The best travel adventures are often the unexpected ones. Dan and Audrey are a 30-something couple who set off on their 12 month world tour back in 2006. 4 years later they are still on their world tour and show no signs of stopping! They’ve been to some amazing places, worked overseas and are currently living the location independent lifestyle we all aspire to.
We tracked them down for a chat about their travel experiences so far and advice they would give to those seeking a similar lifestyle on the road.
What moment in your life made you decide to travel so much?
I (Audrey) have been traveling since I was five weeks old since my parents were diplomats, so it’s always been a part of my life. For Dan, he didn’t leave North America until he was 26 year old. In our lives together, we’ve had a couple of turning points regarding travel and life decisions: 1) choosing to backpack around Europe for 5 months when we got married in 2000 led to the decision to live in Europe (we then lived in Prague for 5 years) and 2) a 3-week trip to Thailand at the end of 2004 peaked our interest in the rest of the world and made us realize that we could travel for long periods of time inexpensively (this planted the seed for our current trip).
What has been the most memorable moment on your journey so far?
Superlative questions like this are always difficult. A region that has stuck with us perhaps the most is the Caucasus and Central Asia, with countries like Georgia, Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan really standing out for hospitable people and natural beauty.
What made you pick some of the countries you’ve been to?
Usually, we pick a region and then sort out our itinerary on the ground through contacts, recommendations and projects. We’re able to keep this flexibility because of the long-term nature of our travels and that we usually travel overland (i.e., don’t have to worry about missing flights). Sometimes we’re intrigued by places that we know nothing about (e.g., Paraguay), other times we’re attracted by a personal connection (e.g., Caucasus and Central Asia – a region I worked with for 4.5 years) or perhaps we’re going for great food (e.g., Malaysia).
What work have you found along the way? Any interesting stories to tell?
We’ve done everything from freelance travel writing to selling stock travel photography to website design to consulting to customized photography projects with micro-finance organization. The last bit of work has been the most interesting as it takes us to areas well off the beaten path and we get a personal and inside look at socioeconomic issues. Here are a couple of examples: India & Guatemala
What advice would you give to people thinking of travelling for an extended period?
Don’t try to see it all. Choose fewer locations and spend more time in each place. You’ll get burned out moving around every couple of days. We’ve met many people who have bought rtw tickets that they have to use up within a year and they wish they could just spend more time in one region and give up the rest of the tickets.
What location in the world that you have been to would you recommend to everyone?
Southeast Asia – it’s safe, full of cultural diversity, endless options for activities, naturally stunning, friendly people, good tourism infrastructure and fantastic food.
How has travelling for 4 years changed your perception of the world and your lives?
Everyone speaks about the world getting smaller because of technology, but for us the world still feels big and diverse. There is always something to learn and explore. While it’s easy to look at differences between people, we tend to see more similarities between peoples these days.
As for how our lives have changed, we live with a lot less – everything we need to live and work is on our backs – and we’ve gotten used to living outside our comfort zones. Our curiosity is still the same as when we left almost four years ago. This piece – 7 Habits of Highly Effective Travelers – sums up well the skills one develops from traveling:
And lastly, can you describe how travelling makes each of you feel personally?
Travel is the thrill of experiencing something new, to challenge expectations, to speak in a different language, to make a personal connection with someone very different from you (e.g., a Peruvian woman in the hills with 9 children who makes ice cream), to get a small glimpse into how people live in different parts of the world. We still get excited going to the bus or train station – one never knows what’s going to happen on that trip. That’s a freeing feeling and opens one up to opportunities.
If you would like to be interviewed about your current travel adventures contact us