In 2011, Betsy and Pete Wuebker of PassingThru achieved location independence and began road tripping for extended periods in North America. After a fateful vacation in Hawaii, they decided to move to Kauai. They attended the Winter Olympics in Sochi in 2014, and traveled across Europe by land to get to Russia from Ireland. After that, they were truly hooked and decided to travel internationally full time. Almost four years and 50 countries later, they’re taking a break.
Betsy and Pete were kind enough to answer some of our questions about their travel experiences.
TA: How many years have you been traveling and what got you hooked?
Wuebkers: Four years. We weren’t getting any younger, and as it turns out, it was a smart decision to begin traveling when we did.
TA: Do you specialize in a particular type of travel?
Wuebkers: Off the beaten path, soft adventures, slow travel.
TA: What is the best vacation you’ve ever taken?
Wuebkers: Kauai — we fell in love at first sight and sold everything back in Minnesota to move there. It’s been a grand adventure ever since.
TA: What’s one place you’ve always wanted to visit?
Wuebkers: Is “everywhere” an acceptable answer?
TA: If you could only give a traveler one piece of advice, what would it be?
Wuebkers: Don’t defer. Travel now as much as you can. Don’t listen to what people say, go see for yourself. Avoid regret: chase time not money.
TA: What are some of your favorite travel blogs and communities?
Wuebkers: Boomer Travel Bloggers on Facebook. We have a lot of blogger friends in that group.
TA: What would be your #1 recommendation for a place to travel in 2019?
Wuebkers: Central Europe — draw a line from Helsinki down to Tirana and hit as many capitals in between as you can. The Balkans are a favorite region of ours and the Eastern Baltic isn’t as heavily touristed as Western Europe.
TA: What are the top 3 websites you use for research/inspiration when planning a trip?
TA: Do you have any good airport or flight hacks for people traveling by plane?
Wuebkers: Do whatever you can to avoid Basic Economy. If you’re stuck in it, book an aisle seat and a window seat with an empty seat between you. If the flight’s not full, chances are the two of you will have an entire row to yourselves and avoid total claustrophobia.
TA: What is the best piece of travel advice you’ve ever been given?
Wuebkers: Never say “if only.” Go now.
TA: Is there something you think most travelers worry too much about?
Wuebkers: All the stuff they bring along! We lived for four years out of a suitcase and a carry-on. Get rid of your stuff!
TA: What’s a travel scam travelers should be wary of?
Wuebkers: We ran into a few scams in Thailand — locals or tuk-tuk drivers “encouraging” you to buy at their “friend’s” place of business. Don’t go along just to get along. Trust your gut.
TA: Which country has surprisingly good food? (And what are some good things to eat there?)
Wuebkers: Belgium was really impressive: fresh and wholesome ingredients, great beer. Vietnam was outstanding. Our favorite has to be the Costa Brava region in Spain. They’re head and shoulders above the rest of the gastronomic world.
TA: What was the most romantic place you ever visited with a partner?
Wuebkers: Rovinj in Istria, Croatia. Wander the side streets and duck into one of the excellent restaurants. Drink the Malvasia wine.
TA: What is the most beautiful and affordable city you’ve ever visited?
Wuebkers: Shanghai — the most beautiful city at night we’ve ever seen. Surprisingly affordable. Sofia, Bulgaria is another one — the 5-star Hotel Balkan is something like $60 a night. Incredible.
TA: Which underrated destination deserves to be more famous?
Wuebkers: Bosnia and Herzegovina. Tainted by a war that has been over for more than 20 years. Some of the most beautiful scenery we’ve encountered. Lovely, admirable people. Fascinating history and inspiring comeback.