1. How did you get the wanderlust bug? What is your background?
My parents imparted a love of things international in me before I was even born. They lived in Germany, when I came into the world. Even after our move to the United States when I was a baby, we visited Europe a few times while I was growing up. Perhaps it was then that my love of writing was born. Since I’d be missing a few weeks of school while traipsing about Europe, my mom bought me cloth-covered diaries and coaxed me into recording my memories. Was I impressed by European architecture and history as a nine year-old? No way! Instead, it was snippets of Mozart’s hair and dollops of whip cream-adorned cakes that I appreciated the most during our first visit to Salzburg, Austria!
2. Traveling can be expensive. How do you afford it long-term?
I often receive inquiries asking how we’ve been able to afford long-term travel. The answer is that it can actually be quite affordable – markedly less expensive than what our costs would have been living in more developed countries.
We travel independently, preferring to stay in homestays, pensions, b&bs, and family-run guesthouses as opposed to big resorts and hotels. This suits our travel tastes and our wish to immerse ourselves with the locals. An added benefit is that the cost is more reasonable.
When I solo travelled in Europe prior to meeting my husband, I’d often take the most convenient mode of transport – a taxi over the local bus, for example. But when my husband and I travelled through southern India, we opted to take a local bus for just $3, as opposed to its $40 taxi counterpart. On the bus, we were serenaded with Bollywood tunes and mingled with friendly Indians of all ages. The other passengers were as curious about us as we were about them, making the long journey more fun. Granted, we felt a bit like sardines during much of the five-hour ride! We also prefer eating at local restaurants. In India, for example, we’d often dine for .70 – $1USD per meal. The food was typically healthier than that offered in establishments with Western food and it was delicious and fresh!
Of course, long-term travel does require planning and saving money. My husband and I decided early on in our relationship that we enjoy giving each other experiences over things, and our travel excursions align with that philosophy well.
3. Are these photos your own? What camera do you use?
Yes, unless otherwise noted, these are my pictures. I’m a novice shutterbug using a Nikon D5100 DSLR with an 18-200 mm Nikor lens.
4. What do you pack? How can you live out of a suitcase for months at a time?
We’ve found that it is liberating to travel simply! Prior to embarking on our Asian long-term travel, I was an enthusiast of packing numerous clothing options. My mother nicknamed me Zsa Zsa due to all the garments and shoes I’d pack. I also had a home overflowing with flea market finds, antiques and trinkets from around the world. I now realize how little of that ‘stuff’ I really need. Living more simply on the road has a way of doing that to you.
My biggest piece of packing advice is to set aside your gear, reevaluate what you have, and then pack even less! Heavy luggage is no fun to lug around, and it’s challenging cramming it into Thai tuktuks and tiny taxis in Mumbai.
While traveling through locales where our gear could be at risk for theft, there is great peace of mind in knowing our gear’s protected with our Pacsafe backpacks – a travel accessory that we dubbed our ‘James Bond backpacks.’ With their built-in metal cage design, they’re essentially portable safes that can be secured to a fixed piece of furniture.
On a similar vein, I cannot say enough positive things about my Pacsafe purse’s security features (locks to a chair leg while dining at an outdoor café) and my Sunsniper camera strap. The latter makes perpetual photo snapping comfortable with its padded strap. And because it’s slash-proof, I’m not so concerned a cyclist will slash and run with my trusty camera.
5. What are your favorite travel destinations?
Impossible to say! Each spot I’ve been to has special characteristics. It’s the favorite moments and special people that really stand out.
6. …So, what are your favorite travel moments?
-A grandmotherly opera starlet breaking into measures of Carmen at an Italian bakery my husband and I had stumbled into during our first visit to Paris. We were only seeking out nibbles for a picnic, but we were gifted with a serenade too.
-Being taken under the protective wing of a Tunisian family on the outskirts of Tunis while solo traveling. Then, being welcomed into their home for Ramadan celebrations and learning how to cook brik and other Tunisian goodies.
-Glimpsing Petra’s monastery for the first time, cast with the warm glow of luminaries. Exploring the red ruins by day with the so-called G-7 (my parents, me and a mélange of Romanian, Indian & Japanese globetrotters we’d met on the road).
-Sharing a bottle of 1982 Cabernet with a Frenchman, after being invited into his crumbling Burgundian home. My husband and I met him serendipitously as I was snapping his home’s quintessentially French exterior.
-Riding a 31 year-old elephant through the waters of an elephant refuge outside of Luang Prabang, Laos. The feeling of her big years tickling my shins, and my husband’s laughter when it was his turn to ride on her neck. The mahout indicated that the ear-flapping was a sign that she was happy. So were we!
-Savoring a freshly cooked fish dinner with a fishing family in Marsaxlokk, Malta, then exploring the waterways and ancient structures with them. And to think, we’d only just met in the harbor moments before!
-Teaching English to students with a hunger to learn in Cambodia, Indonesia and Laos.
7. This is my first time visiting your site – what’s it all about?
People. Places. Passion.
Here are several links to get you started. They are some of my favorites and are good examples of the content you’ll find here:
- An Afternoon with “Eat, Pray, Love’s” Ketut Liyer
- An Arabesque Evening Sledding on Vietnamese Dunes
- Bridging the Divide on the Backroads of Cambodia’s Takeo Province
- The Enduring Buddha at Laos’ War-Ravaged Wat Phia Wat
- Flowers to Wish You a Happy Day
- The Glorious Grand Canyon
- Memorial Day in Normandy
- Our Foray Into a Thai Kitchen
- Our Heart For You: A Beautiful Coincidence in Bali
- A Return to Angkor – Exploring Breathtaking Bayon Temple
- Vignettes From Phnom Penh’s Riverside