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Posted by Tim and Jessica on Mar 2, 2009
Frequently Asked Questions

First Things First

Our Adventure Round the World

Pigs, Dogs, and Elephants

Et Cetera, Et Cetera, Et Cetera

First Things First

Who are you guys?

We're Jessica and Tim, otherwise known as the two traveling hedgehogs. We're travelers and dreamers, and we've been sharing our stories about traveling here on HedgehogsWithoutBorders.com since October 2004. In 2005, we sold everything we owned, quit our jobs, and traveled around-the-world for 18 months. Since returning home, we've continued to travel to new countries each year. We also adopted an awesome dog from the jungles of northern Thailand along the way!

Why am I reading your website?

If you're reading this website (which invariably you are at this very moment), it's probably for one of four reasons:

  1. You're one of our family members, friends from home, or friends from the road peeking in to make sure we're still alive since a) we're horrible at emailing everyone back and b) you want to make sure we're not writing about you online. Muhahaha!
  2. You're a fellow traveler hunting for inspiration, researching countries, or daydreaming until your upcoming trip. Welcome! Feel free to poke around the site – you're one of the largest reasons we're here. Sections that may be of particular interest are Places We've Been, Our Adventure Round-the-World, Travel Tips Tuesdays, and Ask the Hedgehogs. And feel free to shoot us an email about anything, we're always happy to help!
  3. You followed the link at the bottom of the Elephant Nature Foundation website, the one that says "powered by hedgehogs." If so, you may enjoy reading about life at Elephant Nature Park in the Thailand section of Places We've Been.
  4. You've done a search for hedgehogs and have stumbled across our travel website instead. If so, many apologies for any confusion our name may have caused! And in the meantime, feel free to poke around: in a few places you'll find pictures of our toy hedgehogs who traveled around the world with us posing in front of historic sites!

Cool! But why call the website Hedgehogs Without Borders?

It all started back in December 2003 when we bought our first Christmas tree together. Tim came home with a surprise gift one day: an ornament of two hedgehogs snuggling together. Soon afterwards, we found some small toy hedgehogs at the awesome Church of Furniture (otherwise known as IKEA) and bought a few (okay, several dozen) for ourselves and family members. When we created this website back in October 2004, Tim originally suggested the name HedgehogsWithoutBorders as a joke. But the name stuck, and voila: another confusingly named website was born!

What got you into traveling?

Both of us have always dreamed about traveling, though to be honest, neither of us thought it would be possible for us. It always seemed like something only people who had a lot of money could do. But luckily we stopped doubting and started daydreaming fairly soon after meeting one another!

When Jessica was a little girl, there was a road near her house called Africa Road. Just seeing that street sign would make her daydream about faraway lands. Not to mention, her Dad is a retired long-haul truck driver, so she grew up hearing stories about places and people all around the country. No matter how tired her Dad might have been after a trip, she could still see the twinkle in his eyes when he talked about the open road. Throw in a few ideas gathered from her Aunt and Uncle who travel the country year-round in their RV and from classes taken during her college years while studying international politics and, well, you've got yourself a traveler in the making.

Tim, as a first generation American, also has a family history rich in traveling. Most of the McGregor clan is scattered around the world: South Africa, England, Canada, the Czech Republic, Switzerland and even Monaco. (Though we've yet to visit all of them!) And undoubtedly having parents who immigrated from South Africa during apartheid to the US made a strong impression on him too. As a young boy Tim's imagination would soar after hearing stories of his Dad's life growing up on the family farm in rural South Africa or after reading the postcards his Dad wrote while backpacking through Italy in the late 1950s.

So, you see, the seeds for travel were inside each of us from the time we were young. But it wasn't until we met that we dreamed it would be possible.

Where have you been in the world?

Not nearly enough places yet! The funny thing about traveling is the more places you travel to, the more places you realize you haven't seen. We've visited somewhere in the neighborhood of 32 countries and 5 continents to date. Twelve of those countries were during our round-the-world trip (and we traveled through another 6 countries as well). Since coming home we've returned to a few places and begun exploring new lands too, with a goal to travel to several new places each year.

If you'd like to read about the countries we've visited thus far, check out the Places We've Been section. We add stories to each country's section throughout the year and, as we continue to travel, we add new countries too!

What kind of travelers are you? And what kind of traveling do you do?

We'd be considered backpackers by most people, and perhaps "flashpackers" by many other backpackers. Lodging is one area where we tend to spend a bit more than other backpackers (though "a bit more" may only translate to $5-$15 extra a night depending on the country). We'd rather pay a few more bucks if it means a room is bright, clean, feels safe, and the proprietors are friendly. We stay in a mix of hostels, overnight buses and trains, budget hotels, nicer hotels, and cabanas on the beach. And we don't mind splurging a bit now and then on some larger ticket items – like our trip to the Galapagos Islands – when it means an experience will be that much better for it.

On our 18 month round-the-world trip we didn't book any flights or lodging ahead of time. We preferred to decide our route as we went along and we always wanted to see a room in person before booking. For our shorter trips – 1, 2, or 3 weeks here and there – we only book the round-trip airfare. We like traveling overland whenever possible. We almost always walk instead of taking taxis. We shy away from organized tours, preferring instead to do things on our own. And we travel with as little gear as possible and, as of yet, don't travel with camping gear.

We go with the flow when traveling: if our plans change or if something falls through, we almost always discover a preferred itinerary. We tend to make the best of everything and we listen to our instincts. And we enjoy doing the everyday little things in a foreign country just as much as we enjoy seeing the major tourist sites.

How do you decide what countries to visit next?

It's totally up in the air at all times, almost like taking a dart and throwing it at a world map. Sometimes we'll get an email from friends asking us to meet them in South America. Other times we'll see a movie that really makes us want to travel to a new country. But most of the time it's just because we've been reading travel blogs and guides, or seen a fabulous photo of somewhere in the world, something that has sparked our imagination. And then a few weeks or months later, after a bit more saving and some preparation, we'll be off to explore!

When's your next trip?

We usually aim to leave the country 3–6 times a year with the hope to visit at least one new country every year. So we're almost always in "pre-trip" and "post-trip" modes! Our shorter trips – 1, 2, or 3 weeks long – happen all year round. It really just depends on what might have recently inspired us or if we've received an email from traveler friends asking to meet up somewhere in a few months.

We'd like to do another 18 month (or longer) round-the-world trip eventually too, but we have a certain doggy and kitty obligation to tend to for the next 10–15 years first. We'd also like to buy a house before that next long-term trip, rent it out while we're away, and then have somewhere to come home to when we return to the States. The way we see it, by the time we're ready for our next time round the world, we'll probably feel too old to crash on our friends' floors again!

Wow! How do you afford all this travel?

It takes a lot of discipline and a good budget. Before our round-the-world trip, neither of us had particularly well-paying jobs. (To give some perspective: Jessica was working at a non-profit organization.) So as soon as we started daydreaming about our trip, we cut out every extra expense possible. Beers out at the bar with friends, going to the movies, getting take out – all of it was cut. Tim quit smoking and got a second job. And we lived incredibly frugally for nearly two years, but it was incredibly worth it to reach our dream.

Since returning from our around-the-world trip, we've continued to live rather frugally. At this point, though, it's more of who we are than anything else. We don't have cable television because we don't have a TV, we don't have cell phones because we don't really like them, and we rarely get take-out because we prefer to cook at home. We hardly ever buy new things: instead we use Netflix for movies, we listen to our music online, and we're frequent patrons of our awesome local library. (Though we'll admit: we have an $8 per week budget to try new cheeses. What can we say?)

Perhaps the most important thing we do is stick to our budget. Each week, we put $30 into our travel savings. Now that alone doesn't sound like much, but any extra money we have throughout the year (like if our electric bill is lower one month) goes into our travel savings too. And it's surprising how much a little savings here and there – coupled with some more economical choices (like packing a lunch for work) – can quickly add up!

Why do you share travel stories on your website?

This website was originally started not only as a way to share our memories from our round-the-world trip, but as a way to stay in contact with our friends and family while we were gone. Now that we're home again (well, for most of the year), it's turned into the place for us to continue to record the adventures we have while traveling. We're also storytellers and writers at heart, so we enjoy weaving tales about the places we've been and the people we've met. Not to mention, we remember how important reading other travelers' blogs was to us before we hit the road on our long trip. So hopefully we're helping to inspire, inform, and reassure other future travelers too!

Where do you guys live now? What kind of work do you do?

We live in a converted fishing shack by the sea in Cape Cod. It's just a little thing, less than 400 square feet with a ladder that leads up into a loft. (Our cat China likes to climb the ladder too, it's super cute to watch!) We live about 500 feet from the water and absolutely adore where we live.

Tim telecommutes to his amazing job that's based in Philadelphia. We feel incredibly lucky that he works for the company he does. Meanwhile, Jessica is trying her hand at writing full-time: yet another dream being pursued!

Our Adventure Round the World

Did you have much travel experience before your RTW trip?

Virtually none! Jessica had never been outside of the country until she was 26, and even then it was only a weekend road trip to Montreal with Tim and another trip to the McGregor family cottage in Quebec. For his part, Tim grew up on the US-Canada border, so he had traveled quite a bit in the country to our north. He also visited relatives in England in his early twenties and South Africa with his parents when he was 8 years old. But overall, neither of us had really traveled much at all prior to our round-the-world trip.

So you went on an 18 month round-the-world trip with, basically, no prior international travel experience?

Yup, that's about right. And neither of us had ever really had the opportunity to travel in such a way that could prepare us for what backpacking would be like either. Although in September 2004 (about 7 months before our round-the-world departure date) we did a test trip to California with our packs, stayed in a hostel for a few nights, and then rented a car and explored the coast without directions or reservations for a few more nights. That mini-trip did give us some perspective – like how heavy bags can be when packed too heavily or the importance of finding lodging before dark – which helped us a bit. But yeah, we really dived right in when it came to international travel!

How much did a trip like that cost?

We still need to finalize our numbers (yes, even this many years later), but it was somewhere in the neighborhood of $36,000 for 2 people for 18 months. (That figure includes everything from vaccinations and gear, to plane tickets and lodging, to food and excursions.) Another way to look at it: it cost us each about $1,000 a month to travel around the world.

Now if you think about your yearly expenses at home – rent/mortgage, groceries, gas, car insurance, entertainment, utilities, clothing, and everything else you need on a day-to-day basis – it would probably add up to more than $1,000 a month. So when you think of it that way, traveling for long periods of time around the world is not as cost-prohibitive as most people think. Neat, huh?

Now some might say if we hadn't taken the trip then Jessica's college loans would have been paid off and we'd probably own a home somewhere already. But you know what we wouldn't have had? Thousands upon thousands of memories from our travels, numerous traveler friends, new perspectives on the world, and an accomplished dream. And neither of us would trade those things for anything.

How long did it take you to plan and save for your trip?

We first started talking about the trip in June 2003 and didn't leave until March 2005, so just under two years.

What did you do about your jobs and all your belongings? And didn't Jessica have a really cute cat too?

Thankfully neither of us work in industries where we can't step away for a period of time, so that was an easy one to handle. As for our belongings, we sold mostly everything we owned before leaving which not only raised money for the trip but it helped us avoid paying storage fees too. The exceptions were our books, some stuffies, and our cars (which we both already owned). These things went into storage at Tim's parents house. Meanwhile, Jessica's lovely cat went to live at her Mom's and Dad's house in Ohio (where she was absolutely spoiled rotten) while we traveled.

Where did you go on your round-the-world trip?

A lot less places then we originally intended! When we first started daydreaming about the trip, we had a list of 22 countries we wanted to visit in only 3 months (our original time allotted for traveling). When the trip was over, though, we had traveled to only 12 countries in 18 months, so our plans definitely changed!

The countries we visited were: Argentina, Uruguay, Peru, Ecuador, Spain, England, Turkey, Greece, Thailand, Laos, and Cambodia. We also drove through a bit of Chile, had several border runs into Burma, and layovers in Italy, United Arab Emirates, and South Korea too.

If you'd like to read about the places we've visited, as well as read the stories chronologically, check out the Our Adventure Round-the-World section.

How did you decide where to go?

It started with a lot of reading. For nearly two years we read anything travel-related we could get our hands on. We brainstormed about continents, countries, major tourist sites, and possible routes. Nearly every combination was considered right up until we bought our one-way tickets to Buenos Aires, just a mere two weeks before our departure date.

Not to mention, there were all the pictures we would see that people took from around the world. Have you ever seen a picture of Machu Picchu at sunrise? Or a picture showing Cappadocia from a balloon ride? The beaches of Thailand? The tortoises of Galapagos? Or the temples of Angor Wat in Cambodia, or Bagan in Myanmaar, or the pyramids in Egypt? What about a picture of a romantic ride in an Italian gondola or people dancing the tango in Argentina?

So you see, these are the pictures we saw, these are the stories we read. And that is the way we decided where we wanted to go.

Did that change when you were on the road?

Absolutely! There were some countries we thought for sure we'd visit (like Burma and Bolivia), but circumstances worked out differently. And there were other countries (like England) that weren't even on our radar until three months into our trip. Of course, we'd also get tips from other travelers along the way or we'd learn more about an area we'd never even heard of before.

Probably most importantly, we discovered while on the road that we really prefer to travel slowly. We enjoy spending more time in one place instead of spending less time in many places. There are quite a few places along our route where most travelers may spend only a night or two, but we spent three weeks in. Likewise, there are some really amazing places we didn't have time to fit in because we like to move a bit slower.

There's something wonderfully romantic about letting the road helping you decide where to travel next, don't you think?

How did you travel within and between countries?

We traveled by just about every means possible: foot, car, minivan, bus, train, trolley, motorcycle, boat, plane, inflatable tire, bamboo raft, tuk-tuk, canoe, river taxi, and hot air balloon.

Within countries, we generally relied on local and long-distance buses with a few train rides thrown in for good measure. Buses and private taxis were usually our means of travel over borders. And we had an occasional short flight here and there, but most of the flying we did was between continents.

Did you book plane tickets and make hotel reservations ahead of time?

Nope, we booked everything as we went along. When we started on our round-the-world trip, we only had one-way tickets to Buenos Aires, Argentina. Then, when we'd get within a few weeks of leaving one continent for the next, we'd book our tickets online (usually through Expedia.com).

As for lodging, we never booked anything ahead. Instead we prefer to show up in a city and village, have a look around at a few places, and go with a hotel or hostel that feels right. We rely heavily on our instincts when we travel and found that online pictures of hotels could be just a bit deceiving! Not to mention, we liked the freedom of being able to change our plans whenever we wanted to and the security of not using our credit cards to make a reservation.

What type of lodging did you stay in?

Our lodging was as varied as the countries we traveled to. We once had to pay €45 in Spain for a concrete room with no windows, but paid much less than that in Laos for a room with a marble bench in the shower and a balcony (with floor to ceiling windows) overlooking gorgeous rock formations. There were a few overnight sleeper trains, some luxury overnight buses, a hut where elephants woke us up in the morning by scratching themselves underneath it, a few private cabanas on the water, and one or two lodges in the jungle. There were many places we stayed where you could wake up and have no idea what country you were in. But more often then not, we stayed at littler hotels and hostels that had a bit of character to them.

In South America we tended to stay in hostels – they were very clean, friendly, affordable, and often came with shared kitchens we could use. In Europe the hostels always seemed to be booked, so we opted for the cheaper hotels (and even then had to grimace at the price tag!). In Southeast Asia, having tired of the hostel scene, we also usually stayed in small hotels, many of which were brand spanking new. And keep in mind that a pretty nice hotel in Southeast Asia may only cost $5-$10 a night! (Although hostels would sometimes have been cheaper by a few dollars a night than hotels, many hostels in Southeast Asia were a bit too party-oriented for our tastes. But remember: we arrived in Southeast Asia after nearly 10 months of traveling. One can only party for so long before a good night's sleep takes precedence!)

What kind of medications did you take with you?

We had the usual traveler's fare for medications: Doxycycline or "Doxy" (for malaria protection), Ciprofloxacin or "Cipro" (a godsend to any traveler who knows what it's like to be attached to a toilet for 5 days straight), motion sickness tablets (for boat rides and some bus rides), aspirin (for headaches/body aches), Benedryl (for possible allergic reactions and to help Jessica sleep on planes sometimes), and Imodium (to stop the flow of the "traveler's woe").

For Jessica we also had her birth control pill (which we found is sold nowhere else in the world!), UTI medicine (which thankfully she never needed to take), and her EpiPen (which, again, thankfully she never needed) for her unfortunate allergies to crab and lobster. Tim had a few back-up pairs of contact lenses. Per our travel doctor's recommendation, we also had a few syringes on the off-chance we had something go horribly wrong in a place where clean syringes weren't available. (We – incredibly thankfully – didn't need those either, and donated them to a place that needed them more.)

What kind of vaccinations did you get?

Ah! The million dollar question! And perhaps one of the most debated items (other than maybe whether or not to where a money belt) in the world of backpackers.

Tim wrote up a complete list of the vaccinations we received prior to traveling, their cost, and the reason why we got the ones we did. He also wrote about a few of the ones we decided not to get. We highly recommend giving the article a read, keeping in mind that you may come to a totally different conclusion in consultation with your travel doctor. (Who, by the way, we highly recommend you find prior to any lengthy trips around the world.)

But for those who just want the quick and dirty, here's a list of vaccinations we opted for: Yellow Fever, Typhoid, Turbuclosis (TB), Influenza, Hepititis A, Hepititis B, Polio, Meningococcal Meningitis, Tetenaus, and Rabies.

The vaccination we opted against was Japanese Encyphilytis because we wouldn't be at risk for it. Also, neither of us needed MMR (Measles/Mumps/Rubella) because we had the shots as children. Likewise, neither of us needed Chicken Pox having explored its joy as children too.

In total (and including $65 each for an initial consultation), the cost came to $2,719 for our vaccinations. Of course, $1,104 of that was for Rabies.

Do you think the Rabies vaccination is really necessary?

In a word, yes. But as Tim stated in that article referenced above:

  • Fact #1: Rabies is the deadliest disease in the world. Deadlier than Ebola, deadlier than Lassa, deadlier than malaria and cholera and the bubonic plague combined.
  • Fact #2: While the vaccination won't prevent us from needing treatment if we get infected, it will buy us time (see fact #1).
  • Fact #3: If you haven't been vaccinated and you get infected, one of the first steps in treatment is an injection of human rabies immune globulin (HIRG), which may not be available in smaller, more rural hospitals abroad.

All of this got us to thinking. For one thing, we didn't want to have to be terrified of animals. If we're in rural Cambodia, and the owner of our guesthouse has a fairly mangy-looking cat, we didn't want to have to be afraid to pet it. But the thing that really changed our mind was this question: if the vaccine for Yellow Fever cost $1,100 or $550 each, would we choose not to get it? Of course not. We were balking here just because it was rabies, and rabies isn't such a big deal in the US. And with that realization, we knew we were getting the rabies shots.

Remember, though, Your Mileage May Vary.

What did you do about malaria?

We opted to take Doxycycline daily whenever in areas that were malarial (including, of course, the requiste 3 days prior and 1 month after). We did a lot of research on the possibilities (and plan to write an extensive article one day on our decision), but in short it came down to the amount of time we'd be in malarial areas (quite a bit), a cost factor (Doxy was very inexpensive for us), and the sometimes very nasty side effects of the other choices on the market. As for the Doxy itself, we never experienced any adverse side effects. Though toward the end of our trip, we did notice it'd make us a bit nauseous when taken in the morning on an empty stomach.

Did you ever get sick while traveling?

Yes, but thankfully never drastically so. Jessica was sick with a flu-stomach bug for a few days in Argentina, but it hit Tim much harder and he was out for nearly two weeks. In Peru (twice) and again in Ecuador, Jessica got hit for a week at a time with another tummy-bug. But then we didn't get sick again until Thailand, where Tim was laid up for one week and Jessica was affected for a few days due to more tummy-bugs. In general, though, we were very healthy considering the number of foods, water, and people we came into contact with over 18 months.

What kind of backpacks did you use?

Our goal for our round-the-world trip was to never have to check our backpacks on planes. To do so everywhere, that meant we'd have to go tiny.

Considering the length of our trip, we each had smallish backpacks: Tim had an Infinity GoLite pack (42 liters/2550 cu.in.), while Jessica opted for a Kelty Arrowhead 1800 pack (30 liters/1800 cu.in.). We figured we'd fill whatever pack we bought, so we deliberately chose smaller packs. While traveling, our packs usually weighed between 7-10 kilos each (or 15-22 pounds each) so they were light enough that we could walk with our packs on for miles without trouble.

Each of us also carried a small black "day" bag (2 liters/140 cu.in.) made by Eagle Creek. It's no longer in production, but is similar in size to this bag (or about the size of the Africa Lonely Planet book). We'd sling these over our shoulders on travel days and they carried items like passports, tickets, some snacks, and a guidebook.

Our bags never really left our room after we'd check in somewhere. Occasionally we'd bring one of the black bags out with us, but that was usually when we'd be going sightseeing for an entire day like in Angkor, for example.

We'll admit, we prided ourselves in having small bags. While we'd see other travelers bent over double, huffing and puffing while struggling to walk a foot with their 70 liter backpacks (not to mention their hefty day bags), we'd speed on by with our bags that were as light as feathers in comparison. Try it one day, you'll enjoy it too!

For the record, on our travels since our round-the-world trip, we've started packing even lighter. Now all we take is our small black day bags. Yup, that's it! Even on our three-week long honeymoon.

Were you ever scared while traveling?

There were a handful of times when we were maybe a little bit scared: a car accident in Cambodia, a charging Mama elephant in Thailand, some rather intimidating elephant smugglers on the border with Burma, a man with a concealed gun in Argentina, and some attempted pickpockets in Peru and Turkey. We won't even get into the bugs and tarantulas. But hey, after living in Philadelphia and Washington DC, those things aren't that bad! Not to mention if there's one thing we learned about the world it's that people are unquestionably kind, giving, and friendly everywhere.

Were you excited to come home again? What was it like?

Yes and no. We were excited to see our families and friends again, but we were sad to not be on our trip anymore. After spending 18 months together day and night – the vast majority of it just the two of us – it can take a bit of adjustment to seeing so many people all the time again, not to mention being apart from one another for work. It also took us a bit of time to not be overwhelmed by shopping malls, television commercials, and hearing English everywhere we turned.

But we also found a lot of humor in things we had never noticed before leaving on our trip – like the size of the bread aisles in American grocery stores. How many types of bread can there possibly be?! Not to mention, it took some time getting used to the idea of not needing to secure our belongings – things like hiding our money and our passports – whenever we'd leave our apartment to go on a walk!

A word of advice for anyone about to embark on a lengthy round-the-world trip: We both went through a bit of post-travel depression, just like all our more experienced traveler friends told us we would. But we both readjusted after a bit of time, just like all our more experienced traveler friends told us we would too.

What do you like best about being home again?

Cooking! And our cat China! And having our dog Belly home with us! And cooking with Belly and China in the kitchen with us!

We were often endlessly amused that before our trip, while being all cozy and coupley in our kitchen, that we daydreamed about different countries and the people we'd meet. But during our trip, while surrounded by ancient ruins in another country, we daydreamed about buying pots and pans when we'd get back to the States. The grass, it seems, is often greener no matter where you stand!

Do you miss traveling long-term?

For the first year we were home, we both missed it tremendously. Neither of us could really watch any travel shows or read other travel blogs without feeling a bit sad. But after a while, particularly after we moved to Cape Cod, we started finding our groove again. Life is really good at home. And right now we wouldn't trade our cottage by the sea – complete with super cute cat and awesomely cool dog – for anything.

That said, we still feed our travel bug numerous times each year with shorter trips!

Pigs, Dogs, and Elephants

So what's this about traveling with a giant pink toy pig?

Heh. Yes, we did indeed travel with a large stuffed toy pig. Now, given all our caveats about about the importance and joy of traveling light, you're probably more than a bit confused right now!

Prior to leaving on our trip, we knew Jessica would often get uncomfortable on the 8 hour car ride between Philadelphia and her parent's house in Ohio. We also knew that we'd be experiencing bus rides and plane trips that could easily be three times that length. So our solution was a travel pillow...which just happened to be bright pink (well, at least when we started)...and which just happened to be in the shape of a pig.

Packing light is important, but it's also important to know the one or two things that will really make a quality of life difference to you on a lengthy round-the-world trip. For us, that was Señor Pig. (Yes, we named him.) (Is this the part where we should admit we also traveled with two very small hedgehogs, a llama, a tiny white bear, and a duck?)

So Señor Pig was Jessica's pillow on bus rides, car rides, and plane rides around the world. He was also found blocking the sunlight from hitting Tim's face from time to time, and he even found his way on our friend's head one night. What can we say? He got around! He also helped lighten the mood at border crossings and while we looked for lodging – he rode happily on top of Tim's backpack all around the world. We were so used to him being there that there were a few times we wouldn't realize at first why people around us started laughing when looking at Tim's bag!

So the pink pig is really in retirement, eh?

Indeed he is. Señor Pig was a wonderful friend for our 18 months round-the-world, but travel can be tough on a toy pig. Not only was he decidedly not bright pink at the end of our trip, but he had shrunk as well! A few months after returning home, we realized he was losing his stuffing (small beans) whenever he was cuddled. So Señor Pig is in retirement, but remembers his traveling days quite fondly.

We did, for a trip to Peru after our round-the-world trip, bring a replacement travel pig (not that Señor Pig could ever really be replaced) – Señorita Pig was also bright pink and came complete with a tutu and tiara. Though she too was an excellent traveler, we realized we had already become too attached to her to continue bringing her on our shorter international trips.

Are you the people who adopted a dog from Elephant Nature Park?

That's us! And that's Belly too! He's our amazing little guy who used to live at Elephant Nature Park where they rescue not only elephants but dogs, cats, cows, and water buffalo too. Belly was one of about 35 dogs living at the Park when we first met him, and unfortunately Park life was pretty rough on him.

Pretty early on during our 2.5 months living at the Park, he "adopted" us and we fell in love with him. This was at the end of our round-the-world trip and we weren't in a position to bring him straight home with us. So after leaving the Park, we headed back to America, secured a pet-friendly apartment in Washington DC, and researched how to safely export/import a dog from Thailand to America. A few months later, in November 2006, we were bringing our little guy home. He is incredibly happy having a family all to his own now and we can't imagine living our life without him.

Many folks ask us what he thinks of snow after living in the jungle? He loves it! You would never know he lived in the jungle before. The very first time he saw snow he was pretty confused, but now he adores it. If it's snowing, he's outside playing in it. And he even enjoys playing in the ocean during winter too!

If you'd like to read a bit more about Belly, you might enjoy reading a few stories about him here and here. And Belly sends a few woofs to you too!

(Sadly our baby boy Belly passed away in our arms in May 2010. We feel incredibly lucky to have had him in our lives for as long as we did, and to know how much his adoption story has meant to so many people around the world. You can read our tribute stories to the silly little guy on our website and on the Elephant Nature Foundation website.)

Is that you at the bottom of the Elephant Nature Foundation website?

Yup, that "powered by hedgehogs" link is us! When we first visited the Park we knew Elephant Nature Foundation had a need for a website. We spoke with Lek, the founder of the Park, and volunteered to create a website for ENF from scratch. We spent the next few months at the Park creating the website, including all the writing, designing, coding, and photography. And we've been happily volunteering as the administrators of the Elephant Nature Foundation website since March 2006. Along with Lek's office staff, we reply to many of the emails from prospective volunteers and visitors, run their Foster An Elephant program, and help out with a few other projects as well. And we are incredibly happy to have the Park be a part of our lives back in America too.

Can you talk to me about visiting Elephant Nature Park?

Anyone who has spent time with us in person or read this website for some time, knows that we love nothing more than talking about the 2.5 months we lived at the Park. If you have any general questions, feel free to check out the Thailand section on the Places We've Been page for some elephant stories. If you have specific questions – like how to make a reservation, for example – make sure to send an email to info@elephantnaturefoundation.org and someone will be happy to help you out!

Et Cetera, Et Cetera, Et Cetera

Did you make this website? How did you do it?

We launched the second version of the website in March 2009 after hundreds of hours brainstorming, a bit of cursing, some sleepless nights, and a whole lot of thoroughly enjoyable hard work. (The first version of the website launched back in October 2004.)

Tim built the latest version of the website from scratch in Adobe Dreamweaver. Both of us designed the site. And, of course, both of us write for the site too. All photographs, unless otherwise noted, were taken by one of us during our travels, though we've since lost track who took which photo – that happens when you have over 40,000 photos!

Can I use one of your photos?

We're generally pretty shy about other folks using our photos, but if you email us (hedgehogs -at- hedgehogswithoutborders -dot- com) and let us know which photo and for what you'd like to use it, we can probably figure something out. Generally we'll ask that you credit the photo to Jessica McHugh and Tim McGregor of HedgehogsWithoutBorders.com.

Can you recommend a good hostel in _______? Do you have recommendations for sites to see in _______?

If we've been there, we probably have a few recommendations and we'd love to share them with you. Just let us know where you're going by emailing us (hedgehogs -at- hedgehogswithoutborders -dot- com), and we'll see if we can help! And don't forget to check our Places We've Been section too.

I have a few other travel questions, mind if I send them to you?

Sounds great! We love helping out fellow travelers whenever possible. Just shoot us an email (we're starting to sounds like a bit of a broken record here) (hedgehogs -at- hedgehogswithoutborders -dot- com) and we'll see what we can do to help.

I read your entire FAQ page while killing time at work, can I get a prize?

Awww, we wish there was something we could give you to show our appreciation. Ah-ha! What about a cute picture of two hedgehogs? Here you go!

'Our first Christmas ornament together

February 5, 2010 at 10:50am
I love it LOL!

I live in Thailand, I'm Thai.
I owned 4 hedgehogs lol!

Good to see that you have fun in Thailand!


February 8, 2010 at 4:34pm
Hi Kane! Thanks so much for commenting! We absolutely loved our time in Thailand. :)
March 1, 2012 at 2:47am
I love the answers
May 14, 2015 at 3:50pm
I love your site! I adore travelling, and while I'd love to do a long trip like your rtw 18 month one, it's not feasible for me. If I left, my job wouldn't be waiting for me and my mum would soon be homeless! So I have to do little trips, but you're making me soooo want to do a longer one! (P.s go to Kyoto if you ever get the chance!)

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