• 6 May 2016
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Sandy and Matt Bennett

My husband Matthew and I met during a shared quest to assassinate our enemies with hidden blades and smoke bombs by the docks of Venice, Italy. To call us “passionate” would have been an understatement. We were both avid gamers, and our love for the Assassin’s Creed franchise brought us together in an online multiplayer game lobby in June of 2011. It all started when I heard an Australian voice in the mic, and asked, “Hey, are you British?”

Little did I know that that night would pave the way for many exciting adventures and life choices, four years into the future.

Growing up, one of my dreams was to travel to Australia to see the “real” koalas and kangaroos, because the ones in the zoos just weren’t good enough. My American self knew nothing about Australia other than the fact that they had deadly snakes and spiders, cute koalas and kangaroos, and the iconic Sydney Opera House. However, after six months of talking to this nice Australian guy nearly everyday online, I decided to be an opportunist; I asked if he would show me around his country, since “I don’t know anyone who lives in Australia.”

Jungrau Joch, Switzerland
Jungraujoch, Switzerland
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A bus trip through Europe ended up being a great decision for many reasons. For one, you meet fellow travelers from all over the world of all different ages and backgrounds.

We set the bar quite high for our first meeting in May of 2012. After a two-week adventure that included hiking through the rainforest, holding koalas, petting and feeding kangaroos, and skydiving over the beach, we fell head over heels for each other. When it was time for me to fly home to the States, we knew we absolutely needed to see each other again. It was no doubt that our long distance relationship turned us both into travelers. We never did much traveling prior to meeting each other, but the travel bug bit us hard after we decided to pursue a long distance relationship. Since then, we have been to over 20 major cities and 14 countries together. In September 2015, we got married in California, USA (travel themed wedding and all), and immediately after our honeymoon with Expat Explore, I moved overseas to Brisbane, Australia.

A bus trip through Europe ended up being a great decision for many reasons. For one, you meet fellow travelers from all over the world of all different ages and backgrounds. You really get to connect with these people since you travel with them the entire time!

When it came to planning our honeymoon, we agreed that a trip to Italy was a must, since we met online in Venice. We wanted a budget-friendly and all-inclusive trip that would give us just enough alone time. The idea was to find something fun and affordable, but without all the partying and hangovers everyone always talks about. After a couple weeks of research, we booked a 12-day taster tour to Europe.

One simply cannot go to Venice and not take a gondola ride (especially on one's honeymoon!)
One simply cannot go to Venice and not take a gondola ride (especially on one’s honeymoon!)

A bus trip through Europe ended up being a great decision for many reasons. For one, you meet fellow travelers from all over the world of all different ages and backgrounds. You really get to connect with these people since you travel with them the entire time. Coincidentally enough, many of the other couples were on their honeymoons as well!

Secondly, we saw things we would have never otherwise seen, such as remote towns, secluded homes in the mountains, and absolutely breath-taking scenery … things you would miss entirely on a plane. Lastly, although much of the tour was guided, we were given free days to explore most of the destinations on our own. This was great because we didn’t have to worry about planning every detail of our trip (I was stressed enough planning every detail of my wedding, thank you very much), but spontaneity was still possible. We were even able to meet up with a friend who lived in Paris!

Traveling allows couples to share, learn, and grow in ways that non-traveling couples may not. There’s nothing more exciting taking a break from the monotonous responsibilities of daily life to go out into the unknown and experiencing new cultures, sights, and sounds with the person you love.

Paris, France!
Paris, France!

Travel Tips for Couples
After a few years of traveling together, here are our 5 basic (but very important!) tips for traveling as a couple:

 Communicate and compromise – be realistic!
This is an all-inclusive category. Everything from budget to bucket lists to food should be discussed beforehand. Are you combining funds or spending separately? Will your partner be able to afford to do all the activities or have the fancy five-star meals? It’s important to be financially realistic. It’s equally as important to be realistic with your itinerary. Prepared to possibly get lost or not have enough time to make it to all the things on your bucket list. Choose your top two or three landmarks for the day, and leave the rest for extra time you may have at the end of the day. This leads us to the next tip…

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En route to the next destination. Taken out of the moving bus!

2. Understand each other’s personal needs
Understanding your partner’s needs when traveling, in my opinion, can make or break a trip. I have scoliosis and Matthew must have three complete meals a day, or he gets extremely grumpy. We also both need more than 6 hours of sleep a night, or we simply cannot function. Having scoliosis means I need to stop and stretch often, and Matthew’s fast metabolism means we always need to be able to access a restaurant or have food backed in advance. We also always come back to our accommodation earlier than later because we are just the type of people that need our sleep. Knowledge is power. Consider your partner’s personal needs when traveling.

3. Motivate each other to try new things
My husband is deathly afraid of heights. When I brought up skydiving back in 2012, he thought he was going to puke just thinking about it. However, he made the leap of faith and absolutely LOVED it, so much so that he has not stopped recommending it to his friends ever since. He also used to hate sushi, but he now loves eel (this is from a guy who used to not touch seafood with a 10 meter pole). Traveling with an open mind is key; immerse yourself in new cultures, foods, and activities. You wouldn’t want to end a trip wishing you lived a little more or did a little more. If your partner is truly not up for something, however, don’t shame him or her for not wanting to do something. Respect his or her boundaries.

Rhine River Cruise in Germany.
Rhine River Cruise in Germany.

4. Pack light
Not only can packing light save you money (no baggage fees!), it can make traveling simply less stressful overall. Imagine dragging heavy luggage around from place to place or even losing your luggage overseas. Matthew and I managed to go on a two-week trip around Europe with just one carry-on bag each, and this was with thick winter clothes! We researched laundry facilities ahead of time and packed clothing that could be easily mixed and matched. Comfortable tights and track pants are excellent for traveling.

View from the Bus on our way to Switzerland.
View from the bus while on our way to Switzerland.

5. Take plenty of photos
Years after your trip, all you’re going to have are the photos, unless you like to buy lots of souvenirs. In the digital age, thousands of photos are easily stored in a small SD memory card or flash drive for easy access, printing, and sharing down the line. I personally never buy souvenirs on my travels, as I prefer to collect foreign currency and take lots of photos. Every time I look through my photos, I remember exactly how I felt and what I was doing the moment I took the photo. One of my favorite travel photos of all time is a photo my husband snapped of me posing in a pole fitness trick called the Iron-X. The other tourists’ reactions were priceless!

Traveling allows couples to share, learn, and grow in ways that non-traveling couples may not. There’s nothing more exciting taking a break from the monotonous responsibilities of daily life to go out into the unknown and experiencing new cultures, sights, and sounds with the person you love. Traveling solo for personal growth is one thing, but there exist so many learning and growing opportunities to be had with another person; travel reflects real life, and the need to compromise and set realistic goals means growing together both as a couple and as individuals.

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Dürrensee Lake in Italy.
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Comfort stop – Dürrensee Lake in Italy.

By the end of the our trip with Expat Explore in October 2015, we came home with tons of new knowledge about Western Europe, new international friends that we still keep in touch with, a new appreciation for what it means to travel off-the-beaten-path, and, of course, lots and lots of beautiful photos!

Written by Sandy Tran (Bennett)


Sandy and Matt’s story began in May of 2012 when Sandy took a 14-hour solo flight to visit Matt in Australia. After meeting online in 2011 and surviving a long distance relationship they got hitched in October 2015.  After this they joined Expat Explore on a trip to Europe for their honeymoon.  Read more about their fascinating travel story below and follow the couple’s travel adventures on their blog, A story just begun.

Thank you Sandy and Matthew for sharing your amazing story and for choosing us for your romantic getaway. To read more about our multi-country tours to Europe , click here. You’re also welcome to drop us a quick mail to info@expatexplore.com and we’ll give you a ring!

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