We're Not In Kansas Anymore ...

Lauren and Henry Costa paragliding in Switzerland

We all settle into routines and embrace the familiar. But doing so can be dangerous, leading us into complacency and a life where procrastination becomes the norm.

We’re not sure whether any of those thoughts crept into Lauren and Henry Costa’s minds last year, but if they did, they were used as motivation for the pair to throw their Los Angeles routines on their head as they spent five months embracing the unfamiliar.

In early August, the couple left their comfortable confines on the West Coast and embarked on a 25-country tour that started in Oslo, Norway and ended in Seoul, South Korea. Their travels took them to much of Europe and some of Asia, with a short layover in Dubai. It was chronicled in Lauren’s blog, Wanderfull Explorer, which includes traveling tips on where to stay and what to do in the cities and towns they visited.

While the couple is filled with wanderlust, Lauren is admittedly the free spirit of the two. “I always mentioned wouldn’t it be awesome if we did a really wild adventure that people do where they take a sabbatical or move somewhere abroad,” she told X-Wear.

Henry, who is more of a pragmatist, had long dismissed the idea of traveling the globe until his wife finished her school year – she was a special education teacher in Watts – in June. “He told me, ‘Now is the time for us to do this crazy idea,’” Lauren said, explaining that Henry was in between jobs at the time. “The impetus was we don’t have these huge responsibilities, in terms of kids or owning a home. We thought to ourselves, the next time we’ll be able to do this is probably when we’re in our 60s or 70s.”

They spent the next two months planning for an adventure that opened up their eyes to new cultures, their hearts to new possibilities, all while deepening their insights into themselves as individuals and strengthening their bond as husband and wife.

Favorite Experiences

The Costa’s trip was one spent chasing the sun and warm climates, “because we hate any form of weather that is not spring or summer,” Lauren explained to us. They started in Scandinavia, traveling from Eastern Europe from the north and proceeding south before creeping west towards England and Ireland. They then headed east visiting India, Singapore, Philippines, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Indonesia, Bali and South Korea.

Of course, we had to ask, their favorite places to visit. In Europe, Lauren listed Lake Bled and Ljubljana in Slovenia; the Bernese Alps in Switzerland; and Portugal’s beaches. In Asia, Laos and the Philippines topped her list.

While sightseeing was a part of their itinerary, so too was recreation. The pair went paragliding off a mountain in Interlaken, Switzerland; set out on an early morning hike in Indonesia ; went on a safari boat tour of Norway’s fjords; rode motorbikes in Vietnam; and explored the Mekong River in Laos while perched atop elephants. “We are going through this famous river in the middle of Asia on these gigantic animals,” Lauren said of the elephant tour. “It was one of those moments when you stop and think, ‘This is what life is all about.’”

Tips for Travelers

For those looking to follow in Lauren and Henry’s footsteps, they had some practical advice to get the most out of your overseas adventures. First, Lauren suggested, to set aside enough time for planning. “We met so many people who would arrive in a city and didn’t have a place to stay,” she said, explaining that their time was then spent trying to find accommodations instead of exploring. “We planned our train travel and flights… And make sure you are educated and look at all of the routes you’re going to take and see how fast they book  up because maybe you want to go to a festival in a city and the train there is booked for that week.”

The Costas planned their trip by starting big – first the route and what countries they wanted to visit – before focusing on the smaller, day-to-day activities.

An additional tip that some may overlook: “Make sure you add an extra day in each place to relax,” Lauren said. “You need a day to just walk around or sit in a café or watch people passing by drinking a cup of European coffee or sleep in on a weekend. Factor in a lazy Sunday at least once a week.”

Of course, capturing your memories is important. Lauren brought her Canon DSLR, but wishes, “I had a GoPro when we went rafting, were on elephants, on crazy hikes, paragliding, motorcycling in Vietnam or cliff jumping in the Philippines. These are definitely experiences I’ll cherish in my mind, but I do wish I got video of it.”

She also recommended traveling lightly, asking the ever-important question of, “do I really need this?” while packing. “If you have to ask that question, then you don’t need it and you’re going to be mad it’s taking up space in a travel bag.”

Embracing the Travel Bug

What’s next for the Costas? Currently, they’re taking a slight break as they squeeze in weddings on the East Coast and Midwest over the next few months. In December, they may cross Israel off their list. If so, this would add to the 42 countries Lauren has already visited that includes Iceland (one of her favorites), Tanzania (she taught there for half a year) and Thailand and Maldives (the couple honeymooned there in 2014).

As to why people should embrace the travel bug, Lauren put it this way: “Travel helps you collect moments that will help you find yourself, learn more about yourself and open up your mind to the world which just makes you a fuller person, makes you understand people on a deeper level, no matter who they are.”

That’s definitely a philosophy X-Wear can embrace. If you want to learn more about the Costa’s travels, visit Lauren’s website www.wanderfullexplorer.com, like her page on Facebook here and follow Lauren on Instagram (LLCExplores) and on Twitter (@laurenlevy).

You can also read some of our staff’s favorite places to travel here. And if you’re unsure of what you should pack for your trip, besides the GoPro which you can find here, don’t hesitate to contact us by clicking this link. We can recommend an assortment of clothing and gear ideal for your next vacation.

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