Photo Friday: Views From Our Apartment

By David

Yes, you read that right… By David. I’m stepping in this week with a Photo Friday guest post (don’t all let out a sigh of disappoint at once).

Because I’m so obviously not as talented as my amazing wife, I didn’t want to throw one picture up here touting its quality and have you all be supremely underwhelmed. So I thought I would share a small collection of photos — photos that provide a glimpse into our daily lives.

If you’ll excuse the poor quality, the photos below show one of our favorite things about living in Thailand: the amazing sunrises, sunsets, and general sky-scapes. And the best part? We take in these sights without ever leaving out apartment.

sunrise in chiang mai thailand

Cotton candy sunrise.

rainbow over doi suthep in chiang mai thailand

Rainbow over Doi Suthep.

puffy thai clouds from chiang mai

Alexis loves the puffy Thai clouds.

thai birds and clouds

Birds flying over.

chiang mai thailand sunset

The daily multi-colored sunsets are incredible.

sunset in chiang mai thailand

The colors only get better as the sky purples.

I just got back from Kuala Lumpur (more on this soon), so I guess I’m feeling glad to be home 🙂


Turning 26 in Chiang Mai, Thailand

By David

I’m over the hill; I turned the ripe old age of 26 on Friday. The celebratory activities added up to the best non-honeymoon day I’ve had in Thailand.

How to spend a birthday in chiang mai thailand

Brunch at Blue Diamond

Blue Diamond Breakfast Club (located here) is one of our favorite breakfast/brunch spots in Chiang Mai. The menu consists of a wide range of American breakfast options as well as Thai food. We both got pancakes — chocolate banana for me and coconut for Alexis — and split scrambled eggs. Yum!

Massages and Herbal Steam Bath

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Our “Secret” to Affording the Nomadic Newlywed Lifestyle

By David

Barclaycard sent me my 2014 spending summary yesterday and I found it very illuminating. 41% of everything we spent on that card in 2014 was for travel. That includes flights, hotels, apartment rentals, airport shuttle buses, etc.

A handful of items in the "Other" category were mislabeled and should have been in the "Travel" category. Those factored in, the travel category reaches 40.8% of the total spend.

A handful of items in the “Other” category were mislabeled and should have been in the “Travel” category. Those factored in, the travel category reaches 40.8% of the total spend.

Now, this is only one credit card of many so it’s not like 40% of everything we spent in 2014 was on travel, but still, this card is pretty representative of our spending and reveals our not-so-secret strategy for long-term travel: we prioritize it. 

We could afford to move to London, the most expensive place I’ve ever lived in, while we were planning our wedding half a world away because we prioritized it. And for the sake of full disclosure, we weren’t rich at all. Alexis quit her job at National Geographic so we could move and we both lived off my $44K (USD!) salary.

We could even afford to take a trip to Switzerland for my birthday during that time to snowboard… because we prioritized it.

We could afford to get married in Hawaii… because we prioritized it.

We could afford for me to quit my job as well, move to Thailand and start afresh… because we prioritized it.

Now, in less than two months, we will be able to afford living in one country every month because, surprise, surprise, we will prioritize the travel.

The truth is, there is no secret to this. We want this life, so we do what we have to do to make it happen.

To prove this point, that same year-end summary showed that our collective spending on restaurants, entertainment, and merchandise totaled a meager 13%. 


And that even includes some wedding expenses!

We don’t eat out all the time, we don’t go to concerts or events, and we don’t shop for new clothes. That may sound like a deprived life to some people, but we choose to live this way because it enables us to travel.

And sure, sometimes we wish we could do those kind of things more often, but ultimately, it’s not worth it to us.

The bottom line is that anything you want is attainable if you make it a priority.

Bonus Tips to Travel Long-Term

1. Get this credit card. The Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard is a great introductory card for those looking to start collecting airline miles. Just a couple months ago, we used it to save $300 on our trip to Borneo, Bali, and Ko Lanta.

2. Realize that, in a general sense, traveling isn’t as expensive as you think. Consider our example: When we were living in Washington, D.C., our one-bedroom apartment cost $1,700 a month. In September, we’ll be living in Tuscany and paying less than $700 in rent.

Our house in Tuscany, Italy

Our house in Tuscany, Italy

Where would you rather live?

Our Monthly Country Adventure Begins

Well, not quite yet but we just booked our first apartment and we’re really excited!

For all of September, we’ll be staying in this insanely beautiful, quaint, lush, perfect Tuscan hideaway.

Our house in Tuscany, Italy

Our future home in Tuscany, Italy

I mean… it’s pretty much perfect.

Eight months from now when you're reading RotR posts, picture us writing them from this kitchen table :)

Eight months from now when you’re reading RotR posts, picture us writing them from this kitchen table 🙂

Can’t wait!

The Trials and Tribulations of Thai Visas

By David

I’m sick of dealing with Thai visas. This is exactly what Alexis was talking about when she said visa complications are a big reason why we’d rather live in 12 countries in 12 months rather than live in Germany long-term.

When I last wrote about my visa situation, I laid out exactly what I, you, or anyone else would need to get a Non-Immigrant O Visa (aka Dependent Visa) in Chiang Mai. Sorry to say, but thanks to Thailand’s ever changing laws, that proved to be inaccurate advice. I found out the hard way, but this post will hopefully save you from the same trouble.

Everything was set: we had our marriage certificate mailed to us, got it translated into Thai, arranged for a Thai witness from Alexis’ school to come with us, and gathered all the paperwork — everything I was told we needed, we had.

In spite of that, we were not confident it was going to work. Basically every Thai person we talked to was so confused about what we were trying to do. “How can you be dependent on Alexis when she’s not Thai?” seemed to be the main issue.

But still, we know multiple people who have done the exact same thing. Two of Alexis’ coworkers have dependent husbands, in fact. Same exact situation…no problem. But, for us? No dice.

Why I Was Denied a Non-Immigrant O Visa

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Things to do in Chiang Mai: Cliff Jump at Huay Kaew Waterfall

By David

Looking for a free activity in Chiang Mai? Head to Huay Kaew Waterfall.

You’ve no doubt heard about it if you’ve spent any time at all in Chiang Mai. But here’s a tip: skip the main entrance which is always crowded and head to a more local section of the river just a bit up the road. To avoid crowds and swim where the locals swim, head here, not here.

This is what you’ll find:

ponds above huay kaew waterfall

Park your bike and walk down the steps to see the river engulfed in big boulders and towering trees. Side note: This looks exactly like Hilo, Hawaii where I went to college.

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How Long Does It Take to “Make It” As A Freelancer?

By David

When we first set our sights on living abroad, teaching English was the only option we thought we had. It remains a very viable option. Many, many people do it all the time. Alexis is doing it right now. But it’s not the only option.

I planned on teaching English when we moved to Thailand as well, but had a bit of a life-defining crisis the day I got offered a job. I turned it down and that same day created a profile on

That was in July of 2014.

Work was slow at first. My first paying job was for $2 an hour. I was eager to get some positive reviews under my belt, so I accepted.

Six months later, I am not only making what I would have been had I accepted that teaching job, I am making double that amount. 


I started freelancing in July but my first paycheck didn’t come until August. I made $516 that month. Screen Shot 2014-12-27 at 5.00.53 PM Continue reading

Roses on the Road Origins: Our First Apartment

Alexis wrote about her whopping 23 homes here. As part of Urban Compass’ Starter Stories, this post will zero in on one of them: The very first home Roses on the Road shared together.

February 22, 2010. That was the day I met Alexis.

March 4, 2010. Our first date. The result of a loser-buys-dinner bet I conveniently lost.

August 19, 2010. Less than six months later, we’re moving into our first apartment together. Sounds crazy, right?! Those two will never last, you say?

Ha! Well, the joke’s on you ’cause now we’re married!

Not only did Alexis and I move in together less than six months after meeting one another, she flew across an ocean to do it.

We met at the University of Utah where I was a visiting student for one semester. Alexis used the same student exchange program (UH Hilo NSE shout out!) to come back to the University of Hawaii-Hilo with me the following semester.

Yes, I’m a pretty lucky guy.

I thought I would be coming back to Hawaii and moving back into my filthy college dude house with my buddies (read what Alexis wrote about that house here), but instead found myself looking for cute one-bedroom apartments that were just slightly cleaner and more respectable.

waiakea lagoon view apartments hilo hawaii

We made our first home at 50 Maile Street, Hilo, HI 96720. Quick aside: Years later, we would discuss naming our first daughter Maile in memory of our first home. But… Miley Cyrus.

Still, the Waiakea Lagoon View Apartments were perfect. We were young, we were in love, we were building a life together.

I remember being so excited that our names were together on the same mailbox for the first time.

And we shared a mailbox! Holy crap, that was that cool to see.

It was completely furnished and move-in-ready so there wasn’t much in the way of fixer-up or DIY projects except for one very odd thing we did: Continue reading

And Our Surprise Destination Is…

By David

Shhh! A Surprise Trip

This spring, we are planning a super secret surprise trip, and I cannot wait to tell everyone! Hopefully we can finalize all the details and spill the beans here around January.

That was Alexis in our “Expat Update: 6 Months in Thailand” post from a few weeks ago. So you wanna know where we’re going and why it was a surprise?

For Christmas this year, my two older brothers and I all pitched in to surprise my dad with roundtrip tickets to… Continue reading

The RotR Awards: Southeast Asia Beaches Edition

RotR Awards HeadingOur recent SE Asia trip was a ton of fun. One thing we focused on was making sure we got lots of quality beach time. We definitely succeed in that. After five beaches across three countries, we thought it would be fun to give out some awards to these beautiful beaches.

The RotR Awards are named after yours truly, Roses on the Road, for those of you who haven’t figured that out yet. To win a RotR Award is extremely prestigious. So prestigious, in fact, that no one ever has before. Think about that for a second — thousands of people have Oscars, Grammys, Nobel Peace Prizes, but not a single person, place, or thing has received a RotR. Talk about an exclusive club.

It’s time to change that. Today we will be handing out a lucky 13 RotR Awards. But first, let’s find out who’s in the running… Continue reading