SoFlo Shakers: A Couple for the Road
Have you ever had one of those days where you want to throw away all your stuff, sell your house (or rent it out) and just go. Go wherever the wind takes you. Experience new places, new cultures, new languages. Well, Justin & Tracy of A Couple for the Road has taught us that you can do just that!
In July of 2007, their journey began and has taken them to over 50 locations around the world. Their blog has worked to celebrate international art, history, architecture, music, language and culinary tradition. Just celebrating 10 years of wedded bliss, they continue their journey and share new experiences on their blog. If you aren’t quite ready to live a life on the road, follow along and live vicariously - I know we will!
FlipperSplash: Your Blog, A Couple For The Road, celebrates global traditions among many other things. Have you discovered a tradition during your travels that surprised you?
Justin & Tracy: I think it all surprises us, to one degree or another, which is the reason we love to travel. Whether it's a food tradition, religious, or the celebration of an event. For example, we've been in Valladolid, Mexico a few times, and there's a really beautiful, multi-day celebration of the founding of the city that happens each year. They have traditional dances, in traditional clothing, and celebrate through playing the same music that's been relevant to the area for hundreds of years. In Southern Peru, there's a custom of home-making a mash wine, and the way you not only drink the wine, but the lead up to it, the customs, the order - it takes some level of experience to not screw it up, which to us is really endearing and fascinating. Those are a few examples, but it's normally simple things - how someone pours a shot, how someone serves a meal - we always find those things very special.
FS: As world travelers and seeing so many different unique places, do you still have a favorite place in Miami that doesn't compare to any other destination?
J & T: Little Havana, for sure. The first time we went there we were immediately besotted with the vibrance, the cuisine, the people - it's where we typically tell our friends who are coming to town to go first. You can say that, sure the actual Havana exists, but Little Havana in Miami has it's own thing going on - it's in the middle of this massive, metropolitan U.S. city, but it's uniquely Cuban and beautiful.
FS: Do you have a routine that helps you stay successful on social media?
J & T: Truthfully? Not at all! To be frank, the social media aspects of what we do are a bit like taming a wild beast - there are so many platforms, you have posts to create, people to respond to, things to engage in, and Tracy and I are first and foremost writers and content creators. I think we're both lucky that we thrive in a sort of organized chaos, which is really what social media feels like to us. We don't keep schedules like a lot of other bloggers do, but we have these personalities that constantly look to just accomplish whatever is next, in whatever order it comes. We just get it done, whatever "it" tends to be that day, but no, we don't really have a routine with it at all. In fact, the freedom to take a day off of social media and create when we're actual inspired probably helps our success more than anything.
FS: What question about travel do you get asked the most?
J & T: Among other travelers, we get asked about places maybe they haven't been, but want to go, and it's more of a shared conversation - we ask them a lot of the same things they ask us. From people who travel less frequently or maybe not at all, we get asked "why" we go to a particular location, not because they're questioning our decision but really trying to find out if it's a thing they might be interested in doing, too. We get asked a lot of the particulars like how we find deals, how we get around the language barrier, and what we do to make sure we're safe. It's normally logistical type of questions once you get past the understanding of why someone would want to go to a particular destination.
FS: Do you have 3 bucket list items that you want to share?
J & T: Yes! It's hard to rank them, but we'll give you three in no particular order. The Galapagos is high on our list, for sure, and is a place we'll be going in 2019. Scotland is another bucket list place for us that ties into Tracy's lineage, and we'll be doing an ancestral trip there in about a year. It's really been a lifelong dream of her's, and something we'll probably include her family on. Another place is Okinawa. We're not so keen on the Tokyo experience, but going to Okinawa is like a completely different place from the mainland, has its own culture, and historically it's so inextricably linked to U.S. history that it's a place we desire to see the other side, if that makes sense.
FS: If you could pick one place to travel to this year that you have not already been to, where would it be?
J & T: Well, we have Scotland and The Galapagos planned, so I'll give you another one - Vietnam. Haven't been yet, and everything we understand about the people, the culture, the cuisine - it's all something that we want to experience.
FS: What do you like to do in your free time? (If you have any ...)
J & T: Free time is definitely a bit hard to come by in this lifestyle! We like to stay active, and we like the arts, so anything where we can get outdoors, ride mountain bikes, attend a really good show at the symphony - we really enjoy those things. Anywhere that we can have a beer and look at the ocean is pretty high on our list, too.
FS: What is your best advice for someone traveling abroad for the first time?
J & T: Be prepared, and we don't mean being scared or trepidatious, but rather make sure you have a copy of your passport, make sure you have the local currency on you in case you get stuck somewhere that doesn't take cards, learn a little bit of the language so you can say please and thank you to the host, whomever that may be. Too many people travel without any consideration of, "what will I do if...", and something goes not-according to plan. Wear a money belt, know the local transportation and how to get around the city, try to avoid cabs, secure your valuables, don't stand out for the wrong reasons - be respectful. All in all, just be smart, keep it simple, and leave it better than you found it.
FS: Tour groups or solo discovery?
J & T: Really depends on what it takes to do whatever it is you're trying to do. If it's a day-trip, or something outside of where you're staying, tour groups can be really affordable and stress-free. In terms of traveling to a city, we normally travel by ourselves unless it's one of a small, select group of friends. We like having the freedom of an open itinerary, and full trips that are entirely escorted are way too regimented and expensive. A lot of times, those are structured in a way to appeal to the masses, and you probably won't even be able to see the things you really want to see.
Just for fun ...
I/we have a weakness for ... For Tracy, it's spicy food. She has met no pepper she can't conquer! Wherever we travel, she seeks out whatever the spiciest dish is on the menu, and then asks for additional spice on the side. If something brings the heat, that's definitely what she's getting! For me, anything small, out-of-the-way, and possibly dangerous. The crappier the restaurant looks, the more I want to go in, which is surprising for someone who really isn't that daring. Tracy is the daring one, and the first to jump off a cliff or do some insane, adrenaline-pumping thing. Where she's daring, I'd probably describe myself as a curious explorer.
Something people get wrong about me/us is .... That's hard to answer because we're open books. If you want to know something, and you ask, we'll give you the goods - so to speak. I'd be curious to know what people get wrong about us, too, so if you find out, let us know! haha
I/we can't believe I/we once ... We feel that way about everything we do the first time we do it, honestly, but one place or thing that has really stuck with us is the fact that our first international trip was a 3-night trip to London and Paris. We left Florida the Wednesday night before Thanksgiving, had Thursday and Friday off, came back on Sunday and were back at the jobs we had at the time on Monday. No days off - just went for it. There was a coworker who asked Tracy "what'd you guys do for Thanksgiving?" and when she replied "oh, went to London and Paris" he thought she was talking about a restaurant! Until she clarified, "no, like, the real London and the actual Paris..." To this day, I don't know how we did that. We didn't sleep on the flight there, or the way back, and honestly I don't know if we could pull it off again!
My/our mantra is ... Travel well - take only memories, leave only footprints. As cliche as it is, it's something we believe in, travel by, and really try to do whenever we trek around the globe.