How We Met & Started Traveling Together
After moving back to my hometown in Minnesota following a long stint of living and teaching English in Bangkok, Thailand, I wanted to live somewhere it felt like I was on vacation all the time. That's how I chose Steamboat Springs and that's where I met Mike. We worked together in an Irish pub and shared the same passion for exploring.
In 2017, we visited his mom in Ohio, and on a whim, we all decided to do some walkthroughs of RVs at the local RV dealership. As we walked into the first RV, we were stunned by how spacious and homey it was. We instantly agreed that we wanted to live in an RV and travel in it. Five months later, we had saved up enough money to purchase it and we were on the go.
Of course, we started our travels in the United States because that's where our RV was. But we soon decided that traveling abroad would be a lot cheaper. Having lived in Thailand for a while, I knew that our money could get us a lot farther on the other side of the pond. We spent 3 months exploring Southeast Asia where I showed Mike all of my favorite spots. And from that point on, we just had the urge to travel and see new places.
One of the main reasons we continue to travel is because it is still a heck of a lot cheaper than living in the US (believe it or not!). Instead of spending $2,000 per month for a one-bedroom apartment in Steamboat Springs, we rent 3-bedroom houses abroad for $500 per month.
We’re Always On The Go
We spend approximately 6-7 months abroad. Each year, we enjoy our family cabin in Northern Minnesota. Once summer passes, we jet off to our next destination. That typically lasts from September to December when we come home for Christmas. After the holiday season, we leave the United States again from the beginning of January until mid-April or May. Although we sometimes bounce around from location to location, we typically stay in each destination for at least one month. We've found that spending any less than a month in any given destination won't give you a true feel for the culture, landmarks, etc. This also gives us time to work while we're traveling.
How We Choose Where To Travel Next
Instagram is a HUGE part of how we decide our next destination. I like to follow travel inspiration accounts on Instagram and they do an amazing job of illustrating how awesome a destination is. With that said, we always try to stay off-the-beaten-path as much as possible. This has resulted in us visiting places like Svalbard, Kyrgyzstan, and Komodo National Park. Impulse is another one of the biggest deciding factors; I'm known to book flights at the drop of a hat!
Once we've decided on our destinations, I spend a lot of time researching transportation options, hiking trails, and other unique activities. This can become a part-time job for me because I become so excited for what lies ahead.
How We Pack For Our Trips
To be completely honest, we don't do very much in terms of packing. Since we travel VERY lightly, we need to keep our luggage to a minimum. For each 3-month travel segment, we only bring a carry-on suitcase each. Layering clothing and bringing versatile outfits is the best way to pack.
With that said, we never leave home without waterproof sacks, roll-up pillows, and our computers. As digital nomads, we can't survive without earning money online.
One Of Our Favourite Memories Meeting People Abroad
Our favorite part of traveling is meeting new people and building friendships that will last a lifetime.
In early 2019, Mike and I were living in Bali, Indonesia for a few months. As a side trip, we jumped over to Flores Island in order to explore Kelimutu National Park. When we arrived in the small town of Moni, we had no idea how to get to our homestay, which turned out to be three hours away.
A couple from our airplane approached us and asked if we wanted to share a taxi to Moni and of course, we agreed. This couple quickly became our close friends and in March 2020 we spent a month in Crete, Greece to spend some time with them. As COVID started to shut down the entire world, we felt stuck, scared, and very anxious about what might or might not happen. Luckily, our friends were there to reassure us that we weren't alone. They brought us on a secluded hike and to a remote beach where there weren't other people for miles and miles. This act of kindness and friendship will never be forgotten. It's friendships like this that make travel worthwhile.
Countries We’ve Visited So Far
We've visited 30 countries together including numerous territories, islands, and provinces. We have always wanted to visit Patagonia, but after a recent trip to Kyrgyzstan, we can't wait to explore more of Central Asia. Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan are high on our list!
How We Think GAFFL Can Help Travelers
GAFFLis a brilliant website that I only wish I had thought of earlier! GAFFL allows travelers to explore the world on a budget. One of our biggest goals as travel bloggers is to show others how to work and travel smarter so that they can do it more often. GAFFL has paved the way to make travel more attainable for everyone.
Why We Started Our Blog
Back in 2014, I read about a few travel bloggers that had turned their blog into a profitable business. As soon as I read that, I knew that travel blogging was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. Unfortunately, it wasn't that easy. With a lot of misinformation on the internet about how to monetize and grow a blog, our mission is to show other travel bloggers the right strategies so that they can grow their travel blogs, too. There's room for all of us on the internet, so I hope to be the voice of reason among travel bloggers.
Getting started as a travel blogger was extremely difficult. Not because it was hard to collaborate with other brands, but because I didn't know the proven strategies for growing a travel blog and sending consistent traffic to my website. It took a lot of trial and error in order to get to where we are today.
In order to sustain a full-time traveling lifestyle, you will need a remote income. But here's where most people go wrong.. they don't have a second source of income. If you plan to make travel your lifestyle, be sure to have more than one stream of income. Things can change at the drop of a hat and you don't want to have the rug pulled out from under you.
One Of My Craziest Travel Stories
One of the craziest travel stories we have actually made international news. Back in April of 2019, Mike and I were visiting a few small islands off the coast of Malaysia. The Perhentian Islands fly under the radar, but they are some of the most beautiful islands in the world.
Since there are no motor vehicles on the island, we spent a lot of our time walking around the island. As we were walking back to our homestay one day, Mike spotted something along the shore. He said to me, "that looks just like a bomb. Like a naval bomb."
I wasn't convinced because I figured someone would have noticed it by now! It was very old and rusty.
Mike was certain, though. He said, "no... I'm pretty sure that's a bomb."
Keen to prove him wrong, I took a picture and sent it to my dad who happens to be a World War II expert. I asked, "Is this a bomb?" And I'll never forget his response: "It is, report it! Stay away!!"
So we continued walking back to our guesthouse to report our find to our hosts. I pulled out my phone, showed our host the picture, and said, "what's up with this?" She said to me, "DO YOU THINK IT'S A BOMB, TOO? I have thought that for years but my husband told me it was just a buoy!"
Our host, Erica, then reported the bomb to the authorities. Unfortunately, we couldn't stay to see what happened, but our host emailed us to tell us that the military came out, packed the bomb with sandbags, and blew it up. Crazy!
Some Things That Prevent Us From Traveling More
By far the hardest part of traveling is being away from family. Although we get to see them throughout the summer and during the holidays, it is still so hard to be away from them. Luckily, we invite our family out to see us as often as possible. Though we would love to have them experience more of the world with us, we both do our best to make it happen when possible.
How We Manage Work And Travel
The easiest way to manage your work while traveling full-time is by traveling slowly. Not only will you save money on accommodation (you can rent an apartment by the month for a huge discount), but you won't feel rushed to go out and explore every single day. We try to spend sunny days outside and rainy days inside. You should also consider getting up earlier so that you can enjoy more of the day outside before retreating to your apartment in the afternoon for work.
What We Wish We'd Known When We First Began Traveling
If I could tell 2014 Laura anything it would be to educate myself as much as possible. Podcasts, books, and research have taught me how to create an income online, but this is all information I only wish I knew sooner.
I think the biggest thing I've learned while traveling is that cultures can be completely different from your own, but it doesn't mean they are dangerous. Humans associate fear with things that they don't know a lot about. Travel opens your eyes to see that people are the same everywhere in the world. We all share the same fears, doubts, and daily emotions. This is something everyone should know about the world. I think this would lead to a more harmonious existence.