How We Met & Why We Became A Nomadic Couple
We met at the University of Calgary where we were both studying business. After we graduated from university, we decided to take a 6-month backpacking trip together where we went to Europe, SE Asia, Australia, and New Zealand. We both had an interest in travel prior to this trip, but traveling for a longer period of time really opened us up to all that the world has to offer and we were completely hooked!
In 2014, we quit our jobs, sold our stuff, and headed to South America for another backpacking adventure. At the end of that trip, we decided we needed to make travel a more sustainable lifestyle and began looking into ways that we could travel on a more permanent basis. In 2016, we headed to Asia for our first digital nomad adventure and haven’t looked back since!
We love getting to travel to and live in other countries, learn new languages, try new foods, and meet new people. Plus getting to miss out on Canadian winter is pretty awesome!
How Frequently We Travel
Over the last few years, we have slowed down our travels quite a bit. We really love to base ourselves in a city or a country for 1-3 months and get to know that place on a deeper level. During that time we will explore on the weekends when we’re not working and perhaps take a longer trip (1-2 weeks) in between our 1-3 months stays in a place. We try to plan a couple of weeks each year where we can travel without having to worry about Wi-Fi and work!
How We Pick Our Next Travel Destination
We have a long list of places we want to visit so we are never short on ideas of places to go to! We generally take into consideration the climate of a place in terms of deciding when we will go and then we will look at time zones and access to good internet to see how feasible it is for us to work in that place. This will determine when we go and how long we go!
Since we have a lot of flexibility with our travels, we will also look at flight and accommodation costs and try to minimize costs as much as possible. This sometimes means we add on other destinations to our trip or travel to places when the weather is good, but it’s not high season.
Once we’ve decided on a location and done the research into flights and accommodation, we will reach out to friends for recommendations on what we should do, see, eat, etc. We also turn to blogs and Facebook groups to get first-hand recommendations for the places that we are going to.
How We Prepare For Our Trips
We each travel with one checked bag and one carry-on bag. Our carry-on bags contain most of our work and podcast gear so everything we need for a trip has to fit in a checked suitcase. Usually, we are packing for 6+ months at a time so we try to have a variety of clothes based on the climate(s) that we’ll be in.
We’ve always found that if we end up needing something unexpected, like a different pair of shoes or a jacket, we can buy that wherever we are so we don’t stress too much when it comes to packing. We pack the things we know we’ll need and enjoy wearing and then purchase anything else we need along the way.
● Sleep mask
● Good pair of headphones
● A good, comfy pair of shoes!
Countries We've Traveled To So Far
We’ve traveled to over 65 countries together!
Some of our most remarkable adventures have been bungee jumping and skydiving in New Zealand, scuba diving in the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, zipping around Japan on the bullet trains, living in Chiang Mai as digital nomads, getting caught in the pandemic in Panama, and setting up a more permanent live abroad in Mexico.
We have so many adventures that we’d love to take that are on our bucket list! We’d love to climb Mount Kilimanjaro, take an African safari, and hang out in the Maldives and Bora Bora, just to name a few.
Reasons For Starting Our Podcast
We were finishing up a backpacking trip in South America in 2014 and we were not feeling inspired to return to Canada and get full-time jobs. Ryan had the idea that we should start a podcast on travel as a way to keep the travel memories alive and to share our travels with others!
When we got back to Canada, we bought microphones and a domain and started both a podcast and a website. Our website is mostly focused on our podcast and over the years, it has evolved with us. These days we are excited and passionate about helping people take the leap into working and traveling, and our mission is to help people understand that travel doesn’t have to be expensive and that it is possible to live your dreams through travel if you want!
A Special Memory That We Cherish
We have met hundreds of people through our travels! Some have been fleeting friendships and others have turned into lifelong friends that we still keep in touch with. One fun story was when we were traveling in South America, we met a guy at our very first hostel in Bogota. We had a couple of fun nights out and then went our separate ways.
Well over a month later, we ran into the same guy at a hostel in Ecuador! He just happened to be staying in the same dorm room as us. Again, we hung out a bit and then went our separate ways.
Nearly 3 months later, we ran into the same guy in northern Argentina while staying at the same place! It was such a crazy coincidence and it was really fun to catch up with him and see what he’d been up to during the months since we’d seen him in Ecuador.
Ironically, we never exchanged contact information and we have no idea what he’s been up to since, but we hope he’s doing well!
One Of Our Most Memorable Experiences Abroad
How do you choose just one? One experience that was really fun and totally out of our comfort zones was in the fall of 2017 when we decided to move to Mexico City for 6 months. We had never been before and had no idea what to expect! Up until this point, we had either been backpacking where we’d spend 3-4 nights in a place, vacationing for 1-2 weeks in a place, or working and traveling and doing 1 month stays in a place. So, 6 months in one place was a big step for us, especially when it’s one of the biggest cities in the world.
We arrived and immediately fell in love with the city! We ended up staying in Mexico City for nearly a year and since then we’ve lived all over Mexico and the country has really become our home away from home.
Making Full-Time Backpacking A Reality: The Struggles & Sacrifices We Overcame
Life is a series of choices and choosing to live a life as nomads have meant that we’ve given up on other opportunities that we would have had if we had chosen a different way of life. We gave up a regular friend group in Canada and have missed countless birthdays, get-togethers, weddings, etc. for friends and family back home.
We also had to go through a period of time when we didn’t have a lot of other digital nomad friends and our friends and family back home didn’t really understand what we were doing or why. Going through this was challenging and isolating, but now that we have a really good community of nomad friends, it’s a lot easier and more fun!
Starting anything new comes with challenges and surrounding yourself with the right people is key! For us, it was also very important to trust our intuition and know that we were making the right decision for us.
Challenges That We Face
Currently, our major challenges are just navigating the world with the pandemic and ongoing changes and restrictions. Because of that we’ve been spending most of our time in Mexico and traveling domestically here.
At this point, we don’t have a ton of travel plans over the next few years! We are expecting our first baby this year and are excited to start taking her on our adventures with us.
Why We Think GAFFL Is Beneficial To Travelers
One of the things that hold people back is that they don’t have a partner or a best friend to travel with and they feel scared and uncertain to travel alone, especially long-term. GAFFL helps with that!
Another thing that holds people back is the perceived cost of travel. While travel doesn’t have to be expensive, it’s always more affordable when you can share the cost of accommodation and groceries with someone else. Again, GAFFL provides a solution for that!
The other travel apps and websites we use on our trips are:
● Skyscanner for flight research
● Airbnb for accommodation
● TripIt for keeping all of our trips organized
● Google Translate for when we're going to places we don’t speak the language
● Uber for rideshare
● XE for currency conversion and exchange rates
Our Advice To Travelers Considering A Nomadic Lifestyle
We always do research on a destination before there to understand what the perceived risks might be and how safe it is. In general, we try to travel to places that are safe so that we don’t have to stress too much!
Some General Safety Tips
● Keep your passport stored safely in your accommodation.
● Be aware of your bag at all times!
● Don’t have too much cash on you at any one time.
● Separate your debit and credit cards so that if something gets stolen, you still have options.
● Don’t walk alone in the dark or late at night.
● Always let someone know where you are in case something happens.
● If you are somewhere that is known to be more dangerous, leave the house with only what you need and keep your valuables in your accommodation.
● Don’t flaunt your expensive electronics, like cameras, new iPhones, fancy watches, etc. This draws unnecessary attention to you.
● Trust your instinct! It’s always on point.
Things We Wish We Knew Before Beginning Our Journey
We have learned so much through our travels! Here are some of the top lessons:
● Traveling solo is a very empowering and enriching experience that will push you out of your comfort zone in a big way! Everyone should do it at least once!
● Most people are good and trustworthy. Just because you look different or speak differently from someone doesn’t mean that they are a bad person that wants to hurt you.
● The world is beautiful, not scary!
● Learning another language is fun.
● Travel doesn’t have to be expensive.
● Vacationing is not the same as backpacking and backpacking is not the same as living abroad. Each provides its own unique travel and learning experience.
● Living somewhere will allow you to get to know a place on a much deeper level that is more enriching than just spending 3-5 days in a place.
● If you aren’t happy with your current life, what you’re doing and where you’re living, take a trip!
Other uplifting stories worth checking out!