MARGATE – There are still many exotic places to visit on their bucket list, but after seeing the New Seven Wonders of the World, the last remaining Ancient Wonder of the World and a few places in between, a Margate couple is starting to think about their end game.
World travelers Josh Cutler and his wife, Marna Shimony Cutler, both 43, are now working to complete visits to all of the Disney theme parks in the world before retiring, at least part of the year, in Thailand.
In addition to visiting the Pyramids of Giza in Egypt, the statue of Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janero, the Colosseum in Rome, Taj Mahal in India, Ancient City of Petra in Jordan, Inca Ruins of Machu Picchu in Peru, Mayan City of Chichen Itza in Mexico and the Great Wall of China, the couple and their two children have visited Cambodia, Israel, Galapagos, Cuba and other countries.
And they’ve already purchased their Lonely Planet guidebooks for a spring break trip to Bangkok, Tokyo and Shanghai.
“We have a passion for travel, and the seven wonders was our ultimate checklist. With the world as crazy as it is, we wanted to do it while we are still young and healthy,” Josh Cutler said. “We already had two down – Machu Picchu and the Colosseum – so we decided to see them all.”
Josh Cuter works for the Milton and Betty Katz Jewish Community Center, where is the program and camp director, and his wife is a physician.
They visited the wonders from 2004 to 2016, when they checked off Christ the Redeemer during the Rio Olympics and Paralympics.
“Our blowout finale was the closing ceremony of the Olympics,” he said.
Traveling during cultural celebrations is a priority when they are planning their trips, and all of their arrangements, although loosely planned, are made online.
“We make all our arrangements ourselves by doing research on the internet and using guidebooks geared toward the independent traveler. We like to be impulsive and go where we want when we travel," Cutler said.
"Most places have three or four things to see each day, but we don’t plan down to as close as where we are going to have lunch. Sometimes we just hit the ground running, and go, go, go.”
They like to walk – as much as 10 miles a day – and take public transportation or taxis, hire drivers for the day, and use AirBnB for lodging.
“We’ve only been on a tour once, and even then we broke away on our own,” he said.
They take two big trips a year and a few for business. where he coordinates trips abroad for the membership. Most recently, he went to Israel where he added on a three-day layover to see the Pyramids of Giza. This year’s trip abroad will be to Eastern Europe.
“I get to travel on those as well,” he said.
Sometimes they plan three or four years ahead and try to time their visits to coincide with big holidays or cultural festivals. For instance, they will go to Tokyo in 2020 for the Olympics and Paralympics, and in 2019 they will travel to Israel for their son’s bar mitzvah.
“We want to instill a love and passion for travel in our children. Of course, our whole family is invited to come to the bar mitzvah to join us as we visit the holy sites,” he said.
While in foreign lands, they often look for the most unusual things to do. Their children, Noah and A.J., once adopted an elephant for the day and got to bathe it, feed it and paint it. On a People to People trip three years ago, Marna delivered medication to Cuba.
Cutler said his top five trips were to India, Thailand, Israel, Egypt and Galapagos. He often gives talks about his travels at the JCC, Hadassah and a men’s group at the Ventnor library.
He said the catalyst for travel did not come from his parents, who also live in Margate.
“They never left the country,” he said. “It just happened in my early 20s. I studied biology and museum management and have always been fascinated by culture.”
While he has many great stories to tell about his trips, Cutler said he has never experienced any noticeable negative feelings being an American traveling abroad.
In Peru, he opened a car door into oncoming traffic and had to pay his driver $75 to get it fixed. They were staying at the Days Inn in Jordan the day it was bombed by Al Qaeda, he said, and when they returned from Egypt just after President Donald J. Trump ordered a travel ban, there were seven refugees on their plane.
“We get lost often, but that’s how you discover really fabulous things. In Israel we just wandered around. I like to always head west; that’s my direction.”
Cutler said the family can afford trips abroad because they live frugally and do not spend more than $60 to $100 a night for accommodations.
“Physical things are not that important to me; I’d rather have things that are experiential,” he said. “My wife knows not to get me anything that casts a shadow. She knows I prefer concert or plane tickets.”
He knew Marna was “the one” on their first trip together, and said he lives by the motto “Happy wife, happy life” and plans their trips accordingly.
“If she could put up with me for three weeks in Thailand and Cambodia, I knew she would be the one for me,” he said. “We can be as happy at the Ritz Carlton as we can renting a condo, so we have more experiences. As long as she’s happy, I’m happy,” Cutler said.
His wife is as adventurous as he is, if not more so, he said.
“She’s eaten mystery meat in Cambodia and guinea pig in Peru. She’s eaten bamboo worms, too. If she eats it, I have to as well, or I will hear about it forever,” he said.
In keeping with his shadow philosophy, Cutler collects older maps that are relatively inexpensive and can be framed and mounted on a wall.
“They cast no shadows,” he said.
He likes the idea that the borders on maps are “fluid” and ever-changing.
“That serves as inspiration to me that nothing is permanent. The only thing constant is change,” he said.
Their end-game goal is to retire in Thailand, the Land of Smiles, and keep a home base in Margate.
“We would like to live there six or seven months a year. Besides the culture and the people and the temples, I love the Buddhist philosophy and the abundant nature. Imagine getting on a plane with $1,000 and landing in Thailand, where it’s worth $8,000.”