantage of us, trying a hike that weaves through random people’s backyards and rice fields because we don’t really have a trail, or hopping on the back of a strangers motorbike because it was the quickest and most efficient (although slightly terrifying and bumpy) way back to town. It’s our differences in strengths that make us even more balanced and able to take on the world together, and we love how travel has made us appreciate those qualities. Teamwork really does make the dream work, friends.
6 - Don’t be afraid to be outgoing. Going out on a limb and talking to strangers in a new and unfamiliar place can be a little daunting, even for the most extroverted people. But we’ve found that when we’re traveling together and make an effort to introduce ourselves to other travelers and locals, we have so much more fun. We’ve met some of the best people in random scenarios, but we find our best run-ins have happened at bars. At the start of our trip, we were diving and living the dream on Koh Tao - a little tiny backpacker island off the east coast of Thailand. We knew there were lots of other travelers there, but we had been so exhausted from diving that we really didn’t stay out too late the first few nights. On a whim, we decided to break that cycle and join the Koh Tao Pub Crawl, and I’m pretty sure we were the only married people there. We ordered a beer, but when the bartenders forgot to open Jeff’s, we were forced to find a solution. When we asked a random table if they had a bottle opener, this awesome, boisterous blonde girl grabbed it out of his hands, opened it with her teeth, and promptly introduced herself to us. We ended up staying with that group all night, becoming Facebook friends, and staying in touch ever since. You never know what scenario will lead you to people who will positively impact your life, so we have learned to embrace it and take those chances!
5 - Know where to draw the line. Traveling has taught us where our comfort zones are, where to push those, and where our hard lines are. We always say that our “adventure threshold” is pretty high compared to some people, but we also have dreams of living a long life together and don’t want to do anything that we feel would completely jeopardize that! Accidents can happen no matter where you are or what you’re doing, but it’s all about being smart, staying aware, and making sure you have each other’s backs. A perfect example of this is when we were in Vietnam. We were really wanting to rent a motorbike to help us see some of the more off-the-beaten-path areas, but it was rainy season, and we were a little nervous about our driving skills. We kept meeting other travelers with horrendous road rashes, scrapes, and even trip-ruining injury stories from motorbikes, and we ultimately decided to just give up on that little dream of ours. We ended up making it to the places we wanted to, getting to see everything we wanted to, and avoiding any broken limbs or stitches… so we were happy with that decision.
4 - You have to be okay with some rawness. It sounds ridiculous because so many people (ourselves included a lot of the time) show these striking landscapes and beautiful things on social media, but traveling in a non-luxurious, rugged way is NOT glamorous. Sometimes, it’s downright ugly. We’ve gone days without showers, Jeff’s stolen my toothbrush after his fell in the already-questionable toilet water, I cut my hair off into what can best be described as a frizzy fur ball and went the full two months without makeup, and there were multiple occasions where we had to use baby wipes to clean our feet because they smelled so sour after rain and sweat-soaked hiking that it was going to keep us from sleeping on the train. See - I told you when we said we like to keep it REAL :D But in all seriousness, there’s something so beautiful about being able to trust and know and love someone through all of that - and it only has brought us closer together.
3 - Dependency doesn’t mean weakness. This word has such a negative connotation in our world today, and I think it’s mainly because so many of us are in such a hurry to be the smartest, most-driven, hard-working achievers that ever walked the earth and there’s just no room for depending on other people with that mindset. But a healthy dependency can be an incredibly powerful thing in any relationship and especially in a marriage, and we’ve seen that come through in our travels. When you sit across from someone and look them in the eye and tell them that you aren’t capable, that you need their help, there are walls that break down and bring you closer together. Trust me - I am independent to a fault, and we are both really stubborn. But that’s not how love works. When Jeff was bit by a monkey in rural Thailand and we had to rush to find a hospital and no one spoke English, there was a little bit of fear for both of us. But we both were honest about that, leaned on each other to stay positive and calm, and recognized that sometimes, things go wrong and you just have to help each other out. You have to depend on your partner, be vulnerable enough to ask for help when you need it, and understand that that doesn’t make you weak - it’ll only make you both stronger.
2 - Being adaptable will save you some headaches. This is really similar to practicing patience, but it’s even more actionable. And this is so simple, yet so hard sometimes to do. THINGS WILL GO WRONG. We can’t stress that enough. After countless trips to over 20 countries, we have learned that no matter how much you plan, no matter how much you try to avoid mishaps, they will happen if you adventure enough. When those things happen, being able to accept them for what they are, brush them off, and ADAPT is key to keeping your journey alive and thriving. We stopped in Bangkok for 4 days during our honeymoon, and in those 4 days we were poured on during 3 of our main excursions (one of them on a remote bike ride), scammed and almost-scammed 4 times, and accidentally went to a club during drag night instead of jazz night. They all ended up either fine, funny, or as learning experiences, and being able to roll with the punches was a pivotal element of the experiences.
1 - Finding your passion is so much fun. If there’s anything we’ve learned through our travels together, it’s that we are both very passionate people. We’re passionate about meeting new people, sharing adventurous firsts together, and photography. We’re passionate about telling stories of places we go and people we meet, and documenting our memories and moments together along the way. We’re also passionate about getting out of our comfort zones, experiencing new things, and appreciating how awesome this life can really be when you do all of those things. We don’t have it all figured out, but our travels have inspired us to strive to inspire other people, love each other better, have given us an opportunity to work together, and have really given us a clear purpose in our life. We’re hoping that y’all all have the opportunity to find that together, too!
We’re so happy to be able to have had a few minutes of your day to share our story with you guys! Don’t be a stranger - we’d love to connect and chat about marriage, adventure, travel, and everything in between. You can find us on Instagram and Facebook at @wanderingwilsons and read our stories, tips and some ridiculous travel fails over at wanderingwilsons.com. Happy adventuring!
Authored by: Jeff & Maddie Wilson