Amazing Nomads Podcast: Lia and Jeremy - The Honeymooners

Lia and Jeremy took a year-long honeymoon with the promise of adventure, instead it was troubled by disaster, including being rescued more than once.


Photo © Honeymooners Lia and Jeremy Garcia

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Amazing Nomads: Lia and Jeremy – The Honeymooners

Lia and Jeremy took a year-long honeymoon troubled by disaster after disaster, including being rescued more than once and crashing a BMW into a French medieval castle.

What’s in the Episode

00.08 Welcome

00:42 Introducing our guests

01:16 Why a 12-month long honeymoon?

02:35 The Appalachian Trail

04:30 Jeremy discovers his adventurous side

05:25 "You can hear me screaming over the waterfall."

07:45 The hike to Machu Picchu

10:00 World Nomads to the rescue!

11:06 The big hire car upgrade

12:19 The car and castle

14:10 Grandpa fakes his death

16:36 The ear infection

19:33 Feeling good about ourselves

21:34 Next week

Who is in the Episode

A disaster-prone couple recently returned to Oakland, California from a year-long honeymoon. However, for Lia and Jeremy Garcia the promise of adventure and Instagram worthy pics wasn’t their reality as they faced disaster after disaster.

You can read their embarrassing failure stories from their travel adventures in their blog, Practical Wanderlust.


Lia was rescued abseiling this waterfall, convinced she was going to die.

Resources & Links

Scholarships Newsletter: Sign up for scholarships news and see what opportunities are live here.

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Next Episode: France

About World Nomads & the Podcast

Explore your boundaries and discover your next adventure with The World Nomads Podcast. Hosted by Podcast Producer Kim Napier and World Nomads Phil Sylvester, each episode will take you around the world with insights into destinations from travelers and experts. They’ll share the latest in travel news, answer your travel questions and fill you in on what World Nomads is up to, including the latest scholarships and guides.

World Nomads is a fast-growing online travel company that provides inspiration, advice, safety tips and specialized travel insurance for independent, volunteer and student travelers traveling and studying most anywhere in the world. Our online global travel insurance covers travelers from more than 135 countries and allows you to buy and claim online, 24/7, even while already traveling.

The World Nomads Podcast is not your usual travel Podcast. It’s everything for the adventurous, independent traveler. Don’t miss out. Subscribe today.


Speaker 1: The WorldNomads podcast [inaudible 00:00:01] episode. Hear amazing nomads sharing their knowledge, stories, and experience of world travel.

Kim: Welcome to this episode featuring amazing nomads, or in this case, it's amazing these nomads are alive.

Phil: Look, your honeymoon is supposed to be a joyous time of a young couple's life together. You know, set things in stone for the way you're going to living on. But as our next guest revealed, their year-long honeymoon was traveled by disaster after disaster including being rescued more than once. Yes, they are WorldNomads Insurance customers, but we love them anyway. Welcome, Leah and Jeremy Garcia.

Leah Garcia: Hi.

Jeremy Garcia: Hi.

Leah Garcia: Thanks so much for having us.

Jeremy Garcia: Thanks for having us.

Phil: Thanks for fessing up to everything that happened to you, I think I've got to say first.

Kim: Well, wouldn't we know if they were claiming some of these disasters?

Leah Garcia: Yup. We've made a few claims. You guys took care of us, and we appreciate you allowing us to continue to purchase WorldNomads for our second disastrous trip.

Phil: I can recommend a couple of other companies for you if you really want.

Leah Garcia: No. Yeah.

Phil: Hey look, first of all, a year-long honeymoon. That's a pretty brave decision to go away for that long. What was behind that?

Leah Garcia: So we got married. We were like 25. I had known personally that I wanted to take a long trip. I wanted to spend some time traveling. I'd known that since I graduated college. So when I met Jeremy, I think I told him on our second date. I was like, "Hey, just so you know, in like a year I'm going to leave and go on this long trip." He was like, "Oh, cool." I was like, "Do you want to come?" And he was like, "Yeah."

So we kind of had this idea. At the time it seemed like I was just talking, but I was fully committed. Then about a year and a half later, after we got married, we were in our mid-20s and we thought this is the time. This is before we have kids. We don't have a house. We don't have a car. We're at a point in our careers we can take off and do it, and if we don't do it now, there's a chance we may never get the chance to do it.

Phil: So what was the plan? Where was on your list? Where were you trying to go?

Jeremy Garcia: So the plan was that we were going to do ... We were trying to decide between southeast Asia and South America. Eventually, we landed in South America. Then we had this really out there-

Leah Garcia: The worst idea.

Jeremy Garcia: The worst idea, where we thought, "You know what? After all of this, I'm sure that we're going to have the health and the physique to do the Appalachian Trail."

Leah Garcia: We literally thought that after four or five months backpacking in South America, we would be qualified to through hike the Appalachian Trail, which, if you've seen a picture of us you can just tell that's a terrible idea. That did not happen. But we did spend a wonderful four out of six months in South America. Then we spent some time in Europe, some time in Central America, and some time road tripping around the United States as well.

Jeremy Garcia: We saw the Appalachian Trail.

Leah Garcia: Yeah.

Phil: You flew over it.

Kim: That's great.

Phil: All right. So come on. You admit that you're both a little accident prone and as you've just told us, you're not the sort of the Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie types. Oh, come on. So what happened? So you had to be rescued. Kim's just like ...

Kim: I feel embarrassed.

Leah Garcia: [inaudible 00:03:17].

Kim: So you're accident prone and unfit.

Leah Garcia: We had this ... Yeah. We had this idea that going on this honeymoon, we would transform into those sort of people that you see on Instagram, like those travel couples that are just really blond and they have like 25 abs, and they're super fit, and they do yoga every morning. We just thought that's what it looks like when you travel for a long time.

We loved Columbia. We had an amazing time. But our very first activity, we were going to do a six-day long hike through the jungle. [foreign language 00:03:52] was just buried in the middle of the Columbian jungle. The minute we arrived in Columbia, we knew that that was not going to happen because it was like a thousand degrees and we were from northern California. We hiked. We hiked a lot. We had prepared a little bit for the trip. We had gone hiking every weekend, but it was in the Bay area where the weather is wonderful and it's not hot. We canceled that hike within the first two weeks of our trip.

After that, we really should've taken that as a warning sign. So three weeks later we are in [Santile 00:04:22], Columbia, which is an adventure town. Jeremy had discovered this adventurous side of himself. He wants to repel down this waterfall called [foreign language 00:04:31]. For no good reason, I thought "Okay, yeah. We're on an adventure. I'm an adventurous person now. I'll do it too." And it did not end well.

Jeremy Garcia: [inaudible 00:04:41].

Leah Garcia: Within 10 minutes I was crying and panicking and I had to be rescued. That was just the first of many disasters.

Phil: So how do you get rescued from the middle of a waterfall? What do they have to do? Somebody has to repel down and get you?

Leah Garcia: Yeah.

Jeremy Garcia: Yeah. He had to basically throw his own rope down.

Leah Garcia: Which I thought was my rope falling, and I was convinced I was going to plummet straight down.

Jeremy Garcia: She thought maybe her rope had snapped and like you know how a cartoon person stays in place when their rope falls?

Leah Garcia: I had literally made it five feet down before I froze in fear and had a panic attack and just started screaming. There's GoPro footage from my husband. You can hear me screaming over the waterfall that's how loud. But in actuality, I was safe the whole time. I was never in any danger. Somebody repelled down and pretty much took me in their lap, tied their harness to my harness, and repelled me down as I screamed in his ear the entire way.

There's this Columbian word that they use for everything, [foreign language 00:05:46]. So the whole time, the guy's like, "[foreign language 00:05:45]" Like, you're fine. We're not going to die. And I'm screaming, and I get to the bottom, and everybody's like, "[foreign language 00:05:51]. You're alive. You're good." Finally, after I stopped crying eventually and stopped shaking, I asked them, "How often does this happen? How many people have you had to rescue?" He just looked at me and he said, "You're the first one."

Kim: And what were you thinking, Jeremy, at the time this was happening? Were you worried about your new bride?

Jeremy Garcia: Yeah, absolutely. I was like wow, this is a really short-lived marriage. I mean, honestly, I stopped and I thought I can help her at all. It was really tough because she's right next to me.

Leah Garcia: Yeah, you can't repel up a waterfall. You can only go one way.

Jeremy Garcia: You can't go up. She's like right within reach, but even though I can reach her, I don't know how I'm supposed to help her. So I felt pretty powerless. So the only thing that I could do was basically repel as fast as I could down, and that's what I did.

Leah Garcia: So he had a terrible time. It was really not an enjoyable adventure for him.

Jeremy Garcia: You get down and this whole time you're freezing because the water's really cold and there was all this adrenaline. So I hit the rocks and they're slippery rocks. My legs forget how to walk, so I'm like newborn deer walking all the way back.

Leah Garcia: So cute.

Phil: So after this experience, you decided it would be a good idea to have a go at the Inca Trail to Manchu Picchu, right?

Leah Garcia: Oh yeah. That was actually our last adventure. We had a few in between that were also terrible. So the idea when I created our itinerary was that we would be doing these progressively more challenging hikes. We'd do a couple in Columbia, we'd do a couple in Ecuador, and by the time we get to Peru, we're going to be so good at hiking that the Inca Trail will just be no problem.

We made it a whole day through the four day Inca Trail. At the end of the terrible day, we'd basically been about two hours behind our group the entire time. So we finally arrive. It's after dark. Our guide pulled us aside and very nicely said, "Look. We've been tracking your time. It's not great. Here are your options. You can just swallow your pride, turn around, hike back. Take the train to Manchu Picchu and we'll meet you there. Or, you can start hiking at four in the morning and you'll arrive at about 8 PM." This is day two, so this is Dead Woman's Pass, 13,000 feet of elevation. You're just climbing stairs up all day.

We'd be hiking for like 16 hours. We just, at that point, this was five failed hikes in. We just looked at each other. I had told Jeremy we shouldn't be doing this. This is like a point of contention in our marriage at this point. He was convinced we could do it. I looked at him, and I was like, "You really want to hike at four in the morning to 8 PM?" We were just like, "No. Screw it."

Jeremy Garcia: In my defense-

Leah Garcia: [inaudible 00:08:41].

Jeremy Garcia: In my defense, the deposit was a lot of money.

Leah Garcia: Yeah, we lost a lot of money.

Kim: So what did you do? You said, "Screw it." Did you just hike back down?

Leah Garcia: Yeah, we turned around. They sent a guide with us.

Jeremy Garcia: Yeah, they sent a guide with us, and it was a little bit awkward because I think most people that do the Inca Trail, I think that's their destination, is just the Inca Trail and then-

Leah Garcia: And they're all really well prepared. I mean, we were the ... It was like we showed up to a CrossFit gym in stained sweatpants holding a doughnut and everybody else was like super, super fit.

Jeremy Garcia: So that we can get by. We speak enough Spanish. We've done it enough. They assumed that we needed a guide for the two days remaining, or three days before we would take the bus to Manchu Picchu. So they send us with a guide and we were basically hanging out with him for three days.

Leah Garcia: We had to put him up and we felt so bad because we're backpackers. We went to the cheapest, dingiest hostel that we could find. It was like five dollars a night for a room. Perfect. Our guide took one look at it and went to the luxury hotel down the street and was like, "I'll see you guys in the morning." He's like, "Here's the train station address. We'll meet there."

Kim: You're making me laugh seriously. That's so cool. But tell us about something you did where you needed the help of WorldNomads. There's nothing we can do to help with that, is there Phil?

Phil: No.

Kim: That's just like bad luck guys.

Leah Garcia: Yeah. So these are all processed, so please don't punish us. But I think one of our favorite ridiculous adventure horror stories was the BMW and the castle. After South America and after our Inca Trail failure, we literally went back home for a week and then we book a ticket the next day to Europe. We were like, "You know what? Backpacking didn't work out." But we're like, "It's going to be fine."

So we fly to Europe and it's December, and it's Christmas markets. Everything's so different. So we go to France. This is in January, we had an idea to do a road trip. They upgraded us to a BMW free of charge. We're so excited. We're like, "Oh my gosh." We've been backpacking for five months at this point. A BMW is so exciting. We neglected to think about the fact that a large car in France is actually really more of a hindrance than anything else.

We are trying to drive through Nice. We're trying to navigate through the parking lot. We're trying our hardest to make sure nothing happens to this car. Then we somehow, and I don't even know what happened, but we noticed the next day that the front light was kind of cracked. We have no idea how this happened. We don't know if it was us. We don't know if it was another car. We may have parked it like ... I have no idea. It's just this crack.

I'm like, "Oh god. This is expensive BMW." Luckily I had a different insurance as well, so I was like, "Okay. We're covered on two different insurance. We're okay." So I told Jeremy, I'm like, "Let's keep going. It's just a cracked headlight. It's not the end of the world. We can get this covered. Let's keep going on this road trip."

So the whole idea of the road trip is that we can do whatever we want. So we see this castle off in the distance off the highway. We are like, "Okay. This is an adventure. We're in a car. It's a castle. We're in France. Let's do this." So we start driving towards the castle. We put it in our GPS and we're just following. This British lady is telling us to keep driving. There's this creaky gate that we drive through. Because it's in French, it probably said Do Not Enter, but we have no idea what that looks like in French.

Then we keep driving, and suddenly we look around and we're like in this castle.

Jeremy Garcia: We're in the courtyard.

Leah Garcia: We're in the courtyard of this French medieval castle. We no idea. There's nobody around. There're no people. We have no idea how we got here.

Jeremy Garcia: But I see a no parking sign, and I think if there's a no parking sign, clearly there have been cars in this vicinity, so maybe if we just keep going. I look over, there's a little arc of a hill. I see the tops of little houses. So I think houses, of course, there's going to be a road, not realizing that in medieval towns they walked everywhere. So we go over the hill and through this tiny little archway to get to these houses. Then it's just a walking path. Now I'm just-

Leah Garcia: Because they didn't build medieval castles for cars.

Jeremy Garcia: Now I'm just stuck on the hill next to this fountain.

Leah Garcia: So my default is just to scream and cry. So I'm screaming and crying in the passenger seat. Jeremy's like, "We're going to do this. I'm going to do this." He starts backing up this gravel hill.

Jeremy Garcia: Pebble Hill.

Leah Garcia: Pebbles, gravel, it was terrible. It was like sand. We're sliding and he's backing up inch by inch. I'm like, "We're going to ruin this BMW." We made it out without a scratch. I have no idea how. The castle did nothing to that car. So we ended up filing for the mysterious taillight out of nowhere and getting that covered. Nothing happened with this castle that we definitely should have ... By all means, that should've killed us. So that was a weird one.

Phil: You think?

Leah Garcia: I don't really know what happened.

Kim: That sounds fantastic.

Leah Garcia: Then the other really big one that you guys helped us out with so much was actually a family issue. My grandfather, he's 93 years old, and he's generally been in very good health as long as I can remember. This was actually a couple weeks later while we were still in France. We get a call from my dad saying that my grandfather is in poor health. He's in a hospital. He's not doing well. And he's 93, so we're like, "This is it. We got to go." So we immediately book a flight back to California. We're going to go take care of my grandfather. We cancel everything. WorldNomads took care of the whole thing, helped us out with everything. It was so helpful.

We got there, and my grandfather is fine. He's screaming at nurses and orderlies at the top of his lungs. He's shrieking. He's literally, I think ... It turns out, what we realized a few weeks after taking care of him, is that he'd almost like exaggerated it for sympathy. It was like this whole two-month saga where we kept having to go and take care of him.

We'd leave and we'd be like, "Okay, Grandpa Bob. You're going to be fine." We'd leave. We'd fly back. Then two weeks later we'd get a call, "Grandpa Bob's dying for real this time. Come back." We'd fly back out. We put him on hospice because he was dying. He was 93. We put him on hospice. It was all exaggerated. He faked his own death essentially so that we could basically come and take care of him and he could be waited on hand and foot. We just saw him recently. He just celebrated his 95th birthday. I think he's aging backward.

Jeremy Garcia: I actually think he did it as an excuse because he was tired of eating healthy. Every time we'd see him, he's like, "Jeremy. You got to get me a cold beer. I need a cold beer. Give me Chips Ahoy and a Carl's Jr. Sandwich."

Leah Garcia: It's always the Chips Ahoy.

Jeremy Garcia: Yeah. I think he's living off of preservatives now because [inaudible 00:16:03].

Leah Garcia: So he's great.

Jeremy Garcia: He's doing well.

Kim: I love grandfather.

Phil: We love grandad. That's awesome.

Leah Garcia: Yeah, he's great.

Phil: So look-

Leah Garcia: We had one more claim that we filed with you guys. We were in Costa Rica. This is at the tail end of our disastrous road trip, or sorry, disastrous honeymoon. Jeremy had developed this ... Jeremy, it turned out, is much more adventurous than I am.

Jeremy Garcia: But I don't have the skill or the athleticism to back it up.

Leah Garcia: Yeah, he just likes it and I hate it, turns out. So Jeremy decides to go whitewater rafting. He set himself a goal to go whitewater rafting everywhere that we went in South and Central America. I went whitewater rafting once and I hated it, so I never went again. So it's like the last week of our honeymoon, and he's like, "Come on, babe. It's what, 2, 3, level rapids. It'll be fine."

Jeremy Garcia: Okay, yeah.

Leah Garcia: All right, it wasn't two. Probably like a five. So he's like, "This is going to be great." So I'm like, "Fine. This is the last time I'm going to do this. If I hate it, I'm never doing it again." So I sign up for it. We go whitewater rafting. I hate it so much. The entire time I'm having just a three-hour long panic attack. I swear I'm going to die. Sure enough, the next day I have an ear infection. My whole head feels like it's going to explode.

One time I try something adventurous, and I get this horrible infection. So I had to delay our trip home. Literally the last flight of our honeymoon, I had to delay it. I had to book another hotel in San Hose. I have to go to the hospital. They put a shot in my butt. It was awful. The last awful week this happens. That was the last nail in the coffin of our honeymoon.

Kim: That's so great. What a great story.

Phil: But look, it hasn't put you off traveling. You write a travel blog and you love it, right?

Leah Garcia: Yeah, turns out I really do love it. After we got back from our trip, I couldn't give it up. I tried to go back to work. I sat down at a desk for like five minutes, and I was like, "No. I can't do this. I just want to go travel." So Jeremy teaches full time, and I'm a full-time travel blogger. So I do, it turns out, still kind of have to put myself out there and do some adventures because our readers really love hearing about times that I have an awful time. They love our fails. They love it when things go really bad for us. So we can't avoid it anymore. We've crafted into our blog and now we're kind of stuck with it.

But we always book WorldNomads anytime we go anywhere so when the inevitable happens, and it always does, we're covered.

Jeremy Garcia: I wonder if we're so accident prone [inaudible 00:18:42] constant stream of content.

Leah Garcia: Oh yeah. Yeah.

Kim: Well that's the point of difference, there are so many travel bloggers, you've got to have a point of difference.

Phil: It's so honest about it as well because it's not always great, is it?

Kim: No. As you said at the start of the chat, Leah, you think it's all ... Instagram looks beautiful, but the reality is very, very different.

Leah Garcia: Exactly what we wanted to get across with our blog and with our Instagram. We don't want you to look at us and think, "Oh wow, they're living this perfect life." We want you to look at us and kind of be glad you're not living our lives a little bit, and maybe see yourself there a little bit. We're just the worst travelers and we have fun anyway. But nothing ever goes as planned.

Kim: Gold. Love that chat. We will have a link to the blog Practical Wanderlust where you can read all those stories which ultimately, Phil, make us feel good about ourselves. Plus I think this episode actually calls for a shameless plug for WorldNomads Insurance.

Phil: Yeah, indeed. Look, some people may be surprised to hear that with all the really good stuff that we do, all the things we publish, podcasts and videos and written content, we sell travel insurance. In fact, that's our sole means of conducting business. We don't book flights or sell hotel beds or anything like that, just travel insurance. You can come directly to our site at and follow the links. But if you go to Jeremy and Leah's site, Practical Wanderlust, they're affiliate partners of ours. So if you buy the insurance through them, they will get a little commission from us as well which is our way of saying thanks to people who love travel as much as we do.

Kim: If you like the idea of being an affiliate partner, why not get in touch at

Phil: Indeed. We'll send you the links to that too.

Kim: All right. We must not forget this.

Speaker 7: (singing).

Kim: Yo, yo, yo. Disclaimers have never been so entertaining. Next week what's happening?

Phil: We're going to go to France.

Kim: Now don't forget, you can get us by subscribing to us on iTunes, you can download the Google Play app, and you can also yell out to-

Phil: Alexa and Google Home, "Play the World Nomads podcast," and they will.

Kim: Codpast.

Phil: Codpast.

Kim: I wonder what that'd deliver up.

Phil: I don't know. It's either that or podcats.

Kim: Play the World Nomads podcast. Enjoy. See you next time.

Phil: Bye.

Speaker 1: Amazing nomads. Be inspired.

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