Looking back, it seems the universe had a plan for us. It’s crazy to think that something so small could make such an impact on two lives. But that’s exactly what happened. It just goes to show that everything happens for a reason, and when an opportunity is in front of you, don’t question it…seize it. Because it may lead you to exactly what you are looking for. The story of Peanuts or Pretzels started with a small cup of coffee on a Sunday afternoon, and led to a life of travel.

Exploring the Sydney Harbour and the famous Opera House during our 9 hour layover in Sydney

Exploring the Sydney Harbour and the famous Opera House during our 9 hour layover in Sydney

A Couple Clicks and a Small Cup of Coffee

Josh’s Version

At the time we met, we were twenty-somethings living and working in in Atlanta, Georgia. I (Josh) grew up in the area, and I’m probably one of the most curious people you will ever meet.  I always want to know more, always asking questions…and I have always loved to travel and explore.  Life was good in Atlanta, but it was just normal. We were both working the 9 to 5, with few thrills in between the long monotonous work weeks.

I guess it was that time in our lives when we were both looking for something more, someone to share our lives with.

After years of dead end relationships and not really wanting to go out to do the whole singles bar scene, I decided to turn to an unconventional source, the internet; hoping to find someone interesting to chat with and maybe hangout with. I didn’t put too much faith in online dating, but I figured since people do just about everything online nowadays, it couldn’t hurt to expand my options.

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Having a moment with my new puppet pal at FAO Schwarz Toy Store – Story of Peanuts or Pretzels

I was the first to reach out to Liz, who is originally from Idaho and only recently came to Atlanta for her job.  Her profile of travel and her passion for the same interests that I had made me want to jump through the screen and meet her right away.  Not to mention her blonde hair and gorgeous smile.  Luckily for me, my profile made her to want to reply.

Our first messages led to some great conversations…really lengthy conversations.  Before I knew it, I found myself waiting eagerly to read her responses.  You know feeling, the typical “getting to know each other” conversations that are hopeful, but make you nervous because you don’t want to say something stupid to make the other person run away.

With each message back and forth, the more and more I wanted to meet her.  My boring days at work were made more exciting with each reply back from Liz.  Yeah, I was checking all the time for a response back from her.  I became really eager to meet her in person, but she seemed to be a little hesitant.

Hippy Josh

This was taken years ago when I was one with nature and loved having long hair. – Story of Peanuts or Pretzels

Years later I would learn that Liz was putting off my eagerness to meet because she didn’t want to be disappointed.  She had met a couple of guys online who seemed great, then was left with disappointment the moment she met them in person.

Finally after chatting for several weeks, she agreed to meet for coffee on a Sunday afternoon. I thought a Sunday afternoon was a strange suggestion, so I figured that perhaps she wasn’t really into me and wanted to finally shut me up about meeting.

But I was going to take whatever I could get because I really wanted to meet her.

When I met her outside the coffee shop, I was extremely pleased with what she looked like in person. Everything was hitting all of my senses…except for her really white shoes (an on going joke). But I was willing to overlook this detail and continue with our coffee date.

When it was time to order, I was thinking that if she liked me she would order a big cup of coffee and want to chat longer.  To my disappointment, she ordered a small cup of coffee. I thought to myself, “this is not going to last long.”

 

Liz’s Version

For years I was known among all my friends as the happy bachelorette.  Sure I had boyfriends when I was younger, but in my college and post-college days…I couldn’t have cared less about relationships.  Being single for so long, my friends often came to me for advice, and for a blunt outsider’s perspective.  I loved my freedom and had zero desire for a relationship.

As for travel, well I’ve been obsessed with it all my life.  Luckily, the “travel bug” is rampant in my family.  And as a kid, I would always steal my moms travel magazines and books (the days before the internet).  Even as a single female, I traveled to Europe and Asia.  Nothing could stop me from exploring the world.

How I came to be in Atlanta from Idaho (via Orlando) is another story.  But the moral of that story is to trust where the Universe leads you in life.  Don’t say no to opportunities, because you never know where they may lead you.

The good thing about being in Atlanta was that I had an exciting marketing job with a great team, and I loved the city.  But the bad thing was that I had absolutely no network. No friends, no family…hell, I had never even been to Atlanta before I moved there. In Orlando, my former city, I had a super busy social life – full of friends and fun – there was rarely a dull moment.

And while I liked the peace and quiet in my new life at first, to be honest, I got lonely quickly. I liked Atlanta & it felt like home.  But I really missed having a social life.

I was doing everything I could to make friends; joining clubs, meeting up with groups at my apartment complex – anything to get a bigger social network. But through it all, I hadn’t made any real friendship connections.

Beyond that, I had this unshakable feeling that something (or someone) was missing from my life.
Liz in Vegas

Liz and her crew in Vegas…again!  This time, for her birthday party. – Story of Peanuts or Pretzels

Reluctantly, I turned to an unlikely method…the internet.  I really didn’t put much faith in finding friends (or dates) on the internet. I met a couple guys who I enjoyed talking to online, but meeting them for dinner was a total bust. Sometimes I had a hard time shaking them afterwards, which was really annoying because I hate to be rude. But I just wasn’t into them after meeting them in person.

This is why I was putting off meeting Josh. His messages made me smile so big, and the way he wrote his emails and jokes seemed to be the exact way I would write it!  It was strange, really. And I didn’t really believe it.

In fact, we joked around a LOT in our messages.  It was all so lighthearted and fun.  His messages perked up my day, which was why I didn’t want to ruin it by meeting in person.

The idea behind the coffee shop on a Sunday afternoon was simple. I figured we could have a casual drink. It’s easy to stay in the “friend’s zone” at a coffee shop in the middle of the day if there isn’t a romantic connection. And if it turns out to be a terrible mistake, then I could leave fairly easily. But if it goes well, we could continue to dinner. So I thought it was a very open plan.

Gardens & temples in the city center

Liz on her Solo Trip to Hong Kong just weeks before we first started talking to each other on the internet. – Story of Peanuts or Pretzels

Meeting Josh in person, he looked just like his picture. But his shoes were better (on-going joke – his shoes were NOT good in his profile pic). When he introduced himself, he gave me a big hug – which I thought was very telling about his personality. And while hugging him, something inside of me felt really relaxed & comfortable. Like I had known him my whole life. Honestly, it surprised me.

When it came to ordering the drink, I wanted to follow his lead and get whatever size he ordered. But he insisted that I order first (what a gentleman). I was always taught not to be greedy, especially if another person is paying (which by his demeanor, it seemed like he wanted to), so that is why I ordered the small coffee. Of course, I offered to pay as well (as anyone should). Oh dating etiquette!

 

Josh’s Story – Continued

At the coffee shop we sat down to chat, and ending up talking and talking! We were asking the normal dating questions, but she also asked other questions which made me think, “she gets me!”

For example, “If you were a Disney character, which character would you be?” It’s Goofy by the way. And years later she told me that was a winning answer.

We literally chatted for 3-4 hours. We were having so much fun that we didn’t want the date to end, but we were getting hungry. So we decided to go to dinner. We continued chatting constantly through dinner, and ended up closing the restaurant down.

First Picture together

Our first picture together as a “couple” at a New Years party at my friend’s house (The Friends Test).  Barely 1 week after we met at the coffee shop. – Story of Peanuts or Pretzels

That small cup of coffee lasted nearly 8 hours. After that, we have yet to be separated.

You could say that we started dating, but for us, it just seemed like continuing to have fun and enjoying each other’s company. It was easy, and didn’t really feel much like dating. Being together made us happy. It seemed like we had known each other our whole lives.

The great thing about two travelers coming together is that now we have an awesome travel partner!  In the first 6 months we made several trips to Disney World, and our first international trip together, to Ireland and Scotland. I think both of us knew that the overseas trip would be a true test of our relationship. If it was successful and we didn’t end up sick of each other after weeks on the road (including driving in foreign countries, reading maps, getting lost, lack of sleep…and sleeping in hostels), then we knew the relationship would last!

Josh & Liz stopping off for detour to Geocache Northern Scotland

From our first trip together in Ireland – Story of Peanuts or Pretzels

As it turned out, our journey around Ireland and Scotland was amazing. We had the best time together, and coming back home to Atlanta, our relationship was even stronger than before.

This is where our love of traveling together really got kicked up a notch.

For the next couple of years our lives were full of local trips while we got to know each other better. We had so much fun traveling together that our weekends were always filled with local road trip adventures all over our home state of Georgia and the southeast, such as Tennessee and the Jack Daniels Distillery.

Adding to the fun was our discovery of Geocaching, which helped us gain a tighter bond with fun filled adventures and working together as a team to solve puzzles and discover geocaches all over the state…eventually the world.

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Enjoying a day full of caching and scenery at FDR State Park in Georgia – Story of Peanuts or Pretzels

Let’s Make This a Lifetime

Finally, we decided to make it official, and it only seemed fitting to do it at Disney World.  So I set out to create a master plan, which included an adventure-filled 4 Disney theme parks in one day and 18 straight hours of riding rides.  Then I proposed to Liz just after midnight, in front of Cinderella’s Castle – exactly 2 years to the date of our that first small cup of coffee.

A Destination Wedding in Key West, Florida

After a blowout multi-day destination wedding with close friends and family in Key West, FL, we both looked at each other and asked the question, “What’s next?” Leading up to our wedding, we were both working 50 hours a week and Liz was getting her masters degree, yet we still found the time to travel and plan our kick-ass wedding.

KW Wedding

Some of the crew from the wedding Getting Down! – Story of Peanuts or Pretzels

Even after the wedding, we traveled quite a lot – including a cruise to the Caribbean, a trip to New York for Christmas, 12 days in Southeast Asia, Niagara Falls and Toronto, a week in Mexico, and countless other long-weekend road trips all around the Southeast.

Through it all, we never lived beyond our means and still worked a lot…so how did we do it? Our friends and family would think that we had secretly hit the lottery, but we explained to them how we were able to crack several travel secrets.

They told us that we were quickly turning into “Travel Pros!”

The Story of Peanuts or Pretzels

“How are you able to get so much time off from work?” “How did you save so much money?” These are the questions we were always asked by friends and family.  They also asked us to help them with planning their trips.

Everyone wanted to know how, and they sought out our advice and tips.

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Chichen Itza all to ourselves!  Yep had the entire place to ourselves for several hours. – Story of Peanuts or Pretzels

After a while, it seemed like we were answering the same questions over and over. At some point, Liz began to recall her solo travel days (traveling to Europe and Asia – all by herself), and how so many of her co-workers, friends and family suggested that she start a blog. She had considered it many times, but never made it happen. Now that there are two of us in the same situation, we were able to push each other beyond words…and hold ourselves accountable to actually make it happen.

This led us to launch our travel website, Peanuts or Pretzels.

We soon found out how much we enjoyed writing about travel and helping others plan their travels…much more so than our typical (and quite boring) 9-5 jobs.

Josh in Arches National Park

Doing a little bit of hiking in Arches National Park – Utah (on FREE National Park Day) – Story of Peanuts or Pretzels

So even though we were still working 50 hours a week at our day jobs, we found a new passion…sharing our experiences with people all over the world. To be honest, we did feel a bit selfish to keep all of these great travel tips to ourselves, so we really loved being able to share our experiences on Peanuts or Pretzels for the masses.

Also, during this time Liz fulfilled another one of her passions, becoming a certified travel agent. We figured that if people already wanted us to help plan their trips, that we should get connected with a network of suppliers so that we could get our friends, family, and readers the best deals possible.

Liz at counter in Hong Kong

Liz was able to use some of our own tips to score a great Hotel in the heart of Hong Kong…for CHEAP! – Story of Peanuts or Pretzels

After launching Peanuts or Pretzels, the feedback from our readers has made all the hard work worth it. We love hearing back from from readers who have used our advice to help enhance their adventures with their families. For us, you can not put a dollar value on that feeling.

Deciding to Sell It All and Follow our Passion

Liz and I have always been on the same wavelength; it is almost a little scary sometimes.  I think it was after our 12 day whirlwind trip around Southeast Asia that it started to hit us and we both came back hungry for more.  There was just so much left that we wanted to see, but we didn’t have time because we had to get back to those pesky jobs.  This meant we would have to go back, more than once, to see it all.

That would cost us a lot more money in the end, and it would take a lifetime to actually see and do what we want to.
Joey and moving out

We were more than happy to get rid of our “Stuff”! – Story of Peanuts or Pretzels

I’m not even sure how the conversation got started, but one night I think we were both reminiscing about our trips and talking about places we wanted to go. Then we both just looked at each other and smiled. “You want to just live out of a backpack for a little while?” I asked. So we started to do a bit of research.

Moving out of Atlanta

Last meal in our house in Atlanta. Yep we brought the bed into the living room & drank a special bottle of wine that Liz brought back from a trip to Italy years ago. – Story of Peanuts or Pretzels

We soon learned that we weren’t the only ones with this idea. And I was happy to discover that I could realize my childhood dream of being a teacher, while also traveling and exploring the world. We could go teach in another country, and work on the website so that we could continue to make a business out of doing what we love — traveling, sharing what we’ve learned, and helping others plan their travels.

Leaving ATL

We will always cherish our time in our 1st townhouse together. The story of Peanuts or Pretzels started here.

So in less than two of years of being married, Liz and I sold everything. We held an estate sale and literally sold the curtains off the wall. We went from a 3 story townhouse and comfortable living to 2 Tupperware containers and 2 backpacks; and an eagerness to explore the world and bring our readers the best travel advice, tips, planning tools, and travel planning service possible.

Josh riding on the back of the motorbike in Chiang Mai, Thailand

Josh riding on the back of the motorbike in Chiang Mai, Thailand – Story of Peanuts or Pretzels

So Why Did We Do This?!?!

Our thinking was that we wanted to see and do all of these amazing things before we are too old to enjoy them, like going to Everest base camp, trekking through Patagonia, cruise down the Amazon, go on an African Safari, and many other great adventures. Who knows if we would be able to do this when we are 60 – 70 years old! We just don’t know for sure…but we can do it now and there is no better time than now!

So we decided to not make waiting a habit.  We took a risk to live our lives NOW!!!

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Josh literally flipping with happiness in New Zealand – his favorite place! (Story of Peanuts or Pretzels)

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How a small Cup of Coffee with a Stranger lead to a Life of Travel with my Best Friend

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