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Raphael and Anouk (A Very Long Honeymoon)

Today's Explorers

Raphael and Anouk (A Very Long Honeymoon)

May 11, 2022
6
min read
by
Charles Forman
Switzerland

Where are you from?

Switzerland

When did you start your interest in exploration?

For Anouk this started in childhood: She travelled with her family a lot and at 16 lived abroad for the first time (China), where she met people from all over. This manifested her interest in travelling and other cultures. Raphi started to love travelling when he met Anouk.

What is a brief understanding of your background story up until you started seeking adventure?

We have been a couple for 9 years now. Our first long trip was a 3 month US road trip, after Anouk’s studies. It showed that road trips are the way to travel for us, as we love the flexibility. Later we did a 3 month road trip through Australia with a rental 70’s series, high top, Land Cruiser. There we decided that this is the vehicle we want and started to save money for buying one and driving the Pan-American Highway. We reduced our spending to a minimum (living in a flat share, always cooking for ourselves instead of going out, avoiding to buy anything we don't really need etc.) while Raphi worked in road construction and Anouk as a business analyst. Now, 6 years later, for our honeymoon we finally do this ultimate road trip.

What special skills do you have to help with your explorations?

Raphi brings with him technical skills and has taught himself how to fix most issues, related to the Land Cruiser (although there are hardly any issues with troopies 😊). Also he is the solution-oriented one who manages to keep calm in stressful situations. As a volunteer firefighter he has some medical skills.

Anouk is responsible for everything related to planning and all organisational aspects. Also learning / speaking the local language is her strength.

Where have you explored so far?

As a couple we have backpacked in Vietnam, China, Myanmar, Malaysia, United Arab Emirates, Europe. We have road tripped together in South Korea, Namibia, Australia, US, Mexico, Europe.

What is a brief understanding of your adventures so far?

In July 2021 we started our Pan-American adventure – not as originally planned in Canada, as borders were still closed, but in the US. Europeans were then still not allowed to directly enter the US, so we had to first spend 2 weeks in Mexico before finally picking up our Land Cruiser in Baltimore. We then travelled the US for 5 months (Northern and Western US, then Utah, Arizona, Texas), spent a month in Baja California and now continue with Mexico mainland.

What are the top three destinations you hope to explore next, and why?

We want to continue and finish the Pan-American Highway. By then our time and budget will probably have run out, so we’ll return to Switzerland. In the distant future we would love to drive the Silk Road, because of its vast, beautiful and solitary scenery and the friendly and welcoming people. Also, we would like to explore New Zealand, as we heard great stories about this country as well.

Where would you recommend others visit?

For the ultimate road trip experience, diversity in scenery and comfort on the road (free camping on public lands, availability of gear, bathrooms etc.): the US

For food: China (does not compare to Chinese cuisine abroad!)

For solitude (incl. miles of lonely beaches): Australia

For maritime life: late winter in Baja California, Mexico

For anything related to 4x4: Utah, of course

For people & culture: Everywhere

… the list goes on, every place has its own great aspects that make it unique.

How do you primarily travel on your adventures today?

We have a 2014 Toyota Land Cruiser HZJ78 with High Clearance and 4x4. The most important modifications were done by the previous owner:

- High top - enabling us to stand inside and sleep under the roof

- Solar Panels

- Off Road gadgets such as air compressors, off road tires, etc.

What are five pieces of equipment that you always travel with?

- Smartphones & camera

- Swiss army knife (we are Swiss, we have to)

- Travel Guidebook

- Comfortable and good shoes

- Mask & vaccination card nowadays 😊

What inspires you to explore more?

Discover the unknown, see beautiful places, meet interesting people, live exciting experiences first-hand. Learn about and from other cultures, lifestyles, opinions, and perspectives.

How do you engage with others?

Social Media and just spontaneously on the road. E.g. people approach us due to our Land Cruiser, we meet other travellers at overnight spots, we help someone out or vice versa etc. Getting in touch with people is luckily very easy, especially in the Americas where people are very open.

Why is it important to embrace global cultures?

It broadens our perspective: We can learn from others and their way of thinking and doing, our empathy and flexibility in adapting to new situations increase and social skills profit as well.

What are your goals when you explore?

Living the life, going on adventures to remember for the rest of our lives, have fun, get to know interesting and inspiring people, see beautiful places and capture them to remember, learn, and test out our own limits.

What are some challenges you have experienced?

On this journey everything has gone incredibly smooth so far. Main challenges are of personal nature: Taking time to rest instead of wanting to see everything (we haven’t been good at resting), staying alert without turning paranoid or without getting careless, living together in a tiny space for 24h a day. And then more of practical nature: Finding tools, parts and everyday things that we have taken for granted, in a foreign country.

What has been your most meaningful moment so far?

When Raphi proposed to Anouk during the sunrise on the Sossusvlei dunes in Namibia.

How has exploration changed you?

We are more open to anything new. We are more open to others, to other ways of life, to other opinions and we show respect, tolerance, empathy and avoid prejudice.

What is the number one lesson that you have learnt through your exploration?

People are kind! Be kind, open and helpful too, smile, be courageous, take care of nature.

How do you explore locally?

Mostly with our Land Cruiser, on 4x4 tracks or on hikes. We follow local and fellow travellers’ advice and use the iOverlander App, guidebooks and Google to find places to see.

What does the explmore mantra mean to you?

Take the time and curiosity to discover the world and other cultures. If everyone takes a step to understand others better and see the bigger picture, the world will be a better and more peaceful place.

What advice would you give to others who are seeking life changing adventure?

Just do it! Plan for it, prepare and then do it, no excuses. You never know when it might be too late.

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