We know we’re not the only ones exploring the many roads this world has to offer- we love hearing from other travelers who have great stories to tell and tips to share! From time to time we’ll showcase the travels and experiences from people exploring other parts of the world. We hope these interviews will provide additional insight into exciting and inspiring journeys.
Adam met Kile and Ashley over a decade ago when he was living in Portland, so we thought it would be fun to feature our friends as guest bloggers in our new “Your Roads” series!
They’re currently on the road in Asia, and they’ve been to some amazing places around the world. We’ve always enjoyed reading about their adventures on their excellent blog Reinventing Our American Dream, so we were excited to ask them some questions and learn more about their travels.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and your blog. How long have you been blogging?
We’re Ashley and Kile Brewer from beautiful Portland, Oregon! We’ve been married for just over 9 years and together for 13. We always knew we weren’t fans of the normal 9-5 (but, who really is?) and stereotypical order of the American dream (go to college, get job, get married, buy house, have kids, etc.) Not that we’re against that lifestyle in any way – it was just the pressure and the order of things that felt forced. It wasn’t until about 2 and a half years ago that a lightbulb went off and we put together the plan to pay off all of our debts, sell everything we own and hop on a plane. We wanted to take our path into our own hands. This was about the same time we started blogging. Our blog is about how we got to this point, our current daily lives now that we’re abroad and other funny musings in between. The rest is history!
What city do you call home when you are not traveling?
As mentioned earlier, we’re from the absolute beautiful state of Oregon and specifically the super hipster city of Portland. Even though Portland has changed a lot over the years – it’s still home. It has delicious food, great people and nature at your fingertips. Oregon, to us, is still – our favorite place on earth.
What is one thing you recommend people do when they visit your hometown?
Drink beer! Oregon, and specifically Portland, has an abundance of some of the best microbrews on the planet. There are over 80 microbreweries in the city and most are seriously legit. Some of our favorites are Deschutes, Commons, Double Mountain, Breakside and Ex Novo to name a few. If you’re a fan of IPAs – you’ve found your heaven. Drinking beer is literally a way of life in Portland.
Out of all of the places you have visited, which location is your favorite?
This is a super hard question to answer as we’re sitting in the absolute paradise of Boracay, Philippines whilst writing this. Right now, it feels like the answer is “here!” Now that we’re constantly moving, this answer is ever-changing. I think we can both agree that – ultimately, a place like the Oregon coast is a place that will forever be so gorgeous and so filled with memories that it will always top our list when someone asks us what our favorite place domestically would be.
But – at the same time – we both are completely in love with Thailand. Koh Samui was a place that really drove this idea in for us. It had such a perfect mix of tourists but not enough to be overwhelmed by (where we stayed in Nathon, at least), great and cheap food, wonderful people and gorgeous beaches. To keep our answer somewhat short – I think we’ll leave it at Thailand. We’ve spent a total of about 6 weeks there so far (within 2 trips) and have plans to spend another 4 weeks there in November. There’s definitely something that keeps drawing us back.
What is the best drink and/or food item that you’ve had over the course of your travels?
Oh my god there’s so much good food out there! We hate this question because it’s way too hard to answer. Each country has something so good to offer. I think we’ll have to answer this question separately since we’re a couple – we’ve had the pleasure of eating so much good food but we’ll try and each pick something.
For me, Ashley, I keep going back to moussaka in Katakalon, Greece. My reason is two-fold though – for one, I’m obsessed with moussaka and this happened to be the most mouth-watering and textbook form of delicious moussaka I’ve ever tasted. A Peroni beer on the side didn’t hurt either. And two – we were literally sitting at a restaurant on the ocean looking over the Mediterranean. It felt surreal. And I’m sure it made the food taste that much better.
For Kile, he’s going to say the grilled fish with all the typical sides in Seminyak, Bali. It was a grilled snapper basted with a spicy sauce (no idea what it was), grilled over coconut husks, that was served with rice (standard) and also sprouts, peanuts and sambal (also standard in Bali cuisine.) You have to eat it with your hands. It’s the perfect combination between savory, salty, sweet and bitter. Such a well rounded and tasty meal. And a large Bintang to boot! Can you tell we like beer?
What is the worst drink and/or food item you’ve had over the course of your travels?
This is also another hard question to answer – we’ve had many underwhelming meals, that’s for sure, but worst? That’s a tough one.
For Kile, he goes back to a meal we had in Amed, Bali. We ordered nasi campur, which is mixed rice, it’s essentially rice with a little bit of everything that the restaurant or stand has to offer. One item in particular was a gelatinous piece of pork blood. Kile isn’t a fan of the iron rich taste of anything made of blood. He’s still gagging.
For me, I think I’ll stick with durian at this point in time. I know it’s a mega favorite in the Asian culture but I just can’t get down. I tried it first (and one time only) in Ipoh, Malaysia – some locals offered us a piece to have a taste. I immediately regretted it. I knew it infamously smelled bad but was hoping the tongue taste would be different – but to me, it tasted like rotten and slimy onions and garlic mixed with butterscotch. It was a taste that took a long time to dissipate.
How do you determine what places to see, where to stay, what to eat and other things to do when you travel? Any specific websites, mobile apps or research methods?
For lodging, Airbnb is definitely our go-to. I’d say we use it about 80% of the time. We can always find great rooms, studios or full homes within our budget wherever we go. Not to mention – we’ve made some great friends from meeting and hanging out with our hosts. We also use Booking.com a lot as well – great rating system.
We love reading other blogs to find out where to eat and things to do. There’s a few blogs out there that we know have the same “style” of traveling as we do – so we trust their recommendations. This is always a great compass to use while we’re traveling.
Things like TripAdvisor and stuff are good too but we take these sites with a grain of salt. It seems like a lot of the posts or advice on these types of sites are from people who are very much traveling as a “tourist” and not looking for a local experience. Or – people who just like to complain. But sometimes there’s gems of advice!
What is the one item that you absolutely need to carry with you when you travel? Any good luck charms or required accessories?
For me, Ashley, it’s my laptop. This is our lifeblood. This is how I am able to work and bring in income while we travel. I provide blog content and social media management for a few websites. It’s extremely important that this is with us at all times – and that we’re staying in a place with good (or at least ‘okay’) WiFi.
Kile says it would be our UE Roll – our portable bluetooth speaker. We love having music with us wherever we go (like right this very moment!) and it’s nice to listen to it with legit speakers and not just from our phones or computer. He also says a multi-tool would be super nice to always have but – we aren’t allowed to travel/carry-on with that.
We also have some charms that were given to us by some very dear friends that we carry with us wherever we go. I’d be devastated if they were to go missing.
Which of the following methods of transportation do you prefer most when you travel? Planes, Trains, Automobiles, Bikes, Boats, or Cruise Ships?
Certain means of transportation are necessary, obviously, like plane or boat. But they aren’t really our favorite.
Right now – we say scooter. It’s so freeing and so fun. Kile says it’s like a childhood memory of bombing a hill on your bicycle. Wind through your hair and smelling the scents. You feel like you’re a part of your surroundings. It really feels like ultimate freedom.
Second to that, though? Walking. We love walking everywhere. You see and smell (sometimes putrid) so much more than you would in a car. Plus, you get to talk to people as you walk by! We. Walk. Everywhere.
What is the ideal amount of days you would like to spend in each new place you visit?
After spending 2 months in Playa del Carmen, Mexico – we learned a few things. We found that a month was the absolute perfect time to spend in a place to really learn about the culture, explore the ins and outs and take in your surroundings. But unless you’re loving it at that point? You become bored and jaded – that’s not good.
So – we’d say anywhere from 2 weeks to a month at any given place is a great amount of time to take in a good amount of culture, food and experiences. And if you love it at that point? STAY! But if you’re not? Leave before you end up with a bad taste in your mouth or it becomes “too normal.” What’s the fun in that?
What kind of camera do you like to use when you’re taking travel photos?
Just our phones! Kile has gotten really good at taking some great travel photos with his iPhone. A nice legit camera would be wonderful but at the same time? We don’t want to carry it or be worried about it! We seem to pull off some pretty decent photos without it though.
Do you like to go back to the same country more than once?
Yes, no, everywhere in between. This is another hard question. To say we’ve been to Thailand and we love returning – this is true. But have we seen the whole country? No! That’s why we return. It’s like saying you’ve been to Canada if you’ve only been to Vancouver. Or going to New York and saying you’ve been to the U.S.A.. It’s just not really true.
So – yes! We love going back to the same country – but just a different place. It’s so good to be educated and informed about what an entire country has to offer. It can range and differ so greatly from place to place.
But also – no! We want to see it all. We don’t like staying in our comfort zones. We want to see everything. So maybe we’re going to a different city within a country that we’ve visited before. It’s something new and that’s exciting! Plus – if you’re trying to go somewhere new but there’s a layover in a country you’ve already been to? Sweet! Explore some more.
Someone who has visited 50-60 countries hasn’t necessarily seen or experienced as much as someone who has “only” visited 5-15.
Here at Road Unraveled, we think the road you take can be just as important as where you end up. Do you have a favorite road trip that you’ve taken over the course of your travels?
We have a few great road trips that come to mind. The Pacific Northwest is a wonderland of exploration. One of our faves though was a trip from Portland, up to Vancouver, B.C., driving the trans-Canadian Highway, through Yoho & Banff National Parks, Calgary, down through Montana and then back home. Talk about a dwarfing experience through those northern Rocky Mountains. The natural beauty in this part of the country is unparalleled. We camped most of the way through.
Cartoon-blue lakes, giant waterfalls and gigantic mountains. I was driving a Hyundai Veloster at the time and it’s a tiny car – we felt even more tiny driving through this mountain range.
Do you have any tips you would like to give to aspiring travel bloggers?
Nope! We’re still trying to figure out the ways of travel blogging ourselves! But? We don’t mind! It was never for anyone else but us, however, now that we’ve entered this world – we would love to help other travelers and provide useful information. The whole purpose for us was to document our journey – to look back on it someday and say “wow….we did that!”
Connect with Ashley and Kile of Reinventing Our American Dream!
Be sure to check out their website and follow them on social media to keep up with all of their exciting travels.
If you have a travel blog and would like to be featured in a future edition of “Your Roads” let us know!