Our Toothbrushes Are In:

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Apr 302013
Sep 122014

The longer we travel, the more couples like us we discover or even meet. Like us they dreamed about traveling, like us they made the big trip happen, and like us they document their experiences online. In the Two Toothbrushes traveler interview series we introduce fellow traveling and blogging couples to share their story and draw inspiration from them. If you’d like to participate or know a couple who would, please visit the series page.

Stephenie Harrison and Tony Kuehn, a married writer & photographer duo, have been living their dreams and traveling the world since August 2012. Their blog 20 Years Hence documents their journey and provides for them a creative space where they explore the art of storytelling through words and photos. Their goal is simply to create and share stories that inform, inspire, and expand hearts and minds.

20YearsHence1 Two Toothbrushes: A traveler interview with 20 Years Hence

Steph & Tony in front of Nashville’s Parthenon, three months before leaving on their trip.

Where is your toothbrush, where is it headed next, and why?

For the first time in over two years, our toothbrushes are actually in two different places: Tony’s is currently in Rochester, Minnesota, and Steph’s is in Toronto, Canada. Hopefully in the next few weeks they’ll be reunited again up here in the Big White North (that is to say, Canada).

For the time being, we’re recovering from our epic 22-month trip, all the while making plans for our next one! We’re not 100% sure when that will be exactly, but as we’ll be traveling with our dogs when we next set out, we’re looking at tackling the road trip to end all road trips. No idea where we might ultimately end up, but the goal is to make it to Mexico and spend a chunk of time exploring it (and eating all the tacos!) and then just keep pushing south.

What’s your definition of home?

Not to be overly saccharine, but for us, the concept of home is probably best summarized by the Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros song of the same name: “Home is wherever I’m with you.” (By which we mean, each other!) Since we both hail from not just different cities, but different countries, we’ve come to realize that home really is anywhere that we are together and can build a life. We really thrived on jumping from one place to another on our big trip, which just solidified for us that home isn’t a physical location, but somewhere we connect with the world and each other.

20YearsHence3 Two Toothbrushes: A traveler interview with 20 Years Hence

Steph and Tony were lucky enough to find themselves in Bangkok for Songkran, a massive water fight that heralds the Thai New Year.

How do you make yourself feel at home wherever you go?

Pretty much anywhere we can completely unpack our bags and stow them out of sight feels like home to us. Normally we don’t stay anywhere long enough to do that, so if we’ve unpacked, we’re home. Also, we LOVE food so if we can find a local dish for a given region or country that we know we can reliably order, then that makes us feel more at ease as well.

Why this (or the most recent) trip, why now (then)?

We both knew that our last home before the trip, Nashville, was never our forever home. Once Steph got her PhD, we always knew we would relocate somewhere else. We figured that rather than immediately relocating and settling into the exact same routines (and ruts) that we had developed for ourselves in Nashville, we should take advantage of that natural gap and actually do some of the traveling that we always made excuses not to do because of money or time constraints. We also felt dissatisfied with the career trajectories we were on, and we figured taking some time away would allow us to figure out what direction we actually wanted to be heading in.

Initially our trip started out as the idea of a month in Europe before spiraling to “let’s save as much money as we can for a couple of years and then just travel for as long as we can on that.” We both had a burning desire to see the world (ok, let’s be honest: we wanted to eat our way around the world!) and to do something epic NOW rather than 20 or 40 years from now. We would say we succeeded!

20YearsHence2 Two Toothbrushes: A traveler interview with 20 Years Hence

One of the highlights of Steph and Tony’s trip was learning to dive in the Philippines.

What were your greatest challenges in making the trip happen? How did you overcome them?

Most people would probably think that the biggest obstacle to a trip like this is funding it, but we didn’t find it all that difficult to save. Having the trip was a great motivator and really helped us cut back on frivolous spending and put money towards travel instead.

For us, the biggest challenge in making the trip happen was finding the courage to pull the trigger and cut ties with our old lives. Every year we’d find some excuse to sign on for another year, generally saying it was because we “weren’t ready” and needed to save more money. But eventually we realized that we just had to go, that it would be scary to say goodbye to our comfort zones, but it was time to finally stop waiting to live our dreams and do it already! It was hard quitting our jobs and turning our backs on a sure thing, but we did it and we’re so glad we did. No regrets!

What do you enjoy the most about your traveling life?

After a while, the actual traveling became almost incidental for us; we don’t think that you can travel for two years without it essentially becoming your life, rather than a trip or a vacation. It becomes a whole new way of being. So although we did tons of cool things on our trip (like scuba diving), ate countless incredible meals, met many wonderful people, and visited many of our “dream destinations” the thing we loved most about our traveling life was the freedom it afforded us. For the first time in our lives, we woke up knowing that every day was completely in our control and we could do anything and go anywhere that we wanted to. It became really addictive to be beholden to no one but ourselves, to simply approach each day with the goal of making it rich and rewarding in whatever manner we saw fit. It’s something that neither of us is willing to give up, which is why we began to build an online business for ourselves (chiefly designing websites and offering graphic design services) so that we can continue to enjoy the flexibility and freedom that being your own boss allows. It’s stressful at times, of course, but for us it’s worth it.

20YearsHence4 Two Toothbrushes: A traveler interview with 20 Years Hence

Steph and Tony channeling their inner Britney Spears and taking a walk on the wild side with a Burmese python in Thailand.

Share a moment from your travels that you will share with future generations.

It’s so hard to think of one moment that is eminently shareable above and beyond all the others. The time we accidentally ate buffalo brains in Nepal? Or what about when we rode the entire length of Vietnam on a tiny 100CC motorbike? Sleeping on a picnic table in the Philippines under the stars on an island that had only seen 9 other foreigners before us? Driving a tuk tuk through Sri Lanka? Walking over 100km in the Himalayas? Celebrating the Thai New Year, Songkran, with a massive water fight in Bangkok? Taking our first breaths underwater as scuba divers? Having a new friend teach us how to make authentic Bolognese sauce in Italy? Meeting Chef Martin Yan in Ho Chi Minh City and have him cook us a feast? Honestly the list of incredible moments on this trip just goes on and on and on; truly every day was a gift!

Sep 102014

Some are scruffy, some are mangy, while some look better fed than most humans. During our travels, we saw relaxed Greek cats, skittish Serbian cats, and Malaysian cats you wouldn’t want to meet alone in a dark alley. But the street cats of the world do have one thing in common: they look right at home wherever they are.

So here’s the Faraway Feline, yet another cat photo to distract you from whatever you were doing before. You’re welcome.

This week’s Faraway Feline comes from our readers and fellow travel bloggers Della and Eric at Globegazers. They wrote, “We found this kitty sitting on a porch railing of our hostel overlooking the Tatra Mountains in Ždiar, Slovakia. He seemed quite taken with the view. As were we!” How cool to feature a Faraway Feline reader submission from Peter’s country!

FF GlobeGazers Faraway Feline: Ždiar, Slovakia

Hey there, stranger. Visit Slovakia!

Are you as taken as we are with the cats of the world? If you have a Faraway Feline you’d like to share, email Lindsay and we’ll post it with a link to your blog or Facebook page. Please include the location it was shot and a caption about your Faraway Feline. We prefer photos that include some visual indication of location (in other words, not just the cat).