After Graduating Katie & Jake Set Out To Explore The World Leaving Everything Behind Except For Their TEFL Certificates
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GAFFL
12th Aug | 7 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 190+ countries on GAFFL, meet up, and explore destinations together. In this article, we're featuring Katie and Jake, a couple from England who travel on a shoestring budget and run the blog Untold Wanderlust.

    They started their global journey in 2016 and have been in Vietnam for the last five years. They returned to the UK in September 2021 to live aboard a boat on the British canals to explore some of their own country.

    Japan

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    Our Decision To Start Traveling Together

    We met each other whilst Katie was studying at university in 2014. During the summer break in 2015, we decided to take a month-long trip to Prague, Vietnam, and Budapest.

    It was this trip that gave us a taste for travel. So, Katie finished her final year of university and within 2 weeks of handing in her last assignment, we hopped on a one-way flight to Thailand with no other plans than to travel to Southeast Asia and eventually settle for some time in Vietnam and teach English

    Ancient templs of Bagan, Myanmar

    How Often We Travel

    Whilst we were based in Vietnam, we would travel at every opportunity we had. We would take weekend trips away to explore towns and villages within Vietnam, we would use long holidays throughout the school year to travel to nearby countries such as Indonesia and Taiwan, and we would use the 4-month school break to travel further afield to places such as East Asia, Central Asia, Africa, and Europe.

    Sand dune in Namibia

    When we travel, we usually like to be surrounded by mountains or be amidst the hustle and bustle of a city. We like to explore by foot and local transport as much as we can. It is rare we will book package excursions. If we can find a way to do it ourselves, we will. We love to try local cuisines and sample the local beers in between visiting museums and natural viewpoints.

    How We Decide On Our Next Destination

    We have a goal to eventually visit every country in the world, so choosing where to want to go next is a case of choosing the cheapest flights and going from there.

    Once we arrive, we will travel to nearby countries overland. We are so easy when it comes to where we travel next. So much so, that we even let our wedding guests choose where we should go for our honeymoon.

    Wakhan Valley in Tajikistan

    Must-Haves For Packing

    We pack super light no matter where we go or the length of our trip. We would pack the same for a week-long trip, as we would for a 3-month trip.

    We always use our backpacks, never wheelie suitcases, and we always try to keep them below 7kg so we don't have to check them in on flights.

    Some of our must-have items include a microfibre towel for easy drying, paracetamol in case of travel sickness, small sachet shampoos to save space and weight, and a good, comfy pair of trainers so our feet don't hurt too much from all the walking. 

    Challenges Living A Digital Nomad Lifestyle

    To be honest, we were so eager to travel that leaving our life in the UK was not too difficult. Although we did go away with the idea that we would only be away for one year, this quickly turned into nearly 6!

    We think the biggest compromise in order to travel and be away from home for so long is leaving our loved ones behind. Not seeing family and friends was the toughest part of it.

    Thank god for the Facebook video call. If it wasn't for being able to speak to our loved ones and see them over the phone, we probably would've returned to the UK much sooner.

    CKS Memorial Hall in Taipei, Taiwan

    Cool Travel Experiences That We Can Share

    One of our coolest travel experiences has to be our Africa trip.

    We started with a week in Swaziland during the Sundowners festival, and then joined a safari tour from South Africa through to Zambia. Everything about the trip, from start to finish, was incredible and like nothing we could've ever dreamed about. We went from camping under the stars, climbing sand dunes, gaping at incredible rock formations, watching the fiercest sunsets, to finally spotting the big 5. We also made some fantastic friendships with our fellow travelers and safari crew.

    Our Mission For 'Untold Wanderlust'

    Whilst living and teaching in Vietnam, we had plenty of free time when we were not teaching, so we decided to start a blog. To be honest, the blog was born out of a need to fill our time. The aim of our blog is to provide travel itineraries that cater to budget travelers that are looking to make their money go further. We often write about free or super cheap things to see and do. We also share tips and tricks on how to travel on a shoestring budget.

    Motorbiking the Hai Van Pass, Vietnam

    Our Favorite Memories Of Meeting New People & Exploring With Locals

    One of our favorite memories of meeting locals was in our home base of Hanoi. Every weekend we would head down to the old quarter and sit on toddler-sized stools drinking dirt-cheap bia hoi (local beer). We would often chat with the stall owners and other locals. Eventually, we would notice the same faces, which turned into long-life friendships that we will forever cherish.

    Cheap beer in Hanoi's Old Quarter

    Our Most Remarkable Adventures In South East Asia

    So far we have traveled to 40 countries together. Southeast Asia was one of our very first backpacking trips, and for this reason, it will always hold a special place in our hearts.

    It is what gave us the travel bug and set us up for future travels. From whizzing around on a scooter in Pai, gazing at the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur, stepping back in time at Angkor Wat, to watching the sunrise at the ancient temples of Bagan, every moment of it was like a dream.

    How We Manage Costs While Traveling

    We usually visit budget-friendly destinations, this way we can stay away for longer and visit more places. We set a budget for each month and split this by 4 weeks and only withdraw cash once a week. We never splurge on accommodation and we always try to do the popular excursions by ourselves. It is rare we would book tourist transport or go on package excursions. After 6 years of travelling, we have learnt tons of tips and tricks to budget, so we made a mini-ebook of 109 budget travel tips and tricks. You can download that here!

    Camping in Mongolia

    How We Think GAFFL Helps Travelers

    We think GAFFL is a fantastic initiative to safely meet other travellers. We believe it can help give people the confidence to explore new places, knowing they have a friend to go with and share the experience with.

    In terms of other apps that we use, one of our favorites and probably one we recommend the most to people is maps.me. We have used this app since day dot and always end up recommending it to our fellow travelers. It is simply a map, which can be used as a satnav, that can be used offline, so there is no need to worry about getting lost and not having internet.

    Things That Prevent Us From Traveling More

    Work is definitely a major obstacle that is preventing us from travelling more. Even working online prevents its challenges as you need a stable internet connection. The more you move around, the more you risk not getting a strong enough wifi connection, which could mean missing a class.

    How ESL Can Help People Travel The World

    Becoming an ESL teacher presents you with ample opportunities. There are plenty of countries across the world seeking English teachers. This allows teachers to live and experience a different country, culture, and way of life. With your savings, you will be able to hop across the borders and travel to nearby countries.

    If teaching is something that tickles your fancy, our advice would be to go for it! Take an online TEFL course or an in-classroom TEFL course to get you started and then start looking for work in the country of your choice, or check out online companies such as DaDa English or Palfish.

    Jake teaching for Palfish

    Things We Wish We’d Known When We First Started Our Journey

    Traveling has taught us to appreciate experiences over things. At the end of the day, it isn't a fancy car or designer clothes we are going to cherish and remember forever, it is the amazing experiences of interacting and learning about people from all walks of life all around the world. The nature we breathe, the incredible sights we see, and the time spent with family and friends are the things that will create lasting memories.


    Other cool travel stories you might enjoy!

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