David and Alexis Rose are the Roses on the Road. After getting engaged in Switzerland, wedding planning in England, tying the knot in Hawaii, and honeymooning in Thailand, they simply remained nomadic instead of settling for the standard life of suburban bliss. After living in Chiang Mai, Thailand for the past 10 months, they are setting out to explore what “home” really means to them by living in one new country every month. Follow their adventure at RosesOnTheRoad.com.
Tell us about yourselves in detail and at length, leading up to your relationship.
David: I was born and raised in Hawaii.
Alexis: And I was born in Utah, but call both Utah and Nevada home.
David: We both have nomadic roots. We both have divorced parents so we traveled a lot and had a lot of homes when we were young.
Alexis: On top of moving a lot, I started traveling abroad at a young age. My first big trip by myself was to France for a student exchange program when I was 14. Then I went to Russia at age 16, England at 17, and then lived in Austria and traveled all around Europe for a year while I was a sophomore in college.
David: I wasn’t nearly as cool. Prior to meeting Alexis, I had only been to Tijuana, Mexico with my uncle who lives in San Diego and the Bahamas on a cruise. I knew I wanted to travel, but I honestly don’t know if I would be living the nomadic life I am today if I hadn’t met Alexis. She was the embodiment of everything I deemed cool in this world.
Alexis: It was very serendipitous how we met, actually. I had just transferred to the University of Utah and David happened to be at the U of U on a single semester exchange at the exact same time. Neither of us intended to go to that school, but somehow we both ended up there and met in our archaeology class…
David: Which I only joined a few weeks after the semester had already started, by the way. I wasn’t even supposed to be in that class originally.
Alexis: So one day after class, I get on the campus shuttle to take me back to the dorms and this guy sits a couple seats away from me. He says, “So, how’d you do on that exam?”
David: Smooth, right?
Alexis: Then he wooed me when he said he was from Hawaii. I mean, could he be any cooler?
David: After living in Utah, we moved to Hawaii together, then to Washington, DC where we worked in the corporate world for three years — me at an online education non-profit and Alexis at National Geographic headquarters. Then in 2013, I proposed to Alexis in the Swiss Alps!
Alexis: And on New Year’s Eve 2013, we moved to London — all in the middle of wedding planning. We got married in Hawaii exactly one year to the date of engagement, and then three days after the wedding, we were off to Thailand for our honeymoon.
David: Except we didn’t come back; we stayed in Thailand and made it our first home as a married couple.
What inspires you to travel?
David: I think our past experiences definitely play a part. I’m not so sure that “inspires” us, but it definitely predispositioned us.
Alexis: Honestly, reading National Geographic is always a huge inspiration for me. We both majored in anthropology in college, so I think they play a role too…just having a natural curiosity for other cultures and exploring the unknown.
David: I think we’re both naturally very curious people. I don’t like wondering about stuff; I like to know.
Alexis: That same night I met David, we talked about how traveling makes people more tolerant and understanding of each other’s differences. I think that desire to learn inspires both of us.
Where have you been?
Alexis: I’ve been to 28 countries. Before meeting David, I had been to: Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Malta, Mexico, Morocco, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Russia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the U.K., and Vatican City.
David: Without Alexis, I have only been to Mexico, the Bahamas, Cambodia, South Korea, and Myanmar.
Alexis: And together, we have been to the Bahamas, France, Iceland, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Monaco, Switzerland, Thailand, and the U.K. I hit 20 before age 20 and am looking forward to 30 before 30.
What have been some of your favorite destinations and why? (In terms of couple friendly and best value for money)
David: Best value for your money is definitely Thailand. We rent a big one-bedroom apartment for $300 a month and can eat $1 meals whenever we want. In all honesty though, and this might be an unpopular opinion, the cheap cost of living is by far the best thing about Thailand. All things considered, I wouldn’t say it’s one of our favorite destinations.
Alexis: Agreed. As for a couple friendly destination, we both fell in love with Switzerland (even though it’s the opposite of budget friendly!). Switzerland itself is just perfect…scenery, food, people, everything.
David: I’d also add in Iceland. Iceland is like nothing we’d ever seen. The landscape is so unique. We road tripped while we were there which was an awesome experience to have as a couple. But I also gotta give a shout out to my home: Hawaii. To this day, it’s the most beautiful place I’ve seen and (clearly) great for couples.
In your opinion, what does it take to be a good travel partner?
David: To me, it comes down to two things: Someone who’s fun and someone who you can trust 100% to always have your back. First and foremost, travel is meant to be enjoyed, it’s meant to be adventurous, so if you’re not having fun, than what’s the point? But it can also be stressful and scary and dangerous at times. A good travel partner is someone who you know will help you through all those times.
Alexis: My ideal travel partner is mature and flexible (things can change fast on the road!) and isn’t prone to getting stressed out easily. I need a calm-spirited partner to counteract my own anxiety! Haha.
Have either of you travelled with people who are incompatible travel partners?
Alexis: Ohhh yeah. When I studied abroad in Austria, I dealt with a few stubborn travel partners who always wanted to take the lead and weren’t willing to compromise. Flexibility is key for traveling in groups. David and I make decisions together on travel activities, which makes it fun for both of us.
What’s your favorite international food? What are the most bizarre types of food you have encountered on your travels? (Please use that baby cow/dog example)
Alexis: Mmm, my favorite food will always be Mexican. Don’t judge me, but Chiang Mai has some seriously good Mexican restaurants (thank goodness). It was impossible to find black beans in Austria, and that…that’s just not okay.
David: Before we moved to Thailand, I said Thai food was my favorite, but I’m pretty sick of it after 10 months. Alexis’ Mexican-love has rubbed off on me, but I’ll also toss Indian and Japanese in the mix.
Alexis: In terms of bizarre, there was the “pig” we ate at my school’s New Year’s party.
David: Oh, yeah.. the “pig.” Delicious.
Alexis: So I was told there’d be a roast pig at my school’s party, but whatever was roasting on the spit that night was definitely not a pig.
David: The skeleton was all wrong. Too big to be a pig, its head shape was off, the legs were too long. We didn’t know what it was, other than not-a-pig.
Alexis: The Thai guys cooking it swore it was a “little cow,” but I don’t buy it.
David: Whatever it was, it was delicious!
Any saving tips for travelling? How are you financing your travels?
David: I got into travel hacking a couple years ago which is opening up a bunch of credit cards to collect airline miles, and those allow us to fly for free. Not every flight, but we’ve saved thousands of dollars over the past couple years doing that.
Alexis: My biggest savings tip for traveling is just to prioritize it. Seriously. I believe if you want it bad enough, you can make it work. Then for savings on the road, Airbnb is fantastic for cheap accommodation. Most homeowners give discounts for monthly rentals. We’re starting a monthly country adventure in a few weeks and we’re only staying in Airbnb places, spending an average of about $600 per month on rent (that’s about a third of what we paid for rent in Washington, DC!).
David: In terms of financing our travels, we saved a ton before we quit our corporate jobs and left the U.S. Every spare dollar went to the travel fund. In Thailand, Alexis taught English at an elementary school for the past 10 months and I’m a freelance writer.
Alexis: Once we leave Thailand and I’m not teaching anymore, I’ll be devoting all my energy to expanding our blog and building my photography business.
Have you had any serious problems or been in dangerous situations abroad?
Alexis: Overall we’ve been lucky and haven’t had any really bad situations while traveling. We have had a couple of vehicles break down on us in foreign countries, but nothing too serious. The first time, in Iceland, we were lucky to be at a gas station when our truck died. We had been stopping the truck and getting out at so many random spots that if it had died in the middle of nowhere, we would have been seriously screwed. As it was, the gas station workers were super nice and let us use their phone to call the rental company who brought a new truck out to us within a few hours. It ended up being one of our favorite memories of the road trip.
David: The second time was in Thailand. We rented a motorbike for the day, an activity in and of itself that Alexis wasn’t thrilled about, only to have it die on us quite a ways from home. Luckily, we were able to catch a songthaew (taxi truck) back into town.
How many languages can you order a pizza in?
Alexis: Haha, I may be able to get the point across in two: French and German.
David: I’m too unfocused to learn another language.
What do you both miss most about home?
David: We miss family the most. We have teenager younger brothers who we’d like to see more as well as nieces and nephews. We wish we could be a bigger presence in their lives.
Alexis: We don’t regret choosing the nomadic newlywed life at all, but sometimes I do think about decorating “our first home” and sometimes I just miss having stuff. Living out of a backpack is great and all, but sometimes a girl just needs to have more than one pair of heels, ya know?
Who wears the pants in the relationship? What happens when there is a conflict of interest?
Alexis: Eh, honestly, I feel like we’re pretty 50-50 on most decisions. But we do have this funny conflict resolution style where, if David wants X and I want Y, we’ll end up going with Z. That can happen on the road sometimes — if I want to see icebergs and David wants to see puffins, we’ll go see a waterfall.
What’s the biggest piece of advice that you have for travelling couples that is often overlooked?
Alexis: Prioritize each other. Just because you’re out on the road doesn’t mean you can dismiss the little stuff that makes relationships work. We have “date nights” every few weeks and also make sure to spend time doing the kind of stuff we’d do as a couple back in the States…even in exciting places like Thailand, lazy days with movie nights are our favorite :)
What has been your most memorable experience while travelling as a couple?
– Getting engaged in Switzerland
– Iceland roadtrip
– Honeymoon in Thailand
Alexis: The unplanned parts of those trips have sometimes been the most memorable…Pulling over for lunch in Phuket, Thailand and realizing the restaurant had a sleeping baby elephant…getting lost on a motorbike in Thailand and unwittingly stopping for directions at an amazing hidden beach…coming around a bend in the road in Iceland and spotting a massive, rainbow-covered waterfall spilling over a cliff…that waterfall made me smile ‘til my face hurt.
What is the most common misconception about full time travel as a couple?
David: I don’t know if this is a misconception or not, but it’s not easy. Full time travel forces you into situations you wouldn’t normally be in. Stressful situations can lead to tension and arguments pretty easy.
Alexis: And people might think traveling as a couple means you always have company which is nice and true most of the time, but being together 24/7 can be exhausting. Just like at home, sometimes we just need a break and need some me-time.
I also think a lot of people believe you’ll constantly be doing adventurous, exciting, life-changing things together. Of course you’ll have those times, but you’ll also have times where you’ve stepped off a transatlantic red-eye and just want a Subway sandwich and a nap, dammit (true story). That’s something nobody tells you: You’re in all these exotic places, but you’ll still be you.
David: I think bottom line is that just because we’re a couple, and newlyweds at that, that doesn’t means we’re blissfully one person with one mind. We’re both individuals and no matter how much we love each other, we’re going to have different thoughts and feelings and when you’re experiencing so much, so often, odds are greater than those thoughts and feelings won’t align as they would back home where things are more expected and predictable.
Please tell us more about your future plans. How do you plan your journeys?
Alexis: Starting in April, we’re heading out on a monthly country adventure. We’ll be moving to one new country every month for the rest of the year. Our itinerary is:
David: We’re not positive what’s in store for 2016 yet. We don’t want to get too ahead of ourselves. When we plan, we already tend to be a bit obsessive with budget spreadsheets and Google docs for ideas and notes, but the point of this next phase of our lives really is complete freedom. We want to be able to move around as we please, which is possible since we both are working online. If that means we want to spend more time at home with family in 2016, then we’ll do that. If that means we want to head to Fiji or Ecuador of South Africa, then we’ll do that.
Alexis: We talk about travel all the time. It’s not uncommon for me to offhandedly say something like, “Hey, wanna go to Nepal?” And David says, “Yep.” Then we make that happen.
Photos by Alexis Rose.