On August 13, 2013, Stephanie Beron ’10 and Andy Troxel ’10 officially became homeless. That Tuesday, after selling her car in the morning, Steph and Andy started their year-long trip around the world, an adventure that would
take them hiking, camping, backpacking, and biking across more than a dozen countries and four continents.
Before one sets out on a year-long journey, there are many plans to be made and dollars to be saved. In Steph and Andy’s story, it meant working hard and saving for three years, and then selling possessions and paring down. “I was lucky enough to find a great job out of college where I had many opportunities,” says Steph. “Although Andy and I had a good start to what a great life might look like, it just didn’t seem to fit. While many people our age are getting married or starting families, I wasn’t ready to settle down. So while it seemed a bit crazy to do this trip, I knew that I’d regret not trying.”
And they’re off!
The first part of the adventure was a U.S. road trip, driving to New England, then slowly making their way across the top part of the country, cruising through Montana, Washington, and Oregon. They spent October in Las Vegas, and California, and Utah, before driving back to Chicago to begin the next leg of the adventure. On November 12, the pair hopped a plane bound for New Zealand, where they spent the next month.
“The scenery in New Zealand is ridiculous,” says Andy. “It definitely was my favorite place, with so many mountains, glaciers, and volcanoes. And it’s all an adventure. There’s road tripping, mountain biking, surfing, and hiking.” Just before Christmas, they took a flight over to Australia, and had their first experience with living in hostels. “It was probably the biggest lifestyle change for me since moving away to college,” explains Steph. “Sleeping in bunk beds in a room full of strangers, wearing sandals in the shower, keeping my valuables on me at all times, and living without transportation was all an adjustment.” To round out their incredible finish to 2013, they celebrated New Year’s Eve by watching fireworks over Sydney Harbour and the Sydney Opera House.
The best laid plans
When Steph and Andy started to plan their trip around the world, they purposely didn’t plan their route. So after a few more relaxing days in Australia, they decided to head to Fiji, followed by Bali, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam. Bali turned out to be Steph’s favorite location. “The culture on the island is incredible,” she explains. “The green rice fields and sandy surf beaches make it a beautifully unique place.” After taking some advice from other travellers, Andy and Steph decided to add Cambodia to their list of places to visit, which turned into a major health scare. Both of them came down with dengue fever, a disease with no cure that is transmitted by mosquitos. Thankfully, a British doctor helped them through the ordeal, and after a week of recovery, they were back on the road again. “That was the closest we came to booking a plane ride back home again,” says Steph. The rest of their time in Southeast Asia was less eventful—and more enjoyable. They timed their visit to Japan perfectly and arrived just as the cherry blossoms were in full bloom. Steph said that she got to try her new favorite food in Japan: conveyor belt sushi.
Before heading to Europe, they had a quick 72-hour layover in China, walking along the Great Wall and visiting the Forbidden City. After that, it was off to Europe for the next two months. The pair flew into Munich, Germany, and their first stop was to a bar to buy a round of beers. “When Andy and I studied in Greece in 2009,” says Steph, “I came home with a 20 Euro bill in my pocket. I hung onto it, knowing that one day I’d return to Europe to spend it.”
A two-wheeled adventure
From Munich they took a train to Prague, Czech Republic. From there, they bought cycling gear and set off on a 1,200-mile bike ride through Germany, the Netherlands, and Belgium. They wrapped up their trip with a visit to Iceland before returning to the States in mid-July. Of all the places that Andy and Steph visited, what impressed them the most was how friendly everyone was, regardless of nationality, ethnicity, or culture. And even though they are back in Indiana readjusting to life in the Midwest, they are already looking forward to traveling again.
“Once you get bit by the traveling bug,” says Steph, “it’s a lifelong journey.”
—Allison Gallagher ’14 & Jen Huber ’07
Quick Q&A with Andy & Steph:
Best tourist attraction?
Angkor Wat in Cambodia and Sydney Harbour on New Year’s Eve
One place we all should visit?
Iceland & Thailand
Where to next?
Easter Island or Croatia
One essential travel item?
A good carry-on sized backpack and Pocket Earth Offline Maps App.
Country with the friendliest folks?
To read their blog, visit stephstravelingheart.blogspot.com