Around the World in 80 Selfies

Full time travellers & best friends, Adrienne and Andrew McDermott talk Instagram, beards and the (slightly) terrifying prospect of settling down

Adrienne and Andrew McDermott are obsessed with each other. When they’re not glued together at the hip, they’re probably texting and making plans to get together again ASAP. After meeting at a San Francisco restaurant, the couple “called dibs” on each other for life and got married soon after.

Two peas in the proverbial pod, Andrew, born in upstate New York and raised partly in Jamaica, likens himself to Will Smith from the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. Of the two, he’s the self-confessed “total nerd” with a penchant for advertising technology. Adrienne, on the other hand, born and raised in Michigan, is a jack of all trades, bringing a gregarious and fun-loving zest for life to everything she does.

What the pair lack in hobbies, they more than make up for in extreme wanderlusting and an unwavering desire to experience everything that life has to offer. Throwing caution to the wind, in 2014 they abandoned their lives in NYC and set off for a year spent travelling around the world. As the saying goes, time flies when you’re having rum – or is it fun? – and a year abroad wasn’t nearly long enough for all the experiences they wanted to pack into their around the world adventure. And so one year became two, and guess what, they’re still on the road.

Around the World in 80 Selfies
Adrienne & Andrew in the Zagora Desert, Morocco with a camera-shy camel

Avid travel bloggers and Instagrammers, the pair post in ‘his’ and ‘hers’ voices that, although separate, are even better when experienced in tandem. Taking a breather from life on the road – this time in Morocco – the couple sat down to chat with Culture Stories, not even batting an eyelid at our nosiest of questions. What’s it like to travel around the world with your best friend and lifelong partner in crime? Come find out!

Around the World with Adrienne & Andrew
Culture Stories: Why did you decide to pack up and travel around the world together?

Adrienne: Well, it’s easiest to explain this if you understand why we make most decisions in life, not just this one, to travel full-time. We generally decide on something we want and then instead of pondering it for days/weeks/months/years, we start taking the appropriate steps to make it happen ASAP. We decided to leave NYC one night after Andrew had a tough day at work and I had a tough day of job hunting. The following day Andrew was making calls to set up his own company and I was researching moving companies. We just sort of decided on a whim and didn’t look back.

Andrew: The not probable “007” life that I aspired to was always the only regret that I know I’d carry to the grave if unrealized. Eventually the stars aligned; and we were coming to the end of a 6-month transition commitment. With 3-6 months of searching for what we each wanted to make as our next step professionally ending up at naught, we decided, in about 10 minutes, that since neither of us had any commitments keeping us physically in NYC that this could possibly be our now or never moment. We chose now.

Around the World in 80 Selfies
Andrew, Adrienne and some sumptuous robes at the Sarihan Cave Hotel in Göreme, Turkey
CS: What are the most annoying / amazing travel habits of the other person?

Adrienne: Andrew get’s pretty worked up if I’m (or anyone is) not fast enough going through airport security. It’s actually hilarious. Also, he always insists we eat McDonalds at all airports. He’s super organized and has the most insane memory, so he can memorize a map of a city in a few minutes which means we never get lost or turned around. Ever.

Andrew: Adrienne is the one that gets us to get out and see the world, and experience everything. She has this never-ending drive to live life to the fullest, and when Andrew wants to mail-in a day watching all of the Sacha Baron Cohen films on repeat without leaving bed, Adrienne finds out some crazy untrodden path to take us on, which always ends up being amazing. That said, she couldn’t poop outside of our “home” for a long time, which would be totally fine except for that every time she has to poop it’s like this completely unexpected emergency deuce at random times throughout the day. So we always had to pack up shop and venture home cutting some experiences short, but now she’s a total public john ninja-dumper.

CS: What’s something you’ve learned about each other while traveling?

Adrienne: Andrew? Who’s that? I’ve been focused on learning about myself! Really, though. Life can be tremendously confusing when you’re constantly put in scenarios far out of your norm. It can be a battle and it can be really rewarding, two experiences that mold the easily moldable people we are. But, as a whole, I’m certain we’re changing together, which is pretty spectacular to see and feel.

Andrew: I think this is moreso a collective truth that I’ve learned as a result of seeing it in both of us; I’ve just learned how much of what people can think is so, isn’t really after all. I’ve been able to witness changes in both of our personalities that have come as a result of the challenges and experiences that we’ve put ourselves through, and ultimately I’ve learned that we (and I assume everyone else) can always change to be how we want. Nothing is stagnant, in fact our concept of who we are, the “I” that we feel is tangible and fixed is really just a constantly changing illusion of our own minds.

Around the World in 80 Selfies
Andrew & Adrienne giving some good side-profile with the Great Sphinx of Giza, Egypt
CS: What are the perks and perils of travelling around the world with a beard?

Andrew: Perk: Everyone’s moderately afraid of you, which is an interesting change since I’ve never been a physically intimidating person. After they look for a few seconds, my kind eyes peer through and everyone realizes I’m a tender soul. Peril: I get stared at constantly and whispered about by all walks of life. It’s really annoying, because people are so terrible about being discreet, but that just comes with the territory of looking like a caricature of a modern religious extremist, I suppose.

Adrienne: Andrew’s beard has made us many, many, many friends in Egypt, Morocco, Turkey, and India. Everyone else is afraid of him.

Monkey Forest, Ubud, Bali – I love me some monkeys. Dirty, filthy, handsy monkeys. In unrelated news, we have booked a flight out of Bali on Jan 23rd to SAN FRANCISCO! The scene of the crime, where @travelingbetches and I spent our first 3 years together. Not sure how long we will stay for; 2-3 weeks maybe? Who wants us to sleep on their kitchen floor?? Also, welcoming offers for free office space during the weeks, must accept barefeet, have internet, drinkable tap water, a desk or a chair or a floor, and no cockroaches. Looking for a change from my usual road office. Giordano Bros, Nicks Crispy, Marina Subs, Yuzu, HRD, Darwin Cafe, Northstar, Bobos, RN74, Globe, LiPo, Blur, Viva Goa, Bourbon Steak, Golden Boy, you all better still exist!!! #AandATakeTheWorld #monkeyforest #ubud #bali #indonesia

A photo posted by Andrew McDermott (@heyheyandrew) on

CS: Andrew, you posed in a picture with Adrienne peeing in the background. How did that go down? Is anything off-limits?

Adrienne: Nothing’s off-limits with us. We’re a pair of crude, carefree, open books. Well, sometimes I try to downplay my Instagram posts, but only because I get a lot of people who like to call me out for not always being politically correct. And I don’t like to completely embarrass my Mom.

Andrew: I have dozens of pictures of her peeing haha. No great story behind that one, just a standard day, she puts her mark everywhere.

Took the cable car from the city and through Jurassic Park today (saw lots of thesaurus’ @champagnenatalie @leahsura). I had to wee, so of course my d-bag roomie took the opportunity to sneakily set up the self-timer on the camera while I was on the lookout for fellow dinosaur peepers. Turns out, I’m kind of in love with this photo and my asshole husbands stupid face. #paybackisabitch #youbettersleepwithoneeyeopen #medellín #colombia #AandATakeTheWorld

A photo posted by Adrienne McDermott (@travelingbetches) on

CS: What’s it like traveling around the world with your partner & best friend?

Adrienne: In short? It’s incredible. We’ve had a great rhythm of coexisting since the very beginning, but on the road, when we have nobody to answer to but ourselves, we thrive. Thankfully we’re pretty obsessed with each other and neither of us really crave alone time, so we rarely butt-heads and when we do, we usually behave like jerks for 5 minutes and then kiss and make-up. It’s pretty damn seamless.

Andrew: The best. Part of the reason we chose to marry 5 years ago was because we believe that shared experiences are “worth more” than solitary experiences. And at the grandest level, a shared life, must be the richest. Think about it this way; if you go sky diving by yourself, it’s amazing in the moment and the feeling will stick with you forever, but most of the happiness of the activity is experienced in the moment.  

This was taken 20 minutes after I jumped and 30 seconds after @andrewrmcdermott and my face is still ghostly white. #didimentionitsthehighest? #youshouldhaveheardmyscream #mythroathurts #idiedalittle #bungeejump #southafrica #tia

A photo posted by Adrienne McDermott (@travelingbetches) on

When you go skydiving with a person who will be in your life for the long-haul, it’s amazing in the moment, just like when you’re alone, but then the next day you’ll talk to them about it and belly laugh – “remember how silly it was to see your instructor freaking out when your beard was flapping up in his face” – and then a month later you’ll reflect back on how scary it was on the way up, but once you jumped out all there was is bliss, and then 5 years later you’ll hear them tell the story about how good of a friend you are because of how well you comforted them when they were having a panic attack just before boarding the tiny little plane. That one day, just 30 minutes of an experience can end up being worth hours and hours of fun, excitement and happiness down the road when you share it with someone you love. That’s our life.

CS: Do you see yourselves settling down at some point? If so, what are you looking forward to/feeling nervous about?

Adrienne: We’ve sort of been planning on settling in Cape Town, South Africa. We really enjoyed the city and all of the people we met there. That said, the closer we get to that date (roughly 8 months from now) the more we’re thinking we won’t be ready to settle. Who knows though? We don’t talk about it much as of late, we’re focusing on living in the moment. Ask us again in 8 months. Haha.

Andrew: We don’t speak of such things. But, roughly anywhere in Africa and nowhere in USA.

“Walking with Giraffes”…more accurately, “Walking NEAR Giraffes”. As I gingerly lumbered up to them, homeslice on the right gave me the Giraffe body language for “You can’t sit with us.” That was my first Lindsay Lohan moment with the mean girls. Maybe they just hated my stupid outfit. I hate it too, it’s not my fault that I can’t afford to wear head to toe Giraffe print. I mean I would definitely wear you as a suit. (Note to self: buy giraffe print Morphsuit for next Safari). At least I don’t look like a total doofus when I run (google it, it’s my favorite). #AandATakeTheWorld #Inverdoorn #capetown #southafrica

A photo posted by Andrew McDermott (@heyheyandrew) on

Fast Facts with Adrienne & Andrew
  • Who’s the most likely to get stopped at airport security? Duh, Andrew. Have you seen that sketchy beard?
  • Who’s better at staying cool under pressure? It depends on the type of pressure. If we’re being profiled or annoyed or scammed, Andrew is better at staying calm and cool. If we’re in a scary or unsafe situation, Adrienne is better.
  • Who’s the first one to get ‘Hangry’? If he doesn’t have a full belly, Andrew will break everything.
  • Who’s the better packer? We’re both damn good packers. We’re super fast and organized, but Adrienne wins this one. She keeps buying more and more and more rubbish, and somehow she manages to stuff all of the clowns back in the car.
  • Describe Rio in 3 sounds: How do you say “go away” in Portuguese? We heard that a lot. Drum lines ripping hard. A burning gas flame (the water heater) next to your head in the shower.
  • Describe Marrakech in 3 smells: Car exhaust, mint tea, cat pee
  • Describe Bangkok in 3 tastes: Fried insects, booze, hookers (Adrienne: “hahaha, can I say that? It’s super fitting”)
  • What’s your best / worst street food experience? ALL of the street food in all of India is the absolute best tasting. The worst is what all of the street food in all of India does to your butt.
  • Home is where the [fill in the blank]: bottle of whiskey or private toilet is.
  • If you had to live in one of the cities you’ve visited, where would it be and why? Cape Town – excellent food diversity, extremely beautiful landscape in every direction for hours and hours, great weather, very warm, creative and driven people, and everyone’s always up for a good time.
  • What’s your perfect travel playlist for an around the world adventure? Ohh, this is embarrassing. We have a messed up hodgepodge of taste from Classic (only classic) Disney Tunes, Gangster Rap, Radiohead, T-Swift (even though we can’t stand her), Ikaros Chanting, Classic Rock, 90’s Pop (yup), Classical Strings, Jungle, Adele, Portishead, Coldplay, Flume, Alt-J, all of Beyonce & Jay Z, N*SYNC, Yelle, and wee bit of old Country sprinkled on top. Like I said, it’s a hodgepodge and it’s embarrassing, but we have some seriously epic karaoke sessions and dance offs.

Listen along to A&A’s Around the World playlist below & follow their global adventure on their website.