Tell us a little about the two of you. How did you meet? What do you do for a living? Tell us the story of how and why you decided to quit your jobs and travel the world.
David: I’m from London and Katherine had been living in the capital since finishing the university. There’s actually a funny story behind how we met… We met online but it wasn’t quite that simple. Katherine ‘catfished’ me! But she came clean within a couple of days so I agreed to a date and the rest is history.
I had been working in IT and Katherine in PR for nearly 10 years and we’ve always wanted to take a long career break to travel. We both recently hit our 30’s so decided if we wanted to do it, it was now or never, before life really gets in the way.
How did you prepare for a life of travel and adventure? How long did it take, did you save, how did you select your first location, etc.
Katherine: There was over six months of planning, and saving, that went into the trip. David is really well traveled and I’m not, so he really helped me prepare by offering me tips he has picked up on previous trips.
Luckily we are both very organized people. We had to-do lists that we shared with each other on Evernote, to ensure we got everything done, bought everything we needed and had all the essentials like our travel jabs and insurance sorted before we left.
One of the hardest things for me was keeping it a secret from work colleagues while we were planning everything. When you’re really excited about what’s in store, it’s so hard to keep things quiet.
India worked as a first stop because of the route we decided we wanted to take and the places we wanted to travel to. But everyone told us it would be an extremely tough place to start, so we did a ton of research and it’s really not been as bad as we expected.
How did your family feel about the decision to quit your jobs to travels?
David: I know my Mum kind of expected it, her only concern is that we’ll get married while we’re away and she’ll miss her only son’s big day. When I told her we were going traveling her actual words were: “You’re going away to get married?” I had to reassure her saying; “no mum, we are just going traveling!”
Katherine: My family has been cool about it too, but my Mum’s a worrier and has probably had a few sleepless nights thinking about what we’re up to. I make sure she gets regular WhatsApps just so she knows we’re safe and well. But despite her worries, deep down she’s very envious of the trip so hopefully she’ll get to join us very soon.
What are some of the hurdles that you have come across on this journey?
Katherine: For me there’s been a massive culture shock and I’ve found learning to live without the things you take for granted back at home most difficult. Forget having a seat to yourself on a bus, we’ve been squished next to three other people on a row for two. And forget life’s little luxuries, I’ve worn mascara and perfume about twice since we arrived in India. But I’ve come to realize that none of this stuff is really that important anymore.
I wouldn’t say it’s a hurdle but another thing we’ve had to get used to is spending 24/7 together with very little privacy. We lived together for two years in London, but working in different parts of the city and having separate social lives meant that sometimes we’d go for days without seeing each other, but now that we’re traveling together, we spend no time apart at all.
David: Back at home I would go to the gym twice a week, religiously, and we’d also eat healthy the majority of the time. But since we’ve been traveling it’s been really hard to do either of those things. We have resistance bands that we try and use, and find local gyms, but the healthy eating has proved most challenging, the Indian diet is very carb heavy with not enough protein thrown in.
Another thing I really miss is my sneaker collection; I have over 100 pairs stored safely in my sisters cellar! It’s depressing having to wear the same one pair over and over.
How do you stay within budget?
Katherine: We’re lucky, India is such a cheap place to travel, and so we’ve not had to worry about spending too much. But we’ll be traveling for a long time so we do keep a spreadsheet of all our costs just to make sure we stay on track.
Accommodation is our biggest expense and is one thing we try to keep to a minimum. We’re stayed in some pretty grim places but we never spend much time in our rooms anyway because there’s so much to get out and about to see.
What are some of the best places you have traveled and why?
David: One of my first traveling experiences was taking the Tran Siberian train from Moscow to Beijing with a tour group. Reaching the Chinese capital hours before the opening ceremony of the 2008 Olympic Games. It was an incredible journey and that trip really started my thirst for travel.
Also, I spent a month in Jamaica with my Dad in 2010. Both my parents were born in Jamaica, so it was fascinating to see where they were born, the houses they grew up in and to see family I had never met before. I left that trip feeling very privileged to have the opportunities I’ve had, like traveling freely and experiencing diverse cultures.
Katherine: It’s quite close to home for us but you can’t beat Greece as a top holiday destination. I’ve visited many of the Islands and we spent some time hopping around the Cyclades a few years ago, it just has everything. Amazing food, incredible people, stunning beaches, beautiful scenery, we love everything about the place.
What are some of the best parts about traveling the world together?
David: It has to be that we’ve escaped the mundane 9-5 and are now getting to share all these rich and unique experiences together.
I’ve traveled on my own a lot so it’s also nice that we have each other for support and someone to talk to. But it does make us a bit lazy sometimes as when you’re traveling on your own you have to get out and speak to people.
How has traveling helped you (mentally, physically, financially, etc.)?
Katherine: You learn so much from other cultures, India’s culture has already taught us to be less British and be more direct if you want something. I think this in turn will help me become more confident as a person.
I think I’m definitely becoming more positive and open minded too, worrying less if things go wrong. The other day our train got cancelled so we had to stay an extra night somewhere and completely rearrange our plans. However, by the end of the day it really didn’t matter much and the extra day we had in that town turned out to be one of our best days so far in India.
David: Traveling has meant that I’ve become a lot more confident in talking with strangers. You find that once you’ve visited so many countries, you just have so many conversation starters. Also I worry far less about what people think of me. We are all on our own path, you’ve just got to have the conviction to keep walking it.
Any crazy stories that happened during your travels that you would like to share?
When we were in Greece a couple of years ago we hired a Jeep to tour around one of the Islands, Naxos. It was a great way to explore but we got lost trying to find a secluded beach. After a few wrong turns we got the Jeep stuck in a sand dune, the wheels were just spinning and spinning and we weren’t moving anywhere. We were both in a bit of a panic as it felt like we were in the middle of no where, after walking for what seemed like forever we reached a hotel. Without speaking any Greek we managed to explain what had happened and the receptionist called a local farmer to tow us out with his tractor.
We’ve had a few testing times in India so far where we’ve had to snatch phones out of peoples hand for trying to take a ridiculous amount of photos of us on the down low. But we’ve also had some amazing times like when we met some wedding photographers and they got us all dressed up in turbans for an impromptu photo-shoot at the Golden Temple in Amritsar.
David: When I was in Beijing, I convinced a group of French ladies, at a club, that I was part of the U.K. 100 meters relay team and I had snuck out the Olympic Village to party!
Back in 2009 I was traveling solo in Scandinavia. While there I met a Finnish girl in a nightclub. The next morning I woke up and she was in my hostel bed. Neither of us remembered each other’s name but she remembered that I’d agreed to travel back to her parents’ house in western Finland that day to celebrate mid-summers. I remember being in the car with her and her two friends thinking “these girls are driving me to the middle of nowhere to rob me!” But I had an awesome time at her parents house, even though I was a complete stranger and they spoke only a few words of English.
How do you choose the next location? How much time and research is put into choosing the next place to go? How do you divide responsibility?
David: We’ll be heading East from India and the grand plan is to be in Rio for the 2016 Olympics. I was at the Beijing Olympics and obviously we were in London for the 2012 games, so it’s a tradition for now.
We probably rely on Lonely Planet a little too much but the books are bibles for traveler. We already have the South East Asia one in our bag so that should keep us going for a little while. We love to read other blogs too and have met loads of other travelers via social media both of which are a great way to get advice and recommendations on places to visit, hotels, restaurants and bars.
Where do you see yourself in the next two years?
Who knows? We hardly know what we’ll be doing next week! Perhaps we’ll still be on the road traveling or by then we would have found a nice sandy beach to open a bar serving Rum n Ting.
What advice would you give to anyone who is looking to travel the world with his or her mate and leave their jobs behind?
Don’t be put off by other people’s negativity and failed dreams. We had plenty of people ask us how we were going to afford it and that we should be spending our money on other things.
Don’t hesitate! It will never be a better time. Money will probably be most people’s worry but like we said before, in places like India and South East Asia your money can go a really long way. We spent 6 months saving really hard before we left and know we are in a good place when it comes to our finances.
We know that saving money is often an issue for people to. Things like cooking at home more, going out less and selling unwanted stuff is a good way to make money. David made £1500 on eBay selling sneakers, old clothes and even old mobile phones.
Another thing I think people might worry about is getting a job when they return from their travels. But many companies now offer career breaks and sabbaticals now so don’t be afraid to ask what options are available to you. David and I are lucky that we have pretty solid careers behind us, but we believe travel will enrich your life more than any job so taking the time to travel might be the best career move you ever make.
Thanks to Katherine and David from Travel in the Mix for sharing their story. For more on these two visit their blog, Travel In the Mix.