Thursday 20 September 2018

'We're making our dreams a reality' - meet the couple who are honeymooning for 1,000 days

1,000 days, 30-something countries, five of the Seven Wonders of the World - this couple have been travelling since their wedding in July 2015

Neil and Patricia at Machu Picchu, Peru (Photo: Instagram/CrazyGlobetrotters)
Neil and Patricia at Machu Picchu, Peru (Photo: Instagram/CrazyGlobetrotters)
Denise Calnan

Denise Calnan

A total of 1,000 days, 30-something countries, five of the Seven Wonders of the World... could this be the best honeymoon ever?

Neil Flannigan and Patricia Pérez Vernet are almost three years into married life - but have yet to unpack from their honeymoon.

The couple have been travelling the world since their wedding in July 2015 and are hoping to reach the 1,000-day mark before they come home.

Speaking from a ferry port in Tanzania as they boarded a boat to the east African island of Zanzibar, Neil declared the globe-trotting duo to be on day 942 of their trip.

They began their global journey in Canada and the USA, moved south to Central and South America, before travelling west to Asia.

They then completed their tour of Asia with a visit to India, and have now arrived in Africa to begin exploring the Rainbow Land.

Neil and Patricia's first stop in Canada is just 900km from the Arctic, and have also clocked their location in the world's most southernmost town, Ushuaia, just 850km from the Antarctica.

"It's almost been three years now," Neil told Independent.ie.

"We started on July 12, 2015 and we're still going."

Patricia, who met Neil while studying English in the UK, admitted part of her decision to go travelling was sparked by the English weather.

"We first started to plan the trip because we decided to do something special, but the English weather was a bit too much for me as well," Patricia said.

"We saved as much as we could for two years. Neil proposed in the meantime and that's when we decided we'd go after the wedding and make it a non-stop honeymoon."

Neil and Patricia said they are spending as much time as they possibly can in each country, eager to focus on immersing themselves in the culture as opposed to a whistle-stop tour of each place.

"It does depend how long we can stay in each country as well," Patricia continued.

"In the USA, we stayed as long as the visa would allow us, three months. We stayed in Mexico for 100 days.

"Then we spent just 10 days in Belize, we were in El Salvador for a week.

"We have also learned a few things about travelling along the way. I think we were doing too much in the first year or so. Obviously, some days you just need to rest. So now we are trying to rest even more.

"We've slowed down a little more in the last year, and we think about doing less but concentrating on quality over quantity. We're trying to enjoy each place a little more.

"We didn't stop for the three months we were in Mexico, I think maybe we did too much. We're still learning as we go."

So, the burning question; how are they managing financially?

"We're using the money we saved over the two years before we left," Patricia explained.

"We also received money as gifts for our wedding so we're using that. We received quite a bit and it's helped us a lot, that's been a great help.

"To be honest you need less than you think. We're couch-surfing a lot, we're trying to do that as much as possible.

"It's a great website, and you get to stay with locals in local houses. It's the best way to get to know the culture and meet the people.

"Another tip is to travel like a local, so we use the local bus instead of the tourists' bus, we take the cheapest route at the cheapest time because we have the luxury of time.

"We also cook a lot in the places we stay in. In Asia, a lot of the places we stayed in didn't have kitchens, but then it is a lot cheaper to eat out so it works out."

The stand-out country so far for Patricia is the Philippines, but she said she now has a soft spot for the people of Colombia as they reminded her of her home country, Spain.

"Then I think Myanmar was amazing because it was probably the least touristy place," Patricia said, "and the people were so nice and so, so generous.

"There are some countries we would like to return to as well, we stayed in Malaysia for just eight days because of our visa for Thailand at the time. When we were there, we just thought, 'wow'. So, yes, we obviously would love to go back there."

And what is the plan for when they return from their trip?

"That's the question," Patricia laughed.

"First, we will go to Spain and stay for a month or so. We also have a lot of luggage left in Spain that we will need to sort out.

"We'll see family and friends and then decide what to do. It is scary."

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