Long-term travel has been a dream of mine. Whenever I come back from a short trip, it leaves much to be desired, but I don’t want to sell everything and just leave either. I was fortunate to find Brigid and Adam on Instagram @lovelovetravelblog who have figured out a way to travel longer without having to sell everything to go. Please join me in this enlightening discussion.
Up Up and a Bear: Tell us a little bit about yourself: where you’re from, your passions and whatever else you’d like to share.
Brigid and Adam: We are Brigid and Adam, recently engaged 30 somethings from Cape Town, South Africa. We are currently about 7 weeks into a 7 months trip through South East Asia (and loving it). Adam is a professional photographer selling fine art limited edition prints in galleries and exhibitions. I studied accounting, then worked for two startups before deciding to give full-time travel/ blogging a go. We love traveling like locals (think Airbnb and street food), treading lightly (don’t get me started) and lingering longer (to really soak up the authentic side of places we visit).
Up Up and a Bear: Brigid, how did you go from accounting to being a tech nerd?
Brigid and Adam: Perhaps it is stating the obvious, but accounting was not the most thrilling job. After finishing my articles at KPMG I knew I would look for something a bit different. I was approached by a new tech startup in fashion retail in South Africa (Zando) and jumped at the opportunity. From there I joined another startup and really fell in love with digital marketing and web design. I have definitely spent my 10,000 hours figuring out WordPress and have started learning Ruby on Rails now – so watch this space.
Up Up and a Bear: I’ve heard so much about Ruby on Rails – perhaps I should look into it as well. Tell me about your current BIG trip – how did you go from having 20 vacation days to 7 months off? I’m sure a lot of people went, “OMG that’s awesome!” while others went, “OMG what are you thinking?”
Brigid and Adam: The BIG trip is something we have been dreaming about since our very first trip together (three weeks in Southern Thailand in December 2010). But it was definitely not something we thought would ever happen. A few things helped us make the decision to take the leap:
- Two other couples we knew quit their jobs and sold everything to do similar long trips at the end of 2013 – their photos just added to the wanderlust and made us want to travel even more
- We bought an apartment at the end of 2014 and started renting it out on Airbnb. Pretty soon it was making very good money and we realized that we could make enough to travel on.
- one of our Airbnb guests, Sabrina (from justonewayticket.com) stayed with us for 3 weeks and really convinced us that there is never a good or a bad time to quit your job and go – that the time is now.
Most of our friends and family were on the “OMG that’s awesome side” but I am sure there are quite a few that thought we were crazy. I guess we should be growing up and settling down at 30. But we don’t see the point in waiting until we are retired to live our dream lives.
Up Up and a Bear: I’d imagine just dropping everything to go on a 7 months voyage would be oh-so-frightening. What advice can you offer people struggling to make that decision themselves?
Brigid and Adam: Just go. Decide you are going to make it happen and just do it. There is never a perfect time. But in the end your job will (most likely) still be there. Or you will discover new passions and pursue new ventures when you get back. It takes a bit of planning so give yourself 3 to 6 months to plan everything out. And the best advice I heard recently: “Pack half as much stuff and take twice as much cash.”
Up Up and a Bear: What’s your financial strategy for making this trip possible?
Brigid and Adam: We never liked the idea of selling everything to fund a trip like this. We realize some people don’t have a choice. But we did not want the stress of a finite amount of money to travel with and the looming threat of the return flight – wondering how we would survive when we got back. So our approach was always to try our best to design lifestyles that allow for remote working and to come up with ideas to generate cash while we were traveling.
Cape Town property prices are a bit crazy so instead of trying to buy an apartment to live in (like all our friends), we bought a slightly smaller apartment in a great tourist location in the city centre. We spent quite a bit of money decorating it to reflect our style and love for travel and listed it on Airbnb in October 2014. By the end of February 2015 the apartment had made enough to pay back the deposit we put down as well as all the setup costs. So from then onwards it has been profitable. During peak season in Cape Town (November to April) the apartment makes enough profit after costs to cover our travel and to save for the low season. (Here is a link to the apartment if you ever go to Cape Town https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/4115393).
Up Up and a Bear: That’s an awesome strategy and I’m glad it’s working out for you. You’ve inspired me to look into doing something similar. Let’s talk about your trip itinerary in more details. I see you’re planning on visiting Hoi An in Vietnam for Tet – that’ll be amazing! How did decide on Hoi An and are there any other places in Vietnam on your list?
Brigid and Adam: We started off in Chiang Mai in Thailand – with the aim to relax a bit and just get the travel blog set up. Things were so crazy before we left (you never realize how much stuff you have until you have to move out of a flat with nowhere to go).
From Thailand we came to Myanmar (we are currently here in Mandalay). Then onwards to Vietnam, Philippines and Indonesia.
We decided we wanted to be in a smaller town for Tet and our friends spent Tet in Hoi An two years ago and loved it. Before we get there we will spend two weeks in Ho Chi Minh. After Hoi An we plan to see Hue, Hanoi, Halong Bay and Sapa. And then we are not sure – TBC.
We have not planned anything in detail and rather take things as they come. The benefit of traveling long-term and taking it easy is that you get to be quite flexible with your travel arrangements.
Up Up and a Bear: I’m actually born and raised in Vietnam until I was 11; but you’d have traveled and seen more of it than me after your trip. Tears… What’s the best way for me and other interested folks to keep in contact with you?
Brigid and Adam: If people want to get in touch with us the best is probably email (email@example.com). But we are also very active on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/lovelovetravel/) or on Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/lovelovetravelblog/)
Up Up and a Bear: How was Christmas in Myanmar? What are you going to do for New Years celebration there?
Brigid and Adam: Christmas in Myanmar (like most of our holidays abroad) was not very traditional but we tried our best to find a few things that reminded us of home in the tiny town of Nuang Shwe (Inle Lake) including some chocolate mousse and a glass of red wine, a massage and pizza to finish it off.
We will be in Mandalay for NYE and will probably just grab some Myanmar Beers and head to the rooftop to see in the New Year. We are 30 now – so our days of partying till dawn are definitely behind us 🙂
Up Up and a Bear: You never know – I know people in their 50’s still partying it up like it’s 1999. It’s still early in your journey and I’m sure you’ll have so many stories to tell after your trip, but what’s one memorable lesson you’ve learned so far.
Brigid and Adam: Travel slowly/ linger longer: Whenever we have a few days of crazy traveling, with long bus trips and waiting in stations, we start feeling a bit irritable. We have met a few people doing RTW trips with 2 or 3 nights in each place and could not imagine anything worse. Traveling slowly is just the best. It is such a treat to be chilled out about getting to places, to spend hours at one sight or even just to sleep in when you feel like it. Quality over quantity – always.
Up Up and a Bear: Love it! I think we’re on the same page there. I love sitting at coffee shops, watching people go about their daily lives to really soak it all in. I’ve been traveling with my fiancé for years now and that’s how we normally travel. It helps that I’m basically the travel boss who makes all the travel decisions. She doesn’t have admin access to my blog so I can say whatever I want. Hah! I digress… how do you decide what to go see, do, eat? To put it bluntly, who wears the pants in this epic journey?
Brigid and Adam: I think we have a nice balance. Because Adam is the photographer, he spends a lot of time on Pinterest finding cool places and then reading up about them. I am definitely the admin boss – I book the flights, accommodation and transport. And I am in charge of the navigation when we get there. But Adam definitely is the one that decides where we go.
Up Up and a Bear: Thank you so much for taking the time to tell your story and experience, especially the incredibly useful tips for traveling the world without selling all your belongings. I’ve never been keen with leaving everything behind to pursue my travel passion, but this is a different approach that might just work!
For more great tips and accounts of Brigid and Adam’s incredible journey, visit their site at http://lovelovetravel.com. Follow them on Instagram for awesome pictures (Adam is a professional photographer so you know the pictures will be amazing!) @lovelovetravelblog (https://www.instagram.com/lovelovetravelblog/) or jump on their Facebook page at (https://www.facebook.com/lovelovetravel/). Love Love Travel is also hosting a contest! Grand prize winner gets an astounding picture from Adam’s beautiful Nambia collection (http://lovelovetravel.com/giveaway-fine-art-prints-201512/).