14 Ways to Celebrate Valentine’s Day Around the World

14 Ways to Celebrate Valentine’s Day Around the World

  Love it or hate it, Valentine’s Day is right around the corner.   We don’t particularly enjoy all the commercialism that surrounds the holiday, but we do love any excuse to celebrate. So if it means getting dolled up, eating scrumptious food and sipping on good wine… well, we can handle that.   Last year we celebrated Valentine’s Day in Taiwan. Taiwanese celebrate February 14th with fanfare—teddy bears, glittery flowers, and decorations. Stores often have Valentine’s Day discounts. Taipei 101 even lights up with cute hearts. But in addition to the Western date, Taiwanese also celebrate traditional Chinese Valentines Day on the 7th day of the 7th month of the lunar calendar. Honestly we never knew much about this other Valentine’s Day, and from a foreigner’s eye, it certainly didn’t receive as much attention as its Western counterpart.     But it got us thinking. How do other countries celebrate Valentine’s Day around the world?   We set out to the handy dandy Internet to see what we could find. Perhaps not surprisingly, we discovered that many countries celebrate Valentine’s Day with roses and chocolates and perhaps a dinner date; many cultures have embraced the Western influence. Other cultures protest the holiday, some even going so far as to set fire to Valentine’s Day merchandise. And finally, some cultures have looked for a way to make the holiday more their own, finding a bit of balance.   Before we set off, we want to be clear that we haven’t experienced any of these celebrations firsthand; the information was sourced from around the web (you can find the original...
Coping with Reverse Culture Shock: What You Need To Know

Coping with Reverse Culture Shock: What You Need To Know

      Reverse culture shock is the ugliest part of traveling. It marks the end of your adventures, and worse yet, a return to normalcy. The term “reverse culture shock” is defined as: an “idealized view of home” and the “expectation of total familiarity.” To put it bluntly, it’s the somewhat devastating feeling that accompanies your flight home from a long stint abroad — after the initial ‘I-can’t-believe-I’m-going-home-excitement’ wears off and you’re left with a whole of, well, nothing. I came across a good way of putting reverse culture shock in my research — “you find yourself feeling out of place in your own culture.” But you don’t have to. Across the board, everyone agrees that you will experience a gradual re-acclimation to wherever you call home. And it doesn’t mean forgetting the incredible eight weeks you spent backpacking in South America or the six months studying in Asia. It means incorporating your experiences from that time abroad into your current outlook on life.  How To Deal With Reverse Culture Shock 1. Express Yourself Among our biggest fears after returning is that we’ll forget everything that’s happened. It all feels a bit like a dream, and there’s no one around to verify the reality. So don’t be afraid to seek that validation — find someone who will listen to your stories, or maintain that journal you started abroad. Just don’t let the memories fester in the back of your mind until you start to feel isolated. Express them. 2. Seek out something from your time abroad at home. It’s kind of like that moment we found a box...
A Surprise Trip, a Contest, and Summer Travel Plans!

A Surprise Trip, a Contest, and Summer Travel Plans!

When this post goes live, we will have just touched down in our home state of North Carolina. After 82 days of epic adventures through Europe, we’re excited to be home—and to get rid of our lumpy snow clothes we’ve been lugging around. We won’t even have enough time to unpack our bags though, because in less than 24 hours we jump back on a plane to venture to a new country. And it’s one we have been dying to visit for quite some time now. Where is it we’re going? We’re off to Canada for a jam-packed five-day road trip!   The Great Coast Road Trip We both have a special place in our hearts devoted just to road trips. (After all, the whole purpose of starting A Cruising Couple was to document our honeymoon road trip across the United States.) So when Coast Hotels reached out to us and asked if we wanted to participate in a leg of the Great Coast Road Trip, we replied with a hearty: HECK YES! Our first time in Seattle during our honeymoon road trip. This is where we’ll be finishing our leg of the Great Coast Road Trip. The trip is part of a 35-day campaign hosted by Coast Hotels that takes a fleet of eight sets of bloggers across Canada and down the U.S. West Coast. For our leg of the trip we’ll be cruising through British Colombia, with stops in Tsawwassen, Nanaimo and Victoria, ending the tour with a quick stop in Seattle to pass the car on to the next bloggers. We’ve got some great activities lined...
10 Ways to Keep the Love Alive on the Road – Tips for Traveling Couples

10 Ways to Keep the Love Alive on the Road – Tips for Traveling Couples

We’ve been doing a lot of interviews lately. In the process, we’ve noticed a bit of a trend: everyone wants traveling couples to share their tips for maintaining a healthy and happy relationship on the road.   We decided to really give it some thought. What advice can we offer to other couples, especially if they are about to travel together for the first time? We’re not claiming to be experts by any means, but we have been traveling or living abroad as a couple for nearly three years—or the entire duration of our married lives—so we do have a bit of practice.   A lot of what we’ve learned is simply common courtesy and can be applied to relationships at all times, nomadic or not. Other tips you might find more applicable if you’ve ever been in a bit of a (mis)adventure with your significant other. Regardless, our hope is that these tips don’t just help you tolerate one another, but actually show you that travel can make your relationship stronger.   As a bonus, we’ve included a smattering of adorable photos of the two of us around the world. So there’s that. 10 Ways to Keep the Love Alive on the Road   1. Split Up Responsibilities   There’s a lot that goes into planning and successfully implementing a trip. If you have someone to share the load with, then do it! As we’ve learned each other’s strengths and weaknesses, we’ve been able to more effectively and happily split up what needs to get done, both in our travels and on the blog. For example, Dan is...

Reflections and Resolutions to Ring in the New Year

  2013 was a bit of a game changer for us. This exact time last year, we were home from Taiwan for a quick holiday visit. It was our first time returning to the US since we had moved to Taiwan a year and a half earlier, and an amazing reminder of why we do want to live closer to home one day. Most of our family and friends knew that our teaching contracts were ending in August. The conversation quickly then turned to our post-teaching plans. Where would we go, and what would we do? Luckily we had given it a bit of thought; we would apply for graduate school somewhere outside the US, preferably Austrlia. We were considering a few other volunteer programs and scholarships around the world, but the majority of our thoughts were dedicated to researching international masters programs (and subsequently ways to pay for them). We both always assumed we would go back to school, so it seemed like the sensible thing to do next. Looking back on it though, I don’t think either of us felt quite right about it. While we were telling our friends and family that grad school was the plan, we weren’t sure ourselves if we really wanted it to be the plan.   We rang in 2013 on a plane from Tokyo to Taipei. Just a few weeks later, we set off to Bali for our one-month annual leave, a bit of a bonus for renewing our teaching contracts with the same company. Bali was ridiculously amazing, because, well, it’s Bali! But more than anything else, it was a...

How We Save Thousands of Dollars on Airfare (And You Can Too)

We haven’t always been savvy on how to save money on airfare. In fact, it took traveling to 21 countries for us to realize that maybe it was time to open up frequent flier accounts. Yikes. Luckily for our bank accounts, this past year saw us investing some time and energy into learning how to purchase tickets wisely. And you know what the best part was? It didn’t even take that much time or energy. With just a few simple steps, we’ve literally saved thousands of dollars on our airfare purchases. We want to share how we do it. For full disclosure, we are by no means the experts. We don’t do mileage runs. We don’t read forums or research promotions. But we’ve still been pretty successful. Plus, at the end of the post we’re going to direct anyone who wants to take their travel hacking to another level to an awesome resource.   The Basics There are a few super easy ways to save money on airfare. Many of these you might already be doing, but let’s go over them just to make sure:   1.    Be as flexible as possible Be flexible with the dates you are flying. Be flexible with the times you are flying. If you can, be flexible with the airports you are flying into. It’s amazing the difference a day can make in the price of a flight. Typically mid-week flights are less expensive as the demand for a Tuesday flight is less than that of a Friday flight; however, it’s always best to check all your options. We recently saved over one...