This Couple Reflects On Some Of Their Most Memorable Encounters From Over 16 Years On The Road
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3rd Feb | 6 min read

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    At GAFFL, we love to publish inspiring travel stories from adventurers around the world. You can connect with adventurers from 170+ countries on GAFFL, meet up, and explore destinations together. In this post, we are featuring Margherita and Nick, creators of the nature and adventure travel blog The Crowded Planet.

    Meet Margherita and Nick, an Italian-Australian couple and the founders of The Crowded Planet, a wildlife and adventure travel blog. They've been traveling around the world for many years, but they've been living in Milan, Italy since the outbreak began. You can also keep up with them on Instagram.

    Besides traveling, they are also passionate about hiking, triathlon and they love spending time with their cat Tappo!

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    How We Met And What Inspired Us To Travel

    We met in London in 2004, at work. We were both meant to be in the UK for just a short while, to work in between travels (Nick) and to learn English (Margherita). We ended up living in the city for 5 years. Our mutual passion for travel is what brought us together – and there are so many places we want to visit, I guess we’ll never stop!

    Our Travel Frequency And What Activities We Enjoy

    Before the pandemic, we used to travel pretty much full-time, alternating personal journeys to work trips, housesits or long stays in various places. In 2020 and 2021 we’ve taken shorter trips – about 1 or 2 weeks – every month or so. We are planning to resume ‘longer’ journeys in winter 2022!

    In terms of activities, we both really love hiking so we try to do that whenever we can! Other activities we really enjoy are diving, paddle boarding and cycling.

    We are not into super crazy stuff – I tried bungee jumping once and enjoyed it, but I was so nervous about it I don’t think I’ll do it again!

    How We Choose Travel Destinations And Prepare For It

    Normally our decision on where to go depends on practical reasons such as cheap flights, good weather that time of year, or work trips we can extend. We also have some ‘dream destinations’, some of which we’ve already visited, like Japan or South Africa, and others we haven’t been to yet.

    Now, ease of travel will also be part of our decision-making process – we won’t travel to places requiring a costly quarantine.

    After deciding on a location, we start researching things to see and do and start building a rough plan. We usually book only the first week or so, and then plan as we go!

    Packing For Trips And The Must-Haves We Carry

    We pack fairly light, mostly because we don’t like carrying heavy luggage! A must for us is running shoes as we both like running and we try to do that whenever we travel. It’s a good way to get acquainted with a place and start your day with an energy boost. Our favorite place to run is Venice Beach, just magical!

    Favorite Memories Of Meeting New People

    Oh, so many! We backpacked across the Balkans, Turkey, and Georgia in 2011, couchsurfing the whole way. We met a cool couple in Belgrade we’re still in touch with!

    In Romania, we got invited by our hosts to spend a day in the countryside with them, a really amazing experience.

    More recently, we met another cool couple in LA – Daniel and Shasta. We had the best time with them, they took us all over the city and we got to try some really excellent Mexican food with them. We are waiting for them to come to visit us in Italy once traveling becomes easier!

    Our Backpacking World Trip During 2009-10

    We both wanted to travel for an extended, open-ended period of time, so we left with no return date in mind. It was really a trip on a shoestring, and pretty much we finished the trip when we were out of money! We started in South America, where we spent 6 months, then we had a month in Australia to visit Nick’s family, and a further 9 months were spent between South East Asia and India.

    Two favorite experiences (both mountain-related!) were visiting Ladakh in India and hiking the Inca Trail in Peru. After this journey, we both decided we wanted travel to be part of our life!

    The Apps And Website We Use While On The Go 

    We use Airbnb and for accommodation, and GetYourGuide to book tours. We also like Komoot to plan bike trips and Viewranger for hikes.

    The Reason Why We Started Travel Blog

    We started The Crowded Planet during our round-the-world trip to share stories from the road. We’ve never been big social media personalities, so nowadays we share practical articles helping readers do specific things, like finding out what to see, how to book tickets, itineraries, how to get from A to B, and so on.

    We also want to promote traveling sustainably and closer to nature – something we tried to do from the start of our traveling experience.

    Managing Costs During Travel

    As we get older, our budget is not as tight as it used to be! We try to spend a least a week in each place we visit, to save on accommodation. We also check if sights and attractions have free or discounted access on specific days of the week and plan accordingly.

    We also monitor error fare sites to get cheap flights – we managed to fly to Mexico and back for only €180!

    Number Of Countries Visited And Some Memorable Travel Experiences

    About 80 countries. We are not country-counters so I cannot give you an exact amount! I can tell you that one of our favorite trips was to Japan, we spent one entire month and it rained every day, but it was still amazing as it was one of our travel dreams. We loved taking an izakaya tour with a Tokyo local and spending a night in a minshuku, a traditional Japanese inn!

    Biggest Challenges To Traveling

    Now, the main challenge is COVID and related travel restrictions. We are both fully vaccinated and warmly recommend other travelers to do the same, but it will be a while before traveling becomes easy again.

    Meanwhile, we are exploring places closer to home, in Italy and Europe for now, and we prioritize traveling off-season. Seeing Venice with no tourists in October 2020 was really special!

    Advice To The Readers

    Be flexible. Many unexpected things may occur, especially in these uncertain times!

    Lessons Learned Through Traveling

    When we started traveling, we thought being a budget backpacker was the best way to travel responsibly. After all, we were traveling slowly and staying in locally-owned accommodation, not the big international chains! This is true in a way, but I believe the constant haggling you sometimes see in backpacker circles is really bad. Those €10 you save by haggling maybe someone’s weekly food budget or a new school book for someone’s kids. So please be respectful and bear this in mind!

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