I can't believe that February is approaching to end and now, the last couple travelers to be featured on the last February edition of Wander Lover Series! 😀
Time flies so fast that I feel like yesterday was just the day I had to sigh so hard that 2017 almost ended, and now the month of love comes to an end already? You're kidding, right?
Okay, so on the last edition of our February series, I'm excited to connect with Sam and Veren from Alternative Travelers, a vegan couple travelers from New York who are currently based in Madrid as they travel slowly through housesitting.
I've never done housesitting before, but now that I've read some of their blogposts about it, now I'm intrigued! But anyway, as it's the month of love and I want to focus a bit more on them as a couple, shall we start with the intro? 😉
About Sam and Veren
The first question that I asked the couples that have contributed on February edition is this: do you remember the first time you met each other?
And the best part about their answer is that Sam mentioned that they met the first time in New York City almost 3 years ago by the end of February. So I suppose this time around would be their 3rd anniversary since the first time they met. Happy anniversary! 😀
“How many lessons of faith and beauty we should lose if there were no winter in our year!”
-Thomas Wentworth Higginson
Sam and Veren originally come from New York City, although currently they are based in Madrid, Spain as they slow travel on a budget via housesitting. Their blog, Alternative Travelers, aims to show that neither traveling nor eating vegan has to be expensive or difficult.
They left New York in early 2016 after they realized that it would probably be cheaper to travel than live in their hometown NYC, which is obviously one of the most expensive cities in the world. Now that they are currently based in Madrid, they are exploring Europe through house sitting and Couchsurfing.
Sam and Veren as a Couple
According to Veren, their first in real life meeting occurred outside the Steinway Subway Stop in Astoria, Queens. And their mutual answer is this: Veren rolling up on his bike all wrapped up in winter gear and a bright yellow reflector vest, he yelled out SAM! He hopped off his bike and they hugged.
Ever since, they fell right into the effortless conversation on their way to the bar. The chemistry was there, and it has always been until this very day! 🙂
What she likes about Veren: Veren is caring, smart, creative, independent, and very perceptive. We share the same outlook and have the same goals for what we want out of life, which is huge. I also love that he doesn't care what people think – he is very much his own person. We have a lot of things in common but we also balance each other out with our differences.
What she dislikes about Veren: To be honest, I'm not a fan of this question. There's not something I like least, but rather things that we struggle to understand about each other and our individual needs at times. We are different people and I wouldn't change anything about Veren as everything is part of who he is. There are small things that bug each other, of course – Veren knows that his sprawling things around the apartment sometimes drives me crazy!
What he likes about Sam: Her strong-willed independent mind.
What he dislikes about Sam: Her apparent lack of a fullness gauge, i.e. she can only tell if she's very hungry or too full – nothing in between.
I actually smiled when I read about Sam's apparent lack of fullness gauge according to Veren.
I mean, he mentioned about how he likes her strong-willed independent mind. Here's a newsflash for you Veren, when you love a strong-willled woman, their feeling would be so strong that she would be either so hungry or too full. That's like so basic, I hope you understand! *grin*
All About Romance
When asked about the most romantic moment they have had as a couple, Sam wasn't so sure whether she could pinpoint one moment, although she will always have great memories of the spring they were getting to know each other in New York. They took lots of walks by the river near where Veren lived.
As for Veren, Veren admits that Sam wasn't very romantic at first (also some additional message from Veren, Sam… Please don't hate him for saying it! 😛 ) and for him, the most romantic moment was when he told her that he was in love with her. It was when he took her to Sunset Park, nearby her apartment in Brooklyn at the time, which has a great view of the New York Upper Bay. It was a bit windy, but they were both wearing big dopey sunglasses.
So Veren told her he was in love with her, and that she didn't have to say it back because he knew how she felt (oooh, the confidence though! 😀 ) and that (at the time) it was difficult for her to be open about her feelings.
Glad that things have worked out just fine ever since, and you both are now together, traveling and housesitting throughout Europe yeay! 😀
Although they have traveled quite well in some places outside New York, as they are originally from New York, New York is definitely a memorable place for us as a couple. Because that's where they met and everything started. 🙂
For Veren, the borough of Queens in New York in particular is one that is memorable for him, specifically the neighborhoods of Astoria and Rego Park. They spent most of their initial time together in Astoria, where he lived. Besides that, Rego Park is where Sam's father Mark lives as they are very close and spend lots of time there as well.
In addition to that, Salt Lake City is also another memorable place as it's the place they went on their first housesitting gig and the first time they lived together. Now that they are based in Madrid, it is also memorable for them as they have been living there for 2 years. The experience they have shared made them much stronger as a couple. 😀
About Their Plan
As a couple who run a blog and give plenty of tips on housesitting, their short-term goal is to return to full-time house sitting for an indefinite period of time as they would like to split their time between Madrid, New York City, and traveling elsewhere.
Also this year, they are working towards location independence for both of them as for a long-term goal, they would like to have land someday and build an Earthship.
Recommended Place to Visit as a Couple
I think being a couple who originally come from New York and now live in Madrid, it is only understandable that Sam and Veren would recommend Spain and New York City as the recommended places to visit as a couple.
According to Sam, Spain is a romantic place as it truly has everything from beautiful cities to picturesque scenery. Fairytale castles to windy little streets in cute little towns. There is something for everyone in Spain, and you can't get more romantic than sitting on a terrace with a glass of wine on a warm summer night.
Okay, now I need a boyfriend! 😛
As for Veren, he would recommend New York City for most people, although he would avoid all the tourist attractions like Times Square and the Statue of Liberty, as actual residents avoid these places like the plague.
Ideally, they suggest to visit New York if you have a friend who has lived there a couple of years and ask them to take you around. And if that's not possible, he would recommend the High Line – a park built on an elevated train track that is no longer in use by trains. Nothing glamourous, and often unbearably crowded, but if you can go on an off day, you'll have great views of the city while you stroll above the incessant traffic.
For any of you who are city adverse, their personal favorite is the Pacific Northwest of the US – great open and forested landscapes.
About Alternative Travelers
Sam and Veren started Alternative Travelers to show that meaningful travel – and life – doesn't have to be expensive. Not a new concept, but it's still about the destination and about going to the same places and just spending less money.
In addition, they share their experiences as vegan travelers as well. And they give you alternatives to hund down vegan, vegetarian, and veg-friendly restaurant wherever they go. Food is a huge part of experiencing another culture and they want to show that you absolutely can still experience that while eating only plants! 😀
As for the contents, they both write articles, plan contents, and discuss strategies and plans for the future. And they work together as they handle different aspects of social media, for example Sam is the photographer although Veren still takes photos of her. While Sam is the expert on Instagram, Veren handles their Facebook group and page.
In addition, Sam also put more work into the technical aspects of the website, such as working on SEO and affiliate marketing. Veren occasionally handles the technical troubleshooting too, and last but not least, he makes sure Sam is well fed.
Now I can't help to imagine how the hanger – hungry and anger – state of Sam now that Veren has mentioned it a couple of times in such a short interview. 😛
As for the content though, I'm sure there are plenty of vegan travelers out there that can get some tips and recommendations from their content.
However, I am particularly interested in their Housesitting contents as I've never tried this concept. I mean, I've watched The Holidays, but I never really got a chance to experience it the firsthand and now I'm intrigued! 😀
Tips for other travelers who aim to travel together
First thing first, you need to work together as a team and have a near complete overlap of expectations from travel. Clear, direct communication is key as you both need to know what you want to get out of the trip.
Listen to what your partner needs and work together to make sure both of you are getting your needs met. Since tensions can rise when traveling, if you get into argument, sometimes the best thing to do is to take a steap away from each other and do your own thing for a few hours or an afternoon.
Balance things up, as when you reunite, you'll be able to discuss things more clearly and have new things to share with each other! 😀
The BeauTraveler on Alternative Travelers
Honestly, when I found out that they're vegan couple travelers, I was quite sure that I'm not their target reader as I'm an omnivore to the bone. 😛
But then I'm sure there's always something to learn everyday, so even though I'm not a vegan, I tried to scroll down their contents about Vegan City Guides to find out what difference that it makes for vegan travelers. That, until I opened up the Ultimate Vegan Guide in Madrid.
I was mesmerized by the pictures, that I am actually planning to maybe explore some vegan restaurants next time I travel just to experience the vibes myself, an omnivore trying to experience the veganism. 😀
It's really great, and like I mentioned before, I love the idea of trying to housesit as well. I need to take a look at the opportunities next time, but I'm not too sure whether it would be available for a short-term travel like I usually do occasionally. 🙂
Anyway, I am quite sure that you could get some useful tips if you're a vegan or vegetarian looking for some recommendation in Europe. And they give me the idea of trying the new thing as well through their blog post, so thank you! 😀
Hmmm. I think that's a wrap for today, thank you for sticking around on this February edition.
And I would like to thank the bloggers, especially the contributors for February edition: Jareena and Ari, , Anisa and Russell as well as Sam and Veren as they are open to get their personal story published here. Starting next week, I'll get back to the regular Wander Lover Series where we talk more about other travel bloggers and their experience.