From Seasonal To Full Time: This Couple Sold Everything In 2016 to Explore The World
What is GAFFL?

GAFFL connects solo travelers with similar itineraries to explore destinations together. Whether you are backpacking in Asia, road tripping in Australia, or exploring national parks in the US, simply type the destination you are traveling to, find travelers who are going there at the same time as you, connect with them, plan trips, meet, and travel together.

GAFFL
4th Feb | 15 min read

Table of Contents

    Hanna and Zach are a husband-and-wife team of filmmakers and photographers who enjoy using their cameras to tell stories. They like living in St. Leonards on the Bellarine Peninsula in Victoria, Australia, and they also enjoy traveling, fishing, hanging out with kids, having a dog, spending time with family and friends, and engaging in art and design.

    After studying & working in London for nearly 5 years, this couple left 'The Big Smoke' in 2016. They traveled & worked in Asia, Africa, Europe, and New Zealand as photographers & filmmakers and ran a travel website and a blog. This is when Hanna honed her photography skills and when Zach picked up filmmaking.

    They relocated to Geelong (in Victoria, Australia) at the start of 2019 so they could expand their video and photography businesses.

    Works combine documentary, candid, and lifestyle photography and filmmaking. This duo makes sure that they are authentic, have traces of analogue feel, and are full of unplanned, erroneous moments.

    Be sure to check out their website and YouTube channel to know more about their adventures and filmmaking.

    Hanna and Zach in Pokhara in Nepal

    Tired of traveling alone? Connect with users from over 190 countries to plan trips and travel together!
    Try GAFFL

    Where & How We Met

    Our lives collided in a chance meeting at a pub in Fulham in London (as any drunken romantic story starts!). Cutting shapes on the d-floor, our eyes met and we have been inseparable ever since - from traveling Europe, through Asia & Eastern Africa, we have built our knowledge for photography and filmmaking through years of travel. 

    Coming from two different countries (Hanna from Poland & Zach from Australia) and never being quite fulfilled in staying in one place, we both knew that we needed something more, we just weren’t sure what! 

    We both wanted to learn, meet people, and go on adventures, and going around the world was just naturally something we were aiming to eventually do. 

    We saved and saved, packed up all our belongings into backpacks, and moved out of London, and for two years we had no official address or a house, as we traveled across Asia, Africa, Europe, the US, New Zealand, and eventually Australia where we decided to stay. 

    Swimming in vast oceans, hiking to volcanoes, driving through arid lands, scooting through busy markets, and seeing natural wonders not only perfected Hanna’s photography and videography skills (and got Zach interested in delving into photography & videography), but it has also opened our eyes to all that really matters in life (to us). We have started to really appreciate nature and the few belongings we need to be truly happy.

    These are still the reasons why we continue to travel and why we value it.

    Camping in Ngare Ndare conservancy in KenyaCamping in Ngare Ndare conservancy in Kenya

    Elephants busking in the sun with the background of Kilimanjaro in Amboseli Park in Kenya

    Elephants busking in the sun with the background of Kilimanjaro in Amboseli Park in Kenya

    The Himalayas before sunrise

    The Himalayas before sunrise

    The Himalayas at night

    The Himalayas at night

    When Choosing Our Next Travel Destination

    We keep a never-ending list of places we still want to visit - it’s so hard to decide where to go next.

    At the moment we choose places that are within our reach - financially (flights from Australia to other continents are not cheap!) and places that line up with our busy work seasons (winter months in Australia, from June to August, are usually quieter for us and we’re able to take a break).

    In the past, we decided where to go next based on our ‘dream bucket list’ - for Hanna it was Nepal & Ethiopia, and for Zach - India.

    Our destinations were also picked based on the collaborations we did with travel brands as lots of our travels were possible thanks to bartering our photography & videography skills for trips or stays.

    These days, once we decide on a spot we want to go to (usually based on our interests such as photography, fishing, and adventure travel), we outline our budget, read about the places we want to visit (books, blog posts, Instagram), watch documentaries about the location (Anthony Bourdain’s amongst many others) and come up with a bit of a plan of our moves in the given country, but still keep it flexible.

    Trekking in Nepal

    Trekking in Nepal

    Some Remarkable Experiences We've Had

    We’ve certainly had some amazing experiences - our favorite ones happened in Asia & Africa, although seeing the Grand Canyon was breathtaking too!

    Remarkable adventures that we can think of are camping mere meters away from the Blue Nile Falls in Ethiopia, trekking through the jungle to see the chimpanzees in Rwanda, scootering through the wooden bridges to the turquoise Kuang Si falls in Laos, eating our weight in delicious food in Bangkok, spending days on the picturesque train rides in Sri Lanka, trekking to an active volcano in one of the hottest place on Earth - Danakil Depression in Ethiopia & climbing on the vertical rock walls to rock-hewn churches in Tigray in Ethiopia.

    Our bucket lists still include visiting Antarctica, driving down the Skeleton Coast in Namibia, experiencing Chinese New Year in China and Cinco de Mayo in Mexico for Zach, and going around Australia in a self-renovated coaster bus, as well as visiting Papua New Guinea and exploring more of the Southern and Western Africa for Hanna.

    Hanna and Zach with Blue Nile Falls in Ethiopia

    Hanna and Zach with Blue Nile Falls in Ethiopia

    Scooters are the easiest way to move around in Kigali in Rwanda

    Scooters are the easiest way to move around in Kigali in Rwanda

    Having a dip in Kuang Si Falls in Laos

    Having a dip in Kuang Si Falls in Laos

    Climbing to the rock-hewn churches in Tigray in Ethiopia

    Climbing to the rock-hewn churches in Tigray in Ethiopia

    Train ride through Sri Lanka

    Train ride through Sri Lanka

    Countries We've Visited So Far

    Hanna has visited 43 countries up to date, whilst Zach has 33 countries. And together we’ve traveled to 29 countries.

    One of the coolest travel experiences that we can think of was trekking 3 days through a Kenyan jungle whilst following 40 boys from a Dutch fraternity to create a short documentary video about their trip.

    This was a challenging trip as we walked 60 km in 3 days through different landscapes whilst carrying our equipment (we shared the load with the donkeys though!). The trip was led by the Masaai, we slept in the tents which we would set up at the end of the day and we were carrying the food with us (aka the goats that walked with us…). We could hear the lion & buffalo roars as we walked through the most beautiful & challenging (mud, rocks, etc.) landscapes such as jungles, plateaus & steppes. 


    Hiking with a Dutch fraternity group in Kenya

    Hanna on the trek with a Dutch fraternity group in Kenya

    Another amazing experience was visiting the Danakil Depression in Ethiopia.

    It is one of the hottest places on Earth so hiking to Erta Ale, an active volcano close to the border with Eritrea, is possible only at night. We set off around 11 pm and hiked for around 3-4 hours. It was challenging as the only light was coming from our headlamps and the track was covered in sharp volcanic rocks. Once at the top, we could see the red & orange bulging lava - it was the most amazing sight, even though it was hard to breathe because of the acidity in the air. We slept at the top and climbed down around sunrise.

    We spent 3 days in Danakil Depression and the landscapes there are what we would imagine Mars to be! Red, orange, yellow, and neon green hues, little craters of boiling hot water spitting out up in the air, unbearable heat, and arid lands all around us. It was so hard to even be there, although it was breathtaking at the same time! 


    The landscapes of the Danakil Depression in Ethiopia


    Exploring salt flats in Danakil Depression in Ethiopia

    Erta Ale Volcano in Danakil Depression in Ethiopia

    Erta Ale Volcano in Danakil Depression in Ethiopia

    We have many more stories but the last one we would like to share would be experiencing the celebration of the Solar New Year in Cambodia!

    What a party! The streets turn into massive water fights, with music, eating, drinking, and the like. You literally end up soaking wet as buckets of water are being spilled on your left & right.

    All this happening with the occasional zapping & flashing of the masses of exposed electricity wires reaching from one electric pole to another!

    Best Memories Of Going On Adventures With Complete Strangers

    It’s hard to share only a couple of stories as people are what made our travels amazing. As we traveled around the world, we’ve met so many wonderful humans who have given us invaluable advice, shown us around their towns, or invited us to stay with them. We were so amazed by the friendliness of people around the world! 

    We have to mention Kassahun and his family from Addis Ababa in Ethiopia who invited us to spend Ethiopian New Year’s Celebrations with them. They picked us up from our guest house and as we were picking up chickens for dinner from the market and driving out of Addis into a rural area in Oromia country, it turned out that we were staying with them for the night! It was a night of preparing food from scratch, making a fire, dancing, eating, and preparing coffee. We’ll certainly never forget this wonderful act of hospitality!


    Zach walking the streets of Addis Ababa in Ethiopia


    Coffee ceremony in Ethiopia

    Another time we were lucky enough to explore with a local person was in Nepal. Bichitra, a long-time friend who Hanna met in Cyprus years prior to visiting Nepal, was waiting for us at the airport in Kathmandu and found us a place to stay with his friend. Not only that, but he showed us around Kathmandu, introduced us to the local food, and taught us how to use local transport. We spent an afternoon with his family and enjoyed a delicious feast that Pramila, Bichitra’s wife, cooked for us all. Thanks to all this, we were able to understand how we can move around Nepal independently, what to order in local bars and restaurants, and generally what life is like in Kathmandu and beyond. 

    Streets of Bhaktapur in Nepal

    Streets of Bhaktapur in Nepal

    Zach and Hanna in Bhaktapur in Nepal

    Zach and Hanna in Bhaktapur in Nepal

    Zach walking the streets of Kathmandu in Nepal

    Zach walking the streets of Kathmandu in Nepal

    So many more people made our experiences truly remarkable, but we also have to mention all the amazing Kiwis who hosted us in New Zealand during our impromptu trip from London to NZ in collaboration with 100% New Zealand. A short Facebook post on Kiwis in London page connected us with a bunch of absolute legends who hosted us & showed us around as we traveled in an Epic Camper from Auckland down to Christchurch!

    Meeting new people really is what makes the difficulties of traveling all worth it!

    Our hosts, Anita and Rajesh, in Delhi, India

    Our hosts, Anita and Rajesh, in Delhi, India

    The Motivation Behind Launching Our Blog

    Sharing adventures with friends & family who wanted to know what we were up to and an outlet to share our photography & videos were the main reasons we started our HandZaround blog.

    Our mission has been showing others that the world is not as scary as it seems, that budget travel is possible, and so is using the local transportation. Especially in the places commonly referred to as ‘off-the-beaten-track'. 

    We had people reach out to us to tell us that they really benefited from our stories (e.g. about crossing the border from Ethiopia to Kenya overland or finding local tours in Vietnam) and they were able to go ahead with their plans without fear, as they watched us doing it. We like to think that we help others by familiarising them with the places we visit, hence they’re more likely to let go of the fear of the unknown and start traveling beyond their town or country.

    Hiking in Ngare Ndare in Northern Kenya

    Hiking in Ngare Ndare in Northern Kenya

    How We Balance Our Work & Adventure 

    It’s been a bit harder for us to travel the last few years due to the lockdowns which happened in 2020 and 2021, and we had some last-minute cancellations of our trips to Queensland and the Northern Territory, which was very discouraging.

    However, we still managed to explore our state, Victoria, which has so many amazing places not really known to many (e.g. Port Campbell, Cactus Country, Budj Bim National Park, The Great Otway National Park, Wilsons Promontory, Bellarine Peninsula). Our travel blog has been rather quiet over the last few months but we certainly have some exciting plans ahead which we will definitely be blogging about.

    We don’t have the perfect work and travel balance yet as our business is pretty young, however, in the future, our plan is to utilize the quiet time in our business (June - August) to travel. We can’t wait to go back to Africa and South East Asia and explore places closer to Australia like Papua New Guinea, Pacific Islands.

    In the past, we traveled sustainably by moving through places for extended periods of time on land rather than taking short flights, as well as spending our money at local businesses (family-owned hotels or family-run tours, restaurants, or tour companies). 

    We’ve always tried to do our best to respect local customs & the needs of the communities we visited.

    A big thing that we did to support sustainable tourism was also avoiding very famous places/attractions that tend to be overcrowded. This resolution came to us, especially after we visited the Taj Mahal and Angkor Wat, which made us realize how big of an impact tourism & over-crowding has on local communities, and which only confirmed that we enjoy off-the-beaten-track adventures much more.

    How We Feel About GAFFL

    We think that GAFFL is a fantastic tool for helping travelers feel less isolated while taking part in the adventures that travel inherently brings. It certainly relieves the financial burden of travel that a single traveler may experience - moving from place to place is usually the most expensive part of traveling and if that can be split between two or more people, it makes a great difference for one’s wallet! 

    We think that GAFFL also contributes to safety on the road - it’s always safer to have someone look out for you when you want to take a snooze on a bus/train/airplane or walk at nighttime.

    And of course, meeting new people widens your horizons. Most of our best adventures were thanks to the people who made them possible or told us about hidden places or secret experiences we didn’t know about!

    Stopping for a glass of milk in Rwanda with GoKigali tours

    Stopping for a glass of milk in Rwanda with GoKigali tours

    Apps & Websites That We Use

    Some Of Our Greatest Travel Obstacles

    • Staying within the budget - unexpected expenses happen all the time!

    • Adjusting to local changes - not only time differences (jet lag is so bad!) but also knowing what to order to eat or how the local transport works.

    • Rarely - safety, such as being out of control when it comes to traveling on a bus that’s driving way too fast for your stomach!

    • Time restraints - not enough time to see the whole world

    Tips That We Can Pass On

    The best advice that we were given and that we would like to pass on is - to take it slow & don’t rush.

    In today’s world there are so many instagrammable places, restaurants, and locations to visit, but go against the grain and take it easy & slow. You will enjoy the process of getting to know the place so much more. And if you stop rushing, you will appreciate the little things and most likely meet local people who will introduce you to the local secrets!

    Also, talk to people & do what locals do. They don’t swim on that beach because there is a risk of sharks/crocodiles. Well, then you don’t either. They don’t walk at night in the city you’re visiting? You shouldn’t either - there is always a reason why! 

    And, watch the weather & conditions, especially if you’re planning a hike! Some places (hello, Melbourne!) can experience four seasons in one day and it’s good to be prepared!

    Lastly, focus on what makes you happy - outline what you’re interested in, narrow down your activities or destinations based on that, and don’t try to tackle them all at once!

    Our home for the night in Kenya

    Our home for the night in Kenya

    All the Travel Knowledge We Wish We'd Known in the Beginning

    We don’t regret anything but we certainly wish we had realized much earlier that the time is now and most likely we won’t have another opportunity to do something. 

    We would meet a person or plan on visiting a local sight but we would be too tired to go out for a drink/walk up to the sight we wanted to see. We would say we’ll see them tomorrow. Suddenly, plans would change - the person would leave the town early or we would have to adjust our itinerary and we weren’t able to see that sight we planned on seeing.

    It taught us that often there is only one chance really and it is NOW. We may stay in our room & catch up on sleep but we may miss out on an amazing adventure!

    Another important lesson that we learned through traveling was that most people around the world want the same.

    They want to be happy, have something to eat, and have somewhere to sleep. They want to be surrounded by friends & family. Once you realize that, you can always see something in common with another person. It doesn’t matter where they’re from or what language they speak. 

    Zach on the edge of Erta Ale volcano in Ethiopia

    Zach on the edge of Erta Ale volcano in Ethiopia

    A preist showing a few hundred-year-old bible in the rock-hewn churches in Tigray in Ethiopia

    A preist showing a few hundred-year-old bible in the rock-hewn churches in Tigray in Ethiopia

    Zach and Hanna on a safari in Amboselil Park in Kenya

    Zach and Hanna on a safari in Amboselil Park in Kenya

    Zach and a newly met little guide in Sri Lanka

    Zach and a newly met little guide in Sri Lanka

    Snorkelling in Africa Pool on the coast of Kenya

    Snorkelling in Africa Pool on the coast of Kenya

    Waterfalls in Ngare Ndare in Kenya

    Waterfalls in Ngare Ndare in Kenya

    Other exciting stories you might enjoy!

    Tired of traveling alone? Connect with users from over 190 countries to plan trips and travel together!
    Try GAFFL