Tom and Kris used to live in Minneapolis, Minnesota, where they published a weekly alt newspaper, a parenting magazine, and a feature magazine. They left all that, and their home, and their children, and their dog, to travel. To get more updates, check their blog Travel Past 50 and follow them via Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest or Instagram.
What do you think you would be doing if you were not on the road now?
Kris: It’s hard to imagine NOT being on the road. When we had a home back in Minnesota, we had retired from our publishing business, but still were involved in arts and education. I guess we’d have found another way to escape Minnesota winters. We would not be sedentary, but we’d be spending more time with friends and family.
Tom: I’d probably be in some sort of institution for the criminally insane. Or in Texas.
How do you share your work while traveling? Who does what?
Kris: Tom’s the photographer and posts photos several times a week. I write most of the posts, but not all. I initiate most of the press contacts. We both edit each other–on the site–and in everyday life.
Tom: When I’m not taking or editing photos, I mostly lie around and read books. Sometimes I even read good ones, but most of the time I read thrillers. Sometimes I just think.
How do you make decisions together for next destinations?
Kris: We don’t plan very far in advance. In fact, we’re not very good at planning. We base the overall trip around sometimes inconsequential events. A friend’s birthday in Hawaii led us to Japan. It was on the way. The TBEX conference in Athens took us to Greece, but then all our plans changed from that point on. Within the bigger framework (3-6 months traveling outside the U.S.) we select historic sites, a lot of UNESCO World Heritage Sites, places with outstanding natural beauty – most anyplace we haven’t been before and many that we want to re-visit. Tom usually prefers to book accommodations; I arrange housesitting. Walking around on a daily basis? I’m the navigator. Tom would be lost without me.
Tom: One of us suggests something, then we argue about it for a while, then we wrestle. Two out of three falls. As for being lost without Kris, sometimes, to her amazement, I do go out by myself and find my way back, too.
Are there any personality changes that you can observe on yourself and on your partner since you have hit the road?
Kris: More patience! Traveling requires patience and flexibility, and we are improving in those areas. On the other hand, traveling brings out our entrepreneurial, by-the-seat-of-the-pants style, and that can be hard on everybody.
Tom: I agree about acquiring more patience. Although I think that only extends to other people. I don’t have much patience for myself. I’d rather try something out than think it through ad nauseam. If if doesn’t work, just do something else.
Living and traveling together 24/7 may bring stressful moments related to disagreements, changes of mood or misunderstandings. How do you cope with these situations?
Kris: We’re unusual in that we worked together in the same business for 25 or 30 years while we raised a family together. And we traveled together, too, when we were younger. So after almost 40 years together, we are pretty good at giving each other space. Some days we go our separate ways. Much of the time we are quiet, doing our own reading or writing. Fortunately, we enjoy the same things, for the most part.
Two pieces of advice we can add: while en route, be sure each person has his/her own documents in hand and fully understands where they’re headed in airports, stations, or other busy places. No one wants to be led around unaware. Second, If either party is not willing to have a discussion, wait. Schedule a time when both are willing to participate in the conversation. We learned this when we had to draw lines between work and home life.
Tom: What Kris said is pretty much it. Although there are times when I think we should be in different countries rather than just on different sides of the room.
Kris: I’m ignoring Tom right now.
Can you tell us about one crazy or risky thing you’ve done while traveling that you would and one that you wouldn’t want to repeat?
Kris: Tom will undoubtedly have other thoughts on this. I can’t think of anything I wouldn’t repeat, but the craziest/riskiest things for me include crossing the street in Hanoi, running for a train in Japan (seven stitches), and living in Quito, Ecuador. (Oh, I won’t ever try to pick up a scorpion again.) I’m predicting Tom won’t mention getting contact lenses to scuba dive, getting on a boat to scuba dive, and not scuba diving due to motion sickness. He also won’t mention overturning a motorbike in Bali.
Tom: Climbing Cradle Mountain in Tasmania was quite stupid at my age. Not as stupid as trekking through 120 kilometers of Guatemalan jungle, but close. Both times I was thinking, “This would be a really stupid way to die.”
Which is the most beautiful moment you are glad you have experienced together?
Kris: Hahaha. Well, besides the birth of our children, of course, maybe walking the Camino de Santiago (a very long moment.) Our first visit to Spain in 1975 was pretty great and made us realize, if we could travel together, we could live together. Another was visiting Machu Picchu with our adult children, who beat us to the top of Huayna Picchu by half an hour.
Tom: I’m gonna go with the first kiss. May 15, 1973, sitting on a curb in Northfield, Minnesota. The rest has just sort of flowed naturally from that.