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Epic honeymoon: 650 days. 28 countries. And now, 8 questions.

September 20, 2013|By Christopher Reynolds | This post has been corrected. See below for details.

Mike and Anne Howard met in 2006, married in 2011 and left New York to begin their honeymoon on Jan. 22, 2012. No big deal, right?

Except that more than 600 days and 28 countries later, the honeymoon continues. They were headed into the Irish countryside by camper-van the last time I checked, and were thinking of coming home to the U.S. – from Turkey – just in time for Thanksgiving.

So it’ll be a 650-day honeymoon, more or less. He is 36, from Pennsylvania; she is 31, from Hollywood. They say they're far from being millionaires.

But they’re clever. And cheap. And their around-the-world trip turns out to be part intimate adventure, part commercial venture. Drawing on his background in digital and social media strategy (and photography, seen above) and her background in writing and editing, the two have not only been selling stories and photos from their trip, they’ve been compiling a round-the-world handbook and keeping a lookout for deals with travel companies “that would like to align their brands with an energetic couple” circling the world.

They don’t just have website, Facebook and Twitter accounts of their trip going, they’ve got a brand name – HoneyTrek – and plan to hire themselves out as a "Trip Coach" team to others considering round-the-world trips. Between budget lodgings, they alight for free in luxury hotels, thanks to a non-cash deal to write about high-end destinations for a honeymoon-planning website.  

Even in the current age of global sharing and endemic sponsorship, this is not the sort of private/public venture that every pair of newlyweds goes looking for. But it has made a lot possible.

“We want to show people that you don’t need to be a millionaire or hippy to do this,” wrote Mike Howard in a recent email. “Global travel is achievable for anyone with an adventurous spirit, a modest savings account, and some smart preparation.”

At first the trip was going to be 365 days. They started with South America. Then Africa. Then Asia. In the first year, they counted 16 flights, 14 trains, 32 national parks, 20 islands, six hitchhikes, five vehicle breakdowns, 38 luxury resorts, 19 nights without a bed, too many buses. Then they extended to 500 days. Then they added Europe.

His backpack and daypack together weigh about 55 pounds. Hers weigh about 45. They drink a lot of tap water – after running it through a SteriPEN water purifier. Their favorite lodging so far: Wildebeest Apartments, an 18th-century coral-and-thatch house filled with paintings and “incredible energy” on Lamu island in Kenya. Least favorite: the Rio de Janeiro bus station on the last night of Carnaval. (They missed a bus and the next wasn’t due until morning.)

Priciest lodging: digs at the Ngorogoro Crater Lodge, Tanzania, which would have been something like $3,100 (but was free as part of their honeymoon-planning website gig). Cheapest lodging: couch-surfing in Christchurch, New Zealand, with a home brewer and lobster fisherman.

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